Belfast Telegraph

Clement Sordet living the dream after Northern Ireland Open joy

By Peter Hutcheon

Frenchman Clement Sordet said he was "living the dream" after becoming the new Northern Ireland Open champion.

The fans were again out in force at Galgorm Castle, the 39,250 tournament total almost 5,000 higher than last year.

The 22-year-old clinched victory in just his fourth start as a professional, seeing off American John Hahn by a single shot with a closing round of 65, which took him to 17 under par.

He had trailed the leaders by two shots going into the final round but produced a superb back nine to claim the title.

"I am honestly living the dream," he said.

"I haven't even realised just yet that I have won. It feels amazing. With my caddie, we did such a great job today and over the last three days as well.

"We kept the same strategy that had worked well for the first three rounds.

"I made some good putts and had three eagle putts, which shows I was playing good approaches. I holed one of them on the second which was a good start to the round.

"I played amazing golf, especially today. I didn't feel I made any mistakes out there and it just feels amazing to win."

Sordet joined the professional ranks after a great amateur career which included six wins on the American college circuit.

"This is only my fourth event as a professional so to be in the winner's circle already feels amazing," he added.

"I really played well last year at college in America and that really helped me get ready for the Challenge Tour.

"In the US we play such hard courses that prepare you for professional golf really well - it's not easier here, but you're ready for this.

"I had a really good year out there last year and I won six times in college, so I have won before, but nothing compares to this.

"I've never seen that many people around the greens but I tried not to notice them too much. I loved it out there though, the atmosphere was unbelievable.

"If you say you're not nervous out there you're lying, but I was excited too. I was shaking a bit but I just tried to stay patient and do what I've been doing for so many years."

Hahn also shot a fine 66 on a dramatic afternoon, including a birdie-birdie finish, to take second place on his own ahead of Ricardo Gouveia and 2013 champion Daan Huizing.

Road to Oman Rankings leader Gouveia made eight birdies in his final round, but three bogeys prevented him from taking a second victory of the season.

Cork's Niall Turner could manage only a three under par round of 68 which earned him a share of eighth, four behind Sordet.

Newcastle's Simon Thornton and Moyola player Chris Selfridge both ended with level-par rounds of 71 to finish in a share of 16th place.

Lurgan's Gareth Shaw was the only other Ulster player to make the cut and he signed off with a one-over 72 for a joint 42nd place finish.

Sordet, two behind Turner and other overnight leader Emilio Cuartero Blanco of Spain, eagled the second to ignite his charge although Jamie McLeary's birdie-eagle start left him at the top of the leaderboard with the Corkman.

However, Turner's challenge faltered as a double bogey at the sixth dropped him back to 13 under. By the turn, Sordet led the field on 15 under and the advantage soon became three as the Corkman failed to birdie the par-five 10th, after hitting a tree, and then bogeyed the short 12th.

Sordet's birdie at the 16th left him two ahead on 17 under and two closing pars were enough to secure his first professional title as Hahn finished one adrift after matching the Frenchman's 66.

Huizing and Gouveia also fired closing 66s, with Scotsman McLeary falling back to a share of fifth on 14 under with his compatriot Peter Whiteford and South African Haydn Porteous.

Belfast Telegraph


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