Fan fervour an Open dilemma for Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

July 18, 2019

Tuesday Practice – Graeme McDowell on the seconnd tee during practice for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Photo by John Dickson – DICKSONDIGITAL

To Ryder Cup or not to Ryder Cup, that is the question.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell seem to be taking vastly different approaches.
McDowell has accepted his role as the local hero with great grace and is hoping to use the good will and support to spur him on to success.
“The welcome I’ve received from the people this week has been epic. It’s been amazing. Just the pride level and the way people have responded and well-wishers and the support that I’m going to have,” said McDowell.
“I think the visual I have as a Ryder Cup, I’m trying to picture the crowd as a Ryder Cup crowd, that they’re all there to support me in a positive way. I need to use them positively and not see it as a negative thing; see it as a positive thing.”
McIlroy, meanwhile, is trying desperately hard not to get carried away by the huge interest and excitement that has been generated by the return of The Open after all these years.
“I don’t think this is anything like a Ryder Cup. You’re playing for yourself. It’s not the same. I wouldn’t want to turn this into a Ryder Cup mindset because I think that’s hard to sustain for four days,” he said.
“Again, I’m just treating this like any other Open Championship. I’ve played well here for the last few years. I’ve played well on this golf course.
“So I’ve just got to go out and hit the shots and stay in the present. If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, hopefully by Sunday night that will be good enough.”
McIlroy has been trying, reasonably successfully, to come in under the radar this week. He knows how big an event this is, he knows how much it means to people but he doesn’t want to blow it up out of all proportion.
“I’ve sort of tried to keep it low key. I went for dinner last night and people are just coming up and saying good luck and have a great week,” he added.
“It’s very nice. If I’m honest, it hasn’t felt any different to any other Open Championship. I feel like I get great support no matter where I go.

“But up to this point the build up, it really hasn’t been much different, which has been a nice thing. It’s comforting in that way that it hasn’t felt any different.”

Wednesday Practice: – Rory McIlroy on the 18th during practice for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club Photo by John Dickson – DICKSONDIGITAL

In the past, Rory has spoken about how difficult he has found dealing with the expectations of playing in front of home fans at the Irish Open. It would seem logical that a home Open would only heighten those interest levels but he doesn’t see it like that.
“You’ve got the best players in the world here, and I don’t feel like I’m the centre of attention,” he added.
“I’m from Northern Ireland and I’m playing at home, but I don’t see myself as that center of attention, I guess. I’m here to enjoy myself. Hopefully, it doesn’t take another 68 years for the tournament to come back here.
“I mightn’t get an opportunity to play an Open Championship here again. You never know what happens. I’m really just treating it as a wonderful experience and one that I really want to enjoy.
“I’m going to love being out there and having the crowds and having the support. If that can’t help you, then nothing can.”
He continued; “I’ve always felt I’ve played my best golf when I’ve been totally relaxed and loose. And maybe that environment is what I need. I’m not saying that’s the way I’m going to approach it. I’m still going to try to go out and shoot good scores and concentrate and do all the right things.
“But at the same time, I can’t just put the blinkers on and pretend that’s not all going on.
“One of my sort of mantras this week is: Look around and smell the roses. This is a wonderful thing for this country and golf in general. And to be quite a big part of it is an honour and a privilege. And I want to keep reminding myself of that, that this is bigger than me; right? This is bigger than me.
“And I think if you can look at the bigger picture and you can see that, it sort of takes a little bit of the pressure off. I still want to play well and concentrate and do all the right things, but at the same time just having that perspective might just make me relax a little bit more.”

