Close finishes seem to be the order of the day at the moment and when a host of players gather in a tight cluster at the top of the leader board it is very often wily, old experience which takes the prize.
Such was the case on Saturday when Hugh O’Reilly was able to edge ahead of five impressive players snapping at his heels by a single point.
It was ironic that this long time winter specialist should claim such a big competition as the Royal British Legion so close to mid-summer’s day, showing that he truly is a man for all seasons.
Four players returned 40 points and John Wells claimed the runners-up spot with 21 points on the back 9.
In his five qualifying competitions this year he has played below handicap on three occasions and in that short space of time his handicap has gone from 12 to 9, installing him as one of the favourites for Captain’s Day on Saturday.
Alan Harrison, 14, played his usual steady game for 40 points, with 20 of them on the back 9. It was a strong finishing six holes which gave him 16 points and the edge over Jimmy Toland who had 13 points over that closing stretch and had to settle for fourth place. Jimmy’s 40 points represented a nett 66 and this is what he scored almost 35 years ago to the day when he finished runner-up in this same competition in 1981.
Gareth Hanna was the fourth player to return 40 points, off 6, and with 19 homeward pts he took the low section. He has been playing extremely well and his score has moved him into category 1 with a handicap of 5.3.
Gavin Smyth, 12, Keith Davenport, 12, Brian Scullion, 4, Gary McKee, 9, and Canice McGivern, 9, each returned 39 points to finish marginally out of the prizes.
The middle section went to George Forker, 14, who had the best back 9 of three players on 38 points.
His NR at the last was a very late blemish on an otherwise impressive card.
Just edged out of the prizes was Eugene Maguire with 19 points coming home. This was Eugene’s third handicap reduction in the space of a week despite NRs at 4 and 12, so he is another candidate to consider when trying to predict a Captain’s Day winner. Paul McCahon also had 38 points but a triple bogey at 11 kept his back 9 return to 18 points.
Peter Kelly took the high section with 38 points off 28, a point ahead of regular contenders John Menary, 21, and Club Captain Martin McCooe, 19.
The day’s only subpar round came from Peter Cummins with a round of 69 for 37 gross pts. He had 3 bogeys and 4 birdies which came at 1, 7, 10 and 15.