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Lynch in disbelief at North of Ireland victory

 

By Paul Kelly

Unheralded Ian Lynch (Rosslare GC) won the North of Ireland Championship at a sun-baked Royal Portrush GC yesterday. The 29-year-old software engineer beat Englishman, Kieran Babbage (The Players Club) 2&1 in Friday's final.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet. I came up here for a bit of a family holiday and some golf and now I'm North of Ireland champion. It's surreal to even say it, it's unbelievable," said Lynch moments after clinching victory with a par on the 17th.

"I was playing okay before the tournament started. I won a scratch cup a month or so ago but still, this is a big step up. I played alright on the first day of qualifying on The Valley, shooting three under.

"I thought, 'fair enough, you have a chance of making the matchplay stages now'.

"From then on I was just taking it one round at a time. Anything can happen in match play."

There was nothing to separate the two players on the front nine and the duo were level as they turned for home. Lynch then made his move, winning the 10th and 11th in par to go two clear of his opponent.

Babbage conceded the 14th when he came to grief in a greenside bunker to fall three behind. Although Lynch bogeyed 15, Babbage could not capitalise and that left him needing to win 16 to keep the match alive.

Lynch failed to find the green with his tee shot at the 16th and Babbage this time took advantage and made par to take the final down the penultimate hole. That was as far as they went. Lynch found the fairway with his drive down the hill on 17 and pocketed a regulation par from 30 feet to take the title.

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