Lawlor joined by Stone in Galgorm G4D event

August 4, 2022

Brendan Lawlor of Ireland plays a shot during the G4D, Golf 4 Disabled event prior to the Porsche European Open at Green Eagle Golf Course on May 31, 2022 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Brendan Lawlor cannot wait to return to a site of former glories as he prepares to tee it up in the G4D @ ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Aviv Clinics at Galgorm Castle Golf Club next week.
The Dundalk golfer won last year’s ISPS Handa World Disability Invitational and, in doing so, became World Number One on the WR4GD (World Ranking for Golfers with Disability) for the first time in his career.
It was Lawlor’s second victory in as many weeks as he also triumphed at the EDGA Cazoo Open played at Celtic Manor.
The 25-year-old now hopes that a return to a happy hunting ground can yield a maiden 2022 G4D (Golf for the Disabled) Tour victory after finishing runner-up, fourth and sixth in three starts so far this season.
The G4D Tour @ ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by Aviv Clinics will take place at Galgorm Castle Golf Club from August 8-9.
“I’m extremely excited to get going in Galgorm,” said Lawlor.

“It’s going to be a fantastic week. Obviously, I have good memories of last year, not just from the golf, but having the whole family round and what it has done outside the game.

“So many people got in touch with me. The G4D Tour happened and disability golf was put on the map once again. That’s the message we’re striving for. We’re putting ourselves out there and more people are putting themselves out there. That’s the big thing we’re trying to do. When we’re on the golf course, we’re trying to play our best but we’re also trying to send a message of what can be done with limitations you might have.”
Making his G4D Tour debut this week is Co Meath man, Conor Stone. Stone, who is ranked 13th in the world and was inspired to play golf again by the first EDGA European Tour event which took place in 2019 at the Scottish Open, won by Lawlor.
Stone, who developed scoliosis when he was a teenager and had surgery to have the curvature of his spine corrected, has won twice this year at EDGA events in France and England and was a teammate of Lawlor’s as part of the victorious Irish side at the European Team Championship for Golfers with a Disability in Belgium two months ago. He also competed at the inaugural last month, finishing in a share of seventh at Pinehurst.
“Since first watching Brendan and Juan (Postigo) and all the guys playing in Scotland a few years ago, I’ve been inspired by EDGA and what opportunities lay ahead,” said Stone.

“That’s when I first found out what EDGA was and it inspired me to get back into golf, start practicing and gave me an incentive to play good golf again. I’d pretty much given up on golf.

“Players like ourselves who have been dealt a bad hand in life have such a good opportunity in the game of golf now. I played my first event in September last year and, since then, my main goal was to qualify for a G4D Tour event. Now to play in one, I’m over the moon. It’s a dream come true.
“I’ve played a lot of events in the last nine months to get up the rankings, putting a lot of commitment and time into my game. To move up the rankings to qualify for one of these events is amazing. I just can’t wait to tee it up alongside these guys, use the same driving range as the DP World Tour professionals, use the same facilities at the same time. It’s going to be an unbelievable experience. It’s everything I dreamed of as a kid.”
Lawlor and Stone are two of the ten-person field competing at the G4D @ ISPS Handa World Invitational, with the world’s best golfers with a disability competing across the inaugural 2022 season.

Fred Daly memorabilia on display at Royal Portrush

August 1, 2022

Royal Portrush captain Ashley Moore with Sir Richard McLaughlin, Club President (centre) and Deric Henderson (Media Consultant)

