Saturday’s results in the Norman Quail Trophy at Lurgan would have been hard to predict as very few of the prizewinners have given any recent indication that a good score was on the way.
Paul Mulgrew, a long time pupil of the very experienced Martin Rea, returned his best score in a long time to lift the trophy with 43 points off 12.
After two bogeys in the first three holes, he went on a run of nine straight pars which set him on the way to a welcome early season victory.
Sean McCool’s competitive outings have been limited of late but he showed he has lost none of that winning mentality when his 41 points, off 14, claimed second place.
Having opened with four pars his cautious approach ensured there would be no slip-ups during the rest of his round.
Third place went to Robert McVeigh with 41 points off 15. Six under after 15 holes, his only double bogey of the day popped up at the 16th to rather dampen his spirits. He is another winner to have been on a long lean streak and will be hoping this performance will be the catalyst for change.
Michael Bingham took fourth place with 40 points off 13, a double bogey on each nine rather spoiling an otherwise great round.
Two of the club’s young tigers fought it out for the gross award with Michael McSherry edging out the luckless Ciaran Seeley on the back nine. Michael had a little spell of six holes from the 8th to the 13th, which he covered in two under par, to thank for his winning score of 34 points. Ciaran was two under par on the 16th tee but was left disappointed after a bogey, bogey, double bogey finish.
The low section went to Gavin Smyth with 39 points off 10, a birdie at the penultimate hole providing the highlight of his round.
The trio of Morris Lyness, Paddy Meehan and Michael McMahon also had 39 points but missed out on the back nine. Morris opened and closed his round with birdies but encountered a few problems in between. Michael refused to be distracted by his somewhat wayward fourball. After their first tee shots, one was playing his second shot from the boundary fence on the right while another was playing his from the 10th fairway, the four players forming a line fully 100yds from left to right!
Martin McKinstry took the middle section with 40 points off 13. After 15 holes he was five under his handicap having played impressively throughout his round and will still be wondering how an ugly nine can pop up out of the blue, but it did at the 16th.
This would normally be enough to derail any golfer’s dreams, but Martin called on all of his considerable experience and ability to birdie the next hole and go on to take his section.
The high section has so far been contested by the same small group of players.
This time it was the turn of the impressive Barry Mulholland who lifted the prize with 39 points off 19. Barry has been returning good scores almost every time he goes out and will no doubt be among the early favourites for major honours throughout the season.
The early morning fourball of Brendan and Charlie McConville, Harry Hoy and Kevin Devine battle it out each Saturday with Brendan and Harry taking on Charlie and Kevin. The latter pairing found themselves 1 down with 1 to play. Stung by this painful possibility Kevin hit a long tee shot which went right and came to rest on the gravel path beside the 11th tee.
Things didn’t improve when he hooked a long second shot through the pine trees on to the sheepwalk. Undaunted by the obvious danger to both his clubs and himself, he scorned the safety of a chip sideways and played a quite breathtaking shot which landed on the green 20 foot from the hole.
Needless to say he holed the putt for the most unlikely birdie and complete a very satisfying comeback.