Rafferty wins Leinster Order of Merit again

CAOLAN Rafferty has won the Leinster Golf Senior Order of Merit for the second successive year. Caolan’s win at the South of Ireland and third place finish at the East of Ireland helped him to an impressive 110 ranking points overall which was 40 more than second placed Rowan Lester of Hermitage.

 

Lawlor inspires the World to victory in Disabled Cup

Brendan Lawlor (centre) celebrates with his teammates after winning the first Disabled Cup

 

Dundalk Golf Club’s Brendan Lawlor is on top of the world after helping the World Team beat Australia in the first ever ISPS Handa Disabled Golf Cup in Melbourne.

Played alongside the World Cup of Golf, the two day event was a further opportunity, after last week’s Australian All Abilities Championship in Sydney, for 12 of the world’s top disabled golfers to show their skills off to a wider audience in an intensely competitive environment.

Lawlor, who finished second in last week’s event, teamed up with Spain’s Juan Postigo in Friday’s foursomes and Saturday’s fourballs, to deliver two emphatic wins and two vital points as they led the World team from the front to a 3.5 to 2.5 victory over Australia.

The 21-year-old admitted the past two weeks has been amazing for both himself and disabled golf.

“The second place finish in Sydney gave me amazing exposure over here and I definitely saw that when we moved to Melbourne. The cameras were always on us and the crowds were in awe in what we were doing as we were playing the same course as the professionals.

“It was a great honour to be the first disabled golfers to lift the trophy. It was even better for it to be presented to us by Peter Phillips who is a fantastic ISPS Handa ambassador and a great guy,” said Lawlor.

Such was the impact Lawlor has had since arriving in Australia that when he arrived at Melbourne’s Metropolitan Golf Club, Ireland’s World Cup team of Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne sought him out and invited him to join them for a practice round.

“Shane and Paul are two gents. They approached me and said hello first. They knew who I was and it felt amazing. Playing golf with them was even better,” recalled Lawlor.

Lawlor and Postigo were handed the honour of leading the World team out in Friday’s foursomes and it didn’t take them long to put the first point on the board as they proved too strong for Mike Rolls and Tony Coates in what were extremely tough conditions.

They won 6&4 and helped the World team lead Australia 2-1 after the opening day with Lawlor happy with how they had played.

“It felt pretty good,” Lawlor said. “We were pretty slow to start but we hit a lot of good shots and from seven to 12 we played pretty steady.

“Myself and my partner Juan stayed calm when the weather was really bad because we knew the scores weren’t going to be as good. We played really solid and were only two over for 14 holes as we both holed key putts.”

On Saturday they were again sent out first as The World team looked for the 1.5 points they needed to take the trophy. Lawlor and Postigo again showed the way by finishing the job on the 14th as they romped to a 5&4 victory over Australia’s Cameron Pollard and Tony Coates.

They were a remarkable three-under-par when the match ended but Lawlor admitted it took them a while to get control of the match.

“The weather today was really nice. It was windy but it was warm. I got off to a slow start today even though I had a great par on the first. The next few holes I went stale but Juan played really solid when I wasn’t playing well. We were one over after eight and I then hit this three wood to 60 feet on nine and holed it for eagle was an amazing moment and a big moment in the game. We stayed steady and were three under for the 14 holes we played which was solid shooting.

“Me and Juan got on like a house on fire. He is a Spanish disability golfer with an amazing talent and is ranked number one in Europe. We gelled really well both days and had a laugh and played great golf.”

Lawlor had his father on his bag with him for the two tournaments in Australia and admitted it was special to be able to share those great moments with him.

“Dad is an amazing caddie. I give him a hard time sometimes when the game isn’t going to plan. But the support both my parents have given me all my life, not just the last two weeks is lovely. Second in Sydney and winning two points for Europe, the caddie must be doing something right, or maybe it’s the player!”

Lawlor’s big objectives include trying to form an Irish Disabled Golfers Association and helping to promote golf’s case for inclusion in the 2024 Paralympics. He believes that the past two weeks have helped both objectives take a big step forward.

“Yes, the last two weeks will 100 per cent help promote the game. The crowds in Australia had more interest in watching us than the pros, which was quite extraordinary. The pros loved it too and they treated us like their own. I played a pro-am with Thomas Pieters and he is one great guy.”

