The first half of the Winter League reached a climax on Saturday at Lurgan and despite some very unpleasant conditions over 160 golfers took to the fairways for the traditional Big Day Out.
And ‘big’ it was in every respect with big numbers, big prizes and big scores.
Wilson Collins and his organising committee had also made a big effort and many thanks are due to them by everyone who enjoyed the last few weeks so much.
The biggest score was returned by John McEvoy with 39pts off 9.
Birdies at 5, 10, 11 and 8, and an eagle at 15 meant a round of 2 under par and victory. His new driver appears to have once more found its voice and further success seems inevitable.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that his father Jack was starring in the Winter League, and John Wells has upheld the family traditio these past few years. On Saturday he returned his best score in a while when he took second place with 38pts off 10. Birdies at 4 and 10 were balanced by bogeys at 5 and 18 for his prize-winning level par round.
Over all third went to Martin McCooe who has been returning impressive scores of late and made telling contributions to his team’s league campaign. He scored 38pts off 15 helped by birdies at 6 and 14, and if he could have reduced his double bogey at 7 by a single shot he would have been contending the day’s outright award.
Martin McNeice took Section 1 with 36pts off 10. Having had a rather barren spell for birdies he got 2 on Saturday at 4 and 18, but it was his brilliant eagle at 10 which really put him in the frame.
Laurence McGrady came next with 35pts off 5 thanks to his second sub-par round in a row. Birdies at 6, 10 and 18, and a bogey at 14, meant a 2 under total.
John Hartnett followed close behind with 34pts off 6. His round had all kinds of everything with an eagle at 4, birdies at 3 and 15, bogeys at 1 and 5, and a double bogey at 14, but all those bumps and hollows smoothed themselves out for a very commendable level par round.
On 33pts came Gary McNally, 3, Francis Tallon, 3, and Patrick Burke, 6.
Mark O’Neill began and ended his week with 1 under rounds for 49pts over 18 holes and 38 over 14 holes respectively. Sandwiched between these two faultless rounds was a 16 over par round for 32pts over 18 holes.
Saturday’s birdies at 6, 10, 15 and 17 pushed him into 1st place in section 2 to finish his league on just the right note.
Second in the section went to James McGarrell who seems incapable of doing anything wrong at the moment. His 37pts off 11 were compiled with a round of just 2 over par helped by birdies at 4, 15 and 18. Tony McCallion has ‘hit the post’ so often recently that he must have been wondering just what he had to do to win. Although his 37pts, off 11, brought him 3rd place on Saturday, surely he must come out on top in the very near future. Noel Stewart, 12, and Eamonn McCarron, 11, came very close with 35pts.
Gerard Mann won section 3 with 38pts, off 20. Despite a triple bogey at 7 he was very much in line for victory with four holes to go but three bogeys were followed by a double bogey. Billy Leslie came 2nd with 37pts off 13. A level par first half gave reason for considerable optimism on the 10th tee, but a bogey, double bogey start to his homeward journey gave him just too much to do to claim victory. Walter Simpson, 18, James Hanratty Jnr, 13, and Tom Lamb, 22, were to miss out with 36pts. The day’s gross prize went to Timmy Cummins with 32 gross thanks to a round of 4 under par with birdies at 4, 7, 11 and 12.