Jason McCann became the latest in a line of young lions who have recently made an assault on the Lurgan course record, when he won the Lurgan Mail Trophy with 43pts off 4.
Birdies at holes 2, 3, 4 and 8 helped him move to 4 under after 12 holes only for his charge to be brought to a shuddering halt with a double bogey at the 13th.
This was the only hole at which he dropped shots and a closing birdie meant a round of 67, 43pts and victory.
While the big majority of golfers would be delighted with a 67, no doubt Jason will be thinking how much better it could have been. There is no doubt this outstanding young golfer will be coming close again.
Robert Lindsay began the season by finishing runner-up with 42pts and such was his fate again on Saturday.
Playing off 16 he was 7 under his handicap after 10 holes thanks to birdies at holes 9 and 10, and the day’s only eagle which came at the 4th. He will be disappointed with double bogeys at the 11th and 15th but having recently returned to the game after a lay-off for a few years he will be full of justifiable optimism for the future.
Third place went to Andrew Best with 41pts off 17 and it was his 19 homeward pts which were to be decisive. He has had to spend most of the summer listening to how his son Zach’s handicap was getting lower and lower while his own was going in the opposite direction, so this score will have given him at least temporary relief. An opening birdie provided the perfect start and a further 8 nett birdies meant he could afford a couple of homeward double bogeys and still claim a prize.
A big score has been predicted for Nigel Girvan for some time now as he hits the ball a long way.
Playing off 19 he dropped only 2 shots on his front 9 to reach the turn with an incredible 26pts in the bag, easily the biggest outward haul of the day. Three nett pars opened the back 9 before a run of double bogey, double bogey, triple bogey provided some ugly intruders. This led to a disappointing 15pts on the back 9 to take 4th place.
The gross prize went, yet again, to Gary Clarke who shot a 68 for the second Saturday in a row. This brought his handicap down to 0.8 and was brought about by birdies at 4, 10, 16 and 17, and bogeys at 5 and 11.
Just as Mark O’Neill’s handicap had risen to the extent that he was about to exit the low section for the first time in some years, he took that section yesterday with 39pts granting him a reprieve for at least a few weeks. Indeed but for a double bogey at the 14th the reprieve would have been further extended.
Three players had 39pts to contest top spot in the middle section with George Forker, 14, edging out Paul McKernan, 14, and Peter McCusker, 15, on the back 9. George had double bogeys at 8 and 14, and an NR at 15, but a closing birdie brought him his prize. Paul was saying his score was little surprise as he felt a good score had been coming for a while.
On 38pts came Raymond McCann who will be particularly pleased with his consequent handicap reduction. Apparently he and George Kidd are having a private duel as to who will have the lower handicap at the end of the season and this moved Raymond below George for the first time, 15.6 against 15.7.
The high section went to Henry Jordan with 39pts off 23, despite an NR at the 14th and triple bogey at the 7th. Cathal McEvoy continued on his improving ways when his 38pts led to his second handicap reduction in two weeks, but he will recall his NR at the last for some time to come.