Saturday’s competition at Lurgan Golf Club for the August Medal was played in a little oasis of summer in the midst of unpredictable and intense showery weather which has seen the postponement of a number of events over the past week.
The character of the course has consequently changed somewhat with the amount of run greatly reduced and, coupled with the fact that Saturday’s event was stroke play, conditions appeared to favour the low men, and so it turned out with five net 66s battling it out for first place.
Honorary Secretary Ian McMurray’s handicap may have inexplicably risen to 12, but he was for many years a noted category one golfer and he gave every indication that he is on his return to that status when he won with a nett 66.
Winning was probably the last thing on his mind after 7 holes as he was 7 over par at that point, but he covered the rest of his round in just one over thanks to a birdie at the 10th and a disappointing pair of closing bogeys.
Saturday’s score was just one of a number of impressive recent performances and he will be looking towards the rest of the season with justifiably renewed hope.
This time last year Keith Percy was averaging at least one prize a week but his second place finish, with nett 66 off 7, was his first reward in a long time, although he has come close on a number of occasions.
Five birdies were balanced by five bogeys to leave him level par for 17 holes of his round but he must still be having slow-motion nightmares of his horrible triple bogey 7 at the 7th. The 3 par 5s will provide a sweeter memory as they yielded three birdies.
If Mark Headley isn’t in the prizes each week, he is very narrowly outside them and his handicap chart is currently showing a very steep decline. His nett 66, off 6, gave him third place and introduced him to category 1, so well done Mark. Three bogeys and a single birdie made up his round of 72.
Eamon Lynch began and ended his round with birdies and eventually took fourth place with a nett 66 off 6. An uncharacteristic run of bogeys at 15, 16 and 17 denied him outright victory on the back 9.
While the top four nett prizes were won with nett 66, David Sutton took the gross with a brilliant gross 66, off +2. His birdies at the 1st and 13th and an eagle at the 10th, the only eagle on the course on the day, were coupled with flawless golf elsewhere to produce one of the club’s best rounds of the year.
Vice Captain Ian Cousins took the low section with a nett 67, off 11, and he will be glad to have reversed the trend of a handicap chart which resembled an ever upward flight of steps. Ciaran Seely, 4, and Dermot Lavery, 10, came very close with nett 68, Dermot’s double bogeys at 11 and 13 leaving him with reason for regret.
The middle section threw up something of a surprise when the extremely experienced veteran Ed Richardson took it with a nett 66 off 16. This was Ed’s first prize of the year and if he could have just avoided one of his pair of double bogeys on the back 9, at 11 and 14, he would have claimed outright victory. Stephen Hewitt just missed out with a nett 67 off 17 and will remember his 7 at the 9th for a while, and Davy Johnston, Neil Dillon and Stephen had nett 68s.
Tom Connolly took the high section with a nett 67 off 25. Having avoided any triple bogeys for 15 holes he came up with one at the 16th to deny him even greater reward.
Nigel Girvan also had a nett 67 but just missed out on the back 9 and Alistair McCaffrey was right behind with a nett 68.