New course record and Club Championship for Grant

Aaron Grant

Aaron Grant set a new course record on his way to winning the Club Championship on Saturday.

The plus one handicapper shot a bogey free eight under par 64 in the first round of the 36 hole event and a level par second round saw him finish on eight under and five shots ahead of Caolan Rafferty.

Grant ‘s new course record included back to back birdies at the second and third and he also birdied the par five sixth and seventh to turn in 32. Birdies followed at 10 and 11 before he recorded his only five of the day when he parred the 12th. Another birdie at the 15th took him to seven under and he finished his record breaking round with his eighth birdie at the last.

Rafferty, who teed it up after spending five days at the North of Ireland Championship, shot a two-under par 70 in the opening round to lie six shots behind Grant and conditions got tougher for the afternoon ‘s second round as a strong south westerly wind swept across the course,.

That suited Grant and he posted a level par 72 to set a target of eight under for the chasers. Grant’s second round included four birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey. Rafferty was only able to reduce the deficit by one shot after a one under par 71 but it was good enough to claim runners-up spot.

Grant and Rafferty will now turn their attentions to this week’s Barton Shield Leinster Finals in Kilkenny as the club bids for its first provincial pennant in this inter-club competition for elite golfers. Eoin Murphy, Josh Mackin and Richie Newell are the other players who have featured on the journey to this stage and managers Alan McCabe and John Conlon were interested spectators as Saturday’s Club Championship unfolded.  Dundalk will face Portmanrock in Friday’s quarter-final with the semi-final scheduled for the afternoon and the final taking place on Saturday.

Saturday, July 15 – Club Championship: 136 – Aaron Grant (+1) (64,72). 141 – Caolan Rafferty  (+4) (70,71). Best Nett: 139 – Conall Murdock (9) (70,69). CSS Round 1: 73,
CSS Round 2: 74.

Another great week for Rafferty at North of Ireland Championship

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty’s super season continued last week in the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.

He won the silver medal for leading qualifier and then battled through four rounds of matchplay before losing in the semi-final to Irish international Colin Fairweather from Knock Golf Club.

The 24-year-old carded a bogey free, course record 65, on the newly redesigned Dunluce Links to lead home a field of 300, of whom 120 were plus handicappers, in the qualifying round.

He had posted a 68 in the first round over The Valley course and finished on 10 under par. Rafferty’s record round included birdies at the second and ninth and then he started his back nine with three birdies in a row before birding 15 and 17 and signing for a 65.

It was a second course record for Rafferty in less than a month as he also set a new low score at The Prince’s in England on his way to taking the silver medal for leading qualifier at the British Amateur.

That earned him promotion to the Irish international squad and his current run of form leaves him very much in the frame for a call-up for the upcoming Home Internationals.

Rafferty reached the semi-finals of the North back in 2015 and his march to the penultimate stage this year began with a 3&2 victory over Stackstown’s John McCarthy before a convincing win over Dungannon’s Dwayne Mallon in the second round.

Rafferty got a scare in the last 16 when he was taken to the 19th by Tandragee’s Ross Dutton before finally squeezing through. He bounced back from that in the quarter-final against Portmarnock’s Darragh Coghlan with a 4&2 victory.

That earned him a place in Friday morning’s semi-final against Knock’s Colin Fairweather and, cheered on by a sizeable contingent of supporters from Dundalk, he recovered back from an early setback to lead at the turn.

However, a bad bounce on the 12th, where he had played a glorious approach shot, saw momentum shift in favour of the Ulster golfer but Rafferty hung in and got back to level after 16.

He had an opportunity on 17 to go ahead but his biride putt shaved the hole and Fairweather then played a superb approach at the 18th to four feet to win and advance to the final where he lost to Hermitage’s Rowan Lester.

Rafferty next mission is to help Dundalk in this week’s Barton Shield Leinster Finals at Kilkenny before he heads to Lahinch and the South of Ireland Championship.

 

Rafferty leads Leinster to three-in-a-row

Caolan Rafferty was one of the stars as Leinster claimed their third Interprovincial title in a row this week at Carlow Golf Club.

Rafferty, who was part of last year’s successful team, had an impressive haul of 5.5pts from his six foursomes and singles matches over the three days.

In the opening match against Munster, Rafferty and foursomes partner Eugene Smith from Ardee defeated John Murphy and James Sugure 4&4 before Rafferty was sent out at No.1 in the singles and defeated newly crowned Irish Amateur Open champion Peter O’Keefe 2&1. Those wins helped Leinster to a 6.5 to 4.5 victory.

