Irish Open job for Wellingborough’s MacLaren

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Meghan MacLaren produced a stunning finish to win the Irish Women’s Open Amateur Strokeplay 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 the 19-year-old from Wellingborough.

MacLaren has only 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.

“I’ve won a few times there and that probably helped me,” the student at Florida International University explained.

“America, and all the tournaments we play, has taught me how to score better.”

She led the competition 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 Grant seized her opportunity with three birdies on the outward half.

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.

MacLaren added: “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.

“Thankfully I started making some pars, but that wasn’t enough for a long time.

“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.”

MacLaren also combined with English champion Sarah-Jane Boyd and Surrey’s Sammy Fuller 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.