/ Golf

Dunbar thrilled with amateur crown

Updated: Sunday, 24 Jun 2012 15:41 | Comments

Alan Dunbar will compete at next month's Open Championship and next year's Masters and US Open
Alan Dunbar will compete at next month's Open Championship and next year's Masters and US Open

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Alan Dunbar, one of four amateurs invited to compete in this week's Irish Open at Royal Portrush, has in his possession something which Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell were never able to win.

The 23-year-old from Rathmore - the same club where McDowell learnt to play - yesterday became only the third Northern Irishman ever to win the Amateur Championship.

Dunbar, easily the lowest-ranked player in last September's Walker Cup, beat 17-year-old Austrian Matthias Schwab on the final green of the 36-hole final at Royal Troon.

As a result he will be off to next month's Open Championship and next year's Masters and US Open,

Previous Northern Irish winners were Garth McGimpsey in 1985 and Michael Hoey in 2001.

The lead changed hands five times and Schwab was one up with two to play, but bogeyed them both. He missed a four-foot putt that would have taken the contest into sudden death.

"My putting was great all week," Dunbar said. "I struggled with the long game as the week went on and I had to rely on my putting."

About 40 members of Rathmore Golf Club had made the ferry ride from Larne to Troon to cheer their man on.

"I had a lesson with my coach Seamus Duffy last week at Castlerock, and he said if you win the Amateur you're taking me to the Masters, so I suppose that was a bit of motivation."

Dunbar has benefitted from coaching through the Royal and Ancient Club-supported Darren Clarke Foundation.

Open champion Clarke makes his return this week from a month out resting a groin injury.

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