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Ebert’s Dunluce handiwork will come under the microscope at The Open

July 15, 2019

The 148th Open – Sunday Practice
Tiger Woods playing into the 18th green during practice for the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Photo by John Dickson – DICKSONDIGITAL

This is it, the real test for Martin Ebert. Will The Dunluce course at Royal Portrush stand up to the scrutiny of the world’s best players?
Ebert’s changes, especially the new seventh and eighth holes have been widely acclaimed but the acid test will only come in tournament conditions.
“It’s all very well working on it, but every time you come to the site and make a decision about a bunker or a green contour you know the eyes of the world will be on it,” said Ebert on a recent visit to the North Coast.
“If it’s any other project, it’s just the members’ eyes on it but here, it will be the world’s best players and the media.”
When the R&A proposed bringing The Open back to Royal Portrush it was on the proviso that the members agreed to significant course changes, some of which were to create the space for the massive infrastructure involved in the event, others to tighten up the challenge for the players.
Ebert is considered a safe pair of hands by the R&A and his MacKenzie & Ebert design firm currently consults on five of the nine courses on The Open rota.

However, the renovations at Royal Portrush are much more extensive than the subtle changes that have been needed at venues like Royal Troon and Royal St George’s.
“I think the two big projects we have been involved in up to now has been Turnberry and Royal Portrush,” added Martin.
“At Turnberry, it was five new holes while here it’s two.
“Before we went to the members with our proposals we looked back on the evolution of the course and how the layout had changed over the years and especially since Harry Colt laid out his final design for the Dunluce Course in 1932.
“We found out that when Colt completed his design, the clubhouse was over 1,200 yards away from the present clubhouse in the town of Portrush. That changed the dynamic because we were able to say don’t worry members, it has changed before, it survived and you love it.

“The bottom line is that many courses that you think are natural are not. All the greens have been created and crafted and changed subtly over the years but it can be difficult when you are working on these old courses.

“One of the changes that we didn’t get through was opening up the stream across the 12th. There is a natural stream which was piped at some stage.
“If there was a stream in front of that green and it had been there for 150 years and we proposed to fill it in people would have said we were mad, because it, ‘makes the hole’.
“But when we propose opening it that’s considered too difficult and the R&A say no.
“You can understand the conservatism but that’s just some of what I have described when it comes to working on these great courses.”
The Portrush members voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ebert’s plans for the course which involved significant disruption during the construction phase which started back in 2014/2015.
The focus has naturally been on the creation of the two brand new holes but many other tweaks have also been made, the second green has been pushed back by almost 40 yards and further bunkering has been included.
Ebert continued; “I love 15 and I think the eighth [one of the new holes] is more interesting than the seventh [one of the new holes]. What will they do off the tee? They can a rescue or a three iron a leave themselves 200 yards in. They can hit three wood and flirt with the first bunker or they can really go for it with a driver. That second bunker was a late addition and was only included after Darren Clarke tested that hole.”
Now, with the Championship almost upon us, there’s nothing Ebert can do now but sit back, watch and wait for the players to have their say.

Sharvin takes another step in the right direction at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

July 10, 2019


Not everyone is capable of launching themselves into professional golf like Matthew Wolff.
If there is still merit in gradual progression than Cormac Sharvin took another step on the ladder at the recent Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The Ardglass golfer, without a win to his name as a professional and a regular on the Challenge Tour, finished the tournament as the leading Irish competitor, seven shots behind the eventual winner, Spain’s Jon Rahm.
“To be top Irishman this week is an honour for me. There’s some of the best players, like Shane Lowry is top-50 in the world and there’s a lot of good players from Ireland, so to be top Irishman is great,” said Cormac.
“Coming into this week I knew that I could compete with these guys and I tried to keep myself in that mindset all week and I proved that I can this week.”
A final round level par 71 at Lahinch may not have been the closing fireworks he had hoped for but, it earned him the biggest cheque of his career, some €85,000.
For a golfer struggling to make his way on the less lucrative Challenge Tour, this windfall could make all the difference as looks to build on his strong display in Co Clare.
“It’s obviously a bit of comfort. I always like to have a caddie, so that helps me get a caddie from now on. Caddies are expensive, but I don’t have to worry about that side of things. It’s a big help for sure,” said the 26-year-old.

