Profitable day for Reid

Club Treasurer Noel Reid (15) had a profitable day on Sunday when he won the first singles competition of 2020 by one shot from Austin Carroll (12) and Pat Daly (21).

Having started with a three point par at the opening hole and a two point bogey at the next, Reid then produced a four point birdie at the third to get to nine points after three holes.

The next three holes yielded a steady two points apiece and were then followed by three point pars at the seventh and eighth before a two point bogey on the par three ninth meant he turned for home having covered the front nine in an impressive 23pts.

A second birdie of the round at the par five 10th only yielded three points because it was one of two holes where he didn’t have a shot but it brought him to 26pts with four holes to go.

Disaster struck at the index two 11th where he failed to score but bounced back immediately by parring the 12th for three points and, after a two point bogey at the 13th, he finished with a par on the 18th for another three points and final total of 34pts which was enough for him to take the overall victory.

Carroll’s 33pts earned him the Category 1 prize while Daly took Category 3. Edmund Sheridan (14), who shot 32pts, claimed the Category 2 prize while Conall Mullins (19) was the Juvenile Prize winner after shooting 32pts.

Sunday, January 12 – 14 Hole Singles Stableford – Overall: Noel Reid (15) 34pts.  Category 1 (0–13): Austin Carroll (12) 33pts, Anthony O’Donoghue (13) 32pts/19. Category 2 (14–18): Edmund Sheridan (14) 32pts, Michael Kelly (18) 31pts. Category 3 (19+): Pat Daly (21) 33pts, Noel McGuinness (19) 32pts. Juvenile: Conall Mullins (19) 32pts.  

Rafferty focused on achieving more goals in 2020

CAOLAN RAFFERTY

CAOLAN Rafferty is still focused on amateur achievements as heads into 2020 and towards a major decision on his future direction.

The 27-year-old Dundalk golfer is in the final year of his Business degree at Maynooth University and has always insisted that any thoughts of turning professional won’t be entertained until after he graduates. But he admits that, even a few months out from his arrival at that significant crossroads, he is far from making his mind up on his future.

“I am genuinely still in limbo,” admitted Rafferty. “I don’t know whether to make the jump or go out into the big bad world and get a job. “It‘s something that I will sit down and have a chat about with my coach Dougie (Bell) and with Neil (Manchip). Neil will be a big help because he has been through situations like that with Shane (Lowry) and the boys and then obviously I’ll sit down with my family and see what they all make of it too.”

At present, Rafferty’s golfing focus is very much on the amateur game where he still has a lot of unfinished business despite having won the South of Ireland and West of Ireland Championships over the past two years and appeared in the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool last September.

“2020 is going to be another busy year. There are a couple of extra teams involved in this year so hopefully I will make a few of them and the end goal this year is the Eishenhower Trophy. I just missed out last time when it was on in Carton House.

“Looking back, 2019 is as good a year as I probably could have hoped for. I think if someone had said to me, at the start of the year, this is what you are going to achieve in 2019, I would have took everything off them and ran for the hills.

“From the start of the year in South Africa right through to playing Walker Cup there is very little that I would change. So yeah, I would rate it as pretty much as good as I could have done.”

Having reached the semi-finals of the South African Amateur Championship, where he was beaten by one hole, Rafferty came home and captured the West of Ireland at Rosses Point.

“The win in the West was another big thing in the year. To win anything is big but to win one of the big championships here in Ireland is obviously that little bit sweeter. I think to win it the way I did win it as well, by a few shots, was nice.”

Rafferty’s other big highlight of 2019 was his appearance at the Walker Cup where he picked up one win from two outings in the singles having been overlooked for the foursomes on both days along with fellow Irishman James Sugrue.

“The Walker Cup was unbelievable from the minute you get there to the end of it. Obviously, I would have liked to play another game, maybe play foursomes on one of the days, but that’s just the way things go. But, other than that, it was just a fantastic week and I got to meet a great bunch of lads.”

