After a very promising spring, Henry McAreavey’s golf failed to blossom and his summer so far seen a relentless handicap increase on each competitive outing.
His fortunes changed dramatically however when he lifted one of the club’s most historic trophies on Saturday, the Peace Cup. This trophy was presented to the club after the First World War and is topped with the Angel of Peace, expressing the hope that the world would never again be plunged into such darkness.
Henry won by the narrowest of margins with 42pts off 15 and only won the day by virtue of his 7 points over the last three holes. With 21pts over the opening 9 despite a double bogey at the 2nd, he opened the back 9 with a trio of 3s and held things together to complete his winning score. Henry’s victory also qualified him to represent the club in the final of the 3Ts competition along with club pro Peter Hanna at Slieve Russell in September.
Neal Carson, off 12, was the unlucky loser in the photo-finish and he, like so many others in the past, will be haunted by his memories of the way he played the 17th on the day. Just 4 over par after 16 holes he appeared to have the trophy ‘in the bag’, but a disastrous double bogey at this seemingly innocuous hole snatched the trophy from him.
Eamon Lynch returned his first level par round of the year to take 3rd place with 41pts off 5. His four birdies came at 2, 3, 13 and 15 while he ran up bogeys at 6, 9, 11 and 18. His bogey at the last will be particularly disappointing as it kept him out of the photo-finish frame with Henry and Neal.
Three players scored 40pts with Colin McKee eventually taking 4th place on the back 9. He is another player who must have become slightly alarmed at a seemingly endless run of handicap increases but a round of 74, off 8, has hopefully brought that to an end. The fact that 2 of his 3 birdies came on the back 9 was vital to his success.
The gross prize went to Gary Clarke, one of the club’s most consistently good players, with 38 gross pts. Gary had birdies at 1, 3 and 8, and just 1 bogey, at the relatively easy 10th.
Nigel McKerr’s handicap had returned to the teens for a brief spell but his 40pts on Saturday gave him the low section and reduced him to a more normal 11.
He had closed his front 9 with an impressive birdie but his closing double bogey on the back 9 provided an unwelcome contrast. Billy Hughes, Dermot Lavery and Michael Downey each came close with 39pts and on 38pts were Gregory Crawford, Pater Devlin and Alan Hamilton.
Early morning veteran Billy Leslie took the middle section with 39pts off 18. He had moved to 5 under his handicap after a birdie at the 14th but an 8 at the next hole was followed by three closing bogeys which provided a disappointing end to his round. Eugene Maguire came next on 38pts with Sean McClean, Daire Hogan and Eamonn McCarron on 37pts.
Two players fought it out for the high section with Gareth McConville nicking top spot on the back 9 with 38 points off 21. He might have thought his chances had gone with his triple bogeys at the 2nd and 7th but he made no other similar slips and scored no fewer than 23 points on the back 9.
Norris Thompson also had 38pts but despite 22 homeward pts he was just edged out of the prizes.
Roy Bratchie must be looking upon himself as the ‘nearly man’ so close has he come to the prizes this last few weeks. Last Saturday 37 points saw him up there again but it would seem inevitable a really good score is near at hand.