Lawlor now heads back to Ireland and will finally have an opportunity to take stock on what has been an unbelievable year for him. As well as his Australian exploits it included wins on the European Disabled Golfers Tour in France and Czech Republic and saw him move to third in the World Rankings. He also mixed it with able-bodied golfers at the highest level and was part of Dundalk’s senior panel which won the Leinster Barton Shield and reached the semi-finals of Leinster Senior Cup. Lawlor won both his matches in the Senior qualifiers of the Senior Cup at Laytown & Bettystown and also succeeded in getting his playing handicap down to one.

ENDS

 

Dwyer takes first turkey

Jim Dwyer won the first Turkey of the season on Sunday when he took the 14 hole Singles Stableford competition by one point from Conor McClenaghan (22).

Playing off 10, Dwyer began steadily as he covered the opening seven holes in 14pts with three pint pars at the seventh and eighth being cancelled out by one point bogies at the sixth and ninth.

The foundation for his winning score was laid over the first holes of the back nine when reeled off four successive three point pars from the 10th and then made it six successive pars by covering the 14th and 17th in regulation before a two point bogey five on the last gave him a score of 18pts for the final seven holes and an overall score of 32pts.

That was one better than McClenaghan who took second place while the evergreen Willie McKeever (17) edged out Sean Gallagher (21) on countback after both had tied on 30pts.

Cathal Muckian (10) took Category 1, Sean O’Sullivan (18) won Category 2 and Sean Ward (19) was best in Category 3. Best gross score was returned by Peter Rogers with 24pts.

Sunday, November 18, – 14 Hole Singles Stableford Turkey Competition – Overall: Jim Dwyer (10) 32pts, Conor McClenaghan (22) 31pts, Willie McKeever (17) 30/21pts, Sean Gallagher (21) 30pts,. Category 1 (0-12): Cathal Muckian (10) 29/19pts. Category 2 (13-18): Sean O’Sullivan (18) 29pts. Category 3 (19-28): Sean Ward (19) 29pts. Best Gross: Peter Rogers 24pts. CSS: Non-Qualifying.

 

ENDS

Lawlor second at Australian All Abilities Championship

Brendan Lawlor in action in Australia

 

BRENDAN Lawlor produced a superb performance over the weekend to finish second in the Australian All Abilities Championship in Sydney and copper-fasten his position as one of the top disabled golfers in the world.

The 21-year-old member of Dundalk Golf Club was one of 12 players from around the world who took part in what was a tournament within a tournament as the disabled players teed it up alongside the professionals playing in the Emirates Australian Open at East Lake Golf Club.

Lawlor finished 10 shots behind Sweden’s Johan Kammerstad who blew the field away with a blistering final round that included five birdies but Lawor, who had started the day three shots off the lead in joint second place, held on to edge out Belgium’s Adam Wahbi and take the runners-up spot.

“It was the best experience of my life,” said Lawlor afterwards. “Playing in front of 5,000 people was incredible and when I put it into five feet on the last the crowd went nuts. When you shoot the same score as some of the pros you know you did okay.”

The disabled golfers played a 54 hole tournament starting on Friday and that was the only difference to the professionals competing for the Australian Open who began their 72 hole competition on Thursday,

Lawlor and his colleagues played off the championship tees and experienced the very same conditions as the pros over their three days of a competition that attracted huge media attention in Australian and saw the Louthman feature regularly on the television coverage of the event.

The Dundalk senior panel player got off to a great start in his opening round which he started off the tenth tee and, after parring his opening three holes, notched a birdie three at the 13th. He was leading playing his final hole, the par three ninth, but he double bogeyed to drop back to second, one shot behind Wahbi.

The second round on Saturday was much tougher for everybody as the wind howled across the famous Sydney links and made it a battle to survive. Lawlor followed up his opening round of 78 with an 85 but stayed second, just three shots behind new leader Kammerstad and alongside Wahbi.

The three leaders were grouped together in the final round and it soon became clear that Kammerstad was on fire and wasn’t going to be caught so Lawlor focused on ensuring he finished ahead of the Belgium which he did as he carded an 80 to Wahbi’s 83.

