Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

Whitford makes it three wins on the bounce at Ardglass Alliance event

November 13, 2018


l-r – Richard Kilpatrick, Ricky Whitford (Knock), Phil Posnett (PGA), Lucy Simpson (Golf Now)

Knock professional Ricky Whitford chalked up his third consecutive success when he stormed to the top of the leaderboard in the Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance outing, supported by Golf Now, at Ardglass.
Whitford bagged eight birdies in a super 65 with three bogeys and seven pars also on his card.
He made a strong start, firing a wedge shot to within inches at the first for an opening birdie but then recorded back-to-back bogey fives at the third and fourth holes.
He got back to level par on the sixth when he rolled home a 20-footer, holed another birdie putt at seven and polished off his opening nine holes with a birdie at the par five.
His final bogey came at the par three 10th hole where he was short and failed to get up and down but a birdie four at the long 11th got him going again.
The winner finished strongly by collecting a hat-trick of birdies at the 15th, 16th and 17th to finish two shots ahead of local assistant pro Adam Mulhall.
Ever present Massereene 11-handicapper Vincent McCaffrey won the amateur’s nett prize on 44 points with host club captain, Peter Deeny, second on 41.
Irish international Lucy Simpson (Royal Portrush) outshot her male challengers to win the amateur’s gross award with one-over-par 71.
The winning team members were all from Shandon Park as pro, Barry Wilson, plus amateurs Julian Wilson (Barry’s brother), Laurence Hale and Guy Hamill combined to post 92 points. They won on countback from Whitford’s team.
The next tournament will be at Kirkistown Castle on Monday, November 26.

Ulster Golfers’ Alliance – Ardglass leaderboard 

Selected scores
Ping Ulster Golfers’ Alliance, supported by Golf Now, at Ardglass
Professionals: 65 (-5) – R Whitford (Knock).
67 – A Mulhall (Ardglass),
70 -B McElhinney (North West), P Farrell (Laganview Golf Centre), R Kilpatrick (Banbridge).
71 – G Wardlow (Spa). P McCarroll (Allen Pk).
Amateurs: Nett 44 pts – V McCaffrey 11 (Massereene).
41 – P Deeny 9 (Ardglass Captain).
40 – J Ross 6 (Donaghadee).
39 – J Savage 17 (Dunmurry).
Gross, 71 (+1) – Lucy Simpson scr (Royal Portrush).
Team: 92 pts – Pro B Wilson with amateurs J Wilson 21, L Hale 21 & G Hamill 13 (all Shandon Pk) on countback from Ricky Whitford’s team.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Whitford putts in winning performance at Shandon Park

November 6, 2018

Ricky Whitford’s putting was well-nigh perfect at Shandon Park as he shot to the top of the leaderboard in the Ping Ulster Golfers’ Alliance tournament.
The winner, who finished one stroke clear of second-placed Brian McElhinney, slotted home a 30 footer on the first for a birdie. He added another birdie at the long third hole from 25 feet after steering a drive and five iron to the surface.
Dropped shots at the fourth and fifth halted his progress and he proceeded to par the next 11 holes. On the 17th green he rolled in a 15-footer to get back under par for the day.

Regular competitor Andy Adair (Clandeboye) won the amateur’s nett prize after squeezing out Carrickfergus member Tommy Lyttle on the back nine as they both posted 37 points.
The top gross prize went to Holywood scratch player Simon Irwin who carded one-over-par 71.
Second-placed professional Brian McElhinney (North West) brought in the winning team on 86 points with the amateur members, all from the Greencastle club in Donegal, being Paul Ferguson, Willie Havlin and Jason McLaughlin.
The next UGA event will be played at Ardglass on November 12.

Ping UGA Tournament at Shandon Park
Professionals: 69 (-1) – R Whitford (Knock).
70 – B McElhinney (North West).
71 – P Farrell (Laganview Golf Centre), N Grant (Blackwood).
72 – G Graham (Groomsport Golf Centre), G Wardlow (Spa), W Ramsey (Knockbracken Golf Academy).

