Having just missed out on the prizes last week with 36 points, Gareth Smyth knew he would have to improve if he was ever to find a place on the podium.
On Saturday he did just that and will be contentedly reflecting upon a ‘job well done’ after 37 points, off 12, gave him an overdue outright victory at Lurgan.
A steady first half left him in good shape at the turn and a level par return journey, thanks to birdies at 10 and 15, completed the job.
It seems that no prize list is complete these days without Walter Simpson’s name on it somewhere and despite him carrying a winter handicap reduction due to previous heroics, he still took second place with 37 points off 18.
A disastrous triple bogey at 7, at which he has had at least 2 points on each visit since before Halloween, denied him the week’s top spot.
When looking for the gross winner you can always be sure there will be a Cummins in there somewhere and yesterday it was the turn of Andrew to claim the prize. Birdies at 1, 3, 12 and 18, and pars everywhere else, resulted in 32 gross points for someone who will be a big tip for ‘major’ success this year.
Section 1 went to early morning golfer Gregory Crawford with 35 points off 5. He was in record breaking mood after going birdie, eagle, birdie over holes 3, 4 and 5, just 9 shots to play the two par 4s and a par 5.
There were no further heroics however, but neither were there any disasters to spoil the day. Just behind on 34 points came a trio brimful of experience and indisputable class, Malachi McConville, 4, Canice McGivern, 6, and Laurence McGrady, 5. A birdie at 10 set Malachi off on a 1 under par return journey to snatch the runners up spot from the claws of his dogged and determined opponents.
No stranger to the prizes last year, Conor McEvoy signalled his intention to continue that trend when he took section 2 with 36 points off 10. He opened and closed his outward journey with birdies.
No fewer than five players returned 33 points to contest the runners up spot with Bryan Turkington’s not inconsiderable experience claiming him the prize with the level par back 9 of a master. Stephen Hewitt might normally have expected to win a prize with four birdies on his card, but unfortunately he had an equal number of double bogeys. Tony Gallery found himself 1 under at the turn, but a 3 over back 9 did him no favours, while even a birdie at the last could not undo the damage done by Eamonn McCarron when he played the first six holes of his return journey in 5 over par. Aodhan Scullion played the same stretch in similar fashion with 4 bogeys and an NR spoiling a card which had looked promising at the turn.
Tom Lamb loves winter golf and this ‘master of the mud’ took section 3 with 37 points off 22. While others may struggle with the challenges of the season, Tom continues to reap reward after reward and repeatedly show just how it should be done. Gerard Marner took second place with 37 points off 14.
Bridge results: 1, T Rae and S Polllock; 2, B McKavanagh and E O’Neill; 3, C Stewart and S Gilbert.