Saturday’s competition at Lurgan was for the Norman Quail Trophy, an event which caused a little confusion a few years ago.
One player had told the rest of his fourball that it was definitely not a qualifying competition despite the previous week’s being qualifying.
It was only when they later checked the board that they saw he had misread the notice announcing: ‘Today’s competition - The N Quail Trophy.’
After a winter of sky-high scores things have begun to return to more normal levels and while a few weeks ago 41 points might have just about got into the top ten, it was enough for Joe Dowey Jnr to take the trophy off 6.
Joe has been winning prizes for decades now and a regular rigorous cycling routine has helped him maintain both high levels of fitness and low golf scores. Three birdies and three bogeys contributed to yet another level par round and yet another victory, his second in a month.
Four players scored 40 points with Olcan Kearney’s level par back 9 giving him 21 homeward points and second place off 6.
Olcan is playing great golf at the moment and regularly finding a place in the prizes. In recent weeks he has taken a section prize, a third place and now a second place, so there would appear to be an inevitable progression towards that top spot.
Dwaine Hanna has been claiming all the recent plaudits in the family, but his father Kenny got the opportunity to remind everyone that he is still playing when his 40 points gave him a very welcome place on the podium in third place. His 3 double bogeys will have given him to reflect upon what might have been as just one less would have given him outright victory.
Richard Dawson is on fire right now and every visit to the first tee seems to bring him reward. His 40 points, off 19, meant fourth place on Saturday and he will no doubt be reflecting on a costly double bogey at the 16th, a hole he hasn’t scored worse than bogey at since last summer.
The last player on 40 points was Gary Clarke who was the only person on the day to go round under par. His 40 points, off 1, contained 5 birdies and 2 bogeys for a brilliant 67 for 39 gross points and the gross prize.
The low section went to Martin Rea who only has to add a Sunday to his prize winning days and he will have a Grand Slam of such days even at this early stage of the season. His 39 points, off 11, were achieved despite a horrible spell from 8 to 11 which saw him drop 7 shots around the turn.
The middle section provided the closest finish this year with Michael McLaughlin’s 39 points, off 14, edging Gerard Marner, off 18, out of the prizes with 7 points against 6pts over the last three holes of the front 9. Henry Jordan lifted the first of what is expected to be many prizes this year when he took the high section with 39 points off 22.
An number of players scored 38 points to narrowly miss out but most of this accomplished group have already featured in the prizes already this year and will no doubt do so again before it runs its course. They were Ian Harrison, 12; Martin McNeice, 10; Ronan McGivern, 3; Bryan Turkington, 13; Tom Creaney, 14; Eddie Girvan, 14; Hamilton Baxter, 28 and Roy Bratchie, 20.
Francis Tallon, you will be glad to know, continues to run up those birdies and Saturday’s came at 3 and 15. He might, however, be slightly concerned that his birdies yesterday were accompanied by a double bogey and no fewer than 5 NRs. In fact he had an NR at half of his last 10 holes and it had taken him 7 rounds of golf before that to amass the same number.