Saturday’s competition at Lurgan Golf Club was for the C W Neill Cup and Dermot Lavery played his best round of the season so far to lift the trophy with 42 points off 11.
He dropped just five shots and will be slightly disappointed that two of those shots came at the last hole, but he will be celebrating both the victory and a very welcome return to a single figure handicap.
Brian Hanratty made a long overdue return to the podium when he took the runners-up spot with 40 points off 11. A birdie at the most difficult hole on the course, the 6th, was one of only two such scores at that hole on the day, but a triple bogey at the 9th was not the way he would have chosen to finish his outward journey.
It is good to see Brian return to form because on his day he is surely one of the best strikers of a ball in the club.
Third place went to Gregory Crawford with 39 points off 5. He had birdies at 6, 10 and 13, and it was those back nine birdies which helped him to 20 homeward points to edge him into the top three.
Colin Ward, 18, also had 39pts, but he will still be reflecting on a closing stretch which he will hope to soon forget. Having dropped just five shots over the first 10 holes, he dropped 10 over the last six to gradually inch his way down the pecking order.
Peter Cummins made his usual level journey to lift the gross prize with 36 gross points, birdies at 4, 12, 13 and 16 being balanced by bogeys at 2, 5, 14 and 15.
Three players had 39 points in the low section with William McMillan, 8, claiming the prize over Tony Henderson, 11, and Martin McAvoy, 3. Each of these players had equal halves of 19 points, with the computer being stretched to the limit to separate them over the closing holes.
It was a similar story in the middle section with three players on 36 points fighting for the top spot. Andrew Best, 18, made things a bit easier to sort out with his 20 homeward points giving him a clear edge over Bernard McQuillan and Kieran McCorry, both 17.
Peter Simpson began to put into practice the tips he picked up on his recent annual visit to the British Amateur Golf Championship, when he lifted the high section with 35 points off 19. His strong back nine of 19 points kept Philip Ward, 22, Andrew McKinless, 28, and Ronnie Bruce, 27, out of the prizes.
Christopher McKnight, from Lisburn, made his first visit of the year to Lurgan last Sunday but it is unlikely to be his last as he lifted the Gents Open Stableford with 42 points off 6.
An eagle at 10 and birdies at 1 and 8 helped him to a level par round and sent him back down the motorway a very happy man indeed.
The runners-up spot was filled by Brian Bassett with 39 points off 13, with his 22 back 9 points proving decisive. After a disappointing start, a birdie at 8 seemed to spark him into action and he had 29 points over the last 11 holes.
Another visitor, James McCulla from Kilkeel, took third place off 5. He too had 39 points, but after an eagle 3 at the fourth hole had helped him to 21 outward points, his homeward 18 points might have disappointed him a little.
Conal Patterson and Jason McCann each had 34 gross points but while Jason covered the last six holes in one over par, Conal took the gross prize after covering that closing stretch in level.
Thomas Jeffers, Lisburn, took fourth place with 38 points off 8. His 14 points over the last 6 holes gave him the edge over David Erwin, 6, who had 12 points over those holes.
This month’s Gents Seniors Open was won by Alan Erwin from Edenmore with 41 points off 24. He had 21 points over the first 8 holes and despite an NR at 9 he managed to maintain the winning momentum on his way home.
The runners-up spot was claimed by Colm Nash with 38 points off 13. His 20 homeward pts gave him the edge over a resurgent Eugene Maguire, 12, who seems to play below handicap almost every time he tees off. Eugene dropped only three shots over the front nine but immediately dropped four over the next three holes.
Wesley Todd and Laurence McGrady each had 29 gross points with Wesley taking the gross prize by one shot over the last six holes.