THE annual PGA Tankard competition was played last Saturday.
The wet weather was still present and the morning players had to grin and bear it. Drier conditions favoured the afternoon players. Considering a number of golf clubs were closed on account of the wet, Lurgan golfers were fortunate in being able to enjoy their Saturday golf. Soft conditions and little run meant that good score was at a premium. Out of the two hundred and four entries only fifteen golfers managed a return under par. This was equivalent to just over seven per cent of the field.
The top score was one of 40 points and by virtue of a better back nine Rodger McIlwaine emerged victorious. This twelve handicapper had a no-return at the first. After that things fared much better on the front nine. It comprised six pars to go alongside bogeys on holes five and seven. He kept matters under control on the back nine. It contained five more pars and four bogeys. He had a trio of bogeys starting at the fourteenth. Whilst he had a bogey on the last it had little overall effect and Rodger duly captured the main prize.
Damian Murphy had the other total of 40 points and this helped him to the runners-up spot. This five handicapper was level par through the opening nine. He birdied holes three and four and lost these gains with bogeys on holes six and nine. Pars came his way on the other five holes. On the inward nine he fell foul of back to back bogeys on holes fifteen and sixteen. Six pars and a birdie at the eighteenth made up the rest of his scoring. This strong gross 71 place him second overall.
A tally of 39 points paved the way for Conor Wilson to lift the third net prize. This twelve handicapper had a mediocre opening nine where pars at holes six and seven and a double bogey at the eighth were his noteworthy efforts. He played splendidly on the homeward nine. It contained eight pars and just one bogey on the thirteenth. This big finish secured him the final big net prize.
Gary Clarke warmed up for the ‘North’ by claiming the gross award. This one handicapper won with 39 gross points. A quintet of birdies at holes one, three, four, seven and nine set him in a very favourable position. On the inward nine bogeys on holes eleven and sixteen clawed back some of the birdie gains. Pars on the rest of the holes helped him to a gross 67 and the coveted gross prize.
In the low section ten golfers produced under par returns. However it was Paul McCabrey who turned up trumps with a score of 39 points. This two handicapper shot a gross 69 on the day to achieve this result. Birdies came his way at holes four, eleven and thirteen whilst bogeys came on his card at holes three and five. Pars were accrued on the remaining holes to bring about this winning formula.
In the middle handicap grouping only four golfers attained a score under the par of thirty six points. Afternoon golfer Sidney Fairfield triumphed with an effort of 37 points. This sixteen handicapper had a range of scores from a no-return on the first to double bogeys on holes nine and twelve. However a birdie on the eighth and pars at holes five, ten, eleven and thirteen were the most defining moments of his winning round. It was a close call and he had to rely on a better last six score to get the nod.
In the high handicap category only one player came under the par radar. Richard Dawson notched a total of 37 points and he duly won this sectional prize. Playing off a nineteen handicap Richard was best served by a string of pars at holes four, eight, ten, eleven, thirteen and eighteen. Double bogeys on holes six and fifteen possibly denied him a higher placing in the overall context.
The following golfers also submitted under par returns:
38 pts: Mark Plackitt , Richard Budd.
37 pts: Gary McMahon, Keith Percy, Ian Cousins, Nevan Lavery, Kevin Creery, Patrick O’ Neill.