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Caption: Rowan Lester with the trophy after winning the North of Ireland - Golffile
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Hermitage international Rowan Lester defeated his Ireland teammate Colin Fairweather by two holes to win the North of Ireland Amateur Open.In a topsy-turvy encounter, Lester recovered a two-hole deficit to claim his first major title. After losing the South of Ireland Final to Stuart Grehan in 2015, it was another case of what might have been for Knock's Colin Fairweather, who took Lester all the way in a grueling finale."When I go down I normally find it hard but today I knew I was going to come back," said Lester. "I didn't necessarily think I would win but I knew I would get back and make it tight. I just had that feeling ."Like Fairweather, Lester had come close before, losing out to Conor Purcell in last year's South of Ireland Final. And when Fairweather held a two-hole lead with seven holes remaining, it seemed like Lester would have to settle for second best again."I was playing well at the start," said Fairweather. "I had it going straight off the tee, then he got the momentum coming through on the 12th."Lester's win at the 12th halved the deficit and while the next three holes were halved, the match went all square on 15."I said to myself standing on the 15th tee: 'If I can play the last four in level par I will win.'"Having set himself a target, Lester started to turn the match in his favour and pars proved sufficient on the way home to clinch the title. Caption: Rowan Lester (Hermitage) winner of the North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship sponsored by Cathedral Eye Clinic being presented with the trophy by Eamonn O'Connor (Chairman GUI Ulster Branch) - also pictured are: David McMullan (Captain, Royal Portrush) and Andrew Spence (Cathedral Eye Clinic). Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey