Ward the master in the wind

 Veteran Brian Ward was a popular winner of Sunday’s Singles Stableford competition when he used all his experience to master the strong wind that buffeted the course throughout the day.

The 17 handicapper shot 42pts to claim overall victory by one point from JP Connolly (24) who edged out Declan Curtin (9) on countback for second place.

Ward laid the foundation for his victory on the front nine which he covered in an impressive 23pts.

Having opened with a three point par at the first he was on eight points standing on the fifth tee after a one point six at the fourth. His response to what proved to be his only double bogey of the day was superb.

A three point par at the par three fifth was followed by a four point birdie four at the par five sixth and two point bogey at the seventh. Three point pars at the eighth and ninth meant he had covered those five holes in 15pts and he turned for home knowing he had a chance of a podium finish.

Ward’s back nine was steadiness personified as he reeled off eight two pointers and had a three point par on the index six fifteenth which was playing into the wind.

He signed for a score of 42pts that nobody in the 151 strong field managed to equal and gained some measure of compensation for narrowly missing out on the Veteran’s Prize on Captain’s Day two weeks ago.

Curtin had the consolation of taking Category 1 while Fergal McKenna (17) and Noel McGuinness (20) were the other category winners. Cillian Halpenny (19) was the best juvenile while Zak Alderdice (5) returned the best gross for the third time in a week.

Alderdice will be the Club’s only representative in the Irish Boys U16 Open Championship which takes place from Wednesday to Thursday this week in Donabate Golf Club. 

Sunday, August 18 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Brian Ward (17) 42pts, J P Connolly (24) 41/20/15pts. Category 1 (0-12): Declan Curtin (9) 41/20pts, Michael Staunton (11) 40/21/14pts. Category 2 (13–18): Fergal McKenna (17) 40pts, Michael O’Sullivan (15) 39pts. Category 3 (19+): Noel McGuinness (20) 39pts, John Oakes (24) 38/19pts. Best Gross: Zak Alderdice (5) 33/19pts. Best Juvenile: Cillian Halpenny (19) 35pts. CSS: 36pts.

Elite golfers flying the flag across the world

 It’s a busy time for Dundalk Golf Club’s elite golfers as they continue to represent the club with distinction across the world.

Caolan Rafferty faces the biggest test of his amateur career this week when he tees it up among the world’s elite at the American Amateur Championship which is being played at the world famous Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

The 26-year-old will start his bid to qualify for the 64 player matchplay stage at 6.12pm (Irish time) on Monday on Pinehurst’s famed No.2 course which has hosted more single golf championships than any other course in America and will stage the US Open in 2024 having last staged it in 2014. His second round on Tuesday will be at 12.57pm on Pinehurst No.4 and he will play both rounds in the company of Americans Pierceson Coody and Ryan Burnett.

Rafferty flew out to America last Thursday in the company of British Amateur Champion James Sugure from Mallow and Australian Amateur Champion Conor Purcell from Portmarnock and admits having his Irish team-mates with him this week will be a big help.

“We’re sharing a house and hopefully all of us will be here until the final day,” said Rafferty. Rafferty, who has already won the West of Ireland Championship this year, played in Arizona last December and hopes that experience will help him.

“It probably wasn’t the best time of the year for me to go over but it was a good experience because it is different and I hope it will help me this week.”

Rafferty’s big goal this year is to make the Britain and Ireland team for the Walker Cup in Royal Liverpool next month and with the ten-man team set to be named next week he knows that a good performance in Pinehurst will be a big help to his chances.

“I’ve just got to keep doing what I have been doing and hopefully it will be good enough to get me a place. But you never know what could happen,” he said.

Rafferty’s involvement in the American Amateur meant he missed the Irish Close Championship in Ballybunion where his club-mate, and Barton Shield partner, Eoin Murphy flew the flag for Dundalk with some distinction.

Murphy recorded his best ever performance at a senior championship by reaching the quarter-finals where he lost 3&1 to Dun Laoghaire’s Alan Fahy,

After shooting rounds of 75 and 71 to qualify in 19th place on +4, Murphy beat William Small (Tandragee), Kevin Stack (Dungarvan) and Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) in the matchplay rounds to reach the last eight.

It was a good week too for Josh Mackin as the Ulster Boys Champions played for Ireland in the Boys Home Internationals in Wales where they came within a whisker of dethroning champions England.

Mackin formed a superb foursomes partnership with Royal Dublin’s Max Faulkner and the pair won all three of their matches against Scotland, Wales and England while in the singles Mackin gained half-a-point against Scotland, won his match against Wales and was agonisingly beaten by one hole by England’s Max Hopkins as Ireland lost 8-7 to the English.

A haul of four-and-a-half points out of a possible six was an excellent return and caps what has been a fine year to date for the 18-year-old. Finally, Brendan Lawlor continues to blaze a trail for disability golf and this week he will tee it up against male and female professionals at the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Galgorm Castle. This is a tournament where men and women will compete at the same venue at the same time with the professionals sharing equal prize money.

“I believe this will be the first time a disability golfer will compete on the same stage over the same course as the professionals in a Challenge Tour event,” said Lawlor who is a member of Dundalk’s Senior Panel.     

Final holes proves crucial as Moriarty pips Rocks

Sean Moriarty (22) was the winner of Sunday’s Singles Stableford competition with an impressive score of 42pts which just edged out Eddie Rocks (9) by one point.

Two pars on the final two holes proved vital in taking Moriarty past the in-form Rocks who had compiled an excellent 41pts off a nine handicap.

In all, Moriarty picked up three points at eight holes as he parred the third, eighth, 10th, 13th, 17th and 18th and took full advantage of having two shots at the fourth and 11th which he bogeyed. His only one pointers came at the par five index three seventh where he had an eight and the par five 12th where he had a double bogey seven.

Teenager Zak Alderdice warmed up for next week’s Irish Boys U16 Championship in Donabate by taking Category 1 with 39pts and also recorded the day’s best gross score of 34pts. Tommy Reneghan (14) won Category 2, John Keane (19) won Category 3 and Conal Mullins (28) was best juvenile.

Sunday, August 11 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Sean Moriarty (22) 42pts, Eddie Rocks (9) 41pts. Category 1 (0-12): Zak Alderdice (6) 39/21pts, Kevin Barry (11) 39pts. Category 2 (13–18): Tommy Reneghan (14) 37/19pts, Shane Thornton (13) 37pts. Category 3 (19+): John Keane (19) 39pts, John McLaughlin (25) 38/20pts. Best Gross: Zak Alderdice 34pts. Best Juvenile: Conall Mullins (28) 39pts. CSS 36pts

Hackett edges Browne in thriller to win Captain’s Prize

Conor Hackett, winner of the 2019 Captain’s Prize, receives the MJ Spillane Cup from Club Captain Pat Davis.

Conor Hackett kept his nerve to win Pat Davis’s Captain Prize on Sunday by three shots from Michael Browne after a titanic battle. The 12 handicapper added a one under par 71 to his impressive first round 65 to finish on eight under par while Browne, playing off 23, finished on five under after a 74, having also carded a seven under par 65 in the first round.

Browne was actually leading by two strokes with five holes to go but dropped three shots at 14 and 15 to hand the initiative to Hackett who then pressed home his advantage with a birdie on the par three 17th when he fired a wind-assisted seven iron to within a few feet of the pin and sank the putt.

“That was the clincher,” said Hackett afterwards. “We had a great battle and it is a great honour for me to win a Captain’s Prize.”

It was Hackett who started the better of the two as he reeled off four straight pars to lead Browne by three shots standing on the fifth tee box. But he then ran up a double bogey five after finding the water and the pair were level after Hackett bogeyed the sixth.

Browne then edged a shot ahead on the seventh but Hackett responded on the eighth to draw level and they both turned for home neck and neck after shooting nett 35s over the front nine.

A double bogey seven at the 10th saw Browne fall two shots behind Hackett, who parred the hole, but Hackett then allowed Browne back into the contest as he produced back to back double bogeys on the 12th and 13th while Browne parred both holes.

That put Browne in the driving seat but he then faltered himself when he dropped three shots over the next two holes to go from two ahead to one behind with three to play. Hackett parred the 16th, where he had a shot, to move two ahead and went three ahead with that superb birdie on the 17th.

He then matched Browne’s bogey five on the last, where they both had shots, to claim his first Captain’s Prize, with a two round total of 136, on what was also his second wedding anniversary.

Eighty-four-year-old Michael Stewart (14), who had carded a magnificent eight under par 64 to lead after round one, was unable to match his two playing partners in the final group but received a deserved standing ovation from a packed Clubhouse on Sunday night when he was presented with his prize for being the leading qualifier from the previous Sunday’s first round.

Brian Ward (16) shot two level par rounds of 72 for a total of 144 on his way to becoming a very popular winner of the Veteran’s Prize while Senior Panel member Neal MacKell (3) shot gross rounds of 75 and 76 to take the Gross Prize on 151.

The category winners over the two rounds were Niall Martin (9), Shane Thornton (14) and Conor McClenaghan (19) while Eddie Rogers (4) won the Saturday Qualifier after his 67.

Sunday, August 4 – Pat Davis’s Captain’s Prize – Overall: 136 – Conor Hackett (12) 65, 71; 139 – Michael Browne (23) 65, 74; 140 – Paul O’Callaghan (10) 70, 70; 141 – Richard Copas (15) 71, 70; 142 – Ferghal Duffy (17) 75, 67. Veteran: 144 – Brian Ward (16) 72, 72. Gross: 151 – Neal MacKell (3) 75, 76. Category 1 (<13): 142 – Niall Martin (9) 74, 68. Category 2 (13-18): 142 – Shane Thornton (14) 71, 71. Category 3 (19+): 143 – Conor McClenaghan (19) 74, 69. Saturday Qualifier (July 27) – Overall: Eddie Rogers (4) 67. Category 1 (0-12): Alan McDermott (4) 68. Category 2 (13-18): Malcolm Drake (15) 69. Category 3 (19+): Sean Taaffe (19) 69/33.5. Sunday Qualifier (July 28) – Overall: Michael Stewart (14) 64. Cat 1 (<12): Billy Cairns (6) 67. Category 2 (13-18): Ronan Farrelly (18) 69. Category 3 (19+): Tom Lanigan (22) 70. Best Juvenile (Qualifying Rounds): Rory Henry (21) 66, Tom Dunne (13) 69. Sunday 18 Holes (August 4) – Category 1 (<12): Aaron Grant (+1) 68/33.5, Ciaran Traynor (8) 68. Category 2 (13-18): Dermot McKenna (16) 67, Danny Gallagher (13) 69/33.5. Category 3 (18+): Noel Crowe (22) 67, Diarmuid McAdam (24) 68. CSS: 72 (Saturday Qualifying), 72 (Sunday Qualifying), 72 (Sunday Final).                             

Mags wins Captain Pat’s Prize in style

Captain Pat Davis presenting his prize to Mags Coburn the Overall Winner. Mags did not put a foot wrong on the course coming in with a 68nett.

Evergreen Stewart leads Captain’s Prize after first round

The evergreen Michael Stewart showed that age is no barrier when he emerged from the 316 strong field as the outright leader after Round One of Pat Davis’s Captain’s Prize.

In shooting a nett 64, the 14 handicapper shot a gross 78 which matched his age and showed that there is still plenty of competitive steel amongst the Club’s veterans.

He produced a near flawless round which included a birdie three on the index six par four 15th. He had nothing worse than bogey on his card as he parred ten of the other 17 holes.

