Olivia Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies) confirmed her status as one of the finest amateur lady golfers in the world at gloriously sunny Lahinch yesterday when she withstood an outstanding challenge from fellow Ulster golfer Louise Coffey (Malone) to carry off the Irish Ladies Close Championship.
World number eight Mehaffey, 18, justified her favouritism in an event that produced some great matches and added her name to those of other greats like Philomena Garvey, Mary McKenna and Claire Hourihane. She already has a string of major titles to her credit including this year’s Irish and Welsh Stroke Play Championships and she is poised to lead Britain and Ireland into battle in next month’s Curtis Cup match against the US at Dun Laoire.
Nevertheless, she was made to battle all the way to the final green before getting the better of a doughty opponent in Louise Coffey. Both players had coasted through the morning semi-finals, Mehaffey beating local hope and leading qualifier Sinead Sexton by 5 and 4 while Coffey got home at the 12th against Aoife Lowry from Tipperary.
However, the final was an entirely different matter. Coffey served early notice of her intent by winning the 1st and even though they were level after two it was clear that little or nothing separated the pair. Mehaffey was one ahead through the turn but it was all square after the next with Olivia in deep rough off the tee.
A birdie 4 at the 14th saw her lead restored and the margin was two after a great winning pitch and putt at the 15th. But the short 16th went to Coffey and the massively promising new champion had to negotiate a four foot putt for par at the 18th to clinch the title.
Semi-finals: L Coffey (Malone) bt S Sexton (Lahinch) 5 & 4; O Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies) bt O Lowry (Tipperary) 7 & 6; Final: Mehaffey bt Coffey 1 hole.
Final: A Murphy (Carlow) bt E Corcoran (Grange) 7 & 6.
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