Classy Campbell holds off Hume charge to claim regal win at Royal Dublin
 Winner Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) with the 2016 Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship trophy after his victory at The Royal Dublin Golf Club today (08/05/2016). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Winner Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) with the 2016 Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship trophy after his victory at The Royal Dublin Golf Club today (08/05/2016). Picture by Pat Cashman

The stage was so spectacular set up that the performers could hardly fail. 

With the Royal Dublin at her Sunday best, the yellow whins and springy turf caressed in their glorious, technicolour best by a zephyr breeze as midday haze gave way to golden sunshine, the Flogas Irish Amateur Open arguably produce one of the most entertaining final afternoons since it was first staged 124 years ago.

For a while it looked as though the eventual champion Colm Campbell would suck all the excitement out of the day as he stood up on the ninth tee two under for the round and six strokes ahead as he rifled another bullet into the heart of the green.

But Naas’ Jack Hume, the 22-year world amateur number 10 and hero of last year’s record-setting Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, had other ideas on a course measuring 7,147 yards (just 140 yards short of its full length).

By hitting an eight iron to three feet at the ninth, he made the first of five birdies in the last 10 holes that almost gave 29-year old Campbell and his loyal band of following from Warrenpoint, a nervous breakdown.

As Campbell began the back nine bogey-birdie-bogey to fall back to 15 under, Hume went on the charge, holing for birdie from 18 feet at the 13th, 12 feet at the 14th and 10 feet at the 16th to reduce the gap to just one stroke.

Campbell, the 2014 East of Ireland champion, looked to have his second major title in the bag when he holed a 25 footer for birdie at the 17th to go two ahead on 16 under par and then hit a seven-iron to 30 foot at the last with Hume 20 yards left, just off the green

Jack Hume (Naas) holes his huge birdie putt at the 18th in the final round of the 2016 Flogas Irish Amateur Open. Picture by Pat Cashman

But Hume would not go quietly and opting to putt rather than chip off a bare, lie, holed a double-breaking 60 footer for birdie and a 69 that set the target at 15 under par 273.

Campbell had two putts for the win and duly took then, lagging his downhill birdie putt up to just two feet before tapping in for a 70 and a winning, 16 under par 272 total that gives him a start alongside Hume and one other Irish amateur in next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at The K Club.

“I’m thinking don’t three putt,” Campbell confessed afterwards when asked what it was like to stand over his 30 footer following Hume’s 60 foot special. “Don’t leave myself a three, four footer. To be fair it was a nice putt, it was downhill, sort of wee bit of right to left.

“It was a nice putt to be able to tap in and become the Irish Amateur Open champion."

On the last two holes, which were full of drama, he singled out the putt at the 17th. 

"That’s probably the loudest roar I’ve ever heard since I've been playing anyway." he said with a grin. "That was a huge turning point because you go to 18 with only a one-shot lead and it makes it a wee bit more difficult.
“I made two really good swings on 18. I hit a really nice rescue off the tee and hit a lovely seven iron from 190 yards into about 25 or 30 feet. And then Jack does what he does.” 

Campbell also won wire-to-wire at Baltray in 2014, holding off Paul Dunne for the East of Ireland Championship. But this is a win that establishes him as one of Ireland's very best.

And so he was especially proud to edge out a star like Hume and put himself in the frame for selection for Ireland’s six-man European Team Championships team and the three-man Eisenhower Trophy side not to mention the Great Britain and Ireland St Andrew Trophy team to face the Continent of Europe at Prince's in July, even if he is not in the squad.

“It shows I’m heading in the right direction,” said Campbell, who birdied the first and third to turn in two under 33 before a bogey-birdie-bogey start to the back nine gave Hume encouragement. 

“If you can hold guys like Jack off, who’s a phenomenal player and a guy that I really respect, who knows what can happen in the near future.”

Hume blamed is slow start for his defeat with bogeys at the third, where he three putted, and the fifth leaving him with too much to do.

Disappointed not to claim his third individual win of 2016 after birdies from four feet at the eighth, 18 feet at the 13th, 12 feet at the 14th and 10 feet at the 16th, Hume said: “I just got off to a poor start really and left myself a lot to do.

“I stuck in there and holed some really nice putts at the right time and gave myself a great chance in the end. 

“But I am delighted for Collie. He gets to play the Irish Open now. He won it. No-one handed it to him.”

