WELSH teenager Rhys Pugh claimed the Irish Amateur Open after a dramatic three-hole aggregate play-off at a wind-lashed Royal Dublin to take a giant step towards Walker Cup selection later this year.
The 17-year-old grabbed the first senior win of his career when he beat Scotland’s Gordon Stevenson by four shots in winds gusting over 30 mph.
“It’s probably the biggest win of my career so far,” said a delighted Pugh. “It pushes me up to the next level. Walker Cup, who knows? Hopefully. I don’t pick the team. I’m just looking forward to the St Andrews Links which is my next event.”
Pugh led by a shot overnight from Stevenson on two under par before extending his advantage to three shots over the Scot and defending champion Alan Dunbar after a third round 74. They eventually finished level on six over as Stevenson bogeyed the last for a 75 and Pugh made a fine par a for a battling 78. However, the latter ran out an easy winner in the play-off.
“Rhys and I had a great game today and unfortunately a poor tee shot on 17 cost me,” Stevenson said. “Full credit to him. He took his opportunity and it was ballsy of him to make his par up the last in regulation to force the playoff.”
For a while it looked likely that Holland’s Daan Huizing would take the title when he went to the last leading by one from Pugh and Stevenson.
Needing a par for a 71 and a four over par total, the 20-year-old Dutchman racked up a triple bogey seven at the tough 18ths.
That set a seven over par target for Greystones’ schoolboy Paul Dunne, who was putting together a stunning final round.
Seven off the lead with a round to go, the 18-year-old Leaving Certificate student was one under par for the afternoon and six over for the championship playing the last.
But he lipped out from 15 feet for par and posted a best of the afternoon 72 to eventually miss out on a place in the play-off by a single stroke .
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