History of the PGA Championship at Dundalk

While Dundalk has been associated with the Professional Golfer Associations for almost 30 years since the organisation decided to base its offices at the Blackrock course its flagship tournament has only been played there on two previous occasions.

The first was in 1953 and it attracted what was then regarded as big entry of 54 players which included some of the top players of the era including the first Irishman to win a major, Fred Daly, as well as Christy O’Connor and Harry Bradshaw who in 1958 were to team up and win the Canada Cup, later to become the World Cup, for Ireland.

The 72-hole tournament was played over two days in September and turned out to be a duel between Bradshaw and Daly, who was the defending champion.

Bradshaw opened with a carefully constructed five under par 67 which was eight better than Daly but the Balmoral player bounced back with a 67 of his own in the afternoon with included a bogey at the last when it seemed he would birdie it set a new course record.

However, Bradshaw had a 68 in the second round to take firm control of the tournament and when followed that up the following morning in the third round with a 67, his afternoon round became a procession towards his coronation as Irish champion and he returned a 70 for a four round total of 272, 16 under par.

Of the locals, Dick Ferguson finished fourth alongside Christy O’Connor Senior, while Daly finished third behind up and coming star Jimmy Martin from Greystones who was runner-up to Bradshaw.

Martin had to wait 16 years before the Irish PGA Championship returned to Dundalk and when it did he showed that his second place finish in 1953 was no fluke with a comprehensive victory as he recorded his first and only Irish PGA victory.

Level with Jimmy Kinsella of the Castle on 268, 20 under par, after four rounds, Martin took one of the few titles to have eluded him on the Irish circuit when he once the resultant play-off at the second hole of a sudden-death play-off.

The event took place in June 1969 over two days and Kinsella set the pace from the start, leading the first round with a 65 before a 66 saw him still in front at the end of the second round. A third round 67 got him to 198, two shots ahead of Martin heading into the afternoon. He maintained that two shot lead to the 17th, then a 428 yards par four, where his bogey five and Martin’s birdie three left the duo level heading to the 18th which they both parred to set up a play-off.