Campbell was a deserved winner having broken par in all four rounds and recovered well from bogeys at the 10th, where he bunkered his tee shot, and the 12th, where he knifed a bunker shot through the green.

Hume never really got going until he was forced to get up and down for par, brilliantly, from the swale left of the eighth. 

"I didn’t feel like my iron play was good on the front nine but I just stuck in there and grind it out on the back nine and holed some really nice putts at the right time and gave myself a great chance in the end," Hume said. "It was great to finish well. I had a lot of confidence in my putter and I knew if I gave myself some decent chances I’d give it a go."

Campbell was proud of the way he absorbed the pressure over the back nine.

"I just stuck to what I was doing all week," he said. "I knew Jack was going to come hard at me on the back nine. I stayed patient, kept trying to make good swings and picked good targets. I think I missed two greens on the back nine. I played really, really good from the word go and I knew I had to. It was good."

Even after the bogey at the 12th, he didn't panic.

"I thought I was only three ahead and Stevie (Coulter) said no we’re four ahead so I was like okay, we’re in good shape," he said of his reaction to the bogey at the 12th.
"Jack makes a really good putt on 13 and then makes a really good up and down on 14. I make a bad (par) five, going in with five iron from the middle of the fairway on 14. I knew it was going to be tight coming in.
"You can only control what’s within your control. I can't control what Jack or anyone else is doing. I just kept picking good targets and making sure we had the right club. That was the aim, keep hitting greens and giving myself chances coming in."

Hume's mental strength was impressive and he showed his experience in knowing where he stood in relation to the finish line and played accordingly.

"I knew I had to be patient and that there would be chances on the back nine. It is tough playing with the lead sometimes so you never know if he is going to make a few bad holes so you just have to stay patient and I got off to a good start on the back nine and put a bit of pressure on him.

"It ended up being very tight. It was a pity the putt on 17 didn’t go in but you can’t make them all I suppose. Then he made his on top of me. It was a great tournament, really fun. I really enjoyed the back nine. It was great to see a leaderboard like that with those red numbers."

Germany’s Maximilian Boegel was third, four off the pace on 12 under after a 69 with the impressive Golf at Goodwood 17-year old, Marco Penge, tied for fourth with compatriot Matthew Jordan on nine under despite bogeys at the last two holes.

As for the future of Irish golf, 18-year old Conor Purcell from Portmarnock shot 67 to share ninth spot with Castle’s Alex Gleeson, who broke par in every round, back on five under.

With The Island's Kevin Le Blanc share 13th with Mallow's James Sugrue and Co Louth's Thomas Mulligan (*68) tied 17th and Naas' Conor O'Rourke 23rd after a best of the day 66, the future looks very bright indeed.

Flogas Irish Amateur Open, The Royal Dublin (Par 72) 

Final

272 Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) 68 68 66 70

273 Jack Hume (Naas) 67 72 65 69

276 Maximilian Boegel (Ger) 73 69 65 69

279 Marco Penge (Eng) 74 64 69 72, Matthew Jordan (Eng) 70 70 71 68

280 Vitor Lopes (Por) 71 73 67 69

282 Connor Syme (Sco) 74 68 67 73, William Enefer (Eng) 71 71 71 69

283 Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen (Denmark) 74 70 71 68, Alex Gleeson (Castle) 71 71 70 71, Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) 69 72 75 67, Tom Gandy (Isle of Man) 69 69 75 70

284 James Sugrue (Mallow) 72 70 70 72, Kevin Le Blanc (The Island) 72 69 72 71, Sam Whitaker (Eng) 68 75 68 73

285 Jamie Li (Eng) 73 73 68 71

286 Thomas Mulligan (Co. Louth) 74 73 71 68, George Bloor (Eng) 74 70 75 67, Evan Griffith (Wal) 74 67 74 71, Bradley Moore (Eng) 72 73 74 67, Adam Chapman (Eng) 69 74 73 70, Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 69 69 72 76

287 Conor O'Rourke (Naas) 76 71 74 66, Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 76 68 69 74

288 Robin Dawson (Tramore) 75 70 71 72, John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) 75 69 71 73, Jamie Savage (Sco) 74 73 70 71, Jack Singh Brar (Eng) 74 72 72 70, Gary McDermott (Carton House) 73 74 70 71, Jack Mc Donnell (Forrest Little.) 72 73 70 73

