Kilpatrick to realise Irish Open ambition at Portstewart

June 28, 2017

Richard Kilpatrick

Banbridge professional, Richard Kilpatrick, will realise a long-held ambition when he plays in next week’s DDF Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Richard earned his place in the Irish Open field by finishing sixth in the PGA in Ireland 2016 Order of Merit.
He will be joined at Portstewart by Damien McGrane, David Higgins, Colm Moriarty, Neil O’Briain and Simon Thornton
“I can’t wait. The crowds, the buzz, the field that is being assembled. I can’t wait to tee it up, let it go and see what happens. It will be some test,” said the Banbridge GC assistant.
“I had the chance to play in the Irish Open as an amateur but it often clashed with the Brabazon Trophy and the GUI would send us over to England to compete in that instead.
“It means a lot to get to play in my first Irish Open up here (Northern Ireland) and at Portstewart as well. My aunt has a place in the town and I played the course a lot as an amateur.
“Even now, during the winter and when I can in the summer months I try to get up and play. The club professional, Neil Graham, has been very good in accommodating me.”
Richard turned professional in 2007 after winning the East of Ireland Championship and helping Ireland collect the European Team Championship title.
He spent the best part of eight years playing on the Challenge Tour, Alps Tour and EuroPro Tour before opting to follow the PGA route.
He has performed impressively on the PGA in Ireland circuit in recent seasons and has two wins to his name in 2017 at the PGA Irish Club Pro-Am and the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals.
And whilst he may be inexperienced in terms of playing at the highest level, he may have pulled off a masterstroke when is comes to hiring a caddy for the week.
Former college team mate and major winning LPGA caddy, David Jones, will lug Richard’s bag around Portstewart during tournament week.
Jones, who was formerly the PGA professional at Bushfoot GC, also happens to be a member at Portstewart GC and has cleared his schedule to caddy for Richard in the Irish Open.
“I’ve known Davy for years. I was starting my first year of college in America at the University of Toledo just as he was finishing his studies there. He was the groomsman at my wedding last December ” added Richard.

“The thing for me will be getting used to the atmosphere, to the grandstands and the corporate boxes. I’ve played a few rounds up there recently trying to familiarise myself with the place and how it will look during tournament week.”

That’s not something Damien McGrane will have to worry about. The Kells man has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt. McGrane topped the Order of Merit last year and also won the Irish PGA Championship. He is leading the way again in 2017 and if his competitive instincts take over he is capable of making an impact at Portstewart.
You can put Simon Thornton into the same bracket. A winner on the European Tour in 2013 (Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open), Simon is still returning to full fitness following surgery to his feet at the start of the year.
“I think I’ve only missed one [Irish Open] in recent years. It is a great event and you get used to playing in them but this will be a bit different now that’s it’s part of the Rolex Series,” said the 40-year-old.
“For us, as PGA guys, you have to try and blank all that out. You can’t really start thinking about the money that is on offer. You have to focus on those first two rounds and if you can make the cut great, then try and do as well as you can.”

A longer version of this article appeared in the July edition of Irish Golfer Magazine

Tim Rice holds off Colm Moriarty to claim Irish PGA Championship title

June 26, 2017

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Tim Rice fired a closing two under par 70 to complete a wire-to-wire Irish PGA Championship victory at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort on Sunday.
The Limerick GC man, who opened with a bogey free round of 66, finished three shots ahead of Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance), with 2016 champion, Damien McGrane, finishing in third on six under par.
“I haven’t won anything in ages. The first three days here were as well as I have played for many years although I didn’t putt very well,” said the 39-year-old.
“There was a lot of wind this week, particularly cross winds and I love that, because I can make use of the wind, hold it up and use it to my advantage.”
Rice began the day three shots ahead of nearest rival Moriarty and got off to a flying start with birdies at the first, second, third and fourth. He stretched his lead to six but couldn’t maintain his momentum and Moriarty gradually started to claw back the deficit.
Colm produced a stunning eagle at the par five 13th to reduce the gap to just two shots but he never managed to draw level and a bogey at the par three 17th, after he found a bunker off the tee, effectively ended his challenge.
“I kind of felt that after three or four holes ‘right, that makes things less difficult’ but I stopped, I eased up a bit and that was a bad mistake,” added Tim who had never won a PGA in Ireland event until today.

