McGee reflects on memorable trophy triumph ahead of Monaghan Irish Challenge bid

September 23, 2018

Ruaidhri McGee is presented with the Christy O’Connor Junior Memorial Trophy for leading Irish player by Kate Harrison (Resort Manager, Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa and Golf Resort)
(Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images)

Ruaidhri McGee will return to the Monaghan Irish Challenge as the reigning Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy champion, following his six under par total and share of 15th place last year.
The Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy is awarded to the highest placed Irishman at the Monaghan Irish Challenge and McGee claimed the honour with his tied-15th result in 2017.
The trophy, designed and made by Waterford Crystal, will be presented at the Monaghan Irish Challenge as the event makes its debut at Concra Wood Golf Club.
With a lasting memory from the 2017 event, the 27-year-old still feels privileged to have been awarded the trophy named after such an iconic figure.
“It was great to win it and I was delighted to be the top Irishman and claim the trophy from the week,” he said.

“Christy O’Connor Jnr was a massive influence and everyone coming through the ranks in Ireland looks up to him. He’s like an idol, so it was really great to win it, something that was truly a real honour.”

McGee will return to Concra Wood where he played in 2012 and 2013 during his time on the EuroPro Tour. Now, he heads back to Catleblayney following three top ten results from the last six months on the European Challenge Tour.
“I’ve played the Concra Wood course on the EuroPro Tour a few years back. It’s a good golf course and a good place. It’s really, really nice,” he said.
“I’d like to say I know a particular key to playing the course, but I think accuracy off the tee to help you find the best position on the fairway will stand you in good stead, as the greens are quite undulating, so you’ll need a good approach shot.
“It’s going to be nice playing on home soil. Hopefully a few people come and watch as well, and that would make for some great support.  I’ll have a few friends and family that come out, especially if I’m in contention on Sunday – that would be fun.”
Nigel O’Connor, son of the former Ryder Cup player and 1992 Dunhill British Masters champion, said: “Since its inception in 2016, we have been very proud to present the Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy to the leading Irish player at the Irish Challenge.
“It is a fitting tribute to our father, who played on the European Tour for over 30 years. Christy was delighted when Mount Wolseley was chosen to host the event in 2015 and would be equally proud that Concra Wood will hold the event this year.
“In addition, having a trophy for the leading Irishman adds an extra dimension to the event. Both Dermot and Ruaidhri were fantastic recipients of the trophy, and we are sure this year will be no different. Here’s to a great week in Concra Wood.”

Spectator entry to the Monaghan Irish Challenge is FREE – to register for tickets click on the link below


Dundalk’s Lawlor relishing Sydney All-Abilities Championship opportunity

September 20, 2018

Brendan Lawlor

Dundalk’s Brendan Lawlor will take his place in the 12-person field to compete in the very first Australian All Abilities Championship at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney during the Emirates Australian Open (Nov 15-18).
In a world first, golfers with a disability will compete on the same course, under the same tournament playing conditions, alongside many of the world’s best touring professionals competing for the Open’s time-honoured Stonehaven Cup
The 21-year-old Lawlor has earned himself a place in the field via the Rankings for Golfers with a Disability and comes on the back of a superb summer competing at European Disabled Golf events.
Speaking on the NI Golf Podcast Lawlor stated; “It’s going to be a fantastic trip. It’s a three-day event and we will be playing on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Playing against this quality of field and in front of all the spectators will be something else. To be part of it will be phenomenal.”
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers was thrilled with the Golf Australia initiative.
“We’re delighted (the tournament can) showcase the leading golfers with disability and use the Rankings For Golfers with a Disability (R4GD) in the qualification process,” Slumbers said.
“The Australian All Abilities Championship will do much to promote the inclusive nature of golf to a global audience and to demonstrate that golf is a game for all, for life.”

