Saturday’s competition at Lurgan was for the Gerry O’Neill trophy and five players returned 41points to battle it out for the main prizes.
In the end veteran Tom Lamb was to lift one of his biggest ever prizes when he lifted the trophy, off 28, on the back 9. He began with an NR but he need not have worried too much as from then on things just got better and better.
The par 3s were the cornerstone of his success as he covered the five holes in 1 under par giving him a huge 17pts and afforded him the luxury of a late triple bogey at the 15th.
Into the prizes for the second consecutive week came Francis Tallon, off 4, who returned his first sub-par round of the year. Birdies at the 8th, 12th, 14th and 15th were negated by a disappointing double bogey at the 11th and a single bogey at the 17th.
Despite these homeward slips his level par back 9 was just good enough to hold on to the runner’s up spot.
You could almost guess who came third, as Ronan McGivern returned 41pts, off 4, to continue his remarkable run of form.
In his last nine rounds of golf he has been below his handicap on seven occasions and seen his handicap drop from 5.9 to 3.6 in less than a month. Birdies at holes 7, 8 and 16, and bogeys at 12 and 16 meant that he returned his second round of 69 in a week and he must be hoping this summer will never end.
Paul Lyness’ places in the prizes this year have been confined to Seniors’ events but he showed he can mix it with the best when he took fourth place off 7. Birdies at 4 and 10, and bogeys at 5 and 14 saw him level par after 16 holes, but two closing bogeys denied him the top prize.
Just when you think Robert Emerson has reached his peak, he moves into another gear. Bogeys at the 2nd and 3rd suggested nothing special was on the way, but he then birdied 6 of the next 7 holes, a par coming at the 5th, to move to 4 under par. A bogey at the 11th and further birdies at the 14th and 16th saw him move to 5 under when, like so many before him, he fell victim to the seemingly harmless 17th with a double bogey. In the end he was round in 67 and easily took the day’s gross prize.
As if to show that he can still win a prize without the help of his daughter Cara, Damien Murphy took the low section with 40pts off 5. Birdies at the 4th, 13th and 15th were the highlights of a great round of 71. Mark Carpenter, 10, and Olcan Kearney, 6, also had 40pts but missed out on the back 9. Olcan scored one of the day’s only two eagles when he had a 3 at the 4th.
The other eagle was recorded by Dermot Lavery when he holed out with his approach shot to the 9th.
Mark O’Neill made a brave attempt to lift his late uncle’s trophy but a triple bogey at the 7th restricted his score to 39pts. This total was matched by Steven Mulvenna, Alan Hamilton, Martin Corey, Andrew Carville, Tom Douglas and Dermot Lavery.
The middle section went to Iain Mulholland with 40pts off 13 giving him his first prize of the season. An NR at the 1st was soon followed by a double bogey at the 3rd but he followed that with 10 pars and 5 bogeys for a very welcome and long overdue reward. Greg McDonald came close with 39pts as did George Kidd, Sean McClean and Raymond McCann with 38.
Kieran McCorry is regularly a serious contender for the prizes and his 40pts gave him the high section off 20. While he will be delighted with birdies at the 8th, 12th and 16th, he will regret NRs which appeared at the 7th and 13th. Tony Gordon had 39pts off 22 with his five double bogeys being just one too many.