Royal Portrush has been presented with a trophy won by Fred Daly almost 75 years ago to add to a collection of special memorabilia which the club is putting on display in honour of the former Open Champion.
The News of the World Match Play Cup which he won at Royal Birkdale in 1948 – the year after his historic victory at Royal Liverpool – was handed over to the men’s captain Ashley Moore.
The cup is one of a number of items which have been obtained as part of a programme to develop a major archive, some of it dedicated to the man who was born and brought up in Causeway St., Portrush, not far from the Dunluce Links which he regarded as his spiritual home.
They include two of his blazers which he wore when he was captain of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) and as a member of four Britain and Ireland Ryder Cup teams between 1947 and 1953.  They were recovered from a guest room wardrobe in a house in Co Fermanagh.
Copies of the four score cards which he signed off when he won the Open at Royal Liverpool in 1947, as well as a Waterford Crystal pen and clock set presented to him at Royal Dublin by the Links Golf Society a few years before died aged 79 in 1990, will also be on display.
The cup was donated by the Ulster Press Golf Society.  Daly also won the News of the World Match Play Championship in 1947 (Royal Lytham) and 1952 (Walton Heath).
The blazers were donated by the family of the late Walter Jordan of Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh who died earlier this year.
Royal Portrush entertained a team from Royal Liverpool last weekend in the latest of a series of matches between the two clubs. Next year’s Open Championship returns to Hoylake where it was won by Rory McIlroy – an honorary member of Portrush – in 2014.
Ashley Moore, the men’s captain at Royal Portrush, said in golfing terms, the acquisition of the solid silver 1948 match play trophy, the Open Championship cards as well as Daly’s two blazers were of significant historical importance.
He said: “The club is extremely keen to develop its archive, and these priceless items will form a central part of the legacy left by the likes of Fred Daly and so many others associated with the club’s past.
“The blazers had been languishing unnoticed in that wardrobe for many years and we’re delighted to have them on public display. We are also especially pleased to get Fred’s old cup which used to sit with two others on a sideboard at his home in Belfast.”
The cast of a life-sized sculptured metal bust of the former Open Champion is also to go on show.  His gold Open Championship medal is already on display alongside Darren Clarke’s (2011, Royal St George’s) in a cabinet in the club’s foyer.
Sir Richard McLaughlin, the club president, who is heavily involved in helping to establish the archive, said:  “The club is very, very keen to secure as much memorabilia as possible, not just linked to Fred Daly. Maybe documents, old photographs and various objects which tell the story and history of Royal Portrush.
“We would encourage anyone who finds anything in an attic or around their house relating to the club’s history to get in touch so that we can continue to expand our archives.”

Irish Championship debut doesn’t end in disaster

July 13, 2022

Brendan Swann, Paul Kelly, Martine Gilks after the opening round of the Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability

I’ve spent the best part of 30 years working in the media reporting on golf all over Ireland but last week, in a break from the norm, I put the pen away and played in my first Irish Championship.
In the interests of full disclosure, my golf would certainly not be in the ‘elite’ category. Edging towards the half-century mark I’m curtailed by my physical limitations and an even more significant lack of talent. I may well know what shot needs to be hit at a certain time but being in a position to do it successfully is increasingly a matter of pure luck.
So, in what was quickly branded as operation ‘don’t finish last’ I took my place in the 40-plus field at the inaugural Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability which was staged at the Christy O’Connor Jnr designed Roganstown GC, just outside Dublin.
The tournament, run by Golf Ireland under the auspices of the European Disabled Golf Association attracted an international field and was won by England international Bradley Smith.
Smith a right leg amputee from Royal Cromer finished the two-day (36-hole) event on +1, a shot clear of Ballinasloe’s Aidan Grenham after carding rounds of 69 and 74.
I didn’t make any significant impact at the upper echelons of the leaderboard but I didn’t disgrace myself either. Operation ‘Don’t finish last’ was reasonably successful. Granted I finished 21st out of 26th in the gross category but in the nett category I finished a respectable tied seventh.
I would like to have scored better. I actually struck the ball well but I struggled on Roganstown’s undulating and speedy greens. You always finish a round of golf feeling that you could have done something a wee bit better but truthfully, I never harboured any genuine aspirations of success.
Just pegging the ball up and competing in what was a pretty historic event was significant enough.
The fact is that golf is playing catch up when it comes to issues of accessibility and inclusion.
To their credit, Golf Ireland recognises this fact and is rolling out initiatives to encourage clubs to be more open and welcoming while at the same time trying to attract more people living with a disability to give golf a go.
The physical and mental health benefits of the game are well established. Granted it may on occasion cause the blood pressure to rise but it’s a low-impact sport that’s played outdoors and is social by its very nature [and by that I’m not simply referring to activities in the club bar].
The Irish Disability Open is a significant part of Golf Ireland’s strategy, particularly from a visibility perspective. You may have seen Dundalk’s Brendan Lawlor, the world’s number one ranked disability golfer. You may even have read about amputee golfer Gareth McNeilly who recently captained an Irish team to an emphatic victory in the 2022 European Team Champions for Golfers with a Disability.
This type of success and the positive media headlines will hopefully speed up the inclusion process.
Next year’s Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability has already been confirmed for late June at a venue yet to be announced. Fingers crossed I’ll be fit and healthy enough to play again. I’ve got a taste for Championship golf. Planning for operation ‘do better than last year’ is already underway.

