Wednesday, May 31, 2023

(Report courtesy of Irish Golf Desk)


Max Kennedy may not make the Walker Cup this year but he will certainly have the selectors’ attention over the next few months after going six extra holes to clinch a thrilling play-off victory in the Ulster Men’s Amateur Stroke Play Open Championship at Clandeboye.

As home favourite Jessica Ross romped to a 10-shot win in the Women’s Championship, the Royal Dublin youngster defeated Killeen’s Jamie Butler on the third sudden-death hole after they finished level in the three-hole aggregate playoff (par-bogey-par).

Butler carded rounds of 64 and 69 to take a six-shot lead into the final round on a sweltering day and shot a five-over 76 to be caught on four under by University of Louisville star Kennedy, who started eight shots back, with a closing 68.

They finished a shot clear of Holywood’s Rory Williamson and Athenry’s David Kitt and their playoff duel went all the way to the sixth extra hole, where Kennedy’s par putt sealed victory.

“It’s always nice to win but to do it coming from behind is a little bit nicer,” Kennedy said. “Obviously, Jamie didn’t have his best today, but we fought it off in a play-off. We gave it everything and luckily, I came out on top

“It was tiring, especially going up and down those hills in the first couple of holes. But we both stayed in there and hit really good shots. I just managed to hole a putt on the last and Jamie just slightly missed.

“My game is in a good position. I can obviously still work on a couple of things, but it feels really good, and I’m confident going forward.”

It was much more straightforward for home favourite Ross in the women’s event as she shot rounds of 73, 66 and 71 and won by 10 strokes from Hermitage’s Kate Lanigan (77) on nine-under.

Bridgestone Order of Merit leader Emma Fleming from Elm Park continued her impressive form too as she finished third on five-over.

“I’m very happy with the end result,” Jessica said. “You could argue I used the local knowledge to my advantage, but I’m happy with it. It was nice walking down 18 in a comfortable position.

“The members, there have been loads out supporting this week as well, so I’m sure they’re all happy to see the golf and the course has been in great condition. It’s been great having it here.”

Ross and Kennedy have both won invites to this year’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics, which takes place at Galgorm and Castlerock from August 17-20, 2023. The $3 million event is tri-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour.


Photo officially issued by Golf Ireland: Jessica Ross and Max Kennedy celebrate their wins. (Fran Caffrey / Golffile)

Jessica Ross won by 10 strokes and Max Kennedy overcame a six-hole marathon play-off as they won the Men’s and Women’s Ulster Stroke Play titles at Clandeboye GC. Their wins earn them places at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics at Galgorm and Castlerock from August 17-20, 2023  (Photo: Fran Caffrey / Golffile)