Rafferty finishes third in East of Ireland

Caolan Rafferty went very close to capturing his first golfing major over the June Bank Holiday weekend when he finished third at the East of Ireland Championship at Co Louth Golf Club.

The Dundalk Golf Club player shot rounds of 69, 69, 66 and 73 to finish on 11 under par, three shots behind the winner Christo Lamprecht from South Africa.

Two steady three-under-par rounds of 69 left Rafferty on six-under par and tied for fourth, four shots off the lead, heading into the final two rounds on the Bank Holiday Monday.

Rafferty then produced a magnificent six-under-par 66 in the third round to moved up to joint second and close the gap on Lamprecht to one shot with 18 holes to play.

The news that he was in contention travelled fast and a large crowd made its way to Baltray for the afternoon round in the hope of seeing a Dundalk member win the East of Ireland for the first time since Mick Ferguson in 1949.

After three putting the opening hole for bogey, Rafferty soon settled down and birdies at the third, fourth and sixth moved him to 14 under. With the South African teenager having dropped shots at the second and fifth, Rafferty found himself leading the Championship with 11 holes to go.

However, a wayward tee shot on the eight found a deep fairway bunker on the right from which he could only pitch out and although he hit a glorious approach shot to within 15 feet of the pin he shaved the hole with his par-saving putt.

That left him tied for the lead but back to back bogeys on the 10th and 11th from the middle of the fairway saw him drop to 11-under and although he parred his way in, he couldn’t find the birdies he badly needed to haul the South African in.

To compound his disappointment Rafferty was pipped for second place by Mark Power who finished on 12-under thanks to three brides on the last six holes.

Nonetheless, it was a great performance from Rafferty, his best ever in one of the GUI’s major tournaments, and suggests that his day is not too far away at this stage.

His Dundalk team-mate, Aaron Grant failed to make the final day after a second round 81 undid his excellent score of 72 in the opening round. A triple bogey six at the par three seventh, when he was lying level par for the tournament, followed by bogeys at the next two holes proved to be his undoing.

Rafferty then headed to Scotland for the St Andrews Links Trophy which took place over the weekend but rounds of 73 and 74 saw him miss the cut, which fell at one-over par, by three shots

 

 

Dundalk reach Barton Shield quarter-finals

Barton Shield squad

Dundalk Golf Club have reached the last eight of the Leinster section of the Barton Shield for the second successive year after some superb performances at Balcarrick Golf Club over the weekend.

After qualifying in second place behind Portmarnock on Saturday, Dundalk then beat Greenore and Royal Dublin in Sunday’s matchplay ties to advance to the Leinster Finals which will take place in Mount Wolseley on the weekend of July 20 and 21.

With recently crowned club champion Caolan Rafferty away on international duty in France with Ireland, Dundalk managers Alan McCabe, John Conlon and Fergal Harte looked to Conor Curran to step up to the plate and he didn’t disappoint.

Curran partnered Irish Boys international Eoin Murphy while the experienced Aaron Grant was paired with the club’s other Boys International, Josh Mackin for the foursomes event.

Both pairings shot rounds of 76 as Dundalk finished three shots behind Portmarnock in qualifying but well inside the qualifying mark of 160 from which the field of 25 clubs was whittled down to eight for the matchplay phase where two clubs would qualify for the Leinster finals.

On Sunday morning, Dundalk faced neighbours Greenore and beat them by four holes with Murphy and Curran winning by one hole while Grant and Mackin were 3up when they were called in, having been all square at the turn.

That earned the team an afternoon match against Royal Dublin for a place in Mount Wolseley in July and things didn’t look good in the top match early on as Murphy and Curran found themselves two down but birdies on seven and 11 brought them back to all square.

They went behind again when they lost the 15th but came good in the end by winning the final two holes to win their match 1up.

Grant and Mackin got their noses in front early on by sinking birdie putts to win two of the first three holes and they then won the 10th and the 11th to extend their lead to four holes with seven to play.

They were still four ahead with four to play but then saw their lead halved when Royal Dublin won the 15th and 16th but a half on the 17th ensured a two hole victory as the match was called in once Murphy and Curran had got over the line up ahead.

