PORTRUSH, Ireland (May 27, 2012) -- Chris Selfridge has landed the Golfsure sponsored Irish Amateur Close Championship following a dramatic last round at Royal Portrush.
The 20 year old, from Moyola Park Golf Club in Co. Londonderry carded a final round 75 to win by two strokes from Mourne’s Reeve Whitson and Gary Hurley from West Waterford.
Selfridge, who is on a golf scholarship at the University of Toledo where he is the Toledo Rocket’s Freshman of the Year, began his final round with a four shot lead which grew into a six shot lead after just six holes.
But a double bogey on the seventh dropped him back to 7 under par, and this was followed by another dropped shot on the eighth – his lead now down to three over Whitson.
Birdies on the ninth and tenth steadied the ship for Selfridge, who admitted to being very nervous and not getting much sleep on Saturday night.
“I’m delighted obviously” he beamed afterwards. “I played great today, but on the last six holes I got very nervous. The longest I slept last night was an hour, I was so nervous out there, but I got through it thankfully.”
Experience was perhaps key for Selfridge who has never surrendered the lead in a tournament. “I’ve never ever lost with a lead in a tournament, so I always had that but I had a six shot lead at one stage and through it away. I got through it in the end, just got over the line”.
Despite concluding his freshman campaign this year in Toledo with three-straight top ten finishes, Selfridge wasn’t convinced that people believed he had a chance. “No-one expected me to win today, even with a three shot lead. I knew how good I was playing, I have never played this well. Okay, I shot 75 but the putts didn’t drop and I got a couple of terrible breaks especially on seven where I made double from a perfect tee shot”.
“I knew I had a huge lead, but when I double bogeyed seven and bogeyed eight my original game plan was to play nine and ten as the par fives and try and make birdie that way but I sort of knew that I had to get back on board so I actually hit two drives 400 yards, flicked two lob wedges in and could have made two eagles but made two birdies. When I did that I knew I was in a good place to be in”.
So what does the future hold for Selfridge? Past winners of the Irish Close include Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy. Will Selfridge follow these golfing superstars into the paid ranks?“I just keep trying to get better, a lot of people treat golf as a job. I’m going to get a degree, I’m going to get a masters degree. I’m definitely going to try professional golf probably. I’m not depending on it. Whatever I end up doing, I end up doing. I want to enjoy golf, I love coming to these things”
Reeve Whitson got within one shot of Selfridge’s lead at the 16th, but a bogey on 18 left the talented Mourne member two back, alongside West Waterford’s Gary Hurley who played his final round in 2 under par, and like Whitson moments before him, carded a bogey on the last.
The only other player to finish on par or better was Ardee’s Eugene Smith who had tasted victory at the Munster Youths last month. The experience of playing in the final group on the last day of a major championship will stand to the 20 year old who came home from New Zealand to compete in the summer golf season in Ireland and Britain.