Irish Open for Players with Disabilities (Roganstown) scoreboard

McElroy secures NI Open victory to claim spot in ISPS HANDA World Invitational

July 7, 2022


Home favourite Dermot McElroy romped to a seven-stroke victory in the Northern Ireland Open presented by Modest! Golf Management to book his place in next month’s ISPS HANDA World Invitational.
The Ballymena native was in imperious form all week in the Clutch Pro Tour event played in a new pro-am style format this year and contested over three venues (Cairndhu, Castlerock and Galgorm).
In the final round at Galgorm, McElroy was one of only two players to break par as he moved away from the field. Although he dropped a shot at the par-four 16th, early birdies came at the third and seventh as he signed for a one-under 69 to add to his two 68s at Cairndhu and Castlerock for an eight-under winning aggregate (205).
“Great to get the win. My main goal this week was to qualify for the World Invitational and to get the win was fantastic. It was great to win here at Galgorm, a venue I know so well. This is the first time this year I’ve been able to compete in front of family and friends,” said McElroy.
“There was no real secret to my win. I just grinded it out when I had to. I’ve hit a bit of good form recently. My driving wasn’t great this week but I managed to play smart golf and grind it out.”
Tim Rice was the only other player to go under par as the Limerick professional also signed for a one-under 69. Rice raced out of the blocks with birdies at the first and second with further birdies at the seventh and eighth but dropped shots came at the fifth and ninth.
On a day when no one could keep pace with McElroy, Rice’s runner-up finish on one-under 212 was good enough to secure the second male invite into the World Invitational to be played at Galgorm and Massereene from August 10-14, 2022.
Forrest Little amateur Jack McDonnell (73) secured third on level par, one ahead of Gary King (73) in fourth, while The K-Club’s Conor O’Rourke (74) and Jack Yule (72) tied fifth on two over.
Billie-Jo Smith was the leading female golfer and she too booked her place at the World Invitational, a tri-sanctioned event between the DP World Tour, LPGA and Ladies European Tour.
The former England soccer international closed with a round of 72 to add to her two 74s at Cairndhu and Castlerock over the opening two days for a seven-over 220 total.
In the Pro-am team event there was another local winner when Whitehead professional JR Galbraith teamed up with Charlie Henderson to win on 26-under 189. The leading pair finished six strokes ahead of Jamie Dick and Jonathan McKnight and Kerry Mountcastle and Irish International cricketer Kyle McCallan in a tie for second.