Amateurs: Nett, 37 pts – A Adair 3 (Clandeboye) … 1st on back nine;
37 – T Lyttle 10 (Carrickfergus) … 2nd on back nine.
36 – J McLaughlin 4 (Greencastle) … 3rd on back nine;
36 – A Hall 12 (Donaghadee) … 4th on back nine.
Team: 86 pts – Pro B McElhinney (North West) with amateurs P Ferguson 9,. W Havlin 6 & J McLaughlin 4 (all Greencastle).

With thanks to Tony McGee

Wire to wire Ulster Boys Championship success for Thomas Higgins

November 2, 2018

John White (Chairman GUI Ulster) and Dr. Robert Brady (Captain Royal Portrush) (l) with Ulster Boys Championship winner, Thomas Higgins (Roscommon) Picture: Thos Caffrey /

Thomas Higgins completed a superb wire-to-wire Ulster Boys Championship victory at Royal Portrush.
The Roscommon golfer posted a final round 69 yesterday at the Valley Links to win by five shots from Dundalk’s Eoin Murphy and Athenry’s David Kitt.
Keaton Morrison (Greenacres) was the best placed of the Ulster contenders finishing on three under par.
“I was trying to keep calm and play it one shot at a time. It sounds easy, but it’s tough to do,” said 15-year-old Higgins, an Irish U16 panelist.

“I didn’t really have any expectations coming into the week but I knew I playing decently. I was just hoping I could do well.”

Higgins, who began the final round with a one-shot lead over nearest rival Alex Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown) made a decisive move on the sixth hole when he holed a putt for eagle while Maguire three-putted for par.
Higgins added; “That gave me a bit of breathing space and from there I just tried to concentrate on making pars on the back nine.”

Ulster Boys Championship scoring

Teague and Lynch share first place at Lurgan GC Ulster Alliance event

October 18, 2018

The new season of Ping PGA Northern Branch tournaments got underway at Lurgan in sunny, benign conditions which produced a plethora of red figures.
Loughgall Club pro, Vivian Teague and Ballyclare’s Colin Lyttle both posted a two-under-par 68 to split the winner’s cheque, while Darren McCabe (Killymoon) and Marshall Boyd (Whitehead) both posted 40 points to be equal first in the amateur’s nett event with McCabe taking first place on countback.
Teague carded three birdies and one bogey during his steady round with the dropped shot being caused by a three-putt on the sixth green. That wiped out a birdie three at the previous hole where a seven iron approach left him 15 feet from the flag and he coolly slotted home the putt.
Another birdie three from 30 feet, following a drive and one iron onto the surface, saw Teague out in one-under 34 before he covered the back nine with eight pars and a birdie four at 10, where he holed from 10 feet to come home in 34.
Four birdies and two bogeys decorated Lyttle’s card. He three-putted the second green for bogey four but trimmed a stroke off the long fourth hole by chipping to two inches. He also turned in one-under-34 and picked up another stroke at the 13th where he left a drive and a nine iron approach five feet from the cup.
Lyttle then gave back the advantage after missing the 16th green but finished strongly, to catch Teague, by making birdie from three feet at the long 18, following a drive, three wood and a chip to the green.
Local member Patrick Jordan, who plays off one won the amateur’s gross. The all-Carrickfergus team of professional James Orchin plus amateurs Ricky Coulter, Tommy Lyttle and Gary Robinson took the team prize with 96 points.
The next Ping PGA Northern Branch round will be played at Shandon Park on Thursday, November 1. There will also be a PGA Northern Branch pro-am at Blackwood next Sunday.

Ping PGA Northern Branch Tournament at Lurgan

Professionals: 69 (-2) – V Teague (Loughgall); C Lyttle (Ballyclare).
69 – G Wardlow (Spa).
70 – G Graham (Groomsport DR).
71 – C Lyle (Donaghadee), P Hanna (Lurgan).
72 – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).

Amateurs: Nett, 40 pts – D McCabe 5 (Killymoon) (bb9)
40 – M Boyd 10 (Whitehead)
39 – T Lyttle 10 (Carrickfergus).
38 – B Matthews 18 (Lurgan).

