by Faolan Cahill, Golf Ireland
England’s John Gough
says he is delighted to bring home the silverware in front of friends and family as he won the 2023 Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship at The Island.
The Berkshire golfer shot a cool final round of 67 to finish on -8 and one shot clear of the field, with fellow Englishman Dylan Shaw-Radford in second and yesterday’s course record holder Tomi Bowen falling back to -6 in third.
But it was Gough who notched up seven birdies on his way to victory. A hat-trick of birdies on 8, 9 and 10 brought him into contention before he repeated the feat on 14, 15 and 16 to seal a famous win.
“It’s so good to win the Irish amateur, especially with family relations in Ireland,” said Gough, whose parents are both Irish.
“It’s class winning in front of a lot of the family, I have a very big family. My dad is from Meath, he has eight sisters and two brothers, and then my mum is from County Down, in Newry.
“I have so many cousins all over the place, aunts and uncles, you’d struggle to remember the names that many of them, but seeing them here, it’s unbelievable, because they don’t get to see me play golf a lot.
“And then having them here and to pull through and get the trophy, definitely felt like a home event with the support I had. It’s a special place to do it for me.”
Gough came in under the radar on the final day, starting six shots back but a combination of birdie streaks and struggling leaders meant he came to the fore over the closing holes.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, as a wayward drive to the left on 18 put him in serious trouble. His recovery shot found the fairway, before producing a miraculous approach to a couple of feet from the pin, giving him a tap in par, and with it the championship.
Overnight leader Bowen came back to the field as he made five bogeys on the front nine, but he recovered to give himself a chance of victory. He required a birdie on the last to force a play-off but his approach missed the green right and with that his challenge ended.
Best of the Irish was Laytown and Bettystown’s Alex Maguire, who shot a 71 to end the day on -5, giving him a solo fourth-placed finish. Maguire held the lead around the halfway point but failed to make any birdies on the back nine which halted his progress.
And it was Gough who kept his composure to take the win as he steps up preparations ahead of the Walker Cup at St Andrew’s in September.
“Delighted to be off the course, it was stressful. What a venue, the course played fantastic. The last stretch, especially 17 and 18 haven’t treated me too well the last two days. To be off the course and have everything done is a big relief, and obviously very happy,” said Gough.
“It will be a late night but I’m going to have to go a little easy because I have a flight to catch tomorrow morning to get to the US Open qualifying, so I'm gonna have to go handy.
“Course it kickstarts confidence going in (to the Walker Cup), I had a win at the start of the year in Australia, bit of a dry spell since as such but been playing good golf so hopefully just keep it going.
“Obviously it’s so good to win the Irish amateur, especially with the family relations and stuff all from Ireland but it's gonna kickstart me hopefully, keep the run going for the rest of the year.”
The Englishman's game travels well.
It was his sixth win on three continents in less than three years following his victories at the Palmetto Amateur
(2021), English Amateur
, Spanish International
(2022), Lytham Trophy
(2022) and the Master of the Amateurs
ABOUT THE Irish Amateur Open
First played in 1892 and held every year with
exception of the War Years up to 1959, and
revived in 1995, the Irish Amateur Open can
a strong history of producing great Champions
including Joe Carr (three times), Jimmy
Tom Craddock, Padraig Harrington, Michael
Noel Fox, Louis Oosthuizen and Pedro
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