NI Open Scoreboards

The Irish Open 2012 – the tournament that changed everything for Royal Portrush

June 28, 2022

It sometimes feels like decades ago but there was a period of time (2010-2014) when this small part of the world seemed to be at the very centre of the golfing universe. The on-course success of Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke kept Irish golf firmly in the spotlight.
It was in this environment that Royal Portrush made it known that the club was interested in staging a European Tour event, bringing the Irish Open back north of the border for the first time since 1953.
As a tournament, the Irish Open had always been a significant event on the European Tour (now DP World Tour) schedule, but with the demise of the Celtic Tiger, the event was at something of a crossroads.
A move North, even for just one year, could go a long way to reinvigorating the tournament but as with most things in Northern Ireland getting it over the line took a fair bit of diplomacy and would ultimately involve significant commitments from governments north and south of the border, the players, Royal Portrush, and the European Tour.

Ten years on I’ve been chatting to some of the people behind the first ‘sold out’ tournament in the history of The European Tour.

John Bamber was the Tournament Chairman at Royal Portrush for both the Irish Open and more recently the Open Championship.
“Around 2007/2008 the club made a decision to look again at hosting a professional event,” said John.
“We spoke with the Tour about the Irish Open and we managed to get a meeting with Arlene Foster, who was then minister at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) along with a leading civil servant, David Sterling.
“We talked about hosting the event and incredibly they said it was a good idea. We happened just to hit at the right time. Other plans were in the pipeline to host the MTV Music Awards and the Giro.”
Further meetings were held with politicians on both sides of the divide at Stormont but while enthusiasm was high, the fact was that the European Tour had a long-term contract with the Irish Government to stage the tournament south of the border.
John added, “In fairness, it was the then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who signed off moving the tournament to the North for one year. The Irish economy had suffered badly in the recession. Had the Celtic Tiger still been in full flow, bringing it north would have been unlikely, but sometimes an ill wind, etc etc.”

Richard Hills, then Ryder Cup Director at the European Tour takes up the story.
“Rory McIlroy rightly gets a lot of kudos for his efforts in saving the Irish Open through his Foundation and the Dubai Duty-Free connection but there was quite a bit of saving the Irish Open before that,” said Richard.
“Ireland has a lot of friends in Wentworth and in the period after the financial crash when there was no main sponsor they were determined to keep it going with a lot of help from Failte Ireland and latterly Tourism NI.
“The Senior Open had been played in the North from the mid 90’s through to the to early 2000s so there was a history there.
“I recall vividly having a drink after the Irish Open in Killarney (2011) and George O’Grady asked the question – ‘Do you think the time is right that we could consider going North?’
“Portrush via Wilma Erskine (then Sect/Manager) had been courting the Tour and Enda said he would go away and think about it.
“We got a phone call just before Christmas in 2011 and early in the New Year, we went across to Belfast to meet with David Sterling and Wilma. That was also the first time that I met Arlene Foster.  The formal announcement was made at Royal Portrush a few days later.
“It moved very quickly. There was a will and there was a window of opportunity.”

The job of staging the event fell to the European Tour’s Championship Director, Antonia Beggs.
“I was the staging director for the Ryder Cup at the time and I was kind of used to fitting square pegs in round holes when it came to delivering golf tournaments,” said Antonia who now works in sports marketing.
“I had been lucky that I had worked on some Irish Opens in the past and it always blew me away how the fans supported their national open compared to other countries. What kind of transpired for the Irish Open in 2012 was, I guess, the stars aligned and everyone looked beyond the remit of just finding a good golf course, getting a decent field and delivering a tournament.
“Instead it was how could we make it different with golf as our platform and that was the seeds around the event being hosted at Royal Portrush.
“We still had to allay fears that it was going to be a disaster, that no one was going to get there and it was going to be a shocker. It just proves that with planning, coordination and trust, anything is possible.”

John Bamber; “I remember going to a council meeting after the deal had been done and having this scary thought, ‘hang on here, we have to put this event on now and the spotlight is going to be on us after so many years without top-level professional golf in Northern Ireland’.
“The membership at the club bought into it from day one. There was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement and everyone just said we will make it work.
“The playability of the course was never going to be an issue. What became a bigger concern for the European Tour was that they didn’t expect that they would sell as many tickets as they did. They began to realise that with the topography of the course it was going to take some serious management.”