“Colm is too good a golfer to do that. He hit some great shots coming in. He got that eagle and had a couple of other chances.

“At 16 he hit another super shot and if he had holed that I would have had to hole mine just to stay one ahead. If he had holed that putt I think it would have been very difficult.”
This year’s event was sponsored by Moyvalley Hotel & Twin Oaks Golf Resort with affiliated sponsors Thai Airways, Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club, Pattaya Thailand, Pico Environment Technology Ireland and Bank of Bangkok.

107th Irish PGA Championship sponsored by Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Resort leaderboard

Rice closing in on Irish PGA Championship title

June 25, 2017

Tim Rice

Tim Rice (Limerick GC) and Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) separated themselves from the field on day three of the 107th Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
The pair matched each other blow for blow over the Twin Oaks course at the Co Kildare venue signing for a pair of 68’s, three shots better than anyone else in the field.
With one round remaining Rice leads the way on -15 under par, Moriarty is three shots back on -12 with defending champion, Damien McGrane, third on five under.
“I’m happy enough, the only problem was that I couldn’t shake yer man here,” said Rice, pointing to Moriarty.

“It was a bit up and down over the front nine, but the back nine was a bit easier, much the same as the last couple of days.”

Moriarty is back in very familiar territory. The 38-year-old has featured in the final group at the last two Irish PGA Championships and has yet to get over the finishing line.
“All in all I’m happy because Tim is playing very well,” said Colm.
“It would be nice to narrow the gap early on but you just have to keep playing and giving yourself chances.”
McGrane’s challenge was hampered by a calf injury he suffered at the first hole. The Kells man limped for the rest of the round, eventually signing for a level par 72.
Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge), in third place overnight, slipped down the field following a third round two over 74.

107th Irish PGA Championship leaderboard 

Limerick’s Tim Rice grabs Irish PGA Championship lead

June 24, 2017

Tim Rice

Limerick’s Tim Rice edged ahead of the field with a superb five under par 67 on the second day of the 107th Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
With blustery conditions whipping showers across the Twin Oaks course the 40-year-old produced a composed display which, given the conditions, was every bit as good as his opening 66.
Starting at the 10th, the Limerick GC man went to the turn in one under par 35, with birdies at the 10th, 13th and 14th undone by dropped shots at the 16th and 17th.
He made no mistakes on his back nine, coming back in four under 36 with birdies at the second, fourth, sixth and eighth.
“In many ways, it was very similar to the opening round. There are plenty of chances out there,” said Tim.

“I have been hitting it quite close; I’m not missing many greens and I’m making the most of the par fives.”

Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) finds himself in familiar territory at an Irish PGA Championship, three shots back with two rounds remaining. The 38-year-old, joint leader after round one, followed up with a second round 70.
Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC), who also opened with a bogey-free round of 66 slipped five shots behind Rice following a second round 72.
“I didn’t play great today to be honest. Plus I got a few horrible lies,” said Richard.

“Yesterday I got a few breaks but today I didn’t get them – that was the difference.

“Still I’m in touch I will go away and do a bit of work tonight on the long game because I’m just not finding enough fairways.”
Defending champion Damien McGrane is six shots back after a second round 69, a figure matched by David Higgins (Waterville Links).
“Three under keeps me in with a chance; keeps me in touch, I’m happy enough with that,” said Damien.
The cut fell at +7 with 53 players making it through to the final two days of competition on Saturday and Sunday. The opening two-ball will begin from the first tee on Saturday at 8am.
The leading trio of Kilpatrick, Moriarty and Rice kick off their third round at 10.50am.

107th Irish PGA Championship scoring 

 

Three-way tie at the top after round one of the Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley

June 23, 2017

Richard Kilpatrick

Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC), Tim Rice (Limerick GC) and Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) lead the way on six under par after the opening round of the 107th Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
The trio have a one-shot lead over Mark Whelan (Castlewarden Golf & CC), with Jerry Scullion (Kilkeel GC) back in fourth on four under par.
“I have been playing well recently and I knew something was going to happen,” said Kilpatrick who went bogey-free in his six-birdie round.
“I finished the recent Pro-Am at Carne with a 66 and that gave me some added confidence coming down here. I just continued doing the same things.