Stewart will be in the final group next Sunday afternoon along with Michael Browne (23) and Conor Hackett (12) who both shot 65 nett but there will be a pack full of quality chasing them down over the final 18 holes.

Eddie Rogers (4) and Billy Cairns (6) lie just three shots off the lead after shooting nett 67s with Rogers going around in an impressive one under par gross while Alan McDermott (4), who finished second in last week’s President’s Prize, is a shot further back on his own in sixth place after a nett 68.

There are three father and son combinations in the top 30 which should lead to interesting family dynamics over the next week. Eddie Rogers’ son Brendan (17) is on 71, the same score as Michael Browne’s son Mark (11) while Alan McDermott’s father Ollie (15) lies 16th after shooting a 70 nett.

The recent Scratch Saturday event produced home winners in the Junior, Intermediate and Minor Scratch Cups and with Captain Pat Davis having won the Minor Cup, it is somewhat appropriate that the Junior winner Ward Christy Ward (6) is inside the Top Ten after a 69 while the Intermediate winner Paul O’Callaghan (10) is a shot further back. 

July 27 & 28 – Pat Davis’s Captain’s Prize – First Round Leaderboard: 64 – Michael Stewart (14). 65 – Michael Browne (23), Conor Hackett (12). 67 – Eddie Rogers (4), Billy Cairns (6). 68 – Alan McDermott (4). 69 – Ruairi Gogarty (6), Sean Taaffe (19), Fergal Sexton (8), Christy Ward (6), Sean Gallagher (19), Malcolm Drake (15), Colin Roche (5), Brian Crombie (22). 70 – Paul O’Callaghan (10), Oliver McDermott (15), David Murden (9), Tom Lanigan (22). 71 – Shane Thornton (14), Éamonn Laverty (14), Brendan Rogers (17), Dermot Murphy (5), Richard Copas (15), Tommy Renaghan (15), Mark Browne (11). 72 – Anthony Tuite (14), Turlough King (10), Seamus Bailey (11), Anthony O’Donoghue (13), Conor Byrne (21). CSS Saturday: 72. CSS Sunday: 72.

Dundalk retains Leinster Barton Shield pennant

Our Senior Panel have retained the Leinster Barton Shield and booked their place in the All-Ireland semi-final in Westport at the end of September.

Last Saturday at Royal Tara Golf Club, Dundalk beat Woodbrook in the provincial semi-final in the morning before defeating The Island in the final to win a second successive senior pennant.

“Last year was the first time since the Club was founded in 1905 that we won a senior pennant so to have gone out this year and retained it is very special and a great achievement by the lads,” said John Conlon who jointly manages the team with Alan McCabe.

“But it is only a step towards our ultimate goal this year which is to win the All-Ireland title. We were very disappointed to lose in last year’s final and our whole focus this year has been on getting back to the national final and bringing a green pennant back to Dundalk.”

The Barton Shield is a competition for elite players with two two-man pairings playing, off scratch, in a foursomes matchplay format and the match being decided by the aggregate number of holes won.

Dundalk got a massive boost on the eve of the Leinster finals when Caolan Rafferty announced he was available to play after being knocked out in the second round of the South of Ireland Championship on Friday evening.

“We were planning without Caolan because he was the defending champion in the South of Ireland and we were all hoping that he would be in the mix over the weekend,” said Conlon. “It is testament to the type of person he is that immediately after losing on the 20th hole of his second round match, he got into his car and phoned to say he was on his way back and would be in Navan in the morning.”

Quite how Woodbrook felt when the plus six handicapper, who has been named on the 14 man panel from which the ten players to represent Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup will be picked, teed it up isn’t known, but after winning the first hole they must have felt they were going to benefit from a post-Lahinch hangover.

It proved to be a short-lived feeling because on the second hole Rafferty fired an approach shot to 15 feet and his partner Eoin Murphy sank the birdie putt to bring the match back to all-square.

