BRIAN KEOGH IN ROSSES POINT – 03 APRIL 2013
McNamara displays his star qualities
When your name is Rory and you are a 23-year-old West of Ireland champion, people expect the world. But while Rory McNamara followed in his famous namesake’s footsteps with a stunning 5&4 win over Muskerry’s Niall Gorey at Rosses Point yesterday, he’s got his feet planted firmly on the ground when it comes to taking the plunge into the paid ranks.
“If I am still playing well come August and September, I will go to the Q-School,” said the Kells native, who denied holder Harry Diamond the chance to match his pal Rory McIlroy by retaining the title with a 4&3 semi-final victory before taking down Kildare native Gorey by winning five holes in a devastating six-hole stretch from the ninth.
“But I am very happy with the GUI set-up at the moment because it has been very good for me and allows me to travel and compete all over the world.”
Winner of the Leinster Youths title in 2008, McNamara broke through to win the North of Ireland Championship last year and after two years studying at a golf academy in Spain, he has lived alone in Marbella for the past 12 months.
“The La Cala Resort have been wonderful to me down there and have a great Leadbetter Academy,” McNamara said. “But my ambition is just to get better.
“Since this tournament last year my golf has continued to improve and I just want to see how far I can go.”
After leading the qualifiers, McNamara was one of the title favorites having fallen in the semi-finals in 2010 and again last year.
But he made no mistake against Diamond, closing out the match at the 15th before cruising to a straightforward win in the final.
Gorey had performed a minor miracle to come back from four down with five to play to beat a shell shocked Reeve Whitson of Mourne on the 19th in his semi-final.
“I just lost the plot a bit and lost my concentration,” Whitson said. “Niall made a great birdie on the 14th to get back to three-down and then I hit a bad tee-shot on the 15th and from there I was just up against the momentum.”
Alas for Gorey, McNamara didn’t take his foot off the gas at the same stage in the final.
With 1973 champion Des Smyth giving them a send-off, Gorey won the first in par, lost the second to a four and then halved the third in birdie before racking up a double-bogey at the fourth to go one-down.
After halves in birdie at the fifth, the Kildare native won the sixth in par to get back to all-square, but after halves in bogey at the seventh and pars at the eighth, the match changed at the par-three ninth.
Gorey missed the green and lost the hole to a solid par by McNamara, who then went on a scoring rampage.
After going two-up with a birdie from two feet at the 10th, he took the 11th in par when Gorey took four to find the green and then birdied the 12th with a brilliant chip to go four-up.
Gorey had a 10-footer to win the par-three 13th but missed to remain four-down with five to play. This time there was no miracle as he missed the 14th green and McNamara drilled a five-iron to the heart of the green to set up a championship-winning par four.
“I got out of jail against Reeve but Rory didn’t miss a shot from nine to 14,” Gorey said. “I hit a couple of loose ones and he made a couple of birdies and it was all over very quickly.”
McNamara said: “When I saw Niall in trouble on 14, I said, right, just close it out and I hit a nice five-iron in there. To win two championships in a few months, it’s fantastic. It feels great. I’m absolutely delighted. It was a long, long week.”
Headfort’s McNamara powers to 5 and 4 victory over Gorey
By Brian Keogh for the Irish Times
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 21:14
The killer instinct is crucial in matchplay and Headfort’s Rory McNamara showed that he has it in spades when he put Muskerry’s Niall Gorey to the sword en route to an emphatic 5 and 4 victory in the final of the Radisson Blu-sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open at Rosses Point.
As if on cue from the golfing gods, the Arctic-like conditions that marred the first four days gave way to more benign southeast breezes that allowed the large gallery to shed the gloves, if not the winter woollies.
But the real hot stuff came from 23-year old McNamara in a scrappy final that was all square until they came to the 159-yard ninth.
A winning par there was the first of four wins in a row for the Headfort man and while Gorey briefly stopped the rot with a half in par at the 13th, there was to be no repeat of his dramatic semi-final comeback against Mourne’s Reeve Whitson.
Four down against the recently-crowned Spanish Amateur Open champion with five to play, the Muskerry player birdied the 14th to provoke a dramatic collapse from the talented Ulsterman that ended with his defeat on the 19th.
“I just lost the plot a bit and lost my concentration,” Whitson said.
“Niall made a great birdie on the 14th to get back to three down and then I hit a bad tee shot on the 15th and from there I was just up against the momentum.”
McNamara, however, was not as forgiving. “I got out of jail against Reeve but Rory didn’t miss a shot from nine to 14,” Gorey said. “I hit a couple of loose ones and he made a couple of birdies and it was all over very quickly.”
Having won the ninth to go one up, McNamara hit a seven-iron to two feet at the 10th to set up a birdie and go two up before claiming the 11th in par after Gorey took four to reach the green.
The par-five 12th would be crucial and with Gorey 10 feet away in three, McNamara hit a stunning chip across the shoulder of the green that hit the pin and set up a winning birdie for a four-up lead.
Gorey responded to a fine McNamara tee-shot at the 13th with a superb approach to 10 feet but missed the putt
And it all ended at the next where McNamara displayed the assassin’s instinct that had brought him a 4 and 3 win over defending champion Harry Diamond in a semi-final dogfight he simply refused to lose.
Gorey could not afford a mistake but he carved his approach into the jungle right of the green. “When I saw Niall in trouble, I said, right, just close it out and I hit a nice five iron in there,” McNamara said.
His 25 footer slipped three feet past but after Gorey failed to get up and down, missing his 15 footer for par, the Headfort player calmly stroked home the winning putt to add the West to his win in last year’s North of Ireland Championship.
After two winters studying at a golf academy in Spain, he spent this year at La Cala near in Marbella, simply working to get better. Son of a Sligo woman, his victory was hailed as heartily as a home win last achieved by Cecil Ewing in 1950.
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