Next up for Dundalk’s elite squad will be the Senior Cup qualifier on June 23 in Laytown & Bettystown when the format will be five singles matches.

Dundalk’s elite ladies were also in action on the Donabate peninsula on Sunday as they faced a Senior Foursomes qualifier along with 11 other clubs at Donabate Golf Club and were unlucky to encounter the worst of the heavy rain which fell in the Fingal area during the afternoon.

The team of Jennifer Holland, Criona O’Reilly, Jacinta Foran, Elaine Ward, Ann Hopper and Pauline Campbell missed out by two shots on qualifying for the next phase of the competition,

The JB Carr Diamond Trophy Team went down fighting as they tried in vain to overhaul a 0-5 deficit when they faced Greenore in the second leg of the Co Louth on the Cooley Peninsula last Friday. Despite giving from one to three shots to their opponents in each of their matches, the Dundalk pairings were two up in two matches and level in two others when they were called in after Greenore got the point they needed for overall victory with a 3&2 win as they closed out the top match on the 16th hole.

The inter-club competitions continue this week with all eyes on the All-Ireland Fourball team who meet Headfort on Saturday in the last 16 of the Leinster section. Three of the matches are in Kells with the other two in Dundalk.

 

Ladies Senior Foursomes team

 

 

Rafferty best of the Irish in France

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Raffety finished best of the Irish at the French Amateur Championship in Chantilly over the weekend.

Rafferty ended up tied for 16th place on two over par, which was seven shots behind the winner Hubert Tisserand of France.

A disappointing opening round of 74 during which he played well but failed to get any sort of breaks left Rafferty in 61st place on three over and in real danger of missing the cut which was confined to the top 40 players.

However, he rallied brilliantly in Saturday’s second round and jumped 36 places up the leaderboard after a two under par round of 69 which featured four birdies and an eagle three at the par five ninth.

The third and fourth rounds were played on Sunday and after a one over par round of 72 in the morning which left him in 24th place, Rafferty moved up eight places in the afternoon as he birdied two of the final three holes to finish on level par for the round.

The Dundalk player will be action nearer to home this weekend as he tees it up in the East of Ireland at Baltray before heading to Scotland for the St Andrews Trophy.

 

 

Rafferty regains Club Championship

Caolan Rafferty

 

Caolan Rafferty regained the Club Championship on Saturday when shot a seven under par total of 137 to win the 36 hole event by nine shots from fellow plus player Aaron Grant.

Rafferty, who plays off plus four, shot a bogey free five under par 67 in his morning round and was four under par and bogey free after 15 holes of his second round before three putting the 16th and 17th and finishing with a two under par 70.

“After going for 33 holes without a bogey I was really disappointed to let it slip with three holes to go as I was trying to get around again in the afternoon without a bogey,” said Rafferty, who is currently finishing off his first year exams at Maynooth University before heading to Royal County Down on Thursday for the Flogas Irish Amateur Open and the start of a busy period of tournament golf at home and abroad.

Aaron Grant, who is now off plus three, was battling a head cold as well as the course and in the circumstances did remarkably well to produce two rounds of 73 to take second place. Conor Curran (2) took the best nett with a score of 145 after nett rounds of 73 and 72.

Saturday, May 12 – Club Championship (36 Holes): 137 – Caolan Rafferty (+4) 137 (67, 70), 146 – Aaron Grant (+3) 146 (73, 73). Best Nett: Conor Curran (2) 145 (73,72). CSS: 73 (Round 1), 76 (Round 2).

 

Top 15 finishes for Grant and Rafferty

Aaron Grant

Aaron Grant tied 11th at Munster Strokeplay Championship in Cork Golf Club after being one shot off the lead at the halfway stage of the 72 hole tournament,. He shot rounds of 70, 73, 75 and 73 for a three over par total of 291 and finished nine shots behind the winner Alan Fahy,

Caolan Rafferty tied 14th at Lytham Trophy and finished as the leading Irishman. After opening with a one under par 69 to lie two shots off the lead, Rafferty shot rounds of 73, 72 and 76 to finish on nine over with the winner, England’s Matthew Jordan, being the only player to finish under par.

