The scores over the last few weeks might have left some wondering whether the golfers at Lurgan have suddenly got an awful lot better or the course has got an awful lot easier.
On Saturday 16 players were +1 or better, 10 were level par or better, and 5 players returned sub-par rounds.
Gary Clarke even had the distinction of going round in 4 under par and not featuring in the prizes.
Easy or not, you still have to play the course well to get a good score and on the day no-one bettered Terence Eagers with 40pts off 12. He had 43pts last week but that was over 18 holes, so his score over 14 holes was quite special.
This was his first ever level par round and he will fondly remember his birdies at 6 and 9, his first of the year at these two holes.
Zach Best won’t forget the past week in a hurry having opened it with 48pts over 18 holes and closing it with 39pts over 14 holes. That was 32 holes in just 2 over par for a combined total of 87pts.
Saturday’s level par round came thanks to a bogey at 7 and birdie at 10. This may present the family with something of a Christmas present dilemma as Zach certainly doesn’t need anything to improve his golf.
William McMillan took Section 1 for the second time in the League with 36pts off 8. William has had a quiet year by his own high standards and he will be hopeful that this surge in form will continue until the end of the year and into 2015.
Second place in the section went to Roy Hanna Jnr whose 35pts, off 5, was achieved thanks to a round of 2 under par.
This meant back-to-back sub-par rounds for this former interprovincial player. Paul Dickson, 7, Billy Bateman, 8, and Alex Denver, 5, each came very close with 34pts, Alex being one of the players to have a sub-par round for no reward.
Gary McCollum’s golfing opportunities have been somewhat limited this year but he celebrated taking his first Winter League card out by taking Section 2 with 37pts off 10. He will be thankful for birdies at 3, 11 and 17 and already be making plans to squeeze in his next round now that he has ‘cracked it’.
Paul Rippon took second place with 36pts off 10 having had a birdie at 10 and bogeys at 7, 11 and 12. That birdie at 10 was to prove vital for it enabled him to keep Paddy Meehan at bay on the back 9. Paddy’s game has been noteworthy of late and having given so much time to the development of the Academy you might wonder has he been sneaking in extra practice sessions.
Seven players on 35pts must be wondering what they have to do to win a prize with Patrick O’Neill, 12, Paul Lavery, 12, Stephen Walter, 10, Tony McCallion, 11, Paul Mooney, 11, Diarmuid Mitchell, 9, Paul Best, 9, all despondently heading home.
Andrew McKinless can’t have enjoyed any round this year more than Saturday’s as he lifted Section 3 with 39pts off 22. The ground may have been heavy but it couldn’t keep a spring out of his step nor a beaming smile from his lips, although he might just be slightly sorry to have dropped 6 shots over the last 4 holes having dropped only 5 over the first 10.
You can always be sure that Stephen Cordner will be there or thereabouts and up he popped once more to take second place with 38pts off 12 helped by his third birdie in a row at the 10th. Just out of the prizes were Philip Heyburn, 15, and Walter Simpson, 18, both of whom had 38pts to miss out on the back 9.
On 37pts came Ian Hamilton, 13, and John McCallion, 16. John and brother Tony will each have a more sorrowful tale to tell than the other as they relate how they each finished so near yet so far.
The day’s gross prize went to Andrew Cummins who birdied 7, 10, 15 and 18, and had no slip-ups for his 4 under par round and 32 gross pts, 17 of which came on the way home. This leaves Andrew level par for his last two rounds and among the favourites for the overall prizes at the end of the League.
Gary Clarke’s 4 under round saw him edged out on the last 7 holes. Birdies at 2, 9, 10, 12 and 15 were unfortunately followed by a bogey at the short 17th.
After week five in the Winter League Team Compoetition there are joint leaders in Monty’s Marauders and The Printers. Both gained maximum twelve points on week five and with it being a double week they now are both sitting on 74 points.
Dawson’s Duffers had a better week and climbed in joint 2nd positions on 72 points along with Only Two People and 1 Steak and 7 Lamb Chops who both also gained maximum points.
Sixteen teams gained maximum points on week five with The Captain’s Boys scoring a whopping 174 collective points.
Chris Stevenson must have had an inspirational pre match chat with his Red Arrows team as they also scored maximum points and lifted themselves well clear of bottom spot.
Spare a thought for both Murph and the Magicians and Dillion’s Delights as they had only four players that turned out for each of their teams. Both teams didn’t score well and it looks like there could be a battle between these two for the dreaded ‘Wooden Spoon’ Trophy.