Antonia Beggs; “The ticket sales were something of a surprise (27,000 a day during the tournament) and it happened in the blink of an eye. Just think back to the pro-am. We had Bill Murray there who had flown over from the states. It was a day of slight insanity. Imagine, playing in that pro-am and there are 15,000 people on the ground watching? It must have been terrifying.”

The punters continued to flow in through the gates during tournament week even in the face of some testing weather conditions.

Richard Hills; “The absence of a tournament for such a long period of time definitely played into the large crowds. I remember the Saturday morning was a bit wet, wasn’t it? Kevin Feeney (one of the European Tour referees) was at the furthest extremity of the course and he offered two ladies a buggy ride back in and they politely declined, stating that they had, ‘waited a long time for this – they weren’t going to let a bit of rain put us off’.

Amongst the golf memorabilia dotted around John Bamber’s office is a framed letter from the organisers of a high-profile amateur event. Back in the days before the Irish Open, Royal Portrush was bidding to host events.

John Bamber; “We thought we had a very good chance to host it and we made it through to the final three but didn’t get the event. I got a letter from the organisers. They were expecting upwards of 10,000 people over the days of the tournament.
“The letter explained that having looked at the venue and the topography involved there was no way it could host an event with some 3.500 people coming through the doors every day. I bumped into them during The Open when we had 60,000 + people on the grounds daily…..”

Antonia Beggs; “The players were hugely positive. They were blown away by the people turning up. Ultimately, for professional athletes, a lot of the reason why they do stuff is to feel that connection and it was there in spades at Portrush.”

Unsurprisingly, the 2012 winner, Jamie Donaldson, wants to know when the Irish Open is returning to Royal Portrush.

Jamie Donaldson: “I missed out on playing in the Open Championship – what a shame – what a venue.
“Winning the Irish Open opened lots of doors for me. I was eligible to play in all the big events, it was a massive career booster.”
Beginning the fourth round with a one-shot lead, Donaldson birdied five of his last seven holes to shoot a fourth straight round in the 60s and finish clear of playing partner Anthony Wall (69), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (66) and Fabrizio Zanotti (66).
The victory, signed off with a 25-foot birdie on the last, put the seal on an event that had a resonance far beyond the reaches of a normal tournament.
“It was electric all week,” added Jamie.
“It was special. The massive crowds, they were unbelievable, it really felt like a proper event. Portrush was a great town and there was a good buzz.”

Without a doubt, the 2012 Irish Open paved the way for the Open Championship to return. The record-breaking crowds, the smooth event management, the general sense of goodwill and enthusiasm ensured that the R&A saw it as a viable option. 

John Bamber; “We had all the luck in the world.
“We had the right political environment, that was vitally important. We had the support of the R&A and Peter Dawson who was open-minded about the opportunity. We had professionals competing at the highest levels around the world and we had supportive local, national and worldwide press.
“But ultimately, we had to prove that we could host the event. Without it, I strongly suggest that I could have been receiving a letter in 2013/2014 saying that they had looked into it but decided that the venue couldn’t accommodate in excess of 20,000 people every day.
“The Irish Open was the catalyst for 2019 and everything that has followed.”

