Joseph recovers from poor start to lift Johnston Trophy

Pre-qualifiers for Northern Ireland Open are now set.

Pre-qualifiers for Northern Ireland Open are now set.

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The Johnston Trophy was the first trophy of the new golfing season up for grabs at Lurgan and Joseph McGlone was quickest out of the blocks to register an early victory with 43 points off 21.

A pair of opening double bogeys meant just two points after two holes, but a spectacular run saw him add 21 more points before the turn to move from nowhere into a strong challenging position.

A very steady back 9 brought a further 20 points and saw him lift the trophy by a single point.

With father Artie having hit the headlines with a recent hole in one and Joseph now claiming the season’s first trophy, it would seem inevitable that mother Deirdre will shortly completing a family treble.

Second place went to the very consistent and competitive George Harkness with 42 points off 9. He was 7 under his handicap after 17 holes with victory in his grasp, but having covered the previous 10 holes in two under par a costly bogey at the last snatched away his chance of victory.

There may have been some who suggested that once the generous winter conditions ended Francis Tallon would slide back into the pack, but he obviously has very different ideas. Birdies at 6 and 15, and an eagle at 4, helped him tour the course in 68 shots and take the gross prize with 38 gross points.

It seems there will be no end to his winning ways, which may disappoint a growing number of golfers who are frequently informed of his successes.

Four players returned 41 points each to battle it out for the minor places. John Healy will look to a couple of double bogeys for restricting his score, but his 21 homeward points were just enough to give him third place.

The spectacularly successful Billy Leslie continues to weave his magic and he took fourth place, a disappointing 20 points on the back 9 denying him greater reward.

Mark O’Neill was one of the quartet on 41 points and it was a mediocre 18 points on the back 9 which pushed him off the podium.

It was, however, enough to claim the low section to add yet another notch to his belt and give him early season bragging rights with twin brother John. On this occasion John was a full 10 points behind Mark and 128 places behind on the day’s pecking order.

Peter McCusker had early birdies at 2 and 4 but he was unable to fully capitalise on this almost perfect start and had to be content with lifting the middle section with 40 points off 14.

The high section went to Andrew Heasley with 37 points off 26. Andrew can do little wrong at the moment and it would appear to be a racing certainty that his handicap at the end of the season will be a lot lower than at the start. There were the usual hard luck stories and thoughts of what might have been. Adam McCleary will be disappointed that he was the only player on 41 points to get no reward but pleased that his game continues to improve at an impressive pace. Michael McSherry had 17 pars and 1 birdie but missed out on both nett and gross prizes by one point.

On 39 points came Dwaine Hanna, 8, Tony Gallery, 12, Ian Harrison, 12, Laurence Mitchell, 12, Gerard Henderson, 12, Zach Best, 12, and Eric Allen, 17.

Eric had played himself into a winning position with 23 points at the turn, but a double bogey at the last concluded a back 9 he will hope to quickly forget.