Leinster had a much more emphatic victory on Day Two when they beat Connacht by 8.5 to 2.5. In the morning foursomes Rafferty and Smith halved with Devin Morley and Jack McDonnell while the afternoon Rafferty beat Barry Anderson 5&3 in the top match.

That left Leinster needing just a draw from their final match against Ulster to retain their title and they got off to the best possible start by winning the foursomes 3-1 with Rafferty and Smith winning 2&1 against Jordan Hood and Kyle McCarron.

Team Captain, Seamus McParland from Greenore, again put his faith in Rafferty to lead Leinster our in the singles and for the third day in a row he delivered from the No.1 slot with a one hole win over Irish international Tiarnan McLarnon.

Leinster eventually won 7-4 to complete a 100 per cent record over the week and win three interprovincial titles on the trot for the first time in over 50 years and sights are now set on emulating that team from the 1960s which won four-in-a-row from 1962 to 1965.

 

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Rafferty makes international headlines at British Amateur

Caolan Rafferty

Dundalk Golf Club’s Caolan Rafferty made international headlines last week when he shot a course record 62 to finish as leading qualifier in the British Amateur Open.

A top class field of 288 of the world’s amateur players teed it up for a place in the matchplay stages of the championship and after carding a level par 70 at Royal St George’s in the first round, Rafferty found himself tied 83rd heading into his second round at nearby Prince’s Golf Club.

His round to remember began with a par before he eagled the par five second and then rolled in birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth holes turn for home on six under par after going out in 30.

The birdie putts continued to drop down the back nine as birdied 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 and he looked set to at least match the all-time lowest score in the Amateur Championship under a bogey five at the last left Rafferty having to settle for a ten-under-par 62, a new course records at Prince’s and the prize for leading qualifier.

“The wind was up but everyone knows back home that I love the wind and playing links golf in the wind suits me right down to the ground,” said Rafferty. “It might be a bit of a graft when it comes to getting a score out of it but I just kept hitting it to ten to 12 feet and I couldn’t miss it.

“It was nice to finish as leading qualifier. The players in the British Amateur are the best of the best. They are the closest thing to professionals that we are going to see. To come out on top is always nice.”

In his opening matchplay round at Royal St George’s Rafftery has a comfortable 5&3 victory over David Ravetto of France as he continued the stunning form which saw him set that new course record at Prince’s.

That earned him a place in the last 32 against Argentina’s Alejandro Tosti, who is ranked 24th in the world compared to Rafferty who went into the week ranked 514th. Rafferty was leading by one hole with one to play when thunder and lightning halted play for over two hours. When play resumed he lost the 18th and was then involved in a titantic struggle as the match went to the 25th hole before Tosti emerged as the winner,.

After reaching the quarter-finals of the West of Ireland Championship, finishing seventh in the Lytham Trophy and earning a golf scholarship to Maynooth University, this has been a good year so far for Rafferty and he will look forward to the upcoming major championships with confidence as he chases his dream of an Irish international call-up.

ENDS

Record-breaking Rafferty is leading qualifier at British Amateur

Caolan Rafferty

Dundalk Golf Club’s Caolan Rafferty carded a ten-under-par 62 to finish as leading qualifier in the British Amateur Championship today and will face David Ravetto when the matchplay phase commences tomorrow at Royal St George.

Having carded level par 70 at Royal St George in the first qualifying round on Monday, Rafferty jumped from tied 83rd to top spot with his course record round at Prince’s. His 62 also matched the second lowest ever qualifying round in the British Amateur.

Rafferty, who finished tied seventh at the Lytham Trophy, eagled the par five second hole and reached the turn in six-under-par before going on a run of five birdies in six holes from the 10th. A bogey at the last, after finding a bunker, left the Dundalk golfer on ten-under- par.

“The wind was up today but everyone knows back home that I love the wind and playing links golf in the wind suits me right down to the ground,” said Rafferty. “It might be a bit of a graft when it comes to getting a score out of it but today I just kept hitting it to ten to 12 feet and I couldn’t miss it.

“It is nice to know that I am the leading qualifier in this field. The players are the best of the best. They are the closest thing to professionals that we are going to see. To come out on top is always nice.

“Match play is a funny game. You can play really poorly and win a match or you can play really well and lose a match. You just have to take it one step at a time in match play and not get down about it. I enjoy match play so I’m looking forward to it,” said Rafferty who reached the last eight at the West of Ireland Championship.

