Back nine finish gives Garfield winning edge

Garfield Bell October Medal winner with a nett 66.
Garfield Bell October Medal winner with a nett 66.

Garfield Bell played below his handicap for the tenth time this season and his nett 66, off 10, narrowly won the last stroke play event of the year, the October Medal at Lurgan on Saturday.

Regularly successful in both individual and mixed foursome events, he can put this prize down to a 37 back 9, nett 32, to claim victory over that stretch.

In midsummer Liam McKeown’s handicap was rising inexorably and causing him some concern. Little did he know that by the end of the season he would be knocking on the door of category 1 as today’s round has brought him down to 5.9.

His nett 66, off 7, was only just beaten for the top spot but was good enough for runner-up with a nett 33 on the back 9.

Also on nett 66 was Conor McDonald off 4. He was round the front 9 in just 32 shots, but a double bogey at 14 contributed to a homeward 38, nett 36, to knock him out of the nett prizes.

He will not be in the least disappointed however as his level par round was his best of the year and enough to give him the day’s gross prize.

Peter Devlin won third prize with a nett 67, off 6, but only did so by one third of a shot over the last six holes as four other players on a similar total tried to clamber their way on to the podium.

This score was particularly welcome as it made Peter another player to make a maiden appearance in category 1, one of the more mature players to do so. The unfortunate player to miss out by that third of a shot was the ageless Jim McCann Snr, off 20, who finished in fourth place.

The low section went to the smooth swinging and consistent William McMillan who also had a nett 67, off 9, his best score in a while. Just behind him was Joe Dowey Jnr, 5, who was edged out of the prizes on the back 9.

Level par after 17 holes, a double bogey denied him his third prize in a row and made him the only nett 67 to go home empty handed.

Barry Mulholland’s nett 67, off 18, gave him the middle section but he came close to doing so much better After an almost flawless 13 holes, three doubles and a triple bogey over the last five holes will have left him frustrated.

The high section went to David O’Neill with a nett 68 off 23. A serious looking David could be seen focusing on various aspects of his game prior to teeing off and that dedication was to pay off handsomely despite triple bogeys at 5 and 6.

David Lennon had the first of two eagles returned when chipped in from 30 yards off the green at the 4th. It was just as well he chipped in as the way he was putting it was unlikely he would have got an eagle from the green.

The other eagle was returned by Martin Rea who holed out with a 6 iron at the 9th. He will have been pleased with this, but not with the six double bogeys which also found their way onto his card.