Rafferty selected for Palmer Cup in Lahinch

Caolan Rafferty

Caolan Rafferty had achieved one of his major objectives for 2020 by being selected on the International team for Arnold Palmer Cup which will take place at Lahinch Golf Club from July 3 to 5.

The Arnold Palmer Cup was co-founded by Arnold Palmer and The Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and began at Bay Hill in Florida in 1997. The event is a Ryder Cup-style tournament featuring the top men’s and women’s university/college golfers matching the United States against a team of International players.

Last year, in the R&A Foundations Scholars Tournament in St Andrew’s, Rafferty was on course to play his way on to the team when he led by five shots going into the final round with the winner guaranteed a Palmer Cup spot. However, he was pipped by Welshman Aled Greville who came out of the pack and shot seven-under to deny the Dundalk man a trip to Arkansas.

This time around, he won’t need to play his way onto the team as last week the committee selections for the 2020 Arnold Palmer Cup were announced on Golf Channel’s Golf Central as part of their coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. Three men and three women per side were named and Rafferty was one of the three selected on the International men’s team.

As he is in his final year of a Business degree course at Maynooth University, this was Rafferty’s last chance of making the team and he was delighted to have achieved one of his major objectives for the year.

“It’s nice to make it, especially when it’s my final year in Maynooth and my final chance to make the team. It feels nice to get a committee pick too. Making it early saves a lot of trouble and means I don’t have the worry of having to and win the R&A event next month although I would still like to win that event after what happened last year.”

Rafferty is also delighted that this year’s event is in Lahinch where he won the South of Ireland Championship in 2018 and where he knows he will be able to count on plenty of support.

“I love Lahinch, it’s a class spot. The people down there have been very good to me over the years and to be able to play a big event like this one on home soil is a bonus too. It means I can get some of the support which I always get when I play any event in Ireland which is great and it also will show the talent that is out there at college level to people who wouldn’t always see it.”

Rafferty will be joined on the International team by Irish women’s international Olivia Mehaffey who is a student at Arizona Stage while Barry Fennelly, Maynooth University Golf Programme Manager, will be an Assistant Coach for the International side.

The remainder of the 24 player mixed International team will consist of 12 players selected using the APC Ranking (25 March), four additional committee / coach’s picks and the two winners of The R&A Student Tour Series Final on April 7.

Recent Palmer Cup representatives from Ireland include Julie McCarthy (2019), Ronan Mullarney (2018), Chloe Ryan (2018), Stuart Grehan (2016 and 2017), Gary Hurley (2013 and 2015) and Paul Dunne (2014).

Since its inception, over 100 former Arnold Palmer Cup alumni have gone on to earn cards on either the PGA Tour, European Tour or LPGA, 29 have represented Europe or the USA in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, and more than 60 have claimed over 240 victories on the PGA or European Tours. The United States leads the series 12-10-1.

Top 20 finishes for Rafferty, Mackin and Murphy in Spain

There were Top 20 finishes for Caolan Rafferty, Josh Mackin and Eoin Murphy in the third round of the R & A Student Series last week at the Centro National de Golf in Madrid.

Making his first appearance in the Series, Rafferty shot a two under par 70 in the final round to finish third overall on two over after opening rounds of 75 and 73.

Mackin, who won the second round of the series in Carton House in September, had been lying third going into the final round after opening with a 76 and a 69 which was the joint best round of the week. However, he shot 80 in the final round and finished 11th overall.

Murphy shot round of 77, 75 and 75 to finish in 17th place overall which was two places better than his position in the second series.

The three Dundalk players were all representing Maynooth University in the tournament.

The leading players in the Series after the fourth event in Portugal will be invited to the Tour Series Final in Carnoustie and St Andrews next year.

Dundalk players in action at home and abroad

Dundalk players were in action at home and abroad over the last week with mixed fortunes.

Josh Mackin and Eoin Murphy finished fifth and sixth respectively at the Irish Intervarsity ChamDundalk pionship in St Anne’s.

Mackin finished four shots behind the winner, UCD’s Charlie Denvir, after rounds of 76, 70, 73 left him on six over while Murphy was a shot behind his Dundalk and Maynooth University teammate on seven over after rounds of 76, 73 and 71.

Caolan Rafferty was part of a six man Irish team that was beaten by one point by the Metropolitan Golf Association in the annual Carey Cup match which was played in Arcola Country Club in New Jersey last week.

On Day 1 he birdied the last hole in the fourball to earn himself and partner Conor Purcell a half and in the afternoon foursomes the same pairing were one up with eight to play but lost four consecutive holes from the 13th to birdie as their American opponents came from behind to win 3&2.

A similar fate befell Rafferty in the singles on Day 2 when he was beaten 6&4 by Thomas LaMorte. Rafferty was two up after four but then got blown away as the American fired in eight birdies over the next ten holes to win on the 14th.

Rafferty wins in Scotland

CAOLAN RAFFERTY produced a fantastic performance in the wind and rain in Scotland last week to win the 14th Fife Tournament on the British Universities & Colleges Tour.

The Dundalk player, who is a Harrington Scholar at Maynooth University, shot a six under par total of 136 to win the 36 hole event at Fairmont, St Andrews, by seven shots. His victory saw him move up to 54 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, his highest position yet.

The opening day of the competition, which attracted college golfers from all over Britain and Ireland, was characterised by shocking weather which included strong gusting winds followed by heavy rain that nearly made the course unplayable.

While most golfers struggled in the conditions, Rafferty revelled in them as he showed a high level of skill and patience in carding a one under par round of 70 that included three birdies and 13 pars having started his round contending with the high winds and finishing it in a monsoon.

Conditions improved on the second day and Rafferty, who held a one shot lead overnight, quickly stamped his authority on proceedings with three consecutive birdies from the third to move to four under.

Stirling’s Laird Shepherd emerged from the chasing pack as five birdies over the front nine saw him reduce Rafferty’s lead to two shots but the Dundalk man put his foot on accelerator down the back nine with birdies on 10 and 11. Although he dropped a shot on the 12th Rafferty holed his sixth birdie of the day on the 14th and finished with a five under par 66 for a two round total of six under. He won by seven shots from Maynooth teammate Eanna Griffin with Laird in third.

Rafferty was only player in the field to finish under par and he led Maynooth University to victory in the team event as they beat Durham 1 by a massive 23 strokes with Stirling 1 a further two strokes back.

 

 

 

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.”

Rafferty claims Irish Intervarsity Championship

Caolan Rafferty has finished off what has been an unforgettable year by winning the Irish Intervaristy Championship at Enniscrone.

After opening with a 78 to lie four shots off the lead, Rafferty put himself right in the mix with a four under par second round 69 and a final round 75 left him with one shot to spare on three over from his playing partner and Maynooth University team-mate, Eugene Smith of Laytown & Bettystown.

Rafferty is among seven members of the GUI Senior Panel who have been selected to travel to PGA Catalunya Resort, Girona, Spain on November 28 for a four-day coaching session with national coach Neil Manchip. The group also includes Colm Campbell and Tiarnán McLarnon who were winner and runner-up respectively in this year’s Dundalk Scratch Cup.

Rafferty is also part of an eight strong Ireland squad that has been selected to compete at the South African Stroke Play Championship at Pecanwood Golf Club from February 6 to 9 and the African Amateur Championship at Glendower Golf Club from February 13 to 16.