Magnificent Ireland sweep to European Team title for Golfers with a Disability

June 12, 2022

At the first time of asking, Ireland have secured the European Team title for Golfers with a Disability at Belgium’s Koksjide Golf Ter Hille.
The team, consisting of Ballinasloe’s Aidan Grenham, Co. Sligo’s Alan Gaynor, World Number 1 Brendan Lawlor and Carton House’s Conor Stone won the event by a massive 25 shots.
Ireland entered the final round singles with a 16-shot advantage, following a dominant display in the greensomes on Day 2.
Ireland never looked in trouble in the final round. With one of the four scores not counting in the singles, Aidan Grenham’s 78 (+6) didn’t cost the team any shots. Alan Gaynor returned a 76 (+4), while Conor Stone signed for a 71 (-1).
Brendan Lawlor then showed why he’s the number-one ranked player in the World Ranking for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD), making a birdie on the 18th to card the lowest score of the day (70, -2) and clinch the title for Ireland in style.
This is the first year Ireland have sent a team to the European Team Championships for Golfers with a Disability.
At the start of 2022, Golf Ireland produced a Strategic Plan that includes developing a High-Performance strategy for golfers with a disability, and events like this will create a pathway for golfers to represent Ireland on the international stage.
The inaugural Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability takes place in Roganstown on July 5th and 6th, giving players an opportunity to compete on home soil.

The NI Golf Channel · Has golf changed forever?

Team Captain Gareth McNeilly said it was a brilliant day for Irish golf.
“We were delighted to compete for Ireland this week. After the trials, we knew we had a good team, and it showed. I’m delighted for the four lads. There was no pressure today. They played amazingly over the three days,” said the Massereene GC golfer.
“I thought at the start of last year, I’d have a chance of making the team. Conor, Alan, and Aidan have come on leaps and bounds this year, and we all know that Brendan is a superstar. This country produces brilliant golfers.
“The four lads gelled well together. There has been a strong bond with the four and their families. They played their best this week, and thankfully their best was more than good enough.”
Golf Ireland CEO Mark Kennelly added; “This team has represented Irish golf with distinction in Belgium. We are delighted and proud of their achievement in winning this title at the first attempt. The result is a testament to their talent, determination, and diligent preparation.”

European Team Championship for Golfers with Disability scoring

Aideen Walsh and Jack Hearn claim ISPS Handa Ulster Strokeplay honours

June 5, 2022

Aideen Walsh (Lahinch) and Jack Hearn (Tramore) winner’s of the Ulster Men’s and Women’s Stroke Play, Belvoir Park Golf Club, Belfast Picture: (© Golffile | Thos Caffrey)

Lahinch’s Aideen Walsh and Tramore’s Jack Hearn booked their places in the ISPS Handa World Invitational field with victory in the Ulster Strokeplay Championship at Belvoir Park.
Defending champion Walsh was in no mood to give up the title she won last year at Royal County Down and started the final round with a three-shot lead.
Buoyed on from opening rounds of 69 and 72, the primary school teacher played solidly in the opening stages of the final round to keep the challengers at bay.
She eventually closed with a one-over 73 for a comfortable five-shot success over Kate Lanigan (Hermitage) and Roscommon’s Olivia Costello who came home in 34, aided by an excellent eagle on the treacherous uphill 17th.
Hearn began his third round with a one-shot lead over Robert Brazill (Naas) and went on to cement that lead with a stellar front nine consisting of four birdies and no dropped shots.
Brazill remained in contention at the start of the back nine, however a double bogey on 12 cost the Naas golfer dearly and despite a valiant effort with birdies on 15 and 16, back-to-back bogeys on the last two holes put an end to his title challenge.
Hearn remained calm over the closing holes only checking the leaderboard on the 17th tee to learn he had a two-shot lead. A solid iron off the 18th tee removed all danger, and he finished his round with a tournament-winning 67 (best score of the day) to compliment his opening rounds of 69 and 65 to claim the championship at 12-under-par.
Ross Latimer (Clandeboye) carded a 3-under-par 68 to climb three places on the leaderboard and take sole possession of third place behind Brazil who also gained an invite into the ISPS Hand World Invitational field.

