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Friday, 13 July, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Paul's road to North glory
Stuart Paul
Stuart Paul swinging his way to North of Ireland glory
Stuart Paul was the surprise winner of the Carlsberg North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Royal Portrush on Friday.

Paul, who was the top qualifier, defeated hot-favourite Graeme McDowell 2 and 1 over the demanding Dunluce links.

It was just reward for the 30-year-old Ulster inter-provincial who got his hands on the trophy after a couple of near misses over the years.

Rathmore's McDowell, who was excused the two qualifying rounds as he was on duty with the Ireland team in the European Championships, was the fancied starter, particularly over his home course.

However, looking to celebrate his Walker Cup call-up earlier this week, McDowell struggled in the early matchplay stages.

Looked ominous

Paul, however, always held the upper hand in a very closely fought final.

He went one-up at the fourth with a birdie three, but McDowell levelled at the next hole.

Paul then went two-up in winning the seventh and eighth and things looked ominous for McDowell at the turn.

However, the 21-year-old McDowell showed great spirit in winning the 12th and 14th with birdie, par, to level.

But Paul made the big breakthrough again immediately afterwards with a birdie at the 15th to go one-up.

Paul wrapped up the title at the long 17th with a par five after McDowell three-putted from six feet.

Earlier in the semi-finals Paul defeated Galway's Mark O'Sullivan 3 and 1.

Paul had opened up a five-shot lead, before losing three holes on the trot from the 14th before he levelled keel again.

McDowell defeated City of Derry's David Jones by one hole after taking the lead for the first time on the 17th.

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See also:

13 Jul 01 |  Golf
Scott makes his mark
12 Jul 01 |  Northern Ireland
McDowell has to fight hard
12 Jul 01 |  The Open
Golf's golden smile
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