“I am disappointed with not winning but second on a stage like this is more than amazing. Just being here would have been good,  even if I had finished last.”

One of the purposes of this event was to increased the profile of disabled golf with a view to it becoming a Paralympic sport in 2024 but such was the successes of the event in Australia that there is now speculation that it may feature at next year’s Open Championship in Portrush.

Lawlor now heads from Sydney to Melbourne to take part in a Ryder Cup style event between Europe and Australia which will be part of the World Cup of Golf. Ireland will be represented at that event by Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne and Lawlor is looking forward to meeting the pair later this week.

ENDS

Roll of Honour

Competition Player
Captains Prize 1st Brian Og Reneghan
Presidents Prize 1st Declan Ward
Lady Captains Prize to Men 1st Brendan Keane
Professionals Prize 1st Kevin Redmond
Arkew Cup 1st Michael O’Sullivan
Cochrane Cup 1st Shane McGuinness
PGA Tankard 1st Fergal Sexton
House Committee Cup 1st Derek Murdock
Jubilee Cup 1st Kevin Barry
Knights of Malta Cup 1st Edward Rogers
Irwin Lockington Salver 1st Joseph Laverty
Paddy Markey Cup 1st Brian Og Reneghan
Veterans Cup 1st Richard Barry
Senior Scratch Matchplay 1st Andrew Keenan
Senior Scratch Matchplay 2nd Shane Hession
Junior Scratch Matchplay 1st Neil Mulloolly
Junior Scratch Matchplay 2nd Barry Cunningham
Intermediate Scratch Matchplay 1st Pat Curran
Intermediate Scratch Matchplay 2nd Eamonn McEneaney
Minor Scratch Matchplay 1st Jimmy O’Connor
Minor Scratch Matchplay 2nd Oliver McGinnity
Harry Walsh Cup 1st Oliver McGinnity
Harry Walsh Cup 2nd Joe Garvey
Carolan Cup 1st Jim Dwyer
Carolan Cup 2nd Pat Donaghy
Gold Medal 1st Oliver McGinnity
Gold Medal 2nd Conall Murdock
Gold Medal 3rd Colm Garvey
Gold Medal 3rd Barry Cunningham
Gold Medal Leading Qualifier Noel Reidy
Mens Foursomes 1st Paul Morrison and Michael McDermott
Mens Foursomes 2nd Jimmy O’Connor and Gerry Campbell
Mixed Foursomes 1st Clem Walshe and Oonagh Quinn
Mixed Foursomes 2nd Michael and Mags Coburn
Club Championship 1st Caolan Rafferty
Golfer of the Year 1st Clem Walshe

Flawless Dwyer takes Sunday’s Singles Stableford

Jim Dwyer (10) was the winner of Sunday’s Singles Stableford with an excellent score of 43pts.

He made full use of his 10 shots as he recorded seven three point pars out of an overall total of 15 pars while his three bogeys were each worth two points as he had shots on all three.

On the front nine, Dwyer had three point pars at the first, third and seventh as he went out in 21pts and on the way home he had three pointers at the 11th, 15th, 16th and 18th.

Hugh Reilly (21) took second place overall after shooting 41pts and edging out Charlie Monahan (10) on countback thanks to a fine back nine score of 22pts. Monaghan, however, took Category 1 while Dessie Ward (13) took Category 2 and Oliver McGinnity (20) claimed Category 3 for the second consecutive week. Eddie Rogers (3) had the best gross with 34pts.

Best wishes to Brendan Lawlor who heads for Australia this weekend to take part in next week’s Australian All Abilities Championships which will be part of the Australia Open in Sydney.

Sunday, November 4 – Singles Stableford – Overall: Jim Dwyer (10) 43pts, Hugh Reilly (21) 41/22pts. Category 1 (0-11): Charlie Monahan (10) 41pts. Category 2 (12-16): Dessie Ward (13) 40pts. Category 3 (17+): Oliver McGinnity (20) 39/23pts. Best Gross: Eddie Rogers (3) 34pts. CSS: Non Qualifying.

Second place for Murphy at Ulster Boys

Eoin Murphy

Eoin Murphy bowed out of Boys Golf with a super performance at the Ulster Boys Championship in Royal Portrush where he finished second to Thomas Higgins of Roscommon.

