Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

Gary McNeill and Brian McElhinney top of the pile at Portstewart

December 6, 2017


A pair of former Irish Amateur champions shared top spot at Portstewart GC in the latest round of the PGA Links Pro Trophy.
Brian McElhinney (North West) and Gary McNeill (Royal Portrush) posted rounds of one-under-par 64 on a course that was shortened to 16 holes (the second and third were closed).
McElhinney, who also won the European Championship as an amateur, raced to three-under-par after seven holes but a three-putt bogey five at the eighth left him out in two-under-27.
The Donegal golfer holed a putt from six feet at the first for a birdie, holed from four feet at the sixth and rolled in a 15-footer at the seventh. He finished short of the green at the par four 11th and failed to get up and down but that lost ground was regained at the long 14th when he chipped to gimme range.
He then lost a ball off the tee at the 16th but managed to scramble a bogey five before finishing with two pars.
Gary was a model of consistency over his opening seven holes, rattling off six pars and a birdie two at the sixth hole for a front nine of 28 but his approach to the 10th green was short and he failed to get up-and-down for par.
He hit back with birdies at the back to back par fives – 13 and 14 – but then slipped up again with a three-putt bogey at the 15th before closing out his round with three pars.
The fourth Links Trophy round, at Kirkistown Castle on December 18, with be the Christmas outing at which all players must, under fear of penalty wear a Christmas jumper.

PGA Links Trophy at Portstewart Leaderboard

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PGA in Ireland team cruise to 16-shot International Team Championship success

November 26, 2017

2017 PGAs of Europe International Team Championship Winners, the PGA in Ireland – [L to R] Simon Thornton, David Higgins & Mark Staunton
Pic by Johan Hampf’

Ireland cruised to an emphatic 16-shot victory in the International Team Championship at Costa Navarino, Greece on Saturday.
Mark Staunton’s (Delgany GC) stunning bogey-free final round 64 (-7) set the seal on a superb team effort by the PGA in Ireland representatives.
“It was an excellent few days. The resort was first class and the event was well run by the PGA’s of Europe,” said Galway born Staunton.
“It is great to have the honour of representing your country and even better to be able to win. The two lads (Simon Thornton and David Higgins) played great all week and on a personal note, it was nice to finish the week off strongly.”
The International Team Championship saw 21 teams from the PGAs of Europe’s member countries battling it out over 72 holes on the Bernhard Langer designed The Dunes Course. The best two individual scores each day from the team of three counted towards the overall team score.
Ireland trailed Scotland by five shots at the close of play on day one but a second round five-under-par 66 from Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) helped to turn that deficit into a two-shot lead.
“We had a great week. Everyone in the team contributed and winning by such a wide margin made it even more special,” said Simon.
“It feels great to beat the other European countries and I think it highlights the strength and depth of player we have in Ireland.”
Once ahead, Ireland put the foot down finishing day three with a six-shot advantage which they extended to a remarkable 16 shots by the end of play on day four.
“It was a great way to finish the season,” said Higgins (Waterville Links) who got Ireland off to a solid start on day one with an opening round 68 (-3).
“It is a great honour to be selected to represent your country and to win while doing it is extra special.”
This is the third time Ireland has won the ITC. The last Irish team to win the title in 2008 featured John Kelly (St Margaret’s Golf &CC), Robert Giles (Greenore) and Eamonn Brady (Clontarf).

2017 International Team Championship leaderboard

Mooney and Graham share top spot at St Patrick’s

November 24, 2017

Damien Mooney

It may not be the ideal time of year for sub-par rounds of golf but Damian Mooney and Gareth Graham belied that notion to post rounds of three-under-par 66 and share top spot at the Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event at St Patrick’s, Downpatrick.
Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf) had built a three-shot advantage by the eighth hole having birdied the second, third and eighth.
He drove the green for a birdie three at the second, found the green at the long third with a drive and six iron, while at the short eighth he wedged to one inch.
However, the charge was halted when he drove into trees leading to a bogey five at the ninth to turn in two-under-par 33.
Damian’s drive for success was recharged with a 25-foot birdie putt at the short 11th, after an eight iron approach to the green, but another wayward drive into trees at the 13th cost him another stroke.  That was offset when he chipped to a foot for a birdie three at 16 and with a par/par finish, he was back in 33 for his 66.

