Marc Norton roars back to claim close victory at Esker Hills
Marc Norton came storming through the field with a final round 67 to win the Leinster Youths Championship by one shot at Esker Hills.
Norton (19), set the clubhouse target on level par and then waited anxiously as Jake Whelan (Newlands) and Jack Blake (The Island) tried to catch him down the closing straight. In the end both players came up short. Whelan shot 70 to finish at one over while Blake's 73 left him two over.
Norton's final round heroics included six birdies, three on each nine. Two under at the turn thanks to birdies at the first, sixth and eighth, Norton picked up further shots at the 10th and the 13th, where he stitched a 6-iron within two feet of the hole from 179 yards.
A three-putt bogey on 15 might have been costly but he quickly made amends with a birdie at the next hole. Two par fours to finish saw him home in 67 as he claimed the biggest win of his career.
"Going into the last round, I thought 67 was needed," said Norton, who began four behind. "I birdied the first and bogeyed the third but after that I just found my rhythm and held a few putts that got me going."
His biggest putt of the day, a 20-footer, came at the par-four 7th when a poor approach left him scrambling.
Coming to the 18th, Norton had to scramble again, this time from the sand. He splashed out to six feet and holed what would prove to be the decisive putt.
"It's my first GUI win, I've been close before," said Norton, who lost out in a playoff at the Munster Boys in 2014.
His win at Esker Hills comes in his first event on home soil since returning from Oakland University, where he was named Freshman of the Year in the Horizon League.