Stroke play might not be everyone’s favourite golfing format but it doesn’t appear to hold any fears for Martin King as he has reserved his best two performances of the year for such events.
Following his 5th place finish in the Malcolm Trophy 3 weeks ago, he took Saturday’s June Medal at Lurgan with a nett 66, off 20, in very challenging conditions.
A birdie – nett birdie finish was the perfect finish to push him to the top of the leader board.
Strong winds and occasional driving rain made life difficult for the field with a quarter of the 174 entrants failing to record a final score and less than 10% managing to tour the course in fewer than 80 shots.
One of those to break 80 was Laurence Mitchell with a nett 67 off 12 and it was enough to give him second place. Having struggled in the midweek sunshine he appeared to relish these much more difficult conditions.
Jim McCann Snr forced his way onto the podium with a nett 68 off 20. Three doubles and a triple bogey in the first seven holes, combined with the strong wind, would be enough to see many resign themselves to mediocrity, but not Jim. He immediately birdied the 8th and went on a run of nine holes which included 4 nett birdies and 5 nett pars to once again exemplify those battling qualities for which he is noted.
Stephen Hewitt’s last few rounds have suggested that something big was on its way and he duly came up with the goods with a nett 68, off 15, to take fourth place.
A double bogey at the first was not the start he would have wished for, but that proved to be his last mistake and a birdie at 17 saw him finish in much better style.
Level par after 13 holes, Gary Clarke dropped three shots over the last five difficult holes to take the gross with a 73, holding off Nathan McCann and Conor McDonald just one shot behind.
Dermot Lavery picked up his first prize of the year when he took section 1 with a nett 68 off 10, a bogey-double bogey-bogey finish bringing an otherwise accomplished round to a disappointing close.
You would have to have a little sympathy for Conor McDonald who missed out on reward by a single shot in both the gross and section 1, but once exam season is out of the way there will be no stopping him.
Section 2 went to John Healy with a nett 68 off 14 a birdie at 8 being the highlight for this very competitive golfer with the very individual, but frequently effective, style. Neil Dillon, with a nett 69 off 15, found himself just out of the prizes. There must be an interesting story behind his quadruple bogey 7 at 12, even a bogey here would have seen him level with the outright winner.
Section 3 produced the tightest finish of the day when a trio of noted players returned nett 72’s to battle it out for the prize. In the end Alistair, 22, had the best back 9 to just pip Jim Farrell and Cahal McEvoy, both 20.