Vorster wins East of Ireland to give South Africa back to back champions
Winner Martin Vorster (South Africa) with The d Hotel sponsored East of Ireland Championship trophy after his victory at County Louth Golf Club  03/06/2019. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Winner Martin Vorster (South Africa) with The d Hotel sponsored East of Ireland Championship trophy after his victory at County Louth Golf Club 03/06/2019. Picture by Pat Cashman

South African teenager Martin Vorster became the second youngster winner in the history of the East of Ireland Championship when he closed with a brace of five-under 67's to win by four strokes from Carton House's Paul O'Hanlon at County Louth.

At the age of 17 years, four months and 12 days, he was just seven days older than last year's winner Christo Lambrecht, who is a close friend and also a product of the Louis Oosthuizen Academy.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Vorster, who won last year's Junior Open at St Andrews, after he gave an exhibition of big hitting and shot shaping to finish on nine-under par 279 on a day of 25mph southwest winds at the storied Baltray links. 

"I have been close quite a bit the last few months to finally push through, I have no words. It's a pretty amazing feeling. This is my first international senior win and it's a big one for me. Hopefully the first of many."

Vorster started the final day four strokes behind County Louth’s Adam Doran on one-over par but raced through the field in the morning, hitting 17 greens in regulation in a bogey-free, five-under 67 from the white tees to lead by a shot at lunch from 2016 champion O’Hanlon, who shot 70.

Naas’ Robert Brazill and Sligo man Sean Flanagan, now playing out of Portmarnock, were just three behind after rounds of 67 and 69 respectively.

But it soon became clear that Vorster was going to be the man to catch and he while he went out in two-under 35 after following birdies at the first two holes with a bogey at the fifth and a chip and putt birdie from green side rough at the eighth, he had to keep his foot on the gas coming home.

O’Hanlon turned in level par but then birdied the 10th and 11th to get within one stroke of the eventual winner. But he could only par his way home from there and Vorster was relentless, getting up and down from rough right of the 14th for birdie to go two ahead before doubling his advantage with a birdie-birdie finish.

His six-iron to a foot at the 180-yard 17th gave him a cushion playing the par-five 18th where he chipped to three feet from just off the green to leave himself a three footer for a closing birdie putt and a memorable victory.

“I was four behind starting out and I just wanted to play it shot for shot and hit fairways and greens,” Vorster said after making just one bogey over the final 36 holes in testing conditions.. “I knew I had to chase if I wanted to get it down and thankfully today, a few putts dropped.”

As for his shot of the week, he had no doubt that it was his tee shot to the 17th.

"I think that was the best six-iron of my life,” he said. “It was 165 metres straight into the wind and I just wanted to hit a small draw six iron and to hit it to a foot was fantastic.”

His shot shaping impressed the watching Des Smyth, who declared the Pinnacle Point talent “the real deal.”

The local caddies had already spotted his talent and after seeing him in practice, many of them had money riding on him at 20-1.

Campbell birdied four of his first five holes in the final round and while he would bogey the seventh and ninth, he birdied the 10th and then holed his second shot for an eagle two at the 14th before a bogey at the 16th forced him to settle for third place on three-under after a 68 and more valuable points in the Bridgestone Order of Merit.

It was also a fine final day for Naas’ Robert Brazill, who shot 67 in the morning and 71 in the afternoon to edge out Peter O’Keeffe for fourth place on two-under.

Ronan Mullarney, Alan Lowry, Gary Cullen and Sean Flanagan also had great spells on the final day as they tied for sixth on level par with Fortwilliam’s Hugh O'Hare, South Africa’s Yurav Premlall, Royal Dublin’s Sean Ryan and overnight leader Doran rounding out the top ten on one-over 289.

East of Ireland Amateur Open, County Louth Golf Club (Par 72) 

Sponsored by The D Hotel

Detailed scores

Final

279 M Vorster (RSA) 72 73 67 67; 

283 P O'Hanlon (Carton House) 69 74 70 70; 

285 C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 69 75 73 68; 

286 R Brazill (Naas) 71 77 67 71; 

287 P O'Keeffe (Douglas) 71 74 73 69; 

288 R Mullarney (Galway) 73 75 72 68, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 70 77 70 71, S Flanagan (Portmarnock) 70 76 69 73, G Cullen (Links Portmarnock) 67 77 76 68; 

289 H O'Hare (Fortwilliam) 70 77 72 70, Y Premlall (RSA) 68 77 72 72, S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 70 72 76 71, A Doran (Co. Louth) 70 71 77 71; 