Gross, 68 (-3) – P Jordan 1 (Lurgan).
Team: 96 pts – Pro J Orchin with R Coulter 15, T Lyttle 10 & G Robinson 10 (all Carrickfergus).

Thornton claims second Irish PGA Championship title at wet and windy Galway Bay Golf Resort

October 14, 2018

l-r Michael McCumiskey (PGA in Ireland Regional Manager), Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) and Ronan Killeen (MD Galway Bay Golf Resort)

Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) won the rain-affected 108th Irish PGA Championship at Galway Bay Golf Resort on Saturday.
“Traditionally I always start the season pretty poorly, it doesn’t matter what Tour I am playing on,” said the 41-year-old Newcastle based player who finished the tournament on three under par (71/70).
“I said to myself back in February that I wasn’t going to let it happen this year and I put some more work in so I could compete straight away and that paid dividends.
“I have played really nicely, had some really good scores and this caps off a really good year.”
Simon’s opening round 71 on Thursday left him three shots behind the leader, Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge GC).
Unfortunately, the remnants of Storm Callum forced the second round to be halted on Friday and then heavy rain battered the players when they returned today (Saturday) to complete round two.
With the forecast promising further heavy rain, PGA officials declared Thornton the winner after 36 holes. It’s his second Irish PGA Championship success following victory at Seapoint in 2011.

Runner-up Richard Kilpatrick with Michael McCumiskey and Ronan Killeen

“It was very windy when we started round two on Friday. The last half hour before we came off the course was brutal,” added Simon.
“It is a golf course where the wind comes at you from different angles so it was just a matter of hitting the ball in the place you wanted to miss best rather than going at flags.”
He continued; “It was actually quite benign this morning when we started off.
“I played lovely and hit a nice tee shot at our first hole of the day which was the 15th.
“I birdied 16, 17, 18 and the second and then I doubled three. It was fine when we teed off at the third but by the time we got to the green it was like a monsoon but that is the way it goes, you just have to plug away, I’m delighted to win.”
Kilpatrick finished in second place after following up his opening round 68 with a two over par 74. David Higgins (Waterville Links) grabbed third posting a 69 to follow up his opening round 74.

Kilpatrick grabs Irish PGA Championship lead at Galway Bay Golf Resort

October 12, 2018

Richard Kilpatrick

Richard Kilpatrick fired a four under par 68 in tricky conditions to grab the lead on day one of the 108th Irish PGA Championship at Galway Bay Golf Resort.
The Banbridge golfer, playing with a nagging hip injury, leads Mark Staunton (Delgany GC) by a shot with four players, including defending champion, Tim Rice (Limerick GC), back in a share of third on one under par.
“It was windy but it wasn’t as bad as we initially thought it was going to be. It was very playable,” said Kilpatrick who posted a round that included seven birdies and three bogeys.
“I’m trying to manage the problem with my hip at the minute. That means I haven’t been practicing much so my expectations are pretty low, I just go out and play golf.”
Staunton felt he had been ‘relatively lucky’ with the draw having begun his round just as the worst of the morning showers cleared.
“You were playing into a three-club wind at times so you had to try and work it around a bit. It wasn’t pretty,” said the 36-year-old.

“I birdied all the par fives but I also got a couple of good breaks on the back nine. I hit a few bad shots and luckily they finished in the right spots.”

Rice stayed in touch with a three birdie, two bogey round of 71 as did Wednesday’s Pro-Am winner, Brian McEhinney (North West), who signed for a level par 72.
Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort), currently lying third in the PGA in Ireland Order of Merit was a ‘bit disappointed’ with his round having reached three under after 12 holes.
“I played lovely tee to green. I had the ball the under control for most of the round and could possibly have holed more putts,” said Thornton.
“I birdied 12 to get it three under and then had a shank on 13 which led to a double-bogey. After that, I parred my way home.”
Thornton sits on one under par in joint third alongside Rice, Steven Quinlan (SQ Golf) and Neil O’Briain (Old Conna GC).
As a result of Storm Callum, the second round was delayed until 2pm when a shot-gun start will be in operation.

