Beaten finalist in 2015, Castle’s Alex Gleeson finally got his hands on the trophy as he went all the way at Ballyliffin to capture the AIG Irish Close.
Gleeson defeated John Ross Galbfaith (Whitehead) in the final, winning his first senior championship in convincing fashion. Ahead from the sixth, Gleeson was four clear on the back nine but had to withstand a late rally from Galbraith as the heavens opened.
Eventually the title was his when he parred 17 and as the rain gave way, Galbraith embraced the new champion.
“There’s a lot of really good names on that trophy, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” said Gleeson. “I’m absolutely over the moon, I can’t really put into words how happy I am.”
A winner four times last season, Gleeson wanted to put a major title to his name in 2016.
“I really wanted a championship this year. I felt my game was good enough,” he said and so it proved during a memorable week for the 22-year-old.
By winning the silver medal for leading qualifier, Galbraith came into the knockout stages as the number one seed. Gleeson was cast in the bottom half of the draw, where he faced one international after another.
To reach the final four, Gleeson had to overcome Ireland teammates Robin Dawson (Tramore) and Colin Fairweather (Knock). Paired with Royal Portrush teenager Peter Kerr in the semi-finals, Gleeson faced an even tougher battle as Kerr took him the distance.
“I knew I needed to do something on 18. When I hit one in tight there, that was massive. It was a really tight one to get through this morning,” said Gleeson describing his semi-final encounter, which was only decided when Kerr bogeyed the last.
“I had a tough route but you’re always going to get tough matches in the Close so you’re going to have to play well,” said Gleeson.