“Obviously to compete with the best in the world is going to give me confidence going forward. In terms of my mindset, it’s something that I’ve worked really hard on the last year or so, and to see it hold up on the biggest stage is great.”

Calm and composed throughout the week, there was some signs of frustration at the end with ‘mistakes’ scuppering his chances of a really strong finish.
“I didn’t play much differently to what I had done in the first three days. I just got off to a bad start,” he added.
“I managed to pull it back and then just missed it a couples of times on the wrong side at the start of the back nine and made a few bogeys.
“I felt like I fought back pretty well from the start and handled myself pretty well out there today.
“I think that shows the work I’ve done off the course in terms of staying patient and not letting shots get me down.
“I just tried to stay really patient and take the next shot as it came. I got unlucky a few times today and I tried to concentrate on the next shot and I think I’ve done that really well.”

Sharvin finished well clear of more recognised players such as Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington but while they move on to the Scottish Open and The Open, he has returned to the Challenge Tour in France this week.
He continued; “If I can compete with the best in the world, I mean, I can definitely win on The Challenge Tour.  I think that’s the thing for me. Like I probably haven’t had everything this week, so for me to be able to compete, not having everything, it shows that I can stay out here.
“I already had huge confidence in getting my card this year. This is only going to add to that and hopefully, I can get off The Challenge Tour as soon as possible and get out competing with these guys.”

McDowell trying to keep his head in the game and not just on the Open Championship

July 3, 2019


We’re in Lahinch and Graeme McDowell is trying to keep his eye on the Irish Open ball while everyone else wants to focus on The Open at Royal Portrush.
“I’m focused on the present here. I would love to try and compete and win this weekend. My record in the Irish Open wasn’t great in my younger days,” said the 39-year-old ahead of his opening round.
“Sometimes you show up at these events and you think just being there, that is the show, whereas focusing and competing, having a chance to win here would be very, very special. Definitely working hard these next few weeks [he’s also playing the Scottish Open], and we’ll see what happens.”
The thing is he’s fooling no-one.
GMAC spent the early part of the week at Royal Portrush and admitted this week and next week were something of a ‘warm-up’.
He added; “Nothing prepares you for The Open Championship in your hometown and something you’ve always dreamed of for the last 20, 30 years. You know, the warmup week this week, and next week, like I say, I’m really trying to play hard these next two weeks so that I can take some form with me to Portrush and be able to take it easy with my prep Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and really just rest up and get ready for the tournament.

It’s going to be good. Like I say, certainly not going up there for a glory walk. I’m not going up there to look around and smell the roses, I’m going up there to compete and be prepared and really take it as seriously as I take any other week. But I’m not sure how many opportunities I’m going to get to do this anymore, so I feel like I take them more seriously nowadays.

McDowell spent ‘two’ great days at Royal Portrush reacquainting himself with a course he once knew intimately.
“Aside from the Irish Open, I haven’t played competitively at Portrush in 18 years,” he said.
“I’m trying not to be complacent with my preparation. Did my usual kind of reccy when it comes to playing a golf course. And obviously, it was nice to be at home.
“There was a little less rough than I was expecting, perhaps. Obviously year one I’m sure they’re a little hesitant to set it up ridiculous. Obviously, with another two and a half weeks to go, they can do a lot with things.
“I’m sure they can get the rough to sprout pretty quickly. But general conditioning was very, very good tee to green. Greens were great. Some subtle changes they’ve made over the last 10 years really since we played the Irish Open there in ’12, the tee boxes, some new bunkering, two new holes, of course, and two of the other holes’ greens are reshaped.
“But generally, 85 percent of the bones are what I grew up playing. But some of the tee shots I remember playing a lot shorter nowadays with the new equipment and some of the holes with some back tees are playing a lot longer than I remember.
“But I still believe that it’s an accuracy golf course tee to green. Even with the slight lack of rough, it’s still penal if you miss it in the wrong places off the tee, and it still rewards great accuracy off the tee and really solid iron play.
“So yeah, I was impressed. I got two great days up there, really had a decent look at it and, like I say, really feel like I can focus now on these next two weeks. I don’t have to try to get back up there to play practice rounds.
“I was trying to approach my practice rounds up there without too much complacency. I was like, growing up on the golf course, should I be out here grinding. Yeah, I should be out there grinding. I don’t remember it very well.”