108th Irish PGA Championship at Galway Bay Golf Resort 

Wilson grinds out Monaghan Irish Challenge victory – O’Rourke seals Christy O’Connor Memorial Trophy win at Concra Wood

October 8, 2018

Oliver Wilson

Oliver Wilson bagged his second European Challenge Tour title of the season on Sunday, winning the Monaghan Irish Challenge by two shots at Concra Wood Golf Club.
The Englishman, who triumphed at the Swedish Challenge hosted by Robert Karlsson in August, shot a final round of 69, three under par, to win by two shots in Castleblayney.
“I’m feeling pretty pumped after that. It was hard work today and a proper grind. We knew it was going to be tough and there was strong cross-winds everywhere,” said the 38-year-old former Ryder Cup player.
“I was delighted to come through it and I could’ve made it easier for myself but instead made it a little tricky when I was coming down the stretch.
“This course is such a good test that I had to keep hitting good shots and I managed to do that, and it wasn’t too stressful coming up the last.”
Wilson started the final round one shot behind overnight leader Niklas Lemke but surged ahead following three birdies in his opening four holes. He bogeyed the fifth hole to drop back to join Lemke, but it was not for long as he made his fourth birdie of the day on the seventh.
Gusty conditions tested the players throughout the day, however, Wilson showed his experience, keeping a calm head to move to 13 under par after a birdie on the par five 15th.
A bogey on the 16th did not shake him while Lemke dropped to nine under par following a double bogey on the same hole. With two holes to play and a two-stroke advantage over clubhouse leader Marco Iten, Wilson showed all his experience to finish with a couple of pars
“My par save on 11 was pretty big. I hit a lovely shot in, but it went through the wind and I missed it long, which was a disastrous miss, but I managed to get up and down. That felt pretty big to keep the momentum going,” added Oliver who moved from 38th to 15th in the Challenge Tour Rankings to increase his chances of returning to the European Tour.

“I played nice after that and had a chance on the par five, but played reasonably solid coming in, missing just a few putts on a couple of greens. Overall, in those conditions, I played really well.”

Swiss star Iten carded a final round four under par 68, including a chip-in eagle on the par four eighth to finish as runner-up spot. While Sweden’s Niklas Lemke closed with a round of 73, one over par, to finish three shots behind Wilson in third and two shots ahead of Simon Khan and Robert MacIntyre, who shared fourth place.
The Christy O’Connor Jnr Memorial Trophy, awarded to the lowest scoring Irishman, went to Connor O’Rourke as he claimed a share of 23rd after carding a final round 70, two under par round to finish ahead of last year’s winner Ruaidhri McGee and Paul McBride.

“It’s not beyond the realm of belief that I can win one or two of these things,” said the 27-year-old O’Rourke.
Playing on an invite from Team Ireland Golf, the Kildare man was well placed on two under at halfway but went backwards on moving day, shooting 76.
Disappointed with his attitude during that penultimate round, O’Rourke improved in round four.
“My long game was as good as it has been all week and I just made a couple more putts,” he added.
“You have to find a way to score a bit better or else you’re just going home on Fridays.”
McGee, who closed with a 72 was left with mixed feelings.
“If I had done the simple things well I would easily have been up there,” said the 27-year-old.
“I had three or four bogeys in the middle of the round that were just stupid bogeys from the edge of the green. It’s frustrating.”
Although recording his best result as a professional, Dubliner Paul McBride was also frustrated after posting 74.
“I’m not happy with the score but I didn’t play too bad,” said McBride, 22.
“I got off to a good start and then two stupid three-putts on four and nine. I missed two three-footers and that set me back.”
After his error at the ninth, McBride made four bogeys in a row but continued to grind and was rewarded with birdies at 13 and 15.
Gavin Moynihan (73) and Kevin Phelan (76) were next best of the Irish players at one over, tied for 31st. Niall Kearney (75) finished on plus three, tied for 50th, and Neil O’Briain (78) was tied 55th on seven over.

