Sara Byrne came up just short of winning her second Irish Championship today, she was runner-up at the Irish Girls Close at Galway Golf Club. The Douglas golfer was in a fine vein of form, and had made the final day with relative ease. On Tuesday she shot a second round 71 (-2) to take second place in the strokeplay qualifier. That meant she was safely through to the matchplay phase. On Wednesday she wrapped up her first round match on the 14th, and on Thursday she beat Emily Murray and Lucia Masding to book a place in this morning’s semi-final.
Byrne got off to a great start this morning in the semi-final, going three up against Aine Donegan. But when the finished out on the 18th it was all square. Donegan’s comback included a birdie on the 17th and a chip in birdie on the last hole, but on the 24th – the sixth tie hole – it was Byrne who had the rub of the green. An eagle putt estimated at just over 30 feet dropped in to send the Douglas teenager into the final.
Sara faced leading qualifier Beth Coulter in the final and the 15 year old from Kirkistown Castle got off to a flier. Coulter was four under for the front nine, continuing a great run of golf in Galway. She was three up after six holes but Byrne birdied the 6th, eagled the 7th and birdied the 8th to hit back. In fact the standard of golf from both girls was incredible. Sara’s comeback continued with a birdie on the 10th, and she eagled the 12th to go one up. Coulter was relentless though and fired in four more birdies on the back nine. Byrne battled but the match was eventually called on the 16 when Coulter won 3&2.
It’s been a long three weeks for Sara, this afternoon was her 15th round of golf in 12 days. And there’s only a short break before the next event, the European Ladies Championships which take place in Poole next week.