“I really felt that today was a good day to make a score. The course is playing firm, it wasn’t very windy and it was generous.”

Moriarty and Rice also signed for bogey-free rounds on a day when 26 players matched or bettered par around the Twin Oaks course.
Colm has made a quiet start to the season but he has played his way into contention at the previous two Irish PGA Championships without managing to get his hands on the trophy.
“I haven’t played an awful lot this season and I feel like I am only coming into some sharpness now. I played nicely and gave myself a lot of chances today,” said the 38-year-old.

Tim Rice

Rice, who missed last year’s championship, is still getting to grips with the lay-out after carding a two-over par 74 in Wednesday’s pre-tournament pro-am.
He said, “I’m happy enough with that. It was tricky at times because of the cross wind but it was pleasing to start with that score today.”
Defending champion, Damien McGrane, opened his campaign with a two under par round of 70 and was joined on that mark by David Higgins (Waterville GC), Simon Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf), Shane Jenkinson (St Margaret’s Golf & Country C), Adam Dunmore (Bundoran GC) and Michael McGeady (Seamus Duffy Golf Academy).
“It’s a steady start and I’m exactly where I want to be,” said Damien.
“I played steadily from start to finish, holed a few putts and missed a few but I played the par threes poorly today.”
The second round of the 107th Irish PGA Championship sponsored by Moyvalley Hotel & Twin Oaks Golf Resort will get underway at 8am today (Friday) with the final four-ball starting at 2.30pm.
At the end of play, a cut will be made with the top 50 and ties progressing to the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators are welcome and entry is free.

Magical Maguire claims Ladies British Amateur Championship title

June 18, 2017

Leona Maguire with the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship trophy and the Pam Barton Memorial Salver

Leona Maguire cemented her place at the top of the amateur world rankings with victory in the 114th Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship at Pyle & Kenfig.
The 22-year-old beat Spain’s Ainhoa Olarra 3&2 in the 18-hole final on the South Wales coast to seal the biggest amateur win of her career.
The Duke University student will now take her place in US Women’s Open next month and the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns, near St Andrews, in August.
The Irish international follows in the footsteps of Stephanie Meadow, who defeated Spain’s Rocio Sanchez Lobato 4&3 at Carnoustie in 2012. Both Leona and Stephanie represented Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“It’s been a fantastic week and I’ve played some really great golf. It’s a real highlight of my career to have won the championship,” said Leona.
“It’s one of the biggest amateur events and one that I felt I hadn’t given as good a go as I could have done in the past few years. It’s great to get my name on the trophy alongside some of the biggest names.

“Ainhoa played really great golf and she pushed me all the way to the end. I knew I was going to have to play well. She threw all the birdies she could at me and I was glad I was able to rise to it.”

Leona made a flying start after dispatching a birdie opportunity on the first but the match returned to all-square on the following hole, Olarra saving par while Maguire struggled with a bogey.
Maguire found herself behind, remarkably for the first time in the championship’s entire match play stage, after Olarra, who won the Spanish Amateur Championship in 2013, picked up a birdie on the third to move 1 up.The South Carolina University scholar saw her lead pulled back immediately when Maguire fought back with a birdie to win the fourth and was powerless to stop the Curtis Cup representative regaining control of the contest on the fifth after she rolled in a birdie on the par-five to take a one hole advantage.

Maguire, who recently won the Annika Award for the second time in her career, strengthened her position even further after winning the seventh and ninth to go three up but Olarra reduced the deficit at the 10th.
Nevertheless, the three-hole gap was restored on the 11th when the two-time McCormack Medal winner notched up her fifth birdie of the round and the Duke University student remained steady with a par on the 12th to go four up after her Spanish opponent could only manage a bogey.
Olarra refused to throw in the towel and the youngster from San Sabastian halted Maguire’s momentum by winning two of the next three holes, producing a vital birdie on the 15th.
The match was decided on the following hole, however. Olarra had struggled with her putting throughout the match and a bogey on the 16th left Maguire with a par putt to win the championship which she duly rolled in for a 3&2 victory.
In the morning’s semi-finals, Maguire defeated Finland’s Anna Backman 3&2 to secure her passage to the final. Olarra closed out her match with Norway’s Stina Resen on the par-three 15th, rolling in a birdie putt to seal a 4&3 win.
Maguire’s win capped an excellent Championship for Ireland which saw Paula Grant (Lisburn) to lead qualifying. Five Irish players made it through to the match-play stages.

Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama adds Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to schedule

June 11, 2017

JAPANESE superstar Hideki Matsuyama will make his first appearance at a regular European Tour event when the world number four tees it up at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation from July 6-9.
The 25-year-old has become one of the hottest properties in the game following three victories on the US PGA Tour, including the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
It’s a big boost to the tournament to have another bright young talent committed to playing at Portstewart alongside two other world top 10 players in Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
Matsuyama is considered one of Japan’s best bets to finally make that Major Championship breakthrough.In his last seven appearances in golf’s big four, he has claimed three top tens and two more top 20 finishes, while he also finished in the top ten at both The Open Championship and US Open Championship back in his first year as a professional back in 2013.
His form has tailed off somewhat in recent months and he admitted going into the recent Memorial Tournament – where he finished tied for 45th – that, “my swing isn’t where I’d like it to be and I’m not putting very well” but he will still go into this week’s US Open as one of the favourites.
He said: “I am really looking forward to playing the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the first time. I have heard great things about the tournament and about the Northern Irish fans.

“It is important to play some links golf ahead of The Open Championship and I’m sure Portstewart will be the perfect preparation for me.

“I know Rory puts a lot into this tournament and he has done an incredible job raising its profile. I’m really excited and I know it will be a great week.”
Matsuyama’s compatriot Hideto Tanihara has also confirmed his participation at Portstewart, with the World Number 47 making his debut at the event having finished in a share of third at the very first Rolex Series event – the BMW PGA Championship – two weeks ago.

Tickets to see Matsuyama, Tanihara and the numerous other superstars at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com, and begin at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.
An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just £100 (a saving of £90 over the course of the five days).
Concessions are available for customers aged over 60 and between 16 and 21, while children under 16 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a
ticket holding adult.
To get a full seated view of all of the drama
at the 18th green, grandstand tickets cost an additional £11.50 for Thursday and Friday, £16.50 for Saturday and £21.50 for Sunday.

 

Thornton secures Belvoir Park Pro-Am success

June 8, 2017

Simon Thornton

Simon Thornton coped admirably with blustery conditions to win the Belvoir Park Pro-Am on Tuesday.
The Newcastle-based professional fired a three under par 68 to edge out Headfort’s Joe Dillon at the Belfast course.
“It wasn’t easy. It was hard to pick the wind with it swirling through the trees,” said Thornton who is still easing himself back to full fitness following surgery on his feet.
“We’re on schedule, they are sore towards the end of the round but it’s not the same pain as before, it’s pain from the operation and that will ease in time.. hopefully.

“It’s a slow process, I’m not rushing it because there is a lot of golf to come with the Irish PGA Championship and then the Irish Open. I just have to manage it as well as I can.”

Starting at the first, Simon raced to three under after four holes courtesy of birdies at the first, third and fourth. A dropped shot at the seventh slowed his progress but he turned for home in two under 34 and an eagle at the par five 10th saw him reach four under for his round.
Simon added; “It was a nice start and then I pitched in for that eagle on 10 but after that, I was finding the middle of the greens with my approach shots and two-putting for pars.
“I bogeyed the 15th when I hit a three-wood into the trees but I think I could have been a few more under par if I had been a bit sharper.”
Kilkeel GC professional Jerry Scullion, guided his amateur partners of Neill Roulston, Ian Emerson and Sam Gillespie to success in the team event with 84 points.

