McElroy wins Belfast Open Scratch Cup

IRISH International, Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) underlined his growing status as one of the country’s finest young amateurs by winning the inaugural Belfast Open Scratch Cup at Balmoral GC.
McElroy, who recently helped GB&I to victory in the Jacques Leglise Trophy, shot rounds of 71/69 to claim the £500 first prize.
Local favourite Stuart Bleakley (Balmoral), and the in-form Nicky Grant (Knock), led the way after round one of the 36-hole event with rounds of 69.
McElroy trailed by two shots after his opening 18 holes but as afternoon conditions deteriorated courtesy of some heavy rain, his steady play saw him reel in and pass both Grant and Bleakley.
A wonderfully consistent back nine of 35 (one over par) which included a birdie at the par three 11th, saw him home with four shots to spare.
Bleakley and Grant shot identical scores of 69/75 for a 144 total. In fact, they were so closely matched that the break of tie eventually went down to the last two holes with Bleakley edging out the Knock man into second place.
It was a fine performance from McElroy who, after a long summer of golf, is looking ahead to a quiet autumn and a chance to work on his game.
The 18-year-old was drafted into the extended Walker Cup squad in May and grabbed his first taste of professional golf at the Irish Open in Killarney at the end of July.
Meanwhile, officials at Balmoral GC, a club synonymous with the late great Fred Daly, were also delighted with this first staging of what they hope will become a significant amateur tournament.
They were unfortunate that the date clashed with the Rosapenna Scratch Cup but aim to build on this successful opener.
It’s a little over a year since the club completed the last stage of a £1.2m redevelopment project on the course which included the installation of 18 brand new high spec greens.
Those changes have bedded in nicely and the new putting surfaces are proving a real challenge.

Belfast Open Scratch Cup
1 Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) 71/69 – 140
2 Stuart Bleakley (Balmoral) 69/75 – 144 (bot)
3 Nicky Grant (Knock) 69/75 – 144
1st 18 holes – Matthew McClean (Balmoral) 71
2nd18 holes – Mal Wylie (Balmoral) 73
Best nett – Conor Cooley 138


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