Ulster Men’s and Women’s Strokeplay Championship results

 

Moran and Walsh return to defend Ulster Strokeplay titles at Belvoir Park

May 29, 2022

Aideen Walsh (Lahinch) and Robert Moran (Castle) winners of the Ulster Men’s & Women’s Strokeplay 2021 Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

The lure of a start in the ISPS Handa World Invitational has drawn a high-class field to Belvoir Park for the Ulster Men’s And Women’s Stroke Play (May 30 & 31).
The top-two men and the women’s champion will be offered spots in the tournament which is co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour, Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tour.
Robert Moran and Aideen Walsh return to defend the titles they won last year at Royal County Down, in what was the first Championships run under the auspices of Golf Ireland.
Moran came from seven shots behind going into the final round, to defeat Rowan Lester in a three-hole play-off. The Castle golfer is looking forward to defending a title for the first time in his career.
“It’ll feel like a different tournament to last year. Playing on a parkland course like Belvoir Park, will be a different test to what we saw at Royal County Down.

“There are very few amateur events in Europe that offer professional starts. It’s a brilliant incentive going into this week. It’d be nice to get back to the tournament again this summer.”

Walsh’s win at Royal County Down was a little more straightforward than her Castle counterpart. The Lahinch golfer won the Women’s competition by eight shots.
“It was my first ever win, and kickstarted a really good year for me. The win was a major confidence booster and made me realise I was more than capable of competing at that level,” said Walsh.
“Getting the chance to play an LET event was brilliant. I learned so much from seeing how the pros prepare for events, let alone play in them. It was an excellent experience.
The Ulster Men’s And Women’s Stroke Play is played over 54 holes, with two rounds taking place on Monday. The top-36 men and top-18 women will then play their final rounds on Tuesday, before two winners are crowned.
Along with places in July’s ISPS Handa World Invitational, the Championships also form part of the Men’s and Women’s Bridgestone Tours.

Ulster Men’s And Women’s Stroke Play draw

Campbell last man standing at The Island

May 16, 2022

Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell showed every bit of nous and aul craft to win his second Flogas Irish Men’s Amateur title at The Island Golf Club.
Six years after his previous success the 35-year-old edged out Malone’s Matthew McClean on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off.
“Yeah, it’s a bit of a different feeling to what it was in 2016, obviously I was playing a full-time schedule back then, expectations were a little bit different,” said Colm who works for PING.
“I knew I was playing well enough and I wasn’t here to make up the numbers.”
Having started the day one-shot back from overnight leader Robert Moran (Castle), Campbell took the lead early on when Moran made a costly double-bogey on the 3rd hole.
In the group ahead, McClean was making a run and with an eagle three on the 10th hole, went to four-under-par for his round. Another birdie on the 13th saw him take a three-shot advantage but a double bogey on 15 and bogey on 17 brought him back to the field, level with Campbell on one-over total.
Two significant par-putt saves for Campbell on 17 and 18 meant a play-off would be necessary to determine the champion.
Colm added; “I holed some nice puts at the right time. It was nice to see them finally dropping.”
Campbell had the honour on the play-off hole, hitting his tee-shot just into the left semi-rough. McClean pushed his drive to the right and unluckily had to then take an unplayable drop as the result of his poor lie.
“Matt caught a bad break which wasn’t great for him, but I just thought to myself, don’t do anything stupid,” continued Campbell.
“I wanted to give myself a chance to make par and worst-case scenario make five. I knew when he hit it in the bunker then he would have a tricky up and down but to be fair he hit a great shot, he’s a great player and if he keeps knocking on the door his turn will happen.”
With Campbell and McClean taking gold and silver honours, Moran and Marc Boucher (Carton House) finished in third and fourth respectively.

The Race to Murcia is on for NI golfers

April 22, 2022

Northern Ireland football legends Aaron Hughes and Keith Gillespie, with almost 200 international caps between them, launch the inaugural Region of Murcia Masters golf tournament which will give Northern Ireland golfers a unique opportunity to win one of 10 amazing prizes to play at three of Spain’s finest golf courses on the sunny Costa Calida.

