Colm Campbell and Jessica Ross are first Ulster Stroke Play champions

Colm Campbell and Jessica Ross
Colm Campbell and Jessica Ross

Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell and Jessica Ross from Clandeboye were the winners of the inaugural staging of the Ulster Stroke Play Championship at Galgorm Castle yeserday as the Ulster pair celebrated two very different victories.

Ross blew the field away with her nearest challenger Maeve Cummins from Lurgan some 12 strokes behind her in second place.

The 24 year old chemical engineer carded a four round total of level par.

Her final round included an eagle three on the 18th and a stunning birdie from 170 yards on the fourth hole after she found trouble off the tee.

Seasoned campaigner Campbell, who has spent the last two years fighting his way back to fitness following a hand injury, bridged a 1,115 day gap to win his first championship since the 2016 Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.

His two-stroke winning margin, on four-under par, from Marc Boucher of Carton House made to look small in comparison to Ross.

Campbell’s personal battle to get back to the top of the game hasn’t been easy but this win gives him a major boost in the Bridgestone Order of Merit.

“It’s been tough,” he confessed. “I’ve had a really tough 2018 and I struggled with the injuries as most people know and then I lost my grandad as well on top of that who was a big supporter of me and this one is for him.

“I always said the first if I was lucky enough to win another championship I would dedicate this to him and I know he would be very proud.

“It’s been a tough road and I’m glad to be back playing and it was nice to get a win under the belt,” he added.

Off a plus-four handicap, Ross makes the trip to St Andrews for the St Rule Trophy later this week and is hoping for momentum to help her pick up another win.

She said: “I’ve started working full time as a chemical engineer so I guess I’ll just play as good as I can and get another win. I’ll just take every event as it comes.”

Both Campbell and Ross pick up invitations to the European Challenge Tour’s newest event which takes place at Galgorm Castle, the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.

Ross is thrilled to be able to tee it up with the pros.

“I’m delighted. I’ve never played a professional event before so it will be cool to see how your game matches up with the world’s best,” she said.

Campbell is no stranger to playing in professional events and is excited by the prospect of both men and women teeing it up at Galgorm in the professional tournament.

“I’m really excited to play in it.

“That’s one of the main reasons I came here and teed it up this week.

“It’s brilliant, especially for the ladies’ game. They play to an exceptional standard.

“I think it’s only right and it’s great to see and it’s great to see Galgorm is on board with it as well.”

Joining them in the ISPS Handa World Invitational will Marc Boucher (Carton House), Matthew McClean (Malone), Maeve Cummins (Lurgan) and Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe) for their second and third place finishes in the Ulster Stroke Play.

This event marked the first time that the GUI and ILGU have hosted senior men’s and women’s championships simultaneously at the same venue.