Matthew McClean secures his first Irish Amateur Open
Matthew McClean (Irish Golf Photo)
Matthew McClean (Irish Golf Photo)

Malone golfer Matthew McClean battled back from four shots down to claim his first Irish title with the Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur Open Championship on a thrilling final day.

The 30-year-old shot a brilliant 2-under 69 to push ahead of Walker Cup teammate Liam Nolan down the home stretch at County Sligo Golf Club.

McClean’s steady round included just one bogey on ten, and with three birdies, with two on the difficult back nine, it ensured he finished on 11-under, two shots clear of Nolan.

For the former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, who had his father Noel and girlfriend Kate there for support, this is another huge boost to his season on the back of a historic European Nations victory alongside his Irish teammates in Sotogrande recently.

McClean is currently ranked No. 1 in the AmateurGolf.com Mid-Amateur Rankings and No. 14 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Rankings.

“It feels great. I’ve tried for many years to get an Irish Championship, and there have been multiple times when I’ve not been on the winning end,” said McClean.

“So it’s nice to hold on there. That’s obviously what most players are judged by. Whatever you do, how many seconds and thirds at the end of the day, it’s the win.”

McClean will now turn his attention to another tilt at the Brabazon Trophy in Hollinwell, an event that Nolan won last year.

For much of this week, it looked like Nolan would pick up another major title. After moving day, rounds of 66-68-66 gave him a 13-under total.

But that lead was whittled down on the front nine. Nolan dropped three shots in his first three holes while McClean birdied No. 3.

Just like his inspired fightback from a double-bogey in Round 3, Nolan showed resolve and had two subsequent birdies before a bogey on nine.

From there on in, it was all pars until No. 17, when Nolan bogeyed. Following birdies on holes No. 12 and 15, McClean was in position to seal the win with a par on 18.

Further back, it was hometown golfer T.J. Ford who mounted the most meaningful challenge but even a scintillating 65 was only enough to help him into third place on -6. Tom Matthews and Hugh Foley rounded out the top five.

But for McClean this is an important personal victory and career milestone with more big targets on the horizon.

“I was a bit behind going in today; it somewhat worked in my favor, just in terms of I could have a go at it out there and feel free to have a go at a few putts,” said McClean.

“I played nicely, and Liam got off to a bad start but fought back really well. Other than the last couple of holes there, he just got a bit unlucky with a couple of fliers.

“The front nine was playing a bit harder with the wind direction today. A hot start, even a couple under through nine was a very good nine.

“I just had to try my best and shoot as low a round as I can, and thankfully hung in there at the end and hit a couple of nice shots down the stretch.

“The back nine there this afternoon will probably be the biggest benefit. I’ve been playing well since I got back from a bit of a time off in golf over the winter, I’ve been swinging it quite nicely.

“Down the stretch under pressure, it’s obviously more difficult. So it’ll be something that I can take forward into the rest of the year and hopefully try to win again.

“But I’ll enjoy this one and enjoy tonight.”

Results: Irish Amateur Open
1Northern IrelandMatthew McCleanNorthern Ireland50066-68-70-69=273
2IrelandLiam NolanIreland40066-68-66-75=275
3IrelandT.J. FordIreland30068-71-74-65=278
4WalesThomas MatthewsWales30071-68-70-70=279
5IrelandHugh FoleyIreland30070-73-71-66=280

View full results for Irish Amateur Open

ABOUT THE Irish Amateur Open

First played in 1892 and held every year with the exception of the War Years up to 1959, and revived in 1995, the Irish Amateur Open can boast a strong history of producing great Champions including Joe Carr (three times), Jimmy Bruen, Tom Craddock, Padraig Harrington, Michael Hoey, Noel Fox, Louis Oosthuizen and Pedro Figueiredo.

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