Leonard breaks major duck – with a little help from his friends

RORY Leonard put the memory of four previous championship final defeats behind him to win the West of Ireland Championship at Rosses Point yesterday.
The Banbridge golfer, who lost out in the final of the ‘West’ back in 1999, beat Galway’s Eddie McCormack 2&1 to wrap up a brilliant fortnight which also included victory in the Lee Valley Scratch Cup.
The 33-year-old fell behind early in yesterday’s 18 hole final when McCormack birdied the par five third. However, the Galway player, who accounted for Knock’s Michael Sinclair in the semi-finals, then three putted the fourth and fifth to hand Leonard a lead he never surrendered.
The Ulster inter-pro stalwart rolled in a 15 foot putt on the par three ninth to go two ahead and then matched his opponent over the back nine eventually wrapping up victory on the 17th with a bogey five half after McCormack three putted from 25 feet.
“Neither us of managed to hole many putts in the final,” said Leonard who credited touring professional and fellow Banbridge GC member Richard Kilpatrick with his early season success.
Kilpatrick, a former East of Ireland Championship winner, now plying his trade on the Challenge Tour, has been helping Leonard over the winter.


“I have put in a lot of work and it has really paid off. I knew I was playing well going into this week and it was really a matter of keeping it going,” added Rory.


Leonard cruised through qualifying on Friday and Saturday with rounds of 75/73 and then powered through the early rounds of matchplay, beating Steven Crowe (Dunmurry) 6&5 and Ben Best (Rathmore) 5&4.
He was forced to battle to get through the last 16, eventually seeing off Pat Murray (Limerick) on the 23rd hole and then defied some horrendous weather conditions to beat Jeffrey Hopkins (Skerries) 5&3 in the quarter-finals.
Yesterday’s semi-final against Rory McNamara (Headfort) got off to the perfect start with a birdie on the opening hole and he went on to see off the Leinster youngster 3&1 to book his place in the final.
“I’ve played two tournaments since I got married [to Mairead] in September and I’ve won both of them!” said the Junior Golf Ireland development officer.
“Golfing wise I’ll probably play in the Munster Strokeplay next and then target the Irish Amateur at the start of May.”

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