Caolan Rafferty

 

 

 

 

Caolan helps Ireland to silver at European Nations Championship

Caolan Rafferty helped Ireland to second place at the European Nations Championship in Sotogrande last weekend. He finished as the second best placed Irish player in joint 12th on eight over par after rounds of 72, 79, 74, and 71.

 

Rafferty wins Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty produced a strong finish to win the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup for a second time on Sunday.

The 25-year-old birdied his final three holes to capture the 36 hole competition by one shot after shooting rounds of 70 and 66.

A shotgun start saw Rafferty teeing off both his rounds on the second hole and he admitted he was surprised to find himself only one shot off the lead after the first round.

“It was a cold morning and there was a bit of a breeze but I didn’t hit it that well and I just scrambled my way around with five birdies and four bogeys. I couldn’t believe it when I found out I was only a shot behind a group on two under as I thought somebody would have posted a decent score.”

Relieved to be still in contention, Rafferty knuckled down in the second round and produced some excellent golf as he roared around the famous Co Meath links with a five under par 66 that included seven birdies.

After parring his opening two holes, he then birdied the fourth, fifth and sixth, to move to four under for the tournament. A dropped shot at eight was cancelled out by a birdie 11 but he then bogeyed the 12th to move back to three under.

Last Tuesday in Portmarnock, Rafferty returned the best gross score in the Winter Alliance when he birdied two of the last three holes for a 69 and on Sunday he once again produced some sparkling golf over the final three holes.

After birdieing the 17th, Rafferty hit a drive and an eight iron to set up a birdie on 18 and he then birdied the first, his last, to finish on six under and take the tournament by one shot.

It was his second victory in the competition having won it previously 2013 and he was delighted with the way he played and finished the final round.

“It’s always nice to finish strong and to do it twice in a week is great. Winning the Laytown & Bettystown Scratch Cup in 2013 was a big breakthrough moment for me and it means a lot to have won it again,” said Rafferty

While most of Ireland’s top amateurs are heading to Rosses Point this week for the West of Ireland Championship, Rafferty will heading to St Andrews in Scotland with Maynooth University for the R&A’s Scholars Championship.

“To win in Laytown is a nice boost heading to St Andrews. I played there last year in the St Andrew’s Cup and made the cut so I’m hoping that experience will stand me to this week.”

Spanish heartbreak for Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty

CAOLAN Rafferty discovered just how fine the margins can be in elite golf when he took part in the Spanish Amateur Open in La Manga at the beginning of this month.

Rafferty shot two rounds of 77 in qualifying to finish tied for 32nd but missed out on being one of the 32 players who advanced to the matchplay stages on a 27 hole countback.

The player who pipped the Dundalk man to the final place was England’s Billy McKenzie who went on to make his way through the five rounds of matchplay to take the title.

Rafferty, who now ranked 15th in Europe and 165th in the World, will miss the West of Ireland Championship in Rosses Point over Easter as he is heading to St Andrews with Maynooth University for the R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament.

ENDS

Good finish by Rafferty in South Africa

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty was the second best placed Irishman at the South African Strokeplay Championship which was held at Pecanwood Golf Club last week.

Rafferty finished in joint 26th place on -11, which was four shots behind Alex Gleeson of Castle. The tournament was won by Sweden’s Oliver Gillberg who shot a phenomenal 27 under par to win by one shot.

Rafferty found himself six shots off the lead after an opening round of two under par 70 which included four birdies.

He fell further behind after the second round when he shot a 71 to make the half-way cut on -3 which was 12 shots off the lead.

That left him tied for 49th place but he moved up two places after posting a two par 70 in the third round. Rafferty recovered from a dreadful start as he double bogeyed the opening hole and went on to shoot six birdies as well as two bogeys.

That suggested he was beginning to acclimatise to the conditions and he proved it in the final round when he carded his best round of the week, a six-under par 66, and climbed 21 places up the leaderboard to finish on -11.