At the next hole, the Dundalk pairing went one up after Woodbrook put their third shot in the bushes behind the green and stretched their lead to two holes on the par four sixth when Murphy drove around the dog-leg to within 10 yards of the front of the green and Rafferty chipped in for an eagle two.

Although they lost the seventh they turned for home three up after winning the eighth and ninth with birdies. They lost the tenth but restored their three shot advantage on the 12th.

It was clear at this stage that this match was going to decide who would advance to the final because up ahead Josh Mackin and Brendan Lawlor were heading for defeat after a frustrating morning on the greens.

After losing the first hole, they got back to all square by winning the third in par. However, they lost the fourth, sixth and seventh to fall three holes behind by the turn. The Dundalk pairing did rally on the back nine by winning the tenth and 13th to reduce the deficit to one hole but then lost the 14th to birdie and the 15th to par to find themselves three behind again with just three holes to go.

By this point it was a case of limit the damage and hope Rafferty and Murphy in the match behind could win by more than they lost. The youngsters dug deep to win the par five 18th where Mackin found the fairway, Lawlor drilled a two iron 260 yards to off the back of the green, Mackin chipped on to three feet and Lawlor sank the birdie putt.

As that putt dropped, Murphy was pitching in to 10 feet on the 17th and when Woodbrook missed their birdie putt from 30 feet, Rafferty lagged his putt to the edge of the hole and Dundalk’s place in the afternoon final was secured.

The other semi-final between The Island and Palmerstown House went to 19th Hole, giving the Dundalk players some extra time to recover before the final. The managers made one change for the afternoon with the experienced Aaron Grant coming in for debutant Brendan Lawlor as Josh Mackin’s partner in the top match.

“It was great to give Brendan his Barton Shield debut and let him get some very valuable playing time. His approach shot and putt on 18 were crucial to the win in the morning and being able to bring in a fresh and experienced Aaron Grant in the afternoon was a big boost,” said Conlon.

After halving the first three holes of their match against Jonathon Quinn and Rhys Clarke, Grant and Mackin got their noses in front by winning the fourth with a birdie. They extended their lead to two holes by winning the ninth with a birdie but then bogeyed the par three 13th to go back to one up.

Behind them, things didn’t start so well as Rafferty and Murphy lost the first two holes to birdies from Fergal Kennedy and Jack Blake, but they won the third and brought the match back to all square on the seventh when Murphy holed a testy left to right breaking putt following a sublime chip from Rafferty from the back of the green.

A superb tee shot from Rafferty on the par three 11th to six feet set up Murphy for a birdie that put the Dundalk pairing in front for the first time and they followed that up with birdies on the next two holes as Murphy drained putts from 20 and 15 feet respectively to go three up with five to play.

The next three holes were halved and as the two Dundalk pairings went down the 17th they were lying four up overall with four to play. It all ended when Aaron Grant cooly sank a six foot putt to win the 17th in his match and seal a five hole victory for the defending champions.

“The Club is extremely proud of our Senior Panel who have worked very hard over the last number of years to become Leinster champions,” said Dundalk Club Captain Pat Davis.

“It was a massive breakthough last year to win our first senior pennant and reach the All-Ireland Final and to retain it is a tremendous achievement. I would like to congratulate the managers, the players, the caddies and our club professional Leslie Walker for a job well done and we are all looking forward to going to Westport in September and having another shot at winning the national title.”

Teresa Wins Lady President Una’s Prize

Back from left: Deirdre Smith Overall Gross, Noeleen Gernon Overall Runner Up.
Front from left: Lady Captain Criona O’Reilly, Overall Winner Teresa Giff, Lady President Una Delaney.
Teresa Giff wins Lady President Una’s Prize with a fantastic 70nett. Teresa spoke about her delight at winning this Golfer of the Year Competition. She played very solid golf in breezy conditions.