ERIN, Wis. (AP) — Matthew McClean won the rain-delayed U.S. Mid-Amateur on Saturday, building a 5-up lead and holding off close friend Hugh Foley in an all-Irish final at Erin Hills.
The 36-hole championship match was split over two days because of rain earlier in the week. McClean was 2 up after 18 holes on Friday evening, and then took advantage of Foley’s bogeys to build a big lead.
Foley ran off three straight birdies late in the match, only for McClean to close him out with par on the 35th hole for a 3-and-1 victory.
The victory sends McLean to the Masters in April and the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club in June.
It ended a long and inseparable week between the Irish friends.
They flew out of Dublin together on Sept. 5. They shared a rental car and private housing and played practice rounds together. And then it was all business in the championship match, and McClean was largely in control throughout.
He became the second Irish winner of a USGA title this year, following Padraig Harrington at the U.S. Senior Open.
McLean said former British Open champion Shane Lowry, who won the BMW PGA Championship last week at Wentworth, messaged them Friday night to say there would be at least one more Irish player at Augusta National and the U.S. Open.
“Just thankfully it’s me going there,” McClean said. “Hugh has played unbelievable golf this year. For the past three months he’s probably been the best player in Ireland comfortably. It’s probably in a way who I wanted to play in the final, but at the same time it’s not the person you want to lose in the final, as well.”
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