With thanks to Brendan Coffey for additional reporting

Hill forces his way into the reckoning at Monaghan Irish Challenge

October 6, 2018


Calum Hill plays his second shot on the seventh hole during day two of the Monaghan Irish Challenge event at Concra Wood Golf Club
(Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)


The dream of an Irish double is very much alive for Scotland’s Calum Hill after he finished the second day of the Monaghan Irish Challenge tied for the lead.
Hill, who triumphed at the NI Open back in August, posted a second round 69 (-3) to join Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and Sweden’s Niklas Lemke on seven under par.
“It was a good round. My short game got me through it for two-thirds of the round and then I put some nice shots together at the end, which was good,” said the 23-year-old.
“The conditions were milder. There wasn’t any drizzle and the wind wasn’t as gusty, so the course probably played a fraction easier but this is a tough course.
“When we played a practice round – me and a couple of pals – we felt it was a very tough course, so I’m very happy with seven under after two rounds.

“14 under par would be a very nice target over the weekend, but I don’t know where that would put me. I can’t complain about how it’s going so far, so another two rounds like that would be fine.”

Overnight leader Rhys Enoch fell away after a disappointing round of 76, four over par. However, Irishman Paul McBride remains in contention, three shots behind the leaders, with Ruaidhri McGee a further stroke behind following his five under par round of 67.
The 23-year-old McBride, who turned professional in June after spending four years playing college golf in the US is still trying to find his feet as a professional.
“It’s been tough. I really haven’t played terrible and I’ve been missing cuts by one or two shots,” said McBride who claimed a recent lesson with coach Neil Manchip had got him back on track.
“That’s what it’s like out here. Being able to be consistent is the thing that I’ve struggled with the most.”
He added; “The one thing I did well [today] was hit a lot of greens. I created a few chances but left myself 30 to 40 feet and two putted on the hard holes. I birdied some of the easier ones.”

Ruaidhri highlighted the impact of returning caddy, Madeline, for an improvement in his fortunes around the Christy O’Connor designed course in Castleblayney.
“I had her on the bag for the first half of the year and played great but she hasn’t caddied for me since July,” said the Derry golfer about his American girlfriend.
“It’s good to have a bit of company. She was at university but she is finished now so she is going to do the rest of the season. When you are walking around on your own it can be a long day but when you have someone to chat to, you chill out.”
Holywood amateur Tom McKibbin, playing on an invite, improved on his opening day 78 with a two over 74 but he missed the cut alongside the likes of Dermot McElroy, Michael Dallat, JR Galbraith, Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin.
The cut fell at +2 with 62 players making it through to the weekend. Just seven Irish contenders made it through to the weekend. Joining McGee and McBride are Niall Kearney, Neil O’Briain, Kevin Phelan, Gavin Moynihan and Conor O’Rourke.

Welshman Enoch grabs the lead on day one of the Monaghan Irish Challenge at Concra Wood

October 5, 2018

Rhys Enoch

Welshman Rhys Enoch defied testing conditions to lead at the close of play on day one of the Monaghan Irish Challenge at Concra Wood GC.
The 30-year-old finished with a flourish to post a score of six under par 66, one shot ahead of Englishman Bradley Moore, Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and Frenchman Thomas Linard.
“I knew it was going to be a tough day I wasn’t really expecting anything to be honest,” said Enoch.
“I kept it in play and kept giving myself chances even though it was breezy. I made a couple of key up and downs around the turn and then I just went mental in the closing holes and went five under to finish

“It is probably up there with one of my best rounds of the year. It’s pretty cold and pretty drizzly. Six under in those conditions is always a pretty good round.”

Leading the Irish charge on home soil are Brian Casey and Paul McBride, who are four shots behind Enoch, following rounds of 70, two under par.
“There were a few holes where you had to hold on,” said Casey, who recovered from a poor start to put himself in contention. The 27-year-old covered his last 10 holes in four under to give himself a timely boost.
“I need something good to happen because I missed out at Q School,” Casey explained.
“It’s been a bit of a weird middle of the year. I got off to a good start but it’s been slow. I think it’s going to turn around. I think attitude is going to be key along with a lot of good work on the range.”
The Ulster pair of Cormac Sharvin and John Ross Galbraith ended the day on one over par alongside Tim Rice and Niall Kearney in a share of 49th.
“It is playing tricky. There are some chances but there’s a few holes playing very tough. If you can keep the ball in play and hole a few putts, you’ll get around okay,” said Galbraith who birdied two of his last four holes.
“It’s a three-club wind when it really gusts. If you hit the greens on the wrong side and you’re putting downwind it’s hard to get the ball stone dead.
“I fought back well. One over is not too bad, I’m still in the hunt. I played way better than one over but just didn’t get the most out of the round. Hopefully, I’ll get it going tomorrow.”