290 J Duminy (RSA) 70 76 72 72, P Murphy (Rosslare) 68 78 71 73; 

291 G Dunne (Co. Louth) 70 78 73 70, T McLarnon (Massereene) 70 77 72 72, M Boucher (Carton House) 73 72 74 72, G O'Mahony (Fota Island) 70 75 71 75, E Smith (Links Portmarnock) 68 74 77 72; 

292 D Brady (Co. Sligo) 74 73 76 69, D Coghlan (Portmarnock) 71 72 74 75; 

293 S Desmond (Monkstown) 69 78 74 72, O Brown (Wal) 68 78 74 73, S Walsh (Portmarnock) 69 76 75 73, H Foley (Royal Dublin) 69 76 75 73; 

294 J Gourley (Shandon Park) 73 75 75 71, K Egan (Carton House) 70 78 73 73, D Morley (Oughterard) 68 78 77 71, C Jarvis (RSA) 72 73 78 71; 

295 J Hood (Galgorm Castle) 73 75 73 74, J Blake (Island) 71 76 80 68, D Flynn (Carton House) 71 76 76 72, M McClean (Malone) 66 80 77 72, R McCormack (Palmerstown House Estate) 69 73 78 75; 

296 B Best (Rathmore) 72 75 78 71, S Murphy (Portumna) 70 77 75 74, J Madden (Royal Portrush) 72 74 71 79, F O'Sullivan (Tralee) 71 73 76 76, A Ryan (Thurles) 71 72 77 76; 

297 R Moran (Castle) 73 74 74 76; 

298 E Murphy (Dundalk) 73 75 78 72, P McKeever (Castle) 71 75 75 77; 

299 L Power (Galway) 70 78 76 75, P Murray (Clontarf) 69 75 77 78; 

300 R McNelis (Fintona) 73 75 76 76, D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 71 76 78 75, G Smyth (Clonmel) 72 74 80 74; 

301 W Small (Tandragee) 67 81 76 77, T Ford (Co. Sligo) 74 74 73 80; 

302 J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 76 72 77 77; 

303 D Shaw (Belvoir Park) 72 75 77 79; 

RTD 226 A McCabe (Links Portmarnock) 72 72 82; 

RTD 148 S Carter (Royal Dublin) 73 75.

After 54 holes

212 M Vorster (South Africa) 72 73 67

213 P O'Hanlon (Carton House) 69 74 70

215 R Brazill (Naas) 71 77 67, S Flanagan (Portmarnock ) 70 76 69

216 G O'Mahony (Fota Island) 70 75 71

217 J Madden (Royal Portrush) 72 74 71, D Coghlan (Portmarnock) 71 72 74, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 70 77 70, C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 69 75 73, P Murphy (Rosslare) 68 78 71, Y Premlall (South Africa) 68 77 72

218 P O' Keeffe (Douglas) 71 74 73, J Duminy (South Africa) 70 76 72, S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 70 72 76, A Doran (Co. Louth) 70 71 77

219 M Boucher (Carton House) 73 72 74, H O'Hare (Fortwilliam) 70 77 72, T McLarnon (Massereene) 70 77 72, E Smith (Links Portmarnock) 68 74 77

220 R Mullarney (Galway) 73 75 72, F O'Sullivan (Tralee) 71 73 76, A Ryan (Thurles) 71 72 77, S Walsh (Portmarnock) 69 76 75, H Foley (Royal Dublin) 69 76 75, R McCormack (Palmerstown House Estate) 69 73 78, O Brown (Wales) 68 78 74, G Cullen (Links Portmarnock) 67 77 76

221 T Ford (Co. Sligo) 74 74 73, J Hood (Galgorm Castle) 73 75 73, R Moran (Castle) 73 74 74, P McKeever (Castle) 71 75 75, G Dunne (Co. Louth) 70 78 73, K Egan (Carton House) 70  78  73,  S Desmond (Monkstown)  69  78  74,  P Murray (Clontarf)  69  75  77

222 S Murphy (Portumna) 70 77 75

223 D Brady (Co. Sligo) 74 73 76, J Gourley (Shandon Park) 73 75 75, C Jarvis (South Africa) 72 73 78, D Flynn (Carton House) 71 76 76, D Morley (Oughterard) 68 78 77, M McClean (Malone ) 66 80 77

224 R McNelis (Fintona) 73 75 76, D Shaw (Belvoir Park) 72 75 77, L Power (Galway) 70 78 76, W Small (Tandragee) 67 81 76

225 J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little) 76 72 77, B Best (Rathmore) 72 75 78, D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown) 71 76 78

226 E Murphy (Dundalk) 73 75 78, G Smyth (Clonmel) 72 74 80, A McCabe (Links Portmarnock) 72 72 82

227 J Blake (Island) 71 76 80

RTD 148 S Carter (Royal Dublin) 73 75