Colm Campbell was relieved and delighted to clinch the winning point and help Ireland rack up an impressive hat-trick of wins in the Men's Home Internationals at Nairn.
It all came down to the final match on the course and Campbell, who was five up after seven, beat Adam Chapman with a conceded birdie four to give Ireland an 8-7 win over England, the Triple Crown for the second time in three years and a third successive Raymond Trophy for the first time since 1992.
The Warrenpoint man (joint top scorer for Ireland with John Ross Galbraith with five wins from six) won the opening five holes of their singles joust, but Carus Green’s Chapman staged a stirring comeback that saw him pull level with a 15 feet birdie putt on 17 to set up a tense, grandstand finish.
With the overall score at 7 –7, and England just needing a halved point to lift the Raymond Trophy on the basis of matches won throughout the week, Campbell knew he had to win the last for an historic Irish three-in-a-row of Men’s Home Internationals crowns.
When Chapman bunkered his approach to the par five 18th, Campbell chipped up close and then watched as the Englishman missed a 20 footer for birdie and conceded his putt and the match.
“It shouldn’t really have gone that far because I was five up through seven holes,” said a relieved and modest Campbell, the Irish Amateur Open champion. “I made it a lot harder than what it should have been.
"But fair play to Adam. He stuck in on the back nine and he made some gutsy putts and made some birdies as well and just made it really difficult. He holed a lovely putt on 17 to go all square on the last. But I’m a relieved man now after 18.”
Campbell, 29, was mobbed by his jubilant team-mates on the 18th after Ireland came back from a 3 – 2 foursomes deficit to claim the title, notably winning the final three matches when they trailed 7 – 5.
The Warrenpoint man said: “That’s as nervous as I’ve been on a golf course. I knew the point was required, knew what was on the line and we were trying to make a wee bit of history as well, winning three in a row for the first time. It wasn’t good for the heart, I can tell you. I’ve been a part of the last three so that is even sweeter again. As an amateur, this is definitely as good as anything I’ve done so far.
“I was five up through five, got off to a blistering start, but Adam came back at me. I made a bad bogey on 16, so that it was back to one, then he holed a lovely putt on 17 and we’re all square. I then probably hit one of the best tee shots of my life down 18 knowing we needed to win. I was lucky to be able to make two nice swings and have a straightforward chip and putt.”
Campbell’s heroics would not have been possible without his team mates.
John Ross Galbraith added a crucial 3&1 win to victories for Paul McBride, Alex Gleeson and Conor O’Rourke. Then Robin Dawson holed a crucial birdie putt at the last to win his point in the penultimate match and leave Campbell needing a win at the last to secure overall victory.
It was a win that looked unlikely after Ireland trailed Scotland 4-1 after the foursomes on Thursday but rallied in the singles to win 8.5 - 6.5
Nigel Edwards, Performance Director at England Golf, said: “That was extremely gutting, disappointing. I’m proud of the way the whole team played. It was a tough week weather-wise, but there were a lot of good shots, attitude and effort. You could see on the 18th how disappointed they were.
“Ireland came out strong this afternoon in the singles and we gave ourselves a lot to do, but the players battled so, so well coming down the closing holes. It was an excellent contest and it’s come down to one putt. That’s what the championship wants. I’m sure it’ll make our players stronger, wiser and better players.”
Meantime, hosts Scotland dug deep to secure a narrow victory over Wales, also winning 8 – 7, to achieve third place overall. After Matthew Clark and George Duncan battled to a halved match with Llewellyn Matthews and Zach Galliford to ensure the morning foursomes were shared, the hosts edged the singles.
Ireland’s third successive shows that Irish amateur golf is in a good place compared to England. Scotland and Wales and with players of the quality of Stuart Grehan and Jack Hume representing GB&I in international competition this year, there is no shortage of quality.
|Wal 4somes||Wal Singles||Scot 4somes||Scot Singles||Eng 4somes||Eng Singles||Total|
The three successive Raymond Trophy wins were achieved using just 20 players, seven of whom have turned professional.
- Richard Bridges (Stackstown) 2014 PRO
- Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) 2014 - 2016
- Robin Dawson (Faithlegg/Tramore/Maynooth University) 2014 - 2016
- Paul Dunne (Greystones) 2014 PRO
- Colin Fairweather (Knock) 2015
- Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo/Maynooth University) 2016
- John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) 2014 - 2016
- Alex Gleeson (Castle/UCD) 2015 - 2016
- Stuart Grehan (Tullamore/Maynooth University) 2015 - 2016
- Jack Hume (Naas) 2014 - 2015
- Gary Hurley (West Waterford/Maynooth University) PRO
- Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 2015 - 2016
- Paul McBride (The Island) 2016
- Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) 2014 - 2015 PRO
- Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) 2016
- Gavin Moynihan (The Island) 2014-2015 PRO
- Conor O’Rourke (Naas) 2016
- Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) 2016
- Chris Selfridge (Moyola Park) 2014 PRO
- Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) 2014 PRO