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Lurgan’s Annabel Wilson primed to kick-on after Irish Women’s Close success

June 29, 2019

Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) Picture by Pat Cashman

Annabel Wilson is hoping that her maiden senior success can be a springboard for a great summer of golf.
The Lurgan GC member, a full Irish International, claimed the Irish Women’s Close title at Woodbrook GC beating fellow Ulster representative, Paula Grant (Lisburn), on the first extra hole.
The manner of her success, fighting back from two holes down with two to play, came as no shock to those who know her. The St Ronan’s College student is regarded as a tremendous competitor but even her most ardent fans were not convinced she could get over the line this time.
The 18-year-old travelled to Woodbrook on something of a wing and prayer. She had put the clubs away for three months to concentrate on her A-Level exams and with four days preparation, pitted herself against some of Ireland’s leading amateur players.
“I spent those four days trying to get in as much practice as possible but it was very limited,” said Annabel.
“I had been practicing a bit during the exams but had played no competitive golf. I knew my long game was in a good place and for me, if I am hitting 14 or 15 greens in regulation, I can shoot level par.

“Over the last few years my season has been disrupted by exams and you can see that as the summer goes on I start to shoot those rounds in the 60s as my short game improves.”

In many ways, the format of the Irish Close proved very useful because two rounds of qualifying – to narrow the field down to the leading 32 players – gave Annabel the chance to knock some of the rust off her game.
She added; “It was a nice ice breaker and it was a course that suited my eye. It has seven par fives and I could reach them all. It was clear by the end of that first round that I hadn’t been playing much because I didn’t really hole a putt and my wedge game wasn’t sharp.
“And then I started the second round badly; double bogey, bogey to drop back to level par but it was good to see that I was able to stay in the moment and treat every shot as it is and not get tentative.”
The opening two rounds of match play were something of a cruise for Annabel but by the semi-final and finals on the last day, her stamina had started to wane.
“My timing was a bit off. I probably played my worst golf of the week but my fitness isn’t up to scratch because I have been sitting down for too long,” she added.
“I had to dig deep on that last five or six holes [in the final]. I hit a few out of bounds. Just silly, tired swings. I got away with one on 17 and that gave me a chance. I played 18 and the tie hole lovely, exactly as I wanted to.”
Annabel’s reward is a totally expected recall to Ireland colours for the Women’s European Team Championships in Italy (9-13 July) which will hopefully be followed later in the summer by an appearance at the European Individual Championships.
“Over the last four years my season has been cut in half by exams but this year was particularly tough because it was a really long period,” added Annabel.
“I was talking to David Kearney – the ILGU High-Performance manager – and we were looking at the schedule. Could I possibly play in the odd Scratch Cup? But I just felt like it would be better to commit completely to the exams. Ultimately, it’s only a few months out of my life. I was happy with my decision.”
She is however determined to make the most of the next few months before she embarks on a new adventure – a golfing scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
“I cannot wait. I’m going to be able to golf all year round,” added Annabel.
“The facilities are great and I have access to some amazing golf courses – like Bel Air County Club. A number of LPGA players have come through the programme at UCLA and that is obviously what I want to do. They know how to prepare players to reach that level. So that was one of the key factors in me going there.”