Having beaten America’s Alex Smalley 2&1 on the Saturday afternoon, Rafferty was paired again with the Duke University golfer on the Sunday afternoon and was involved in a pulsating match that was eventually decided in favour of the American on the 17th.

“To just get a point on the board was fantastic. It would have been a bit sickening to go and get none but to actually get a point was sweet,” recalled Rafferty.

“I know I’ll never get a roar like I did on the Sunday when I chipped in on the fifth or chipped in on the seventh out of the bunker. There were a few moments in the match where I could have been dead and buried but the cheers and little things like interacting with the crowd was really cool.”

However, 2019 wasn’t without its disappointments with Ireland losing the Home Internationals in Lahinch and Dundalk again coming up short at the All-Ireland Barton Shield Finals while the loss of a five-shot lead in the final round of the R&A Scholars Tournament at St Andrews in April is still a raw memory months later.

“The winner gets a slot in the Palmer Cup which was on in America last year so to have a five-shot lead going into the last day and not get the win hurt a bit. But, at the same time, it fired me up and I went out the week after and won the West where I also had a five shot lead going into the last day.

“St Andrews was a disappointment, but I learnt an awful lot about myself and learnt a lot about how to deal with a disappointment like that there and how to cope a little bit better when you are five shots ahead. It seems like an awful lot but it’s only one hole at the end of the day in golf.”

Members of the Irish squad recently met up with Open Champion Shane Lowry and Rafferty admitted that many of the insights that the Offalyman shared with them that day struck a chord with him.

“Meeting Shane was class. He is such a genuine lad. He kind of just put it all into perspective. He was open and very honest. He gets nervous, everyone gets nervous and he said there are days that he has learned an awful lot about himself. The things that I could draw out of it, I went through myself.

“He knows what he wants, and he does what he wants, when he wants. That’s an attitude that gets you a good bit in golf. It’s important to please yourself and forget about what everyone else is saying about you. There are always going to be the people saying you should be doing this or should be doing that. Shane mentioned that about people saying he should have done this, or he should have done that, or he should still be something else, but at the end of the day he’s the one standing with a major and a lot of wins under his belt. You have to respect someone when they are so honest about it.”

Rafferty will be part of a group of Irish players who will once again start their season in South Africa and he admits that it has been of great benefit to him in each of the last two years.

“I always find that South Africa is really important to kick-start your season. You are going down there and playing some of the best courses in the world and because it is so early it gets you going earlier in the year. It shortens the winter and sharpens your tools and allows you to hit the ground running because you don’t want to be behind the mark at the start.

“You take a lot of confidence when you go down there and you compete against some of the best golfers in the world. You are playing golf courses that we don’t normally play and, if you do finish well, it just goes to prove that you have more in the bag than you would find if you were just at home playing links all the time.”

Rafferty will start 2020 as number one in the European Golf Association rankings and 15th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, just one slot below his all-time high of 14th. Making the WAGR Top 10 is a major goal for the coming year but his belief hasn’t wavered that if he can continue to play good golf, everything else will look after itself.

“I’m just going to focus on playing good golf. If you play well all year, it will all look after itself and you won’t have to do anything different. It was something Shane alluded to. He plays his own game, he plays his own style, he doesn’t try to do anything different and that’s something I have spoken about with Neil and Dougie. It’s playing with what you have got. It’s not going to be pretty every day but if you can get around the golf course that’s half the battle. If I do that, all the rankings will look after themselves, teams will look after themselves, and tournaments will look after themselves.”

McCaughey’s winning run continues

Peter McCaughey has been the form player in recent weeks and his run shows no signs of stopping as he led home a field of 88 in Sunday’s 14 Hole Christmas Spirit Singles competition.

McCaughey (20) shot 38pts and beat Niall Sloan (31) on countback as 15 players shots 32pts or better to claim their Christmas bottle of spirit.  