NI Open winner Calum Hill finished the day in a share of fifth on four under par to keep alive his hopes of doing an Irish double alive.
“It’s a tough course. You’ve got to hit a lot of good golf shots. I had a few lucky bounces, saved myself a couple of times, and then holed a few nice putts today,” said the 23-year-old Scot.
“I played the tough holes well and took advantage of the two par fives, then snuck a couple more birdies in there.”
Darkness brought an end to day one at 6.52pm with five groups returning to conclude their final holes on Friday morning at 8.30am.

NI Open winner, Calum Hill, chasing Irish double at Concra Wood

October 4, 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)

NI Open winner Calum Hill is drawing on some positive vibes ahead of this week’s Monaghan Irish Challenge which gets underway today at Concra Wood GC.
“It’s quite nice to be in a similar setting to when I won in Northern Ireland, but it’s definitely chillier this week,” said the 23-year-old Scot.
“Following the win in Northern Ireland everyone is saying that I’ll be able to win again in Ireland, so I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve been round the course twice already this week. It’s a brilliant course, a proper golf course. You’ve got to hit the ball really well and there will be a lot of long irons into the greens. The back nine is tough but the front nine gives you a few chances.”
Hill produced a brilliant closing 64 (-7) to snatch victory at Galgorm Castle back in August.
He is currently ranked 33 in the Order of Merit and with four events remaining a good finish to the season could earn him a European Tour card for 2019.
He added; “My aim is to be as consistent as possible. If you’re shooting four or five under par each round I think it will be very good around here, but if you are doing that in most places you’re probably giving yourself a good chance.

“I’m not focussing too much on the end of the season. I’ll try and play as best as I can over the next four weeks and see if that puts me in a position where I could end up in the top 15 places and receive a European Tour card, which would be nice.”

This will be the first time a Challenge Tour event has been held at the Christy O’Connor designed course in Castleblayney. A total of 19 Irish competitors will tee it up this week, amongst them GolfSixes 2018 champion Gavin Moynihan, Ruaidhri McGee, Dermot McElroy, Jonathan Caldwell and young amateur star Tom McKibbin.
The Holywood golfer is hoping once more to make the most of a glorious opportunity to compete alongside the professionals. The 15-year-old is nursing a wrist injury but managed to play in Tuesday’s Pro-Am and is hopeful of being fit to tee it up alongside Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre and Germany’s Bernd Ritthammer at 8.30am this morning.

Caldwell meanwhile has shown some signs of a return to form since finishing tied 13th at the NI Open. The Bangor man has played Concra Wood under tournament conditions before back in 2014 when the venue hosted a Europro Tour event, the Kingspan Concra Wood Open.
“The Europro event was a lot earlier in the year and it played a bit faster,” said Caldwell.
“It’s playing longer now and with the current temperatures, the ball does not fly as far.
“On some of those holes playing into the wind, I hope the European Tour is generous with the tee box selection.”
Scoring on the Challenge Tour is traditionally very low, witness Liam Johnston’s 24-under-par winning total at the recent Kazakhstan Open, but Caldwell expects Concra Wood to offer a sterner test.
“This will be a different challenge. It will be very important to play from the fairway to get to the rights spots on the greens and also trying to get a long club on the ball out of the rough is not good, you need to be on the short stuff.
“I kind of know the holes you have to score on and the holes you have to respect and take pars all day long so I do have a bit of an advantage knowing that the scoring will not be crazy low. If I play the way I have been playing recently and if I can make some putts then hopefully I will be there or thereabouts.”