Take on a late summer challenge in Fermanagh

June 20, 2019

David Allen PGA Professional Lough Erne Resort, Michael Stanford Director of Golf Lough Erne Resort, Tanya Cathcart Marketing Manager Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism and Barry McCauley, Lough Erne Resort.
Picture: Ronan McGrade

Fancy some late summer golf in the tranquil surroundings of County Fermanagh?
Lough Erne Resort, in association with Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism, will host a Golf Festival on September 20th, 21st and 22nd.
For just £99 competitors will get three rounds of golf, and the chance to win daily and overall prizes sponsored by Titleist, Footjoy and Lough Erne Resort.
The three-day 54-hole tournament will be played at Castle Hume GC (20th), Enniskillen GC (21st) and The Faldo Course (22nd) at Lough Erne Resort.
This is a great opportunity to play captivating golf and sample the beautiful scenery on offer in and around Enniskillen and the wider Fermanagh Lakelands.
The three courses, all within a 10-minute drive of one another will offer a different challenge for competitors.
Lough Erne Resort’s Sales Manager Barry McCauley says: “This event is for all levels of competitive golfer and is not only a competition, but the perfect chance to experience the Fermanagh Lakelands up close and personal.
“Both male and female entrants are welcome, with tee boxes adjusted to meet GUI competition regulations for both categories. One of the main reasons for hosting this event is we want to continue to grow the Fermanagh Lakelands as a leading golf destination.

Jim McClintock President Castle Hume GC, Stephen Smyth Men’s Captain Enniskillen GC and Paddy Duffin, President Enniskillen GC
Picture:Ronan McGrade

“With three beautifully scenic golf courses all within a 10-minute drive of each other, what better way to do this, than bring the three clubs together for this special event which is supported by Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism and the local District Council. Fermanagh is also the ‘gateway’ to The Wild Atlantic Way and an ideal place to start the iconic golfing journey around the coast, being just 15 miles from the coast of Donegal/ Sligo.”
Tanya Cathcart, Marketing Manager, Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism adds: “Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism is delighted to be involved in this new Golf Festival. It will be an excellent showcase for the three golf courses in Fermanagh.
“We are especially pleased to host this event in 2019 when so much of a focus is on Northern Ireland as a result of The Open. We also hope that those attending will get to see and enjoy some of the other attractions of this fabulous lakeland destination.”
Enniskillen GC was established back in 1896 and is situated within walking distance of the town centre. The par 71 course weaves its way through mature tree-lined fairways and a number of elevated tees offer wonderful views of the surrounding area.
Castle Hume, a former venue for the Ulster PGA Championship, is noted for tight driving holes and lightning fast greens. The par four 10th is a beautiful hole with a long straight tee shot required to find the fairway, which leaves a mid–iron second shot over the small lake adjacent to the front of the two-tiered green.
The Faldo Course, recognised as one of the leading parkland courses in Ireland, measures 7,071 yards from the tips and is a Par 72. The links-like fairways, perfectly true greens and spectacular Fermanagh Lakelands setting provides a stunning backdrop to the course. There are spectacular views from every vantage point and the waters of the Lough come into play on 11 of the 18 holes.
Entry fee includes a main course dinner on the final day of competition at The Loughside Grill. Nearest the pin prizes will be up for grabs every day with Trackman technology being employed to measure the longest drive on the final day.

To enter contact Lough Erne Resort Golf Department on +44(0)28 6634 5766 or Email: golf@lougherneresort.com

