Rafferty finally captures Dundalk Scratch Cup

imageAFTER finishing second in each of the past two years Caolan Rafferty finally captured the Dundalk Scratch Cup, sponsored by Jeffers Sports Turf, when he beat a quality field to win the 36 hole event by five shots at Dundalk Golf Club.
The Dundalk clubman shot a six under total of 138 after rounds of 67 and 71 with Robbie Pierce from The Grange finishing second after bouncing back from a first round 78 with a seven under par 65 to equal the course record.
“I won the Scratch Cup in Laytown-Bettystown a few years ago and this is my biggest win since then. I have been playing well for the past year and it is great to finally win the Dundalk Scratch Cup after finishing second in the last two years,” said Rafferty who was a semi-finalist in the North of Ireland Championship last year and a quarter-finalist in West of Ireland last month.
This year’s Scratch Cup was the most competitive in the competition’s 53 year history, attracting a field that included 36 players with a handicap of scratch or lower and five international panel members.
The Dundalk course has been toughened up in recent years and this, added to a tricky wind, saw only four players break par in the first round with Rafferty leading the way after shooting a five-under par 67 which left him four shots clear of Nicholas Grant, Paul Reavey and David Mulholland who were grouped together on 71 with Geoff Lenehan and Eddie Rogers a shot further back on level par.
Rafferty’s opening round included two eagles. On the par five sixth he holed out from a bunker 50 metres from the green and on the par four 14th he drove the green before sinking a six foot putt for his two.
Having turned one under, thanks to his first eagle, Rafferty birdied the par-five 10th to go to two under and his second eagle moved him to four under. He went to five under with a birdie three at the 15th but then bogeyed the 16th after failing to get up and down.
However, a long drive at the 18th left him with a pitch and putt for his third birdie of the round and put him firmly in control of the competition.
Rafferty began his second round tentatively and had to scramble to save par at the first, fourth and fifth. A birdie four at the sixth should have settled him but he failed to get up and down at the par-five seventh after leaving his par putt on the lip of the hole.
Four more pars followed before a drive and a three wood set up a birdie on the par five 12th to move him to six under for the tournament.
He scrambled pars on the 13th, 14th and 15th before sinking a monster 40ft putt across the undulating 16th green for a birdie.
He finished on six-under when he bogeyed the last after finding a bunker off the tee but it didn’t matter in the end as nobody came close to threatening his score.
“The two eagles in the first round certainly made a difference. I scrambled really well in the second round and it was a great feeling when I sank that monster putt on the 16th,” said Rafferty.
The challenge of Grant, Reavey and Mulholland faded away in the second round and it was Pierce who stole the headlines with his superb 65 which included six birdies and an eagle to finish on 143, five shots behind Rafferty.
After working for the last few years at Paddock Wood Golf Centre in Dundalk, Rafferty recently moved with professional Brian Kerley to Ardee and he paid credit to Kerley for the work he has done with him over the last few years.
“Brian has been a big influence since I started working with him at the Paddock. I have seen a steady improvement in my game since then as my performances over the past year have shown,” said Rafferty who now heads to England for this week’s Lytham Trophy.
One of the highlights of the day was an albatross two by Tangradee’s Jamie Stothers when he holed his six iron approach at the par-five 10th.
Dundalk Scratch Cup sponsored by Jeffers Sports Turf
138 – Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 67, 71.
143 – Robbie Pierce (The Grange) 78, 65.
146 – Tiarnan McLarnon (Masserene) 73, 73, Geoff Lenehan  72, 74.
Best Nett: Maurice Murphy (3) (Dundalk) 145 (74, 71).
1st 18 Gross: Nicholas Grant (Shandon Park) 71
1st 18 Nett: Luke Woods (4) (Balbriggan) 70/34
2nd 18 Gross: Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 70.
2nd 18 Nett: Connor McCaughey (4) (Dundalk) 70.
1st Round CSS: 74
2nd Round CSS: 73