Gareth Graham

Graham (Groomsport DR) birdied the long third after a drive and four iron to 20 feet and picked up another shot at the the par-four sixth but wiped out the advantages when he visited the trees, followed by the sand and then three-putted the seventh for a double-bogey six.
A chip and putt birdie three at the 10th, followed by a four-foot birdie on 13 and a six-footer at the next got Graham to three under but after duffing a wedge and taking three to get down he pencilled in bogey five at 17. Still, the Groomsport pro finished strongly with an eight iron to 10 feet for a birdie two at the last as he tied with Mooney.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance at St Patrick’s
Professionals: 66 (-3) – D Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf), G Graham (Groomsport DR).
69 – P Farrell (Laganview Golf Centre).
70 – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk), R Whitford (Knock).
71 – G Wardlow (Spa), C Lyle (Donaghadee).

Amateurs
Overall Nett, 43 pts – S Goldthorpe 16 (Blackwood).
Category 1 (8&U): 42 pts – M McCrory 6 (Clandeboye); 42 – J Johnston 7 (Belvoir Pk)
Category (9-14): 38 pts – G Reilly 9 (St Patrick’s); 38 -N Gallagher 10 (Hilton Templepatrick)
Category (14+), 42 pts – S McKillop 16 (Portstewart); 39 – L Hale 21 (Shandon Pk).
Gross, 35 pts – I Smyth 4 (Clandeboye).
Team: 93 pts – Pro D Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf) with N Gallagher 10 (Hilton Templepatrick, R Clarke 15 (Dunmurry) & A Hynds 8 (Dunmurry).

With thanks to Tony McGee

Irish trio chase International Team Championship crown in Greece

November 21, 2017

Mark Staunton

David Higgins (Waterville) Mark Staunton (Delgany) and Simon Thornton (Tulfarris Golf Resort) are representing the PGA in Ireland at the International Team Championship in Greece this week (Nov 22-25).
“I’m looking forward to it. The last time I played team golf was, I suppose, when I was 21 and I got one of my final international caps for Ireland playing on a two-man team in Belgium,” said Staunton who will be making his debut in the event.
“I have played in a few Alliance outings around Dublin recently and have been playing quite nicely,” added Galway born Mark who won the Irish Order of Merit in 2007.
“I went for a lesson a while ago and my scoring has picked up a bit over the last few rounds so hopefully I can take some of that form with me to Costa Navarino.

“I’ve no expectations but I do know I will be playing alongside a couple of very good players in David and Simon.”

Simon Thornton

Thornton has recently been appointed tournament professional for Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort, near Blessington Lakes, Co Wicklow.  The resort’s championship golf course has also been revealed as one of the venues for the PGA EuroPro Tour in 2018.
Simon added: “I am delighted to be starting my new role at Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort. The first thing I noted was the quality and layout of the course, which is really impressive. Tulfarris really has all the ingredients to become one of the premier golfing destinations in Ireland. It’s an exciting time for the Resort and I am looking forward to being part of its success.”
Ireland have contended regularly at the ITC in recent years but no team has managed to match the exploits of John Kelly, Robert Giles and Eamonn Brady who collected the title in 2008 in Spain. Last year, the team of Damien Mooney, Eamonn Brady and Michael McDermott led the way after round one but eventually finished the tournament in fourth, behind winners the PGA of Germany.
This year 21 teams will compete over 72 holes on The Dunes Course, designed by Bernhard Langer. The best two individual scores each day from the team of three will count towards the overall team score. A secondary event sees small and emerging Member PGAs compete for the ITC Shield.

International Team Championship Leaderboard

Belvoir Parks’ Chris Carvill takes top honours at Whitehead UGA event

November 10, 2017

Chris Carvill

Chris Carvill clocked up another impressive PGA Northern Branch victory at Whitehead GC.
The Belvoir Park professional posted 39 points (67) on his way to success in the Ping Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event.
Chris made steady progress through the opening third of his round, collecting a birdie at the par-five third.
He dropped a shot at the seventh when he found the trees off the tee but got back on track with a 20-