Rathmore’s finest McDowell secures his place in The Open field at Royal Portrush

June 10, 2019


Hats off to Graeme McDowell.
In a previous life, he made a habit of holing big putts.
On Sunday at the RBC Canadian Open he did it again, rolling in a 30 footer for par on the 18th green to secure his place in the field at the Open Championship.
For the Portrush-born 39-year-old, who grew up playing his golf at Rathmore GC, the Open’s return to Royal Portrush GC will mean more than most. Now he gets to enjoy it inside the ropes.
“I feel hugely relieved. Just to play a small part in getting The Open back to Royal Portrush was one of the prouder moments in my career and it would have been extremely bittersweet for me not to be playing,” said Graeme.
“I had every belief in myself to get qualifying done over the next three or four weeks and it was great to get it done in week one.
“I haven’t played the course much since the new holes were created so now I’ll plan a little recce mission to play the course over the coming weeks.
“It’s going to feel epic on that first tee. The fans are going to offer huge support and they are excited to have the best players in the world come to Portrush. It’s going to be very special.”
Canadian Adam Hadwin claimed the first available qualifying place after finishing alone in sixth place ten shots back from winner Rory McIlroy on a 12-under-par. He will now take his place in The Open for the third year running after previously qualifying to play at Royal Birkdale and Carnoustie.

McDowell put himself into contention to qualify for The Open after back-to-back birdies on the 12th and 13th holes propelled him into the top 10 of the leaderboard.
He failed to birdie the relatively easy par five 17th and struggled to shake off his disappointment as he stood on the 18th tee.
Despite finding the rough twice on the 72nd hole, the Portrush-born 39-year-old recovered to sink a 30ft putt for par and clinch the second available qualifying place after finishing in a tie for eighth place on a 10-under-par total of 270.
He added; “When I missed the fairway on 17 and didn’t make four there I was pretty despondent walking to the 18th tee. I knew that 18, it’s such is difficult tee shot and I didn’t hit a very good one.
“I left myself no pitch shot. My caddie is trying to do the math as we walk up to 18 green. He’s thinking five may be good enough. He basically said, don’t mess around with a chip shot. Give yourself a look at four. We did that, and, man, it was…”

“The putt was not makable, no. It was literally a 1 in10. It had 12 feet of break on it. It was ridiculously tough putt to make. Just fancied it, I saw it, liked the way it looked, and when I saw it go in it was a huge relief.

“Obviously at that point, I still didn’t know if I was guaranteed to be in, but I knew that four gave me more of a chance than five.
“It’s like chasing a ghost out there when you’re trying to play for these spots because you don’t know whether fifth is going to be enough and you’re thinking tenth might be enough.
“It’s very hard to focus. I wasn’t really focused on the golf tournament at all today. I was just focused on trying to make a few birdies and get myself as many under par as I could, which is weird.
“You’re out there playing for a lot of FedExCup Cup points and a lot of cash, and all I can focus on is trying to get exempt for the Open Championship. I might go to Portrush and miss the cut and think, What was all that about?
“Obviously answers all the questions for me for the next few weeks. I can go to Pebble and forget about Portrush and focus on Pebble and go to the Irish and Scottish Opens and focus on those as well and start getting my game in shape and getting ready for Portrush.”

UIster champs Campbell and Ross seal places in ISPS World Invitational field

May 29, 2019

Colm Campbell and Jessica Ross
Golffile | Thos Caffrey)

Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell and Jessica Ross from Clandeboye celebrated victory in the inaugural staging of the Ulster Stroke Play Championship at Galgorm Castle.
Ross blew the field away with her nearest challenger, Lurgan’s Maeve Cummins, some 12 strokes behind her in second place.
The 24-year-old chemical engineer carded a four-round total of level par. Her final round included an eagle three on the 18th and a stunning birdie from 170 yards on the fourth after she found trouble off the tee.
Seasoned campaigner Campbell, who has spent the last two years fighting his way back to fitness following a hand injury, bridged a 1115 day gap to win his first championship since the 2016 Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin. He finished on four-under par, two shots ahead of Carton House representative Marc Boucher.
Campbell’s personal battle to get back to the top of the game hasn’t been easy but this win gives him a major boost in the GUI’s Bridgestone Order of Merit.
“It’s been tough. I’ve had a really tough 2018 and I struggled with the injuries as most people know and then I lost my grandad as well on top of that who was a big supporter of me and this one is for him,” he said.