Higgins led from post to pillar after opening with a 66 and Murphy found himself 10 shots off the lead after shooting a five over par 76 in the first round.

However, he hauled himself back into contention with a bogey free seven under par 64 as he reeled off seven birdies to move up the leaderboard into fourth place, five shots behind Higgins.

In the final round Murphy had three birdies and one bogey for a two part 69 but, while that was enough to leapfrog into second place, it wasn’t enough to haul back Higgins who also shot 69 to keep his five shot margin over the Dundalk player.

Murphy went into the tournament with a plus one handicap and his two rounds under par were enough to push him out to plus two and see him achieve one of his major goals for the year.

Lawlor ready to tee up with the pros in Australia

Brendan Lawlor

Dundalk Golf Club’s Brendan Lawlor is preparing for the trip of a lifetime in November when he will head to Sydney to tee it alongside the professionals playing in the Emirates Australian Open. Last year’s event included Jason Day and Jordan Speith and previous winners have included Speith, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Lee Westwood and Greg Norman.

Lawlor is among 12 of the top disabled golfers in the world who will be playing for the Australian All Abilities Championships alongside the professionals at The Lakes Golf Club as part of an initiative to help golf become more inclusive at all levels and also help the case being made by the International Golf Federation for the sport to be included in the 2024 Paralympics in France.

“This is the very first time it has happened,” explained Lawlor. “There was a display at the Portuguese Masters but nothing like this where we will be playing competitively in the same field as the professionals.

“Ours is a three day event, theirs is a four day event. But when the cut is made you will be paired with a pro-golfer and playing the same course,” added Lawlor who is travelling Down Under as one of seven European players in the field and with a huge incentive.

“If I win in Australia I can go to world number one so that’s my goal. I’m number three at the moment and getting to number one would be huge for me.”

Lawlor, who has Ellis-Van Creveld Syndrome, a bone growth disorder that leads to shorter limbs, is a member of the European Disabled Golfers Tour and although he only joined it late last year it didn’t take him to long to find his feet. This year he won in Portugal, France and Czech Republic to shoot up both the European and World rankings.

“It’s been fantastic. The talent that’s out there on tour is amazing. I couldn’t get over it the first time I played. There were people with one leg and one arm hitting it 260 yards. You wouldn’t see able bodied people doing that.

“What helps me is probably competing at able bodied golf all my life and playing with Dundalk and also in Ardee at the start. I’ve played able bodied golf all my life and I knew I had the game and the confidence to succeed in it.”

Lawlor is a member of Dundalk’s Senior Panel which won the Leinster Barton Shield title, reached the semi-final of the Leinster Senior Cup and was beaten in the All-Ireland Barton Shield Final this year. He says that playing senior golf in Ireland has helped his game and contributed to his success on the EDGA Tour.

“The standard here is a little bit better than the standard would be out on tour. The best out there is really good, but at club level I’m competing against Caolan Rafferty off plus five and Aaron Grant off plus three so it doesn’t really get better than that. When you are going out there on tour, knowing you’ve been playing against Caolan or Aaron, it gives you confidence.”

Lawlor, who is 21, has only been playing golf for six years having started in pitch and putt because he didn’t think he would have the strength needed for the bigger game.

“I didn’t think I was strong enough at the start so I started playing pitch and putt and I got to the highest level in pitch and putt and won two All-Irelands. I was playing it week in week out. Then I started golf and was given a handicap of 28. I was down to 10 in my first year and I just kept plugging away and I am off one now. Put in the hard work and things will happen.”

That hard work is now reaping unthinkable dividends for Lawlor as he prepares to head to Australia and his date with the pros which will then be followed by a Ryder Cup style match between Europe and Australia in Melbourne.

“It’s a great buzz. If I stuck at able bodied golf my whole life I’d never get this opportunity so it is opening massive doors for me.”

He is hoping that the exposure disabled golf gets from playing alongside the professionals in the Australian Open will persuade the powers-that-be to allow the sport into the 2024 Paralympics as he would love the opportunity of going for gold in France in six years’ time.

“I am third in the world and I want to be competing in the Paralympcis,” stated Lawlor who along with another disabled golfer, Gareth McNeely, is currently trying to set up an Irish Disabled Golfers Association.