The AAAC field will feature seven Europeans and one golfer from the Dominican Republic as part of the collaboration between Golf Australia and the European Disabled Golf Association that also aims to increase the profile of inclusive golf on the global stage.
The players taking part in the AAAC during the Australian Open are world No.1 Charles-Henri Quelin, of France, Spain’s Juan Postigo (ranked second), Australia’s Shane Luke (fourth), Sweden’s Johan Kammerstad (fifth), England’s Ashley Harris (seventh), Germany’s Timo Klischan (eighth), Belgium’s Adem Wahbi (ninth), Manuel De Los Santos, of the Dominican Republic (10th), and Australians Stephen Prior (11th), Mike Rolls (14th) and Geoff Nicholas (16th).
Golf Australia national inclusion manager Christian Hamilton was excited that players with a disability would have the opportunity to share the global spotlight.
“This is far from an exhibition event. These are some of the world’s best players, as determined by the R4GD, and they’ll face the same test as all the champions who’ll be battling for the Aussie Open,” he said.
“One of the sport’s great advantages is its capacity to include; these tournaments combined will not only inspire the public to see that, but also encourage other golfing federations to follow Australia’s lead in making the game accessible to all.”

To hear all of Brendan’s interview click on the link above.

Head pro Conor promises testing times for Challenge Tour competitors at Concra Wood

September 12, 2018

The 10th at Concra Wood

European Challenge Tour players will be given a true Irish test when they tee it up at Concra Wood Golf Club for the Monaghan Irish Challenge, from October 4-7.
The fourth edition of the event heads to Castleblayney and Concra Wood Golf Club for the first time since it made its debut appearance on the Challenge Tour’s International Schedule in 2015.
The 7,258-yard course will test the players’ accuracy off the tee, especially in windy conditions, while bunkers and thick rough around the greens will mean danger if they miss the target.
Conor McKenna has been the Head Professional at Concra Wood since 2010 and has the inside track on how to negotiate the Christy O’Connor designed course
“For players tackling Concra Wood for the first time I encourage them to focus on accuracy off the tee,” said Conor.
“Club selection is vital to leave yourself with a good approach, but most greens are gettable with the right shot, depending on the wind.
“However, miss the greens and you will be punished by heavy rough and the bunkers – there are 72 of them located on the course.

“Wind plays a big part and if we get some during the week it will certainly provide the players with another test, especially on the final three holes.”

Since the start of the year, Concra Wood has created new facilities at the club and has completed some renovations and additions to the course.
“A new state of the art short game area has just been finished at the club,” added Conor.
“It’s likely to be busy during tournament week. If you miss any greens at Concra Wood, getting up and down can be tricky. We have also renovated our bunkers and added a new water hazard on the 18th. All the fairways have been treated and the greens are rolling true head of the tournament.”

Having held three successive EuroPro Tour events from 2012, Conor can’t wait until the Monaghan Irish Challenge gets underway at Concra Wood.
“To have the best rising stars from Europe and household names, as well as many top Irish players coming to play our course is something I’m very proud of,” he said.
“I know the players will enjoy the test we will offer, as well as the beautiful views all around the course, plus the hospitality at the club is renowned. We hope all the players and officials enjoy the Concra Wood experience.”

New short game area at Concra Wood

Countdown begins to Monaghan Irish Challenge at Concra Wood

September 4, 2018

Enterprising Monaghan and Monaghan County Council will help bring the Monaghan Irish Challenge to life at Concra Wood Golf Club in October.
The Monaghan Irish Challenge will be held at Concra Wood GC, Castleblayney for the first time since the event made its debut on the European Challenge Tour’s International Schedule in 2015 and will be backed by the community-based non-profit company and the county council.
Concra Wood GC has held EuroPro Tour events from 2012 to 2014 and now ventures into new territory with the European Challenge Tour as the host for the Monaghan Irish Challenge, taking place from October 4-7.
The tournament comes at a pivotal time in the Challenge Tour season with players fighting to retain cards while others try and force their way into the Grand Final at the end of October.
Eamonn O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Monaghan County Council, said: “Monaghan County Council are delighted to support such a great event that will not only showcase Concra Wood to a global audience but County Monaghan as a tourist destination.”
Seamus Mallon, Chairman of Concra Wood Golf Club, said: “This event will be a huge boost, not only to Concra Wood, but to all the guest houses, hotels, restaurants and ancillary outlets in Castleblayney and the surrounding area. I have no doubt that the Challenge Tour is choosing one of the best golf courses in Ireland to showcase the Challenge Tour at its best.”
Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys said: “This is extremely exciting not only for Concra Wood Golf Club but for the whole county. It couldn’t be more fitting that we are marking this important milestone in 2018 – the year Concra Wood celebrates its tenth birthday.
“The government, through Sport Ireland, invests a significant sum in the Irish Challenge each year, guaranteeing starts for up to 35 homegrown Irish players. I am delighted to see State funding going to such a worthy cause both locally and nationally, as the golfing world watches Monaghan for four days in October.”

