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Galbraith delivers a champion show to clinch North crown

By Peter Hutcheon

John Ross Galbraith is the new North of Ireland champion.

The Whitehead man overcame Rosslare's Gary Collins with a birdie four at the second play-off hole at Royal Portrush to clinch the title which he adds to the Irish Close.

Galbraith showed his character by staying in contention despite his opponent taking a two-hole lead on the tenth.

Wet and windy conditions prevented either man from playing their best golf in the final, but it was a compelling competition nevertheless.

The Ulster player reached the 15th tee one down and made the most of a Collins mistake as the Rosslare man found a greenside bunker with his approach and was unable to get up and down.

Sand proved to be his undoing at the par four 16th as well, as his second landed in a bunker 20 yards short of the putting surface.

With Galbraith chipping up to three feet, Collins played out to around four feet from the sand, but missed both that putt and the return, conceding the hole to leave Galbraith leading for the first time in the final.

At the par five 17th, which was playing into a very stiff breeze, both men found trouble off the tee. Galbraith needed to take a penalty drop after driving into the bushes.

Both players ended up in the greenside bunker and Collins could only leave his escape 35 feet from the pin and an ugly hole was shared in bogey sixes.

Despite finding the fairway on the long 484 yard par four 18th, Galbraith could only bogey the hole, leaving Collins to level the match with his par four.

Galbraith had a huge let-off at the first play-off hole as Collins lipped out with a par putt from just two and a half feet and again the hole was halved with bogeys. And the Whitehead player made his power count as he reached the green on the second play-off hole in two and rolled up a 20-foot eagle putt to within inches.

Collins was unable to match the birdie four leaving Galbraith the 2015 Cathedral Eye North of Ireland Amateur champion.

It was a great outcome for the talented young Northern Ireland man known as John Paul.

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