James Newton wins Irish Amateur Open
19th May 2019
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Cheshire’s James Newton recovered from an early wobble and survived a late scare to seize the Flogas Irish Amateur Open title with five shots to spare at County Sligo on Ireland’s west coast.

The 24 year old from Macclesfield led by five after three rounds and kept the field at bay throughout a difficult final round.

Newton closed with 74 to finish at nine under par. He began with three bogeys but quickly recovered and although he tripled the 16th coming home, he had enough shots in hand to withstand the blow.

Ireland international Conor Purcell emerged as his closest challenger but the Portmarnock star could only get within five strokes of the leader.

“I knew that I could win,” said Newton, from Prestbury Golf Club. “One of my goals was to win a 72 hole event. I’ve ticked that off quite early. I need to go back and re-evaluate my goals now.”

“I changed coach last October and moved to Peter Barber at Didsbury Golf Club,” Newton explained. “The good has always been good enough and he [Barber] has made the bad a lot better.”

Two rounds of 66 testified to the quality of his game. Five ahead at the halfway stage, Newton punched in 69 after round three to hold his lead. In the end, he succeeded by a distance.

“It’s nice to have a win early on in the season,” Newton reflected. “And I know that I can do it again this year so I just need to go and do it.”

After a rocky start, Newton recalibrated at the fourth and a welcome birdie changed his demeanour. Another followed at the fifth, where he got up and down for his four, and he continued on a steady course from there.

A lank, lithe figure Newton has a background in martial arts. At the age of 10, he had a black belt in karate. His athletic ability was evident off the tee. With the driver, he had up to 40 yards on his playing partners and he provided a forceful demonstration on number eight, which played as the hardest hole on the course. He powered his way to a rare birdie three with a four iron to the green.

Hopes of a home success quickly dwindled amid the wind and rain at Rosses Point. First round leader, Ronan Mullarney, lying second overnight, endured a dismal day. Mullarney carded a course record 62 in Thursday’s opening round but finished with 78, which left nine shots off the pace in fifth place.

In the second last group, Conor Purcell found a way to cope with the grind. He picked up two shots on the front nine to reach seven under but he needed Newton to lend a helping hand.

“To shoot the score he did with the lead he had was pretty impressive,” said Purcell. “I was always playing for second really. He [Newton] was comfortable after nine.”

Purcell signed off with 72 to finish as runner-up on four under. The Dubliner began the year with victory at the Australian Amateur Championship and has finished second in the first two domestic events of the season. Such form, no doubt, will have pleased the watching Walker Cup selectors.

“All you can do is put yourself in the mix,” said Purcell when asked about his Walker Cup prospects. “I’ve had what I consider a good start to the year. I just need to push on from here.”

Click here to read the report from the Golfing Union of Ireland website

Click here for the final scores in full

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