USA cruise to Espirito Santo Trophy success; Ireland finish in 11th

September 2, 2018

The United States of America produced a final day flourish to win the World Amateur Championship and take home the Espirito Santo Trophy for the first time since 1998.
Ireland entered the closing round at Carton House with an outside chance of taking a medal but they failed to gain ground and an even par return for the day left them finishing in a tie for 11th place.
Japan finished second on 19 under with the Republic of Korea one shot further back in third.
Winning bronze two years ago set a new bar for Irish ladies golf, which makes it easy to forget that this week’s display matched Ireland’s previous best of tied 11th in 2010.
“We were up there close but just the second day we didn’t get things going and that kind of put us behind for the whole week,” said Annabel Wilson, whose final round 72 (-1) was Ireland’s best score on the less demanding O’Meara Course.
Olivia Mehaffey was Ireland’s highest placed individual, tied 12th on three under. Wilson tied 23rd on minus one and Lisburn’s Paula Grant birdied the last for 75 to share 63rd on plus seven.
“To go four under on the Monty was pretty good,” said Mehaffey.
“Disappointing on the O’Meara. It was out there. I really, really struggled with the flat stick. I lost my feel and that’s the way it goes sometimes when you chase it.”
Five shots clear going into the last round, the US coasted home by 10. Kristen Gillman carded 67 and world number one Jennifer Kupcho shot 69 as Korea dropped from second to third with Japan taking silver.
There was some consolation for Korea’s Ayean Cho, who finished as the leading individual on 17 under.
The World Amateur Team Championships are being hosted by the ILGU and GUI with support from Sport Ireland.

Copy via ILGU/GUI

Lurgan’s Wilson relishing ‘home’ Espirito Santo Trophy opportunity at Carton House

August 28, 2018

The Irish Ladies Team of Paula Grant, Olivia Mehaffey and Annabel Wilson in high spirits after their final practice round at the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship at Carton House Golf Resort,
Picture by Pat Cashman

Ireland will be hoping to make the most of home advantage this week when the World Amateur Team Championship gets underway at Carton House on Wednesday (August 29th).
Two years ago in Mexico, Ireland collected bronze with a team featuring Leona Maguire, Olivia Mehaffey and Annabel Wilson.
Maguire has since moved on to the professional ranks but Wilson (Lurgan) and Mehaffey (RCDL) are back in the Irish team and have been joined this time by GB&I Curtis Cup player Paula Grant (Lisburn).
“It was so nice playing two years ago. At that stage of my career, it was the highest level I had played at,” said Annabel.
“So it was a big goal for me to make the team here at Carton House. It’s very special to be playing at home. The Home Internationals were down at Ballybunion and it really does add something special.
“We also played the British Amateur up at Ardglass and it was lovely to see family out there watching because you want to hit good shots for them.”
Still not 18, Annabel has already racked up an impressive list of results including a win at the French U18 Championship in 2017. This season she has enjoyed top-15s at the Portuguese Amateur and the Faldo Series International Finals as well as progressing to the last 32 at the Ladies British Amateur Championship.
In the process, Wilson broke into the world’s top 100 [currently ranked 85th] and she managed all this whilst studying and completing exams.
She added; “I finished my AS exams in May and will start my A-Levels in September. I feel like I didn’t manage my time well and I was playing catch up throughout the whole year. It was tough on me.