GOLFERS from all over Northern Ireland will be teeing up this summer for a chance to win a place in the Grand Final of the inaugural Region of Murcia Masters which will played at three of Spain’s finest golf courses on the sunny Costa Calida.
In one of the biggest amateur golf competitions ever held in Northern Ireland, 10 golf clubs, covering all six counties, will host a series of qualifying events from April through to September – with the winners from each club flying off in November to the spectacular Region of Murcia in the south-east of Spain, widely regarded as a ‘Golfer’s Paradise’, to compete against each other in the Grand Final.
Participating courses in the Region of Murcia Masters are Ardglass (Co Down), Castlerock (Co Londonderry), Clandeboye (Co Down), Dunmurry (Co Antrim), Edenmore (Co Armagh), Galgorm Castle (Co Antrim), Killymoon (Co Tyrone), Lough Erne Resort (Co Fermanagh), Portadown (Co Armagh) and Whitehead (Co Antrim).
Each club will run its own ‘Order of Merit’ style ‘Race to Murcia’ competitions – based on a series of Open qualifying events with the best cumulative scores producing 10 winners in total, each of whom will bring a friend to enjoy a feast of golf in the Winter Murcia sunshine from November 14-18.
Qualifying events for the Region of Murcia Masters will run from now until the end of September, giving golfers the opportunity to compete in as many series as it suits them to enter. Details for all qualifying events are available from each respective host venue. All golfers must have an officially recognised handicap to enter.
The prize will see the 10 winners and their guests enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime four-night trip to Murcia in November with flights, hotel accommodation and three rounds of golf included.  Accompanying the group will be former Northern Ireland international footballers – and event ambassadors – Aaron Hughes and Keith Gillespie, both very keen golfers who are looking forward to the Grand Final.
“We are thrilled to be involved in this incredible competition which will see 10 lucky local golfers and their mates win an amazing golf trip to Murcia in sunny Spain,” said Aaron Hughes.
“I’ve been playing golf a long time and must say I’ve never seen anything quite like the Region of Murcia Masters in Northern Ireland before.  What an incredible opportunity for every amateur golfer in the country!”
Former Manchester United and Newcastle United star Aaron Hughes added:  “I can’t wait to join our winners on the wonderful golf courses of Murcia in November – but there’s a lot of golf to be played first. We’re blessed with golfing talent in this part of the world and I’m sure the Region of Murcia Masters will be a massive hit as golfers all over Northern Ireland battle it out at our 10 host venues for a place in the Grand Final. It’s all very exciting!”
Maria Martinez, General Manager at the Tourism Institute of the Region of Murcia, is looking forward to the event and to welcoming the winners from Northern Ireland.
“Northern Ireland is a very important market for golf tourism in the Region of Murcia so we thought we would show our appreciation by creating the first-ever Region of Murcia Masters – a golf competition, especially for the Northern Ireland market,” said Maria.
“We know how much people in Northern Ireland love golf, which is reflected by the success that players from the region have enjoyed on the global stage, so we are very excited and expect to see lots of golfers take part to compete for this wonderful prize.  We are really looking forward to the event and to welcoming all our winners and guests to the Costa Calida in November.”

Qualifying event dates:

Galgorm Castle (Ballymena)

June 3 / July 1 / September 30 – Player with the best 2 combined scores is the winner.

Castlerock

May 5 / June 2 / July 19 / August 4 / August 16 / September 15 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Killymoon

April 10/11, May 15/16, June 5/6, July 10/11, August 14/15, September 11/12 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Edenmore

May 4 / June 1 / July 6 / August 3 / September 7 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Portadown

May 5 / June 2 / July 7 / August 4 / September 1 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Lough Erne

May 11 / June 29 / July 20 / August 17 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Dunmurry

April 28 / May 26 / June 30 / July 21 / August 25 / September 22 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Ardglass

May 12 / June 9 / July 14 / August 18 – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Clandeboye

April 17 / May 15 / June 26 / July 24 / August 14 / September 4  – Player with the best 3 combined scores is the winner.

Whitehead

Every Wednesday in May, June, July and August – Player with the best 6 combined scores is the winner.