“I always said the first if I was lucky enough to win another championship I would dedicate this to him and I know he would be very proud. It’s been a tough road and I’m glad to be back playing and it was nice to get a win under the belt.”

Off a plus-four handicap, Ross makes the trip to St Andrews for the St Rule Trophy later this week and is hoping for momentum to help her pick up another win.
She said; “I’ve started working full time as a chemical engineer so I guess I’ll just play as good as I can and get another win. I’ll just take every event as it comes.”
Both Campbell and Ross pick up invitations to the European Challenge Tour’s newest event which takes place at Galgorm Castle, the ISPS Handa World Invitational in August.
Ross is thrilled to be able to tee it up with the pros. She added; “I’m delighted. I’ve never played a professional event before so it will be cool to see how your game matches up with the world’s best.”
Campbell is no a stranger to playing in professional events and is excited by the prospect of both men and women teeing it up at Galgorm in the professional tournament.
“I’m really excited to play in it. That’s one of the main reasons I came here and teed it up this week,” he said.
“It’s brilliant, especially for the ladies’ game. They play to an exceptional standard. I think it’s only right and it’s great to see and it’s great to see Galgorm is on board with it as well.”
Joining them in the ISPS Handa World Invitational will Marc Boucher (Carton House), Matthew McClean (Malone), Maeve Cummins (Lurgan) and Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe) for their second and third place finishes in the event.
This event marked the first time that the GUI and ILGU have hosted senior men’s and women’s championships simultaneously at the same venue.

Ulster Strokeplay Championship scores

Copy courtesy of Alan Kelly (GUI)

Edenmore amateur McGahey makes his mark at Senior level

May 26, 2019

Edenmore professional Andrew Manson

Edenmore Golf Club vice-captain Jonathan McGahey has wasted no time in making his mark as a senior golfer by qualifying to represent the club in the Irish final of the Staysure Trophy.
McGahey became eligible to play in senior events when he turned 50 in March and a handful of weeks later won his club’s competition to team up with Edenmore head PGA Professional Andrew Manson in next week’s final at Seapoint Links.
Both will be aiming to reach the 36-hole grand final which is being staged at the London Golf Club near Sevenoaks, Kent, on July 30 and 31.
The pro-am competition, which features senior amateur players partnered with a PGA Professional and is sponsored by Staysure, the insurance specialists for over 50s, is now in its second year and carries a £30,000 prize fund with £7,500 going to the winner.
As well as qualifying within weeks of becoming eligible, McGahey won the qualifying tournament at Edenmore after a six-month absence from the game caused by a knee injury.
“it was only my third round since October,” explained McGahey, a computer engineer who lives in Moria and has been a member at Edenmore for 15 years.
“I finished with 42 Stableford points and won the event by three. It all fell into place on the day and, to be honest, I was surprised by the outcome.”
Tackling Seapoint Links will be a new experience for McGahey, a 12-handicapper, but his professional partner knows the course well.
“I’ve played it quite a few times and it’s a lot different to Edenmore,” said Manson.

“Seapoint is on the coast and the wind can play a big part whereas Edenmore is a parkland course. But I’m sure Jonathan will be fine. We’ve played together before and he’s a very steady player.He’s straight off the tee and has a good short game.”

McGahey also has an experienced partner when it comes to the business of doing well in national PGA pro-am competitions.
“I finished fourth in the regional final of the Pro-Captain Challenge several years back,” Manson recalled.
“And I played in the final of the PGA’s national pro-am competition in Portugal two years ago. That was a great experience and I’m hoping Jonathan and I can do as well in the Staysure Trophy.”
Edennore will be up against 13 other clubs in the final, including Lurgan Golf Club who will be represented by PGA Captain Peter Hanna and amateur John Hartnett.
The other 12 are Ardglass Golf Club, Carrickfergus Golf Club, County Cavan Golf Club, Dungarvan Golf Club, Headfort Golf Club, Killiney Golf Club, Killymoon Golf Club, Luttrellstown Castle Golf Club, Macreddin Golf Club, Portadown Golf Club, Slade Valley Golf Club and Wexford Golf Club.