The tournament left Rafferty with plenty of positives as all four rounds were under par and he managed to throw in a low one as well. He now heads, along with his Irish team-mates, to Glendower Golf Club for the African Strokeplay Championship which runs from Tuesday to Friday.

 

Rafferty receives honorary membership after international breakthrough

Caolan Rafferty

IRISH international Caolan Rafferty has received honorary membership of Dundalk Golf Club after he became only the sixth player from the club to make a senior international appearance.

Rafferty made his international debut at the Home Internationals in August and finished as the competition’s top scorer with five points out of six as he made a significant contribution to Ireland retaining the trophy for an unprecedented fourth consecutive time.

Rafferty has followed in the footsteps of Walter J Carroll, Charles A Carroll, Mick Ferguson and Barry Donnellan, who were Dundalk’s previous senior men’s internationals, and Yvonne Cassidy who was a ladies international.

“This year was a tremendous one for Dundalk Golf Club as we produced three internationals,” said outgoing Captain Michal Coburn. “Eoin Murphy and Josh Mackin played for the U18 and U16 teams respectively while Caolan bridged a 65 year gap to our last men’s senior international. Everybody in the club is very proud of what Caolan has achieved this year. He is a great inspiration to everybody in Dundalk.”

Rafferty admitted he was honoured to receive such a special recognition from a club that has already given him tremendous support.

“It’s not something that is easily got so it is a huge honour for me to receive it. I really appreciate everything the club has done for me. They have helped me to play in tournaments here and in Britain and all the members have been following my progress very closely. It’s great to come back to the club and have people asking you about the championship you have just played in,” said Rafferty.

Rafferty has certainly had a year to remember and there have been no shortage of highlights for the 25-year-old who recently won the Irish Universities Championship at Enniscrone while also helping Maynooth University, where he is a Harrington Scholar, to third place in European Universities Championship in the Czech Republic.

His other big individual win of the year was in Colomiba at the Fedegolf Championship where he also partnered Tiarnan McLarnon to victory in the Team Event. That was his first big win as an elite golfer and he admits it is a big breakthrough.

“I’ve won a few Scratch Cups but Colombia was the first big competition I have won. To also win the team competition was special as it was the first time a team from Britain or Ireland had won it. I went on and won the Irish Universities and now I am looking forward to next year and trying to win one of the major Championships. It would mean a lot to me to bring one of those trophies back to Dundalk.”

Rafferty also claimed leading qualifier honours and course records at two of the biggest championships during the year. At the British Amateur Championship he led home 280 of the world’s top amateur players and also managed to set a new course record over the Princes course. He repeated the feat at the North of Ireland Championship where he set a new mark for the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush and then reached the semi-final of the Championship itself.

He also reached the quarter-finals of the West of Ireland Championship and the Irish Close and finished 10th at the East of Ireland. There was a seventh place at the Lytham Trophy in England, a second place in the Laytown & Betystown Scratch Cup and a third place in a spirited defence of the Dundalk Scratch Cup behind international colleagues Colin Campbell and Tiarnan McLarnon.

As well as helping Ireland to victory in the Home Internationals, Rafferty also led Leinster to a three-in-a-row in the Interprovincial Championships where he finished as top scorer winning 5.5pts out of a possible six.

Not surprisingly, Rafferty won the Leinster Senior Order of Merit to round off a memorable year and he realises it is going to tough to match those achievements in 2018.

“Obviously I want to do well in the major championships and I want to keep my place on the Ireland panel and make the Home International team again. The Eisenhower Trophy is being played at Carton House in September so making that three man team is a target as well.

“I also want to win a pennant with Dundalk. We have some good young lads coming through and we are all determined to do something with the club.”

Having just recovered from a rib injury sustained in a freak accident, Rafferty is currently preparing for 2018 in Maynooth University where he has just started studying Business Management.

“I am really enjoying it and Barry Fennelly has been a big help to me. We have got access to physios and psychologists and I am also in gym and doing things like yoga. I am fully focused on my studies and my amateur career for the next three years. After that we’ll see what happens.”