Early bird Michael cannot be caught

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Saturday brought another sign of summer at the Lurganwhen winter playing conditions were brought to an end, hopefully not to be seen again until late October.

This doesn’t appear to have presented too many problems for most players as 13% of the field bettered the standard scratch score and the May Medal was won with the season’s lowest score so far.

Michael McLaughlin had completed his round before many other competitors had completed their night’s sleep, and the chef put together all the ingredients of good golf to cook up a brilliant nett 61, off 17, to take the day’s top prize.

Despite three double bogeys, he had 10 nett birdies, and a nett eagle at the 5th provided the icing on the cake.

Young Peter Kennedy has begun the season in style and he continued the good run with a nett 63, off 17, to take second place. A birdie at the 13th moved him to 8 under his handicap, but four sixes over the closing five holes nudged his score in the wrong direction.

Graham Douglas took third place with a nett 65, off 9. He was five over after 7 holes and apparently out of contention, but birdies at the 8th, 9th and 10th put the spring back into his deflated step and hope into his round. Having picked up three shots in as many holes, he had the misfortune to throw them all away with a triple bogey at the 14th.

Young Conor McDonald is a fast improving player and he took fourth place with a nett 66, off 10. His triple bogey at the 3rd provided an early setback, but having dropped three shots at that one hole, he only dropped three shots over the other 17.

The gross prize went to Joe Dowey Jnr who has been no stranger to the prizes for about the last four decades. Birdies at the 1st, 4th and 12th were balanced by bogeys at the 3rd, 9th and 11th for a very satisfying level par round.

Colin Thompson took the low section with a nett 66, off 5, the highlight of his round being a birdie at the 15th. On nett 67 were Iain Mulholland and Conor Wilson while Martin Corey, Jim McKee and Colin Robb were on nett 68. You would have to have some sympathy for Colin who had played himself into a great position after 17 holes only to run up a disastrous nine at the last.

The middle section went to Michael Lavery with a nett 66 off 17, edging out Henry McAreavey and Brendan Courtney on 68 and Jim Kennedy on 68.

Big hitting Chris Godfrey had the sort of golfing winter most players dream of and he has continued with that form into the new season. He took the high section with a nett 68, and with regular playing partners Eric Allen and Eddie Girvan also returning very good scores, the trio provided something of a masterclass on the day.

Philip Ward, also on nett 68, was placed second and will no doubt have a few stories of ‘the one that got away’.

Tom Connolly perhaps thought of the prizes a little too early having found himself 2 under after 13 holes, as an ugly 11 at the very next hole quickly dispelled any hope of reward. Colin Darling has featured in the prizes regularly over the last few months and has seen potentially great scores denied him by one or two bad holes in a round. Such was the case again on Saturday when he opened his round with an 11 which was most unfortunate as he covered the rest of his round level with his handicap. In contrast to Colin’s opening, Robert Lindsay began with an eagle two, the only eagle of the day.