Maria Dunne won the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship in Baltray last weekend. Picture: Pat Cashman

SKERRIES Golf Club’s Maria Dunne led from wire to wire to claim the 2017 Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship last Sunday at Baltray in Co Louth.
With a record opening 66 (nine under par) on Friday, Dunne took a one-shot lead from playing partner Gemma Clews of England into the second round.
The wind got up on Saturday and Baltray showed its teeth with both leaders struggling compared to their first rounds, carding 76 and 75 respectively. They headed into the final day all square on eight under par but, by the par five sixth, Clews had opened up a two-shot lead.
The eleventh was a turning point, however, as Clews three putted for par while Dunne held a 10 foot put to get up and down for birdie. From then on, Clews struggled on the greens and fell two shots behind Dunne alongside Lianna Bailey (England) by the 15th.
Two groups ahead, Sophie Lamb (England) was making a charge, having birdied the 16th and 18th to shoot four under and finish the tournament on seven under. She would hold the clubhouse lead and wait to see how the leader would fare on the closing holes.
“I didn’t start off very well, I bogeyed the first and missed a birdie chance on the short second,” Lamb said. “But I stayed patient and knew that with the wind direction, there was some birdie chances on the back nine and I rolled a few nice putts in on the closing holes.”
Dunne, though, held her nerve, holing another ten-footer on 17 for par and rolling in from eight foot for birdie on 18 to become 2017 Irish Open Stroke Play Champion.
“I am absolutely delighted, it was nerve wrecking!” she said afterwards. “I just tried to focus on my own game and keep going one shot at a time, that’s easy said but I really tried to stick to it today.
“Once I realised I was a couple of shots ahead of my playing partners, I said to myself to just par the last four holes and don’t worry what the others are doing. I managed to get a nice par on 18 which was a great way to wrap it up!”
On course, she received huge family support: “Not quite all my sisters were here like they were for the Curtis Cup but my parents, my in-laws, my husband and some of my nieces and nephews were out there today which was great support.
“As well as all the support from the Co Louth members!”
Dunne now heads to represent Skerries in the East Leinster Senior Cup Qualifiers, followed by the Irish Women’s Close Championship and the British Amateur in June.

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