Dunbar Amateur Glory at Royal Troon / Round-up
Alan Dunbar today became the latest golfer from Northern Ireland to shine on the big stage after winning the 117th Amateur Championship at Royal Troon.
The 23-year-old defeated Austrian teenager Matthias Schwab by one hole to become the third Northern Irish winner after Michael Hoey in 2001 and Garth McGimpsey in 1985.
The Portrush amateur takes The Amateur Championship trophy back to Northern Ireland hard on the heels of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy winning the 2010 and 2011 US Opens, and Darren Clarke’s victory in last year’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s.
By virtue of his win, Dunbar will compete in next month's Open, probably next year's Masters at Augusta, as well as the US Open.
Dunbar’s experience, and his putting stroke, paid off against the 17-year-old Austrian in the first final to go all 36 holes since Spain’s Alejandro Larrazabal defeated Martin Sell at Royal Porthcawl in 2002.
Dunbar and Schwab exchanged the lead five times in the 36-hole final, in one of the most closely-fought matches in The Amateur Championship’s history.
“My putting was great all week,” said Dunbar, who beat Baberton's Paul Ferrier in the semi-finals. “I struggled with the long game as the week went on and I had to rely on my putting.”
A large gallery braved wind and rain to watch the final, including around 40 members of Rathmore Golf Club who had made the ferry ride from Larne to Troon to cheer their man on. They were treated to great golf in trying conditions from the two finalists.
Schwab, a semi-final victor over Jack McDonald of Kilmarnock (Barassie), entered the afternoon round with a one-hole advantage after just edging the first 18 holes.
However, Dunbar went two up after five holes of the afternoon session when he played the first four holes in one under-par and Schwab in two over. “I thought I had it, but then I struggled,” said Dunbar.
It was a see saw contest from there, but Dunbar’s experience of winning the 2009 St Andrews Links Trophy and winning two points out of three in last year’s victorious Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team paid off over the last two holes.
Dunbar made pars at 17 and 18 while Schwab failed to get up and down to save par on both. The match ended when the young Austrian missed his four-foot par putt on the final green.
Next year’s Amateur Championship will take place on 17-22 June at Royal Cinque Ports and Princes in Kent, England.
* Paul Lawrie Foundation Scottish Boys champion Craig Howie (Peebles) shares the halfway lead in the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters, the prestigious 72-hole junior event being played at Nizels Golf and Country Club, Kent.
Howie has recorded rounds of 69 and 70 for five-under-par 139, a total matched by Max Orrin (North Foreland), competing in his home county.
Anthony Blaney (Liberton) shares seventh spot on 143, Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie) is on 144 and Alan Waugh (Cowglen) on 147.
The Scots quartet made the cut for the final 36 holes played tomorrow.
* Chris Doak sits just two shots off the lead going into the final round of the Scottish Hydro Challenge hosted by Macdonald Hotels and Resorts at Macdonald Spey Valley, Aviemore.
The Scot fired a 66 today for a 10-under-par total and a share of fourth place, two behind English leading pair Simon Wakefield and Sam Walker.
* Scots Ross Kellett (Motherwell) and Fraserburgh's Kris Nicol survived the 36-hole cut in the Alps Tour event in France, the Open International du Haut Poitou.
Kellet produced a fine second round of 68 to share seventh spot, with Nicol tied 23rd going into tomorrow's final round. Philip McLean (Peterhead) missed the cut.