England’s Meghan MacLaren produced a stunning finish to win the Irish women’s open amateur stroke play championship by one stroke at Castle Golf Club, Dublin.
She chipped in for birdie on 16, holed a daunting, downhill eight-footer for another birdie on 17, and parred 18 to hold off a determined onslaught by Ireland’s Paula Grant.
“It’s amazing – and I did it the hard way!” said Meghan, from Wellingborough in Northamptonshire (Image © Pat Cashman/ILGU). She’s recently returned from her first and very successful year at university in the USA, where she’s won three times on the women’s college circuit, and the experience stood her in good stead.
“I’ve won a few times there and that probably helped me. America and all the tournaments we play has taught me how to score better,” said Meghan, 19, who is a student at Florida International University and the Sun Belt Conference champion.
She led the Irish stroke play from the start, opening with a one-under par 71 and following up with a second round 73. She was three strokes clear of the field at the start of the final round, but began with four straight bogeys while Paula Grant seized her opportunity with three birdies on the outward half.
“I started badly, with a couple of bad swings and a couple of lip-outs. It’s a tricky course where it’s easy to get stuck on a bogey run,” said Meghan. “Thankfully I started making some pars, but that wasn’t enough for a long time.”
The pair were tied as they headed into the back nine and Meghan lost the lead for the first time in the tournament when the Irish player birdied 12 and 14. “Paula played really, really well and made lots of birdies and at one stage I thought I might not catch her.
“I was two behind with four to play, but made a good up and down on 15, where she dropped a shot, then I chipped in for birdie on the 16, which was a big turning point. That got us to level with two to play and I birdied 17 as well – it was probably the hardest eight-footer I’ll ever have, downhill and slippery but thankfully I got it in.
“It really was a battle. At one point I thought maybe it had gone, but I hung in there, kept making pars and getting birdies when I needed to.”
Meghan (pictured below) also combined with Surrey’s Sammy Fuller (centre) and English champion Sarah-Jane Boyd to win the Nations Cup. England were five shots clear of Ireland with Scotland third and Brazil fourth. Sammy, from Roehampton, tied fifth in the individual event while Sarah-Jane (Truro) shared 11th place.
This was Meghan’s first event since returning home for the summer break, and her first appearance in this championship. Before starting university she was in England’s winning team at the girls’ Home Internationals, she won the French U18 open title and was runner up in the English girls’ championship.
Leading final scores
PAR 72 SSS 74 CSS 76 75 75
218 Meghan MacLaren (Wellingborough) 71 73 74
219 Paula Grant (IRE) 76 73 70
227 Eilidh Briggs (SCO) 76 71 80 Emma O'Driscoll (IRE) 74 76 77
228 Maria Dunne (IRE) 79 75 74 Lesley Atkins (SCO) 74 77 77 Samantha Fuller (Roehampton) 73 82 73
229 Jessica Wilcox (Blankney) 79 76 74 Jessica Carty (IRE) 79 77 73 Róisín Brady (IRE) 73 82 74
230 Chloe Ryan (IRE) 78 72 80 Amy Boulden (WAL) 77 76 77 Sarah Jane Boyd (Truro) 74 77 79
231 Olivia Mehaffey (IRE) 78 76 77
232 Samantha Giles (St Mellion) 79 76 77