 

Rafferty and Murphy make presence felt in West

Two Dundalk golfers certainly made their presence felt at West of Ireland Championship in Rosses Point last week and while they didn’t come away with the title, they certainly laid down markers for the season ahead.

Caolan Rafferty went one better than year by reaching the last eight while Eoin Murphy, who has just turned 17, reached the last 16 in what was his first major amateur championship.

Murphy, who is a two handicapper, had to pre-qualify for the tournament and earned one of the 20 spots on offer after a marathon seven hole play-off was needed to fill the remaining four qualifying places from the 10 players tied on 77.

On the seventh tie-hole Murphy found himself as one of three players chasing the last two spots and his hopes of qualifying looked doomed when he forced to take a penalty drop from a wall. He made a five but got through after one of his rivals played a wrong ball and incurred a two-stroke penalty.

Four other Dundalk players – Andrew Keenan, Conor Curran, Richie Newell and Neil MacKell – also played in the pre-qualifers but failed to make the cut.

Murphy took full advantage of his good fortune two days later when he teed up in the Championship proper. He shot a three under par 68 in the first of the two strokeplay qualifying rounds as he mixed three bogeys with four birdies before holing a 60-yard lob wedge for an eagle two at the 18th.

“It was a nice way to finish,” said Murphy afterwards. “”It was a good solid round of golf — I hit lots of greens and didn’t do anything too mad until the 18th. It’s my first men’s championship and to be able to compete with these boys is great.”

Although he shot a 78 in the second round, Murphy comfortably qualified for the matchplay stage as did Rafferty who shot rounds of 72 and 75 but Aaron Grant missed the cut by two shots after he followed an excellent opening round of 73 with a nine-over par 80.

In the first matchplay round Murphy was drawn against Irish international Tiarnan McLaron (Massereene) and showed no signs of nerves against one of the favourites as he trounced the Ulsterman by 6&5 and he proved it was no fluke in the afternoon when he defeated Royal Dublin’s Richard Knightly by 3&2, impressing everybody as he came from two down with a tremendous run of winning holes to close the match on the 16th.

Rafferty also had a good day at the office on Easter Sunday as he saw off Tandragee’s Ross Dutton by 2&1 in the first round and then beat Andrew Hickey (Ballyhaunis) by 3&2 after lunch to reach the last 16 for the second successive year.

Unfortunately for Murphy, his magnificent run came to an end on Easter Monday morning when he was beaten 6&4 by local favourite David Brady (Co Sligo) but he certainly left his mark on the competition and showed that he has the ability to play at Irish amateur golf’s highest level.

Rafferty drew on all his experience to make the quarter-final as he was two down with four to play against Colin Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire). He birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th to go one up and also won the 18th to win the match by two holes and earn a shot at making the last day of the West.

Rafferty faced Portmarnock’s Jack Pierce in the last eight and came up against a player in the top form from tee to green. Pierce, who helped Portmarnock win the World Club Golf Championship in December, opened up a three shot lead but although Rafferty birdied the 12th to reduce the deficit to two with six to play but he was unable to reel in Pierce who won by 2&1 and was level par for his round when it finished on the 17th.

While obviously disappointed that he didn’t make the semi-finals and the final day of the Championship, Rafferty can take a lot of satisfaction from his opening major of the year having gone one better than he did in 2016.

Rafferty retains Club Championship

Caolan Rafferty (+3) retained the Club Champio

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty

nship on Saturday when a second round of level par was enough to hold off the chasing field.

Rafferty had held a four shot lead after Round 1 and the only player to challenge him was his fellow plus handicapper Aaron Grant (+2) who shot a one under par 71 for an overall score of level par. But Rafferty kept his composure all through the final round as he shot a level par 72 to finish on three under for the championship.

The gross prizes were won by Robert White (1) and Conor Curran (3) while Terry Conlon (6) and Eoin Murphy (3) took the nett prizes.

Club Championship – Overall: 141 – Caolan Rafferty (+3) 69/72. 144 –  Aaron Grant (+2) 73/71. Round 1 (Sept 4) – Gross: Robert White (1) 73/34. Nett: Terry Conlon (6) 68. Round 2 (Sept 11) – Gross: Connor Curran (3) 73/35. Nett: Eoin Murphy (3) 70. CSS: 73.

 

 

Rafferty makes Leinster Interpro Team

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty has achieved one of his major goals for 2016 by being selected on the Leinster team for next week’s Interprovincial Championship in Fota Island.

It’s the 23-year-old’s first provincial cap and he’s hoping that it will be a stepping stone to another objective which is to represent Ireland.