“Next year I won’t be playing as many tournaments. I need to try and get my exam results so I can take up a place at UCLA in September 2019. It’s a huge opportunity and I really want to get there.”

This year there are a record number of entries (58) attempting to snatch the Espirito Santo Trophy away from South Korea who won by a record-equalling margin of 21 strokes two-years ago.
Each team is made up of two or three players, who each play 18 holes of stroke play over four days (Wed-Sat). In each round, the total of the two lowest scores from each team constitutes the team score for the round. The four-day (72-hole) total is the team’s score for the championship.
“We play with South Korea the first two rounds so they are obviously the best in the world so it’s incredible that we peg ourselves with them but again we’re very much focusing on our game,” said team captain Danielle McVeigh.
“It’s good to see where we’re at but they might win or they might not play well. If we just test ourselves against who we’re playing with, it might be no use either. It’s cool to see but let’s get on with it and hit our own shots.”
And Ireland’s leading player, Olivia Mehaffey, is refusing to put too much pressure on her team to succeed at home.
“I personally don’t have any expectations for this week. I just want to have a really good time, enjoy it,” said the 20-year-old from Banbridge who is ranked 23rd in the world.
“I think I tend to play better when I’m having a good time. I think it’s exciting that it’s in Ireland. I love playing in front of people and hopefully we get some good crowds in.
“In Mexico, we had no expectations. It was a big surprise to us to get a bronze medal. It would be lovely to do the same thing again but you know, hole by hole and day by day.”

Brilliant McGeady retains Walled City Pro-Am title

August 27, 2018

Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort); Title Sponsor, Ciaran O’Neill, Bishop’s Gate Hotel; Defending champion and 2018 winner Michael McGeady; Derek Hussey, deputy mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Michael McCumiskey, PGA in Ireland.

Michael McGeady posted a brilliant second round 63 to retain the Bishop’s Gate Hotel Walled City Pro-Am title at City of Derry GC on Sunday.
McGeady began the second round of the 36-hole tournament trailing overnight leader Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) by a shot following round one at Foyle Golf Centre. Thornton carded a bogey-free 65 (-6) to edge ahead of McGeady and Colm Moriarty (Glasson Hotel & GC) after 18 holes.
McGeady came out firing on the final day, putting his local knowledge to good use, signing for a seven-birdie no bogey round to win by five shots.
“In the back of my mind I was trying to beat the number I won the event with last year which was 12 under but it was a difficult day. When I stood up on the first tee I was just expecting it to be a real battle,” said Michael.
“I had discovered something the day before in my swing that was helping me move through the ball better. I have to say I hit the ball fantastically well for two days. I hit 34 of 36 greens in regulation which was pretty decent in those conditions.
“I was hitting the ball where I was aiming and it was plain sailing from there. Once I was doing that it took the pressure off the rest of my game.”
Thornton finished alone in second on seven under while Mark O’Mahony (Titleist National Fitting Centre) came through the field with a second round 67 to finish in third on five under par.
Ciaran O’Neill, Bishop’s Gate Hotel, added: “Building on the success of last year’s event, we are keen to continue to attract premium sporting events such as the Walled City of Derry Pro Am tournament.
“This year I am delighted to be the title sponsor with support from Visit Derry, Total Golf, Nuprint, Partridge Peartree, Citroën JC Halliday & Sons and We are also delighted to inspire budding young golfers as part of the wider community outreach programme, welcoming the stars of the next generation.”
Professional Brendan McCarroll and amateur partners Jimmy Foley, Kevin Hennessy and Ronan Curran won the team prize with a two-round total of 176.