289 Christian Braeunig (Ger) 77 67 70 75, Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 74 70 71 74, Jack Yule (Eng) 72 73 74 70, Daniel Holland (Castle) 71 72 74 72

290 Jonathan Yates (Naas) 75 69 76 70, Steven Robins (Eng) 74 72 73 71, Liam Johnston (Sco) 73 75 71 71, Colin Fairweather (Knock) 73 73 73 71, Cathal Butler (Kinsale) 71 74 72 73, Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 68 71 77 74

291 Pierre Verlaar (Ned) 75 74 71 71, Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) 75 73 72 71, Craig Ross (Sco) 73 73 74 71, Patrick Mullins (Wal) 71 72 75 73

292 Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 75 74 71 72, Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 72 73 75 72

293 Maximilian Holzwarth (Ger) 74 76 70 73, Charlie Strickland (Eng) 74 70 72 77, Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Eng) 71 73 77 72

294 Shaun Carter (Royal Dublin) 74 74 73 73, Michael Harradine (Sui) 74 73 74 73, Patrick Ruff (Eng) 73 73 73 75

295 Kieron Harman (Wal) 75 72 74 74, Ian O'Rourke (Royal Dublin) 74 75 72 74, Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 74 73 74 74

296 Jake Whelan (Newlands) 74 72 73 77

298 Sigot Lopez (Esp) 75 75 71 77, Nicolas Schellong (Czech Republic) 75 73 73 77, Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle) 74 74 73 77

Non-qualifiers

222 Jack Davidson (Wal) 80 72 70, Moritz Hausweiler (Ger) 77 73 72, Tomas Silva (Por) 75 70 77, Joe Lyons (Galway) 74 75 73, Timo Vahlenkamp (Ger) 72 75 75 

223 Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 78 72 73, Michael Ryan (New Ross) 78 71 74, James Fox (Portmarnock) 75 73 75, Tim Bombosch (Ger) 74 74 75, Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 74 72 77, Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo) 72 76 75, Khaled Attieh (KSA) 70 79 74, Barry Daly (Edmondstown) 69 78 76 

224 Jiri Zuska (Czech Republic) 76 76 72, Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) 75 77 72, Nathan Brader (Por) 75 76 73, Niklas Adank (Ger) 75 71 78, Dwayne Mallon (Dungannon) 74 77 73, Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu) 73 75 76, David Hague (Eng) 73 75 76, Oliver Clarke (Eng) 73 74 77, Rhys Nevin-Wharton (Eng) 73 72 79, Sean Ryan (Royal Dublin) 71 79 74 

225 Kyle Harman (Wal) 77 74 74, Joao Girao (Por) 76 72 77, Phil Tomkinson (Eng) 75 74 76, John Hickey (Cork) 75 70 80, Owen Edwards (Wal) 74 77 74, Gary Collins (Rosslare) 72 80 73, Ferdinand Frederik Muller (Ger) 72 75 78 

226 Ben Best (Rathmore) 79 75 72 

227 David Ramsay (Wal) 78 71 78, Pierre Pineau (Fra) 76 74 77, Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 74 76 77 

228 Barry Anderson (Royal Dublin) 79 75 74, William Russell (Clandeboye) 79 73 76, Liam Grehan (Mullingar) 74 75 79, Cameron Long (Eng) 73 75 80, Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 72 76 80 

229 Jonathan Thomson (Eng) 78 75 76, Loris Schuepbach (Sui) 71 81 77 

231 Ben Firth (Eng) 82 73 76, Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 78 74 79, Harry Duggan (Kilkenny) 77 76 78, Adam Wilson (Wal) 75 78 78 

232 Scott Gibson (Sco) 84 74 74, Declan Reidy (Co. Sligo) 75 79 78 

233 Robert Foley (Sui) 77 79 77, Fraser Davren (Sco) 77 77 79 

234 Eugene Smith (Ardee) 82 72 80, Nick MacAndrew (Sco) 76 81 77 

235 Andrew Mccormack (Castletroy) 79 75 81 

237 Tom Murray (Eng) 79 75 83 

238 Calum Fyfe (Sco) 78 79 81 

239 Thomas Hackett (Royal Dublin) 77 81 81, Paul Coughlan (Moate) 77 78 84, Julian Hausweiler (Ger) 73 81 85 

241 Matthew Kane (Whitehead) 78 78 85 

246 Benjamin Kinsley (Sco) 77 83 86 

WD James Newton (Eng) 79 76 WD, Declan O'Neill (Carton House) 82 76 WD.