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FRENCH OPEN 2003


Stephen O'Leary (Douglas) beat Alan Hanlon (Collinstown) in a play-off for the French Pitch and Putt Open at the Club de Grande Motte near Montpellier, France on Sunday March 15 2003.  The Irish pair tied at the end of regulation 36 holes play.  They then contested a sudden death play-off which O'Leary won at the fourth extra hole.  The nineteen year old Corkman won the 2001 Irish National Junior Strokeplay championship and the 2002 National Intermediate Strokeplay championship.  The more experienced Hanlon (a member of the Irish International squad) has represented Westmeath many times in the Inter-County championship and was an Irish Matchplay semi-finalist in 2001.  O'Leary, the personable young man from Carrigaline, delivered an impressive multilingual acceptance speech. 
Alan Hanlon played in the worst of the first round conditions - the cool rainy Saturday afternoon. Despite professing putting woes (a bunch of five and six footers slipped by on the very fast greens), the Dublin native Westmeath resident posted an even par total of 54 to share the halfway lead with Joel Behran of France. In all, there were twelve players within two shots of the lead after the opening round. After a couple of errors over the closing four holes, where ironically he had expected to pick up a shot or two, Stephen O'Leary was in a group of five players on two over par 56. That group also included Robert Penzes, the British Strokeplay champion.
Conditions were sunny and warm for Sunday's second round. Stephen O'Leary started fast with a six footer for birdie at the 67 metre second hole. Late birdies at the 16th and 17th holes saw the Douglas member card a second round of two under par 52 and take the clubhouse lead. Half an hour later playing in the final group, Alan Hanlon birdied the 60 metre  finishing hole to return a second successive 54 and tie Stephen O'Leary on 108 - the Irish pair finishing together, a shot clear of the field. The first three sudden death holes were halved in par, the Irishmen spurning three birdie putts apiece. Stephen O'Leary gleefully canned a birdie at the fourth extra hole to take the coveted title.


Leading Final Scores
108 Alan Hanlon ( Ireland ) , Stephen O'Leary (Ireland), O'Leary won play-off
109 Hugo Kuntzmann (France)















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