Cheshire and Prestbury Golf Club star James Newton recovered from an early wobble and survived a late scare to seize the Flogas Irish Amateur Open title with five shots to spare at County Sligo on Ireland’s west coast.
The 24 year old led by five after three rounds and kept the field at bay throughout a difficult final round.
Newton closed with 74 to finish at nine under par. He began with three bogeys but quickly recovered and although he tripled the 16th coming home, he hadenough shots in hand to withstand the blow.
“I knew that I could win,” said Newton. “One of my goals was to win a 72-hole event. I’ve ticked that off quite early. I need to go back and re-evaluate my goals now.”
At the start of the week, Newton’s name was not near the list of favourites. He travelled by ferry from Holyhead with precious few credentials. Over the past four seasons, Newton has hurtled down the world rankings, from top 50 to obscurity.
“I changed coach last October and moved to Peter Barber at Didsbury Golf Club,” Newton explained. “The good has always been good enough and he [Barber] has made the bad a lot better.”
Two rounds of 66 testified to the quality of his game. Five ahead at the halfway stage, Newton punched in 69 after round three to hold his lead. In the end, he succeeded by a distance.
“It’s nice to have a win early on in the season,” Newton reflected. “And I know that I can do it again this year so I just need to go and do it.”
A lank, lithe figure Newton has a background in martial arts. At the age of 10, he had a black belt in karate. His athletic ability was evident off the tee. With the driver, he had up to 40 yards on his playing partners and he provided a forceful demonstration on number eight, which played as the hardest hole on the course. He powered his way to a rare birdie three with a four iron to the green.
Copy courtesy Geoff Garnett