Golfers brave the elements as winter begins to bite

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ON Saturday, the concluding day of week five of Lurgan’s Winter League, saw competitors face some frosty conditions for the first time in this tournament.

The one consolation was that it was not raining. As usual these hardy golfers embraced the new conditions with aplomb and shot some wickedly interesting and competitive scores. There were 182 entries over the week and at least 65 golfers pitched in with an under par score for the regulation 14 holes.

Thanks to a better last seven holes Gareth Murphy claimed the weekly overall net prize. This 24 handicapper took the honours with a nine under par total of 37 points. With at least a shot on every hole Gareth made full use of his handicap. Over the round he accumulated respectable pars at holes one, ten, twelve, fourteen, seventeen and eighteen. Double bogeys on the third and sixth holes were his only minor lapses. His strong play on the back seven nosed him ahead in the race for the overall weekly award.

In the Low section nineteen golfers came under the radar with scores of 29 points or better. Brian Hanratty topped the bill with his effort of 33 points. Playing off a nine handicap Brian had a tidy opening seven holes. A birdie at the first was followed by pars at holes five, eight and nine. He played the closing seven holes in level par figures. He ran up a bogey on the twelfth but squared it with a birdie on the eighteenth. Pars on the other five holes guided him safely into the winners circle. Big hitting Olcan Kearney was second with his haul of 33 points. This eight handicapper was through the front seven with six pars and a bogey at the eighth. He also matched par figures on the inward seven. He atoned for bogeys at holes twelve and fourteen with a pair of birdies on the closing two holes. Five handicapper Andrew Cummins nabbed third spot with a tally of 32 points. Andrew had bogeys on holes two and five but retrieved matters with birdies on holes nine and eighteen. Par figures for the fourteen holes provided him with the third net award.

The other well performing golfers were as follows:

32 pts: Sean Toman, Stephen Loughran; 31 pts: Peter Cummins, Nathan McCann, Paul Lyness, Lawrence McGrady, Francie Tallon; 30 pts: John Hartnett, Joe Dowey, Colin Thompson, Ian Cousins; 29 pts: Paul McCabrey, Gary McNally, Damian Murphy, Gareth Moore.

For the second week in a row plus two handicapper David Sutton was the recipient of the weekly gross prize. Like last week he managed three birdies and eleven pars. A similar result was registered again. On this occasion his birdies were registered at holes one, nine and eighteen.

The Middle category was again highly competitive with 24 candidates posting under par scores. All three prizes were taken with returns of 33 points. A better return over the last six elevated Gary Lyons into the top prize. This fifteen handicapper was through seven with five pars and two bogeys under his belt. Holes six and eight were the bogey holes. More solid golf emanated on the final seven holes. He dropped shots at holes ten and fourteen but recovered with birdies on holes twelve and eighteen. Pars were his lost on the remaining holes.

Gerard Henderson was runner-up with his total of 33 points. This eleven handicapper matched Gary over the front seven. His two bogeys were at holes two and six. His inward seven was dogged by a trio of bogeys on holes eleven, twelve and fifteen. With three pars and a birdie on eighteen he had done enough to land second place. Finally Seamus Baxter grabbed third net with a similar haul of 33 points. Five pars and bogeys on holes five and six constituted his opening seven return. Again a trio of bogeys on holes ten, eleven and fourteen did not do him any favours. However pars on the other four holes paved the way for his winning effort.

The following golfers were not far away from the podium: 32 pts: Paddy Meehan, Tom Creaney; 31 pts: Rodger McIlwaine, Gary McCollum, Gavin Smyth, John McCaffrey, John Healy, Kevin Brennan, Colin Robb; 30 pts: John McEvoy, Gavin Little, Paul McKernan, Ian Hamilton, Brian Clarke, David Herron; 29 pts: Mark O’Neill, Seamus Cushley, Denis McInerney, Brendan Courtney, John Wells.

In the High section there were at least 22 golfers who produced scores better than par. The big winner was Francie McKenna with a magnificent tally of 37 points. He was unlucky to lose out in the overall category but that’s the way the weeks pan out. In a spite of a few lapses Francie made maximum use of his strokes to bring about his quality score. Over the duration of the round he was best served by a quintet of pars at holes two, three, eleven, seven and eighteen. Numerous net pars also boosted his tally. However no returns on holes fourteen and fifteen proved fatal.

Runner-up in the group was Graham McNeill. This 23 handicapper was quite consistent with nothing worse than a double bogey at the eleventh on his card. A birdie on the seventeenth and pars at holes one, six and eighteen were his marquee scores. Along with a string of net pars Graham catapulted himself into second spot with a very creditable 36 points. The third net award went to Martin Fagan with his very tidy play of 35 points. Playing off a 23 andicap Martin competed well over both sectors of the course. Pars at holes two and five were his early feature holes. Meanwhile on the inward seven he was well to the fore with further pars at holes ten, twelve and fourteen.

The other challenging returns in the section were achieved by the following:

34 pts: Derek Johnston, Jonathan Lawless; 33 pts: Ronald Bruce; 32 pts: Paul P Magee; 31 pts: Tom Lamb; 30 pts: Martin Cavanagh, Stephen Cordner, Gopal Santokhi, Conor McEvoy, Maurice Turnbull, Sean McClean, Terry McCrory; 29 pts: John Menary, Jim McCann Snr, Paul O’Shea, Kieran McCorry, James Hanratty Jnr.