West of Ireland Amateur Golf Championship 2012
Dazzling Diamond shines brightest in the West by Paul Healy at Rosses Point
Irish Times – Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The sun finally made an appearance at Rosses Point yesterday to reveal a dazzling Diamond – Harry Diamond that is – who claimed the 2012 Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship with a one-hole win over Stephen Healy (Claremorris) in their matchplay final. The Belvoir Park man – best pal of a certain Rory McIlroy – followed the 2011 US Open champion onto “the West” roll-of-honour with a hard-fought victory at the illustrious Co Sligo links. “I’m just relieved to get through,” said Diamond after his triumph on the 18th green. “I didn’t play well at all this afternoon. I was changing swing thought every hole basically, trying to find something; just couldn’t get it going. Luckily I putted well, that was the main thing. My putter kept me in it. Two great putts on 17 and another two on the last.”
Losing finalist Healy – who had aimed to bring the crown westwards for the first time since Galway’s Joe Lyons triumphed in 2007 – was philosophical in defeat. “I’m disappointed. I hit good putts but they didn’t go in but I suppose that happens.” Conceding a penalty shot at the 12th hole didn’t help Healy’s cause either: “I recovered well but I didn’t make that (putt on 12) either,” he added. The decider had swung to and fro – with the players level on holes 14 and 15 – before Healy missed a 12-foot putt on hole 16 to hand Diamond the advantage which he held to the finish.
Earlier in the day, in the second semi-final, Diamond squeezed past Co Louth’s Simon Ward by just one hole. Before that Healy had accounted for Rory McNamara (Headfort, Meath) on a 2 and 1 margin in their last four pairing.
Semi-finals: H Diamond bt S Ward (Co Louth) 1 hole; S Healy R McNamara (Headfort) 2 and 1.
Final : H Diamond (Belvoir Park) bt S Healy (Claremorris) 1 hole.
Text from pal Rory McIlroy spurs Diamond to first GUI ‘Major’
RORY McIlroy threw down the gauntlet to his close friend Harry Diamond at lunchtime via a text message, saying: “Get your name on the board alongside the good players.” A few hours later, 27-year-old Belfast-born Diamond had duly obliged by claiming the Radisson Blu West of Ireland title for his first GUI ‘Major’ title. The Belvoir Park member now joins an illustrious list of West winners that includes two-time champion McIlroy.
Diamond had to chisel out a hard-earned victory in the final by one hole against surprise packet Stephen Healy of Claremorris, but they all count — and Rory was due to receive a return text. “At least I’m one up on him this year. I’ve got one Major, he hasn’t got any this year yet, so I’ll slag him about that. Hopefully I’ll go out and see him in a few weeks,” said a smiling Diamond. This has been a tough campaign since Friday. The weather at Rosses Point has featured rain, hail, wind and chilly temperatures, so the two men left standing in the final had to call on all their reserves of energy for the final 18 holes. Diamond had beaten his good friend Simon Ward of County Louth by one hole in the morning semi-finals, while 22-year-old Healy ousted Sligo-born Rory McNamara (Headfort) on a 2&1 verdict. “I’m just relieved to have got through. I’ve been coming here since I was 17. I missed a couple of years when I went to the Masters, but I’ve probably played eight times at the West,” said Diamond. “I don’t think I’ve ever missed the cut, but I went four or five years getting beaten in the first round. Now I’ve finally got this trophy. It’s great.”
Healy has surpassed expectations as he only came back to serious golf this year. The former Irish Boys champion admitted he had become disillusioned with the sport over the period of a golf scholarship at Jacksonville University. “I got a degree in accounting, but by the time I graduated last May, I was fed up with golf. I just didn’t like it any more,” he said. “I had a good job over there in the States but my dad convinced me to come home and try the golf one more year.” Healy has been working on his game with Brendan McDaid, and suffice it to say he made quite an impression over the last five days. The final was no classic, but it was tense and poised on a knife edge, particularly over the last two holes. Healy, who had a habit of fast starts, was two up after six holes, but three-putted the seventh to throw Diamond a lifeline.
“That was a big turning point. I was two down and I felt very tired. I was trying to find something in my swing but then he three-putted seven, and I won eight and nine,” said Diamond. The Belvoir man made a hash of the 10th, where he duffed a chip to lose his one-hole advantage, and they halved 11 in par. Then Diamond hit the green of the par-five 12th in three, and Healy had to concede the hole after finding trouble in the rough where he incurred a penalty shot. The next big move came at the 418-yard par-four 14th, where Diamond was through the green in two, and took three to get down while Healy got his par. On the par-three 16th Healy missed the green right, and failed to get up and down while Diamond nailed a par to go one-up again. The Ulster player then protected his lead with long-range putts to set up saving pars on 17 and 18 which clinched the title.