It is hard to believe the Winter League is over but although the traditional March Big Day Out Lurgan marked its closure, it also raised the flag for golfers to move towards the starting blocks for the beginning of a new summer season.
The last of the winter winners was Conor Thompson with 33 points off 13. He had begun the week by finishing runner-up in the Gents Shop Sweep and will be very pleased at ending the week with a victory, his birdie at 17 providing the strong finish required to hold off the challenge of another player on 33 points.
Regular prize winner Raymond McCrory, 9, was the unlucky runner-up. His birdie at the second hole got him off to a great start but he was unable to find another which would have made all the difference.
It is not often that Denis McInerney lets a Winter League go by without appearing among the prizes and although he may have left it late on this occasion, he kept up his tradition by lifting third with 32 points off 13. A birdie at 10 was the highlight of his round and after an extended period which has seen his handicap rise inexorably, he will be hoping that he will maintain his current form and reverse that trend.
Four players had rounds of 1 over par for 27 gross points to contest the gross prize. Francis Tallon can thank birdies at 10 and 12 for a decisive back 9 of 1 under to eventually take the prize.
The unlucky trio Gary McNally, and Peter and Timmy Cummins just could not match Francis’ noted staying power in a tight finish.
The low section was another close run thing with no fewer than five players battling for contention on 30 points. Malachi McConville’s birdies at 12 and 14 contributed to the strongest back 7 of the quintet and he added yet another prize to a run of successes stretching back over the last few months.
Gary McNally also had two birdies on the back 7, at 10 and 15, but he had to settle for the runners-up spot after a complicated count back. Timmy Cummins, Dwaine Hanna and Mark Headley lost out on the back 9. With Timmy similarly missing out in the gross section, it was a double he could well have done without.
Ian Harrison took the middle section with 32 points off 11 despite a double bogey at 8, normally one of his favourite holes. John Wells also came a cropper at ‘Waterloo’ with an NR, but he managed to keep things together elsewhere for 31 points and second place. Gavin Smyth, 9, and Kenny Hanna, 11, each had 30 points, and no doubt tales of what might have been, as they just failed to make the prize list.
The high section went to Michael McHugh, 20, with 31 points thanks to nett birdies at 1, 2, 11 and 12.
Christmas Big Day Out champion, Bill Leslie, loves everything about winter conditions and he might be watching the growing evidence of spring and summer with some dismay. He wasn’t going to let the winter go without one last fling however and he unsurprisingly took the runners-up spot with 30 points off 14. An early tip for summer success must be Eric Allen who just missed yet again with 30 points, off 13. He dropped six shots over the last four holes but when his luck eventually changes there is little doubt his handicap will come tumbling down.