The Leinster team, which is captained by Greenore’s legend Seamus McParland, is bidding to retain the title they won last year in Rosapenna and the eight strong team includes four survivors from 2015.

Rafferty got another boost this week when he rose 109 places in the Amateur World Rankings following his great performance at the British Amateur Championship where he reached the last 32.  He is now ranked at 354th in the world.

However, the week ended on a disappointing note for Rafferty and the other members of the club’s Senior Cup team as they went out in the first round on Saturday when they lost 3-2 to Laytown & Bettystown in the Regional qualifier at Baltray.

Mulligan back to defend Dundalk Scratch Cup

2015 Senior Scratch cup winner 2Teenager Thomas Mulligan will aim to become only the third player to retain the Dundalk Scratch Cup, sponsored by Jeffers Sports Turf, when the 36-hole tournament takes place over the famed Blackrock links this Sunday.

Mulligan became the youngest ever winner of this prestigious competition last year when, as a 15-year-old, he won by three shots from his Co Louth clubmate Gerard Dunne and Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty with the highlight being his impressive seven-under par 65 in the first round.

If he manages to come out on top again this year Mulligan will join the legendary Joe Carr and Declan Brannigan as the only players to win the Dundalk title back to back with Carr achieving the feat in 1965 and 1966 while Brannigan did it in 1972 and 1973.

He’ll face a strong challenge from Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell who has started the season in superb form. He reached the semi-finals of the West of Ireland Championship at Easter before winning the Grange Scratch Foursomes with Ryan Gribben last week and then capturing the Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup on Sunday.

Others to watch out for include Colm Fairweather (Knock), Derek Downie (Sutton) and James Fox who won the title in 2009.

The field also includes two of the winners from last week’s Faldo Series Ireland Championship at Lough Erne Resort as Hollywood’s Rory Williamson, who won the U21 title, and Dundalk’s Eoin Murphy, who won the U16 event, set to tee it up on Sunday.

Murphy is part of a strong Dundalk contingent that includes another former winner, Aaron Grant, and Rafferty. Grant and Rafferty recently reached the quarter-finals of the West of Ireland at Rosses Point.

The Dundalk course, which hosted last year’s Irish PGA Championship, has undergone major redevelopment work over the past number of years with the most recent work being the addition of new strategically-placed fairway bunkers on several holes.

Previous winners of the Dundalk Scratch Cup include three times major champion Padraig Harrington and all are welcome to the 2015 event where there is every likelihood they will see one of golfing stars of the future in action.

Grant and Rafferty reach last 16 at West of Ireland

Elite golfers Aaron Grant and Caolan Rafferty proudly flew the flag for Dundalk Golf Club at the West of Ireland Golf Championship in Rosses Point over the Easter Weekend.

Both reached the last 16 of the first major amateur championship of the 2016 season and claimed some notable scalps along the way.

The Dundalk duo qualified for the Matchplay stage of the tournament after finishing among the top 25 of the 64 qualifiers. The qualifying round was reduced to 18 holes after high winds caused the second round on Easter Saturday to be abandoned so Grant’s 77 and Rafferty’s 79 from Friday saw them qualify comfortably inside the cut.

In Round 1 on Easter Sunday morning Grant beat Andrew Morris of Belvoir Park 2&1 while Rafferty defeated James Pierse of Portmarnock by 1 hole.

On Sunday afternoon in Round 2 Grant had a one hole victory over William Russell of Clandeboye while Rafferty came from two down after 11 holes to beat Portmarnock’s James Fox with a birdie on the 19th hole.

That left only Dundalk and host club Co Sligo with two representatives in the last 16 on Easter Monday morning. Rafferty faced Matthew Kane of Whitehead and, after losing the opening hole, was unable to get back on level terms. He was two down after 11 and eventually succumbed to a 3&2 defeat.

Grant faced Daniel Holland of The Castle and found himself two down after 11 holes. They were all square by the time they walked off the 14th green but after halving the 15th, Grant lost 16 and 17 to lose the match 2&1.

Rafferty’s conqueror Kane was beaten in the quarter-finals by the eventual winner Jonathan Yates of Nass who defeated Holland in the final.

Reaching the last 16 of the West represents a good start to the season for Rafferty and Grant and everybody at Dundalk wishes the boys well for the coming season.

One of the big targets for both players in the coming weeks will be the annual Dundalk Senior Scratch Cup, sponsored by Jeffers Sports Turf, which is scheduled for Sunday, April 24. Entries are now being accepted by the Pro Shop on 042-9321731.