Sunday, December 15 – Christmas Spirit Singles – Overall: Peter McCaughey (20) 38pts, Niall Sloane (31) 38pts, Paschal Keenan (15) 36pts, Seamus Bailey (12) 36pts, Eddie Rocks (9) 36pts, Paul O’Callaghan(10) 35pts, David Cairns (16) 33pts, Willie McKeever (18) 33pts, Cathal Muckian (11) 32pts, Michael Coburn (10) 32pts, Gerard Daly (14) 32pts, Paul Lynch (19) 32pts, Patsy Cole (19) 32pts, Sean Hession (8) 32pts, Austin Carroll (12) 32pts, Peter Rogers (3) 32pts.

Lawlor helps Rest of World defeat Australia

Brendan Lawlor

Brendan Lawlor helped the Rest of the World team defeat Australia in the 2019 ISPS Handa Disabled Golf Cup. Lawlor partnered Belgium’s Adem Wahbi to a three shot win over Shane Luke and Cameron Pollard as the Rest of the World won 3-0.

Lawlor finishes third in Australia

In the Australian All Abilities Championship, Brendan Lawlor finished just one shot off the lead and had to settle for third place as last year’s winner Johan Kammerstad of Sweden beat Canada’s Kurtis Barkley in a play-off.

Close finish to Sunday’s Team Event

Sunday’s competition was a 14 Hole Four Person Team Event and it produced a close finish with countback being required to decide the winner.

In the end Tommy Renaghan (15), Maurice Soraghan (9), Trevor Giff (9) and Denis Cunningham (14) prevailed after they had tied on 71pts with Noel Reidy (13), Kieran Reidy (15), Brendan Duffy (12) and Oliver McGinnity (18).

As both had 42pts over the final nine holes, the countback went to final six holes and the winners prevailed by 28pts to 27pts.

Sunday, December 8 – 14 Hole Four Person Team Event – Winners: Tommy Renaghan (15), Maurice Soraghan (9), Trevor Giff (9), Denis Cunningham (14) 71/42/28pts. Runners-Up: Noel Reidy (13), Kieran Reidy (15), Brendan Duffy (12), Oliver McGinnity (18) 71/42/27pts. 

Final flourish secures team event victory

Sunday’s competition was a four-man team event and for the third week in a row Peter McCaughey (20) found himself among the prizes as he partnered with Pascal Keenan (15), Eamonn Hoey (17) and Kevin Redmond (11) to take first place with an impressive return of 74pts for the 14 hole competition.

After opening with four points they quickly got down to business with six-point hauls from the next three holes before having to settle for four points from the par three fifth. They also missed an opportunity at the par five sixth which Peter McCaughey birdied for four points but they could only add Eamonn Hoey’s one point bogey for a total of five points.

That began a run of six steady five points holes to the 11th before they finished with a flourish as the amassed an impressive 20 points over the final three holes.

It all began on the par five 12th where four-point birdies from McCaughey and Redmond yielded eight points and at the par three 13th McCaughey picked up a four-point birdie while Hoey had a three-point par for a seven point haul. A three-point par from Keenan on their final hole, the 18th, and a two-point bogey from McCaughey delivered another five-point return and overall total of 74pts for the 14 holes played.

That left them four points clear of the second placed team of Mark Cumiskey (7), Andrew Cumiskey (10), Aaron Hoey (10) and Pearse Murphy (18).

Sunday, December 1 – Four Person 14 Hole Team Event – 76pts: Pascal Keenan (15), Peter McCaughey (20), Eamonn Hoey (17), Kevin Redmond (11). 72pts – Mark Cumiskey (7), Andrew Cumiskey (10), Aaron Hoey (10), Pearse Murphy (18).

Rafferty ranked No.1 in Europe

Congratulations to Caolan Rafferty who is currently ranked No.1 on the European Golf Rankings which is compiled by the European Golf Association and is based on performances over the past 52 weeks.

Caolan has also reached a career-high 14th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking in recent weeks and is also ranked 17th in the World Scratch Golfers Amater Rankings.

2019 has been another brilliant year for Caolan with the highlights being his appearance in the Walker Cup, his win at the West of Ireland and his semi-final appearance at the South African Amateur Open Championship.