Belvoir Park Pro-Am sponsored by DeepRiverRock results

Belvoir Park Pro-Am
sponsored by DeepRiverRock
at Belvoir Park (Par 71)
Leading scores
1 S Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf) 68
2 J Dillon (Headfort GC) 69
T3 D Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf), D McGrane 70
T5 C. Carvill (Belvoir Park GC), M McGeady (Seamus Duffy Golf Academy), K Shannon 72

Castle Hume’s Donnelly wins at Mahee Island

June 7, 2017


It was bright and windy at well-manicured Mahee Island for the staging of another round in the PGA Summer Masters tournament, with Shaun Donnelly making the best of the conditions.
The cross-country trip for the Castle Hume club professional paid dividends as he posted a one-over-par 69 to stay clear of the chasing pack, three shots ahead of Ciarán Molloy (Ardee), Chris Carvill (Belvoir Pk) and Gary Chambers (Killymoon).
Four birdies and five bogeys decorated the winner’s card with, ironically, bogey fives at the sixth, seventh and 13th holes being caused by tree trouble. His other bogey was when he was short at the 16th and failed to get up and down in regulation.
Over the first nine holes, Donnelly’s birdies were pencilled in at the third, where he pitched to four feet, and the ninth, where he rolled in a 25-footer for another birdie three.
Second time around, he chipped to three feet at his 10th hole for another birdie and his fourth birdie three landed at his finishing hole as he sank a 15-footer.
Blackwood six-handicapper Paul Holmes won the amateur’s nett prize with 37 points while Andrew Clegg, who plays off one at Donaghadee, took the gross award, matching Donnelly’s 69.
Pro Ciarán Molloy and Blackwood amateurs Paul Holmes, Jim Connolly and Colin Treston (8) were the team winners, carding 95 points.

Summer Masters Mahee Island scoreboard

Leading scores
PGA Summer Masters at Mahee Island
Professionals: 69 (+1) – S Donnelly (Castle Hume).
72 – C Molloy (Ardee), C Carvill (Belvoir Pk), G Chambers (Killymoon).
73 – C Gallaher (Greenacres), G Graham (Groomsport GR).

Amateurs: Nett, 37 pts – P Holmes 6 (Blackwood).
38 – S Wiles 8 (Belvoir Pk).
37 – J Connolly 12 (Blackwood).
Gross, 69 (+1) – A Clegg 1 (Donaghadee).
Team: 95 pts – Pro C Molloy (Ardee) with P Holmes 6, C Treston 8 & J Connolly 12 (all Blackwood).

With thanks to Tony McGee

North of Ireland competitors to test Open lay-out at Royal Portrush

June 1, 2017

Stephen Ferris, Brand Ambassador Cathedral Eye with Andrew Spence Cathedral Eye, Eamon O’Connor Chair GUI Ulster Branch and  John Bamber, Chair of the Open Championship Committee launching the Cathedral Eye North of Ireland Amateur Open Championship 
Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

Fancy a taste of the Open Championship?
The revamped Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush will host this year’s Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Amateur Championship (July 10-14) and the GUI is still accepting entries.
The famous North Coast links has been upgraded ahead of the Open Championship in 2019 and club officials are keen to see how the new lay-out performs in Championship conditions.
The new seventh named Curran Point and eighth hole named Dunluce will be put into play and competitors will finish their rounds at the current 16th hole
“We have no evidence how the new seventh and eighth holes will play other than what professional architects have told us will happen,” said John Bamber, Chairman of the Open Championship Committee.

“The North of Ireland gives us the opportunity to get 300 top class golfers out there giving us data which will allow us to decide how we play those holes in the coming months.

“It is the perfect opportunity, a field of category one golfers, championship golfers, playing the course. What better way to assess the two new holes. I just hope we get relatively fair links conditions during the tournament.”
The new holes, designed by MacKenzie & Ebert, will actually open for play on June 24th to host Mr David McMullan’s Captain’s Day competition. For the members, it will be the first time they get to sample the course as it will be configured for the Open Championship.
“In many ways it is an historic occasion,” added Bamber.
“The last time two new holes were added to the Dunluce, people like Harry Colt were involved.
“I know that in previous years we have revamped a number of tee boxes but this is completely new. It really is something very special.”
The current 17th and 18th holes will be removed from play towards the end of the summer as work continues to create the infrastructure to host the Open Championship.
The closing date for entries into the Cathedral Eye Clinic North of Ireland Championship is June 12. For more details visit http://www.golfnet.ie.