Innovative World Invitational brings mixed field to Galgorm Castle and Massereene GC

May 14, 2019

L-R Niall Horan (Owner, Modest! Golf), Charley Hull (Professional Golfer), Keith Pelley (Chief Executive, European Tour), Dr Haruhisa Handa (ISPS HANDA) and Kirsty Gallacher (Broadcaster/MC) (Photo: Salter Golf)

Leona Maguire is set to make her long-awaited professional debut in Ireland at Galgorm Castle in August.
The Co.Cavan star, who recently won her first pro event on the Symetra Tour will be one of the headline acts at a new tournament – the ISPS HANDA World Invitational Men | Women, presented by Modest! Golf Management which will be staged at Galgorm and Massereene GC from August 15-18.
The event formerly known as the Northern Ireland Open and traditionally one of the best attended events on the Challenge Tour has been transformed into a new global event for Challenge Tour players and women professionals.
“As far as I was concerned, she was always going to be a superstar and she is really starting to show it now,” said Modest! Golf’s Niall Horan.

“With Leona, it was always a matter of time, never an if. She is a class act, as is her sister Lisa and they will both be very successful.”

The tournament, which carries an equal share of the $500,000 prize money for both the men’s and women’s competitions, will have approximately 300 competitors in total playing at both venues on the Thursday and Friday.
A second-round cut will send the two fields to Galgorm Castle for the weekend, where a third round cut will further reduce each field for the final round.
ISPS HANDA has an international reputation for supporting golf around the world and the eligibility criteria for the men’s tournament will be the same as any other Challenge Tour event, therefore counting towards the season-long Rankings.
Meanwhile, the women’s side of the tournament will invite leading professionals from the US LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour plus players from Asia and Australia. Charley Hull, an ISPS ambassador is hopeful of playing in the event while Jordanstown born, Stephanie Meadow, is also determined to join the field.
“We are very pleased to become involved in this exciting new World Invitational event for both men and women professionals,” said Dr Haruhisa Handa, Chairman of International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS) HANDA.
“We recognise the work and efforts made by Modest! Golf, the European Challenge Tour and host venue Galgorm over the years and look forward to playing a part in the next chapter.”

The World Invitational is a first of its kind for Europe and presents an excellent opportunity for the sporting public to witness the best players from both the men’s and women’s games.
European Tour Chief Executive Officer Keith Pelley said: “As golf’s global Tour, our core values are innovation and inclusivity and this new tournament fits perfectly into both of those genres. We are so pleased to have another innovative format on the Challenge Tour’s schedule following the success of the Jordan Mixed Open earlier this year.
“It’s fantastic to see these pioneering events becoming more common on the global golfing calendar and we hope they continue to grow with the support of sponsors and broadcasters.
“We have seen the success of the ISPS Handa Vic Open in Australia – which was won by Challenge Tour graduate David Law – and it is really exciting to have a tournament of the same format taking place in Northern Ireland this year.”
The week-long festival of golf will include live music concerts at the historic Galgorm estate with many other family attractions such as the dedicated golf village, family area, coaching zones and a junior event.
Horan added; “We have been doing this NI Open since 2016 and watching it grow every year has been mad really. It got to the point where it needed to be kicked over the line and getting ISPS Handa involved was a great idea on everyone’s part.
“There are two tournaments in the world that will have men and women playing together at the same time and they are both his. I want to be a part of that because I believe that if we grow women’s golf, we will grow golf in general.”
Discounted advance ticket purchases can be made at www.worldinvitational.golf where spectators can take advantage of the ‘early bird offers’ to enjoy this showpiece sporting event.