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Annabel Wilson targets LPGA Tour future after comeback win to clinch Irish Close title

Proud moment: Annabel Wilson with the Irish Close trophy
Proud moment: Annabel Wilson with the Irish Close trophy
Annabel plays the 13th hole during the Irish Close Championship at Woodbrook

By Paul Kelly

Lurgan GC's Annabel Wilson dug deep to win the Irish Women's Close Championship title at Woodbrook GC yesterday.

Facing fellow Irish international Paula Grant (Lisburn GC), the 18-year-old found herself two down with two to play but showed some steely resolve to win on the first extra hole.

It was a remarkable result for Wilson, who has spent the last three months concentrating on her A-Level exams and came into the tournament with no expectations.

"It hasn't hit me. I think it will on the drive home - I am delighted, it's been a marathon this week. I'm knackered but I'm buzzing," said Wilson, who will take up a US golf scholarship at UCLA in September.

"I learned from the first day, I could see some rusty patches in my short game, which wasn't sharp, but I'm fortunate enough my long game is up there.

"I'm always hitting 14 or 15 greens so that kind of saves me but there are some days like today when your timing is off but that's the way it is, that's golf and that's why we love it."

For Grant, who had beaten Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) on the 18th in the morning semi-finals, it was disappointment at the final hurdle. Her tee shot on 17 found a bunker and her drive on the 19th got stuck behind one of Woodbrook's many pine trees - ultimately costing her the match.

"Honestly, I was just playing golf, I had no nerves at all really. Paula sort of handed me one on 17, we both made sloppy errors there," added Wilson.

"On 18 I hit a lovely approach in and then on the tie hole I just needed two rhythmic swings and that's what I did."

Jessica Ross (Clandeboye) was the other beaten semi-finalist but returns to Belfast with the Leitrim Cup as the leading qualifier. Emma Fleming (Elm Park) won the Ita Wallace Plate, while Wilson also claimed the Sybill Meharg trophy for best U18 in stroke play qualifying.

Next on the agenda for Wilson will be the European Team Championships.

"That's always a fun week, again it's a marathon and it will be really warm so I'll need to get my fitness up after this week, get a bit of rest and go at it again," she added.

"Then I'm going to play European Individual and it's not long then until I go to America which I'm really excited about."

In September, Wilson will join Olivia Mehaffey (Arizona State), Julie McCarthy (Auburn) and Mairead Martin (Louisville) on the NCAA Division 1 collegiate circuit as she joins the golf programme at UCLA.

She continued: "I can't wait, I've been counting down the days for the last two years. It's brilliant. They've a great golf programme and they've produced so many LPGA Tour players and that's where I want to be so it's the perfect school for me."

• Mallow's James Sugrue won the Amateur Championship at Portmarnock yesterday, beating Scotland's Euan Walker by one hole.

The 22-year-old gained exemptions into The 148th Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.

"I can't wait. It's unreal. I'm really looking forward to it. I love Royal Portrush, it's probably one of my favourite links courses, second to Portmarnock," he said.

"With the other Major opportunities, it's incredible to think about it and I'm really looking forward to what lies ahead."

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