Scotsman Hill finishes in style to collect NI Open title at Galgorm Castle

August 20, 2018

Scotland’s Calum Hill after winning the 2018 Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena (Photo: Peter Morrison/Presseye)

Scotsman Calum Hill claimed his maiden Challenge Tour title in some style on Sunday, carding a superb final round 64 to win the Galgorm Resort and Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf.
“I came into the week trying to just rise up the rankings as much as I could and at the end of the season keep my card as this is just my fifth start on the Challenge Tour and I’m playing on invites,” said Hill.
“So to now have a category and have everything sorted is a bit of a joke – it’s absolutely brilliant isn’t it?”
The leading home player was Cormac Sharvin who carded a closing four under par 67 to share ninth on 14 under par, earning a cheque for €3,960. The Ardglass man also received the new Bridgestone trophy and a cheque for £250 by finishing as the best Irish player under-30.
It was by some way Cormac’s best result of what has been a frustrating season and sets him up for a strong end to 2018.
“If I was being critical I probably didn’t hit it close enough, but I hit a lot of greens and didn’t put myself under much stress. That was a pretty stress-free four under,” said the 25-year-old.
“The week is a great step forward for me. It shows me it was the right decision to take last week off. I’m a bit disappointed not to be further up the leaderboard but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The golf course is really good. It keeps getting better every year we come back with it maturing. For me, it’s definitely one of the best parkland courses in the north.”

Hill started the day four shots behind overnight co-leaders Scott Henry and Victor Perez and made an early move up the leaderboard by driving the green on the 336-yard par four second before going on to hole the eagle putt. He dropped a shot at the par three fifth, but birdied the eighth as he reached the turn in two under 33.
He picked up the pace over the back nine, reeling off four birdies in eight holes before narrowly missing an eagle putt on the 18th but the resulting birdie got him to 19 under par overall and, after Henry dropped four shots over his closing three holes, it was Hill who was crowned champion.
“I can’t believe it,” he said.
“Down the stretch, I was hitting a few great shots and was holing a few great putts but I thought it would be for second or third place – not for the victory.

“I really narrowly missed a putt on 18 for eagle which was just hanging over the edge – I thought that would make it interesting as Scott was 22 under when I was going down 17 and I made a birdie to get to 18 under. I didn’t even think it would be close.

“It didn’t even cross my mind as I was playing 18. I hit two nice shots and just tried to give the putter a run, and thought it was a nice finish to a great nine holes.
“With the par five 18th to play I honestly thought Scott [Henry] had a chance of winning still, and I wasn’t thinking that I would be the champion.”
With the victory, Hill rises up 156 places on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah to 43rd position with 33,379 points. After sharing second place with Henry, Stuart Manley moves up to fourth place in the rankings with 95,649 points.
It was also a decent week for Jonathan Caldwell who finished tied for 13th on 12 under par and Dermot McElroy who was a shot further back in a tie for 16th on 11 under.
“It’s been a great week. My game is certainly starting to come around. I’ll take a lot of confidence from the week,” said Caldwell.
“I started working with Gareth (Maybin) about a month ago. I’m getting things ironed out and it’s starting to pay off.”

Henry and Perez grab third round lead at NI Open

August 19, 2018

Scott Henry
(Matt Mackey/Press Eye)

Scott Henry and Victor Perez shone brightest on another day of low scoring at Galgorm Castle to share the lead going into the final round of the Galgorm Resort and Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf.
Scotland’s Henry carded eight birdies and a solitary bogey to tie the low round of the week with a 64 and set the clubhouse target at 16 under par.
Following his own sublime score of 64 on Friday, France’s Perez carried on his red-hot form by bagging seven birdies and dropping just one shot to sign for a 65 and join Henry at the top of the leaderboard.
Cormac Sharvin leads the home challenge but the Ardglass golfer lost ground on the leaders following a level par 71 that left him six shots back in a share of eighth.
“I just didn’t hit the ball as good as yesterday,” said the 25-year-old who had started Saturday’s round just one back.
“The front nine was fine. I had one bad shot on two and made a bogey but on the back nine I just felt like I was fighting my swing. I didn’t putt great on the back nine either and missed a few chances.

“I feel like I hung in there well. I holed a good six footer on the last for a birdie to get back to level. “That’s still only six back. If I go out and shoot nine,10 under tomorrow well who knows?”

Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell also posted a level par 71 and is tied for 15th on eight under alongside Dermot McElroy who made up some ground on the leaders courtesy of a four under 67.
“My main goal at the start of the week was to finish in the top five,” said McElroy.
“Two 67’s puts me back in it but I know I need to shoot seven or eight under tomorrow to get into the top five. I’m capable of doing that but I need to get the putter going early and keep that momentum going.”
With both Mark Flindt Haastrup and Stuart Manley just one shot back, leader Henry knows the competition will be fierce today. His last European Challenge Tour victory came at the 2012 Kazakhstan Open and admits another triumph this week would be special.
“It would mean a lot to win here as it feels like a home event,” he said.
“One of the juniors from the club, Jamie, has been on the bag for me this week. He was in the Pro-Am with me and he has been keeping me right since then. He plays off five and is an aspiring young golfer who is only 15 and has been making me feel like I need to set a good example!”

Cormac cruises into NI Open contention at Galgorm Castle

August 18, 2018

Cormac Sharvin
(Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

A week away from the churn of tournament golf appears to have done wonders for Cormac Sharvin.
The Ardglass golfer fired a superb bogey-free six under par 65 to force his way into contention on day two of the Galgorm Resort and Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf.
“I was struggling a bit over the last five weeks so I made a slightly ballsy decision to take the week off last week, so late in the year,” said the 25-year-old who is ranked 103rd in the Road to Ras Al Khaimah rankings.
“I just wasn’t getting the most out of my game. So I got my team together, Paul Vaughan (Coach), Michael Welsh (swing coach) and Ed Coughlan (Performance coach), we got lots of really good work done.
“That gave me a little bit of confidence coming into this week as well. I felt really prepared for this week, mentally and swinging a lot better too. We got a good bit of work done on my swing, which had got a bit out of sync. It seems to have clicked and is working so far.”
Sharvin made a great start to his round with birdies at the first and second and he continued to press in some wet and windy conditions.
He added; “Six under is never bad on any course. Got off to a good start, hit a good shot into the first and holed across the slope. Had a two-putt birdie on two. Then pretty steady from there on in.

“I hit a couple of loose shots but kind of scrambled well. It wasn’t totally flawless out there, I managed myself very well around the golf course. Managed to birdie nine to go out in three under which was nice.

“I holed a tramliner across the green for birdie at 11. Then made a few pars, missed a few chances. Made a nice 15 footer downhill for birdie on 16. Hit a really nice second shot into 17 and managed to hole that as well.
“It was pretty miserable out there at times, there were lots of squally showers. The wind was switching around and I got fooled a couple of times with the breeze, trying to work out if it was hurting or helping. Probably one of the nicest rounds I have had this year.”

Sharvin finished the day on 10 under par alongside Denmark’s Mark Flindt Hasstrup, Welshman Stuart Manley and Frenchman Victor Perez.
The 25-year-old Perez reached the turn in a blistering seven under par 28 and admitted that he briefly considered the possibility of breaking 60 before reality set in on the back nine.
“You have to realise that what I did on the front nine was not normal,” he said.
“It’s one of those things that happens every once in a while. You take as much as you can but sadly you know that at some stage, your game will level out.

“After my birdie at 10 – I definitely thought I was in the mix for a 59 but it is something you can’t think about. You’ve just got to go one shot at a time. I was just trying to do as well as I could and had looks at 11 and 13 but couldn’t convert them.”

Welshman Manley, joint leader overnight, lost ground on South Korea’s Minkyu Kim who finished the day on 11-under-par.
“Today my putting was really, really good. My long game was okay but it was my short game that was the difference today,” said Kim who became the youngest player to win on the Challenge Tour following his victory in the D+D REAL Czech Challenge in May.
“I holed a 40-foot putt on the 16th which was my best moment from today. I nearly ruined my score on the par three fifth where I hit such a solid three iron that it went over the green – then I hit a bad approach and I three-putted.
“I went on to finish with an eagle and because of that, I am feeling very positive about tomorrow.
“I have been in this position before so I feel confident. I have won once this year already and I think that experience will help me over the weekend.”
The cut fell at level par with tournament ambassador Michael Hoey and defending champion, Robin Sciot-Siegrist amongst those to miss out.