Mark recovers from poor start to win the day

Mark Headley.
Mark Headley.
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A great recovery after a poor start saw Mark Headley take the honours at Lurgan on Saturday.

As he trudged up the hill to the second tee he had just used up almost half of his handicap with an opening triple bogey, endured a fierce summer downpour and then watched the skies darken again for a few more.

Further bogeys at 2 and 3 can’t have helped, but he then covered the last 15 holes in 4 under par to lift the C W Neill Cup with 43 points off 7.

Having started so badly, he will long remember that spell, and especially holing out with a 7 iron for an eagle 2 at the 16th.

Richard Dawson will also have more to remember than forget as he took second place with 41 points off 19. His NRs at 4 and 15 looked so out of place on an impressive card crowned by birdies at 8 and 9. Richard hasn’t been on the podium for a while but he has shown over the years that once he gets ‘into the zone’ he tends to stay there for a while, so it looks like we will be hearing much more about him in the coming weeks.

Third place went to the very in-form Robert Emerson with 40 points off 3. Four over par at the turn it seemed he had little chance of finding a place in the prizes, but birdies at 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 brought him home in just 30 shots for a great round of 69, his second sub-par round in a month.

A double bogey at 2 was David Herron’s only mistake on a front 9 which saw 8 pars and yielded 22 points. He rather hit the bogey trail coming home however, with 6 bogeys for 18 points, a total of 40 points off 9, and 4th place. David has taken all the nett prizes except the top one over the last few weeks, but shouldn’t have to wait too long to complete the set.

The gross went to Senior Cup star Gary Clarke with 38 gross points. His birdies at 3, 6, 11 and 13 helped him to a round of 68 and a handicap of 1.0.

In the winter, when the course was short and the holes like buckets, Francis Tallon had plenty of birdies each week. Those days may have gone but there was almost a flashback on Saturday as he ran up 5 birdies, rather disappointingly accompanied by 6 bogeys. This was still good enough to lift section 1 with 39 points off 4.

Just beaten on the last 6 holes was Adam McCleary, off 10, who will be very disappointed with his NR - double bogey start and finish.

Warren McCleary had a little more luck than his son with his 39 points, off 14. Despite an NR at 13, his 18 back 9 points were good enough to take section 2. Richard Torode, off 15, had 29 points after 11 holes but could only manage 10 points over the last 7 to find himself squeezed out of the prizes.

Section 3 was just as keenly contested with Alistair McCaffrey, 22, just beating Andrew Heasley, 27, on the back 9. Each had 38 points and Andrew will look back at a pair of NRs at 12 and 13 with some disgust.

Saturday saw the most eagles in any day’s competition this year with no fewer than six recorded. The most profitable went to Martin Cavanagh who holed out with his tee shot at the 8th. Brian Scullion had a 2 at 10 and winner Mark Headley a 2 at 16. Gareth Moore and Marcel Shanks had 3s at the last and it is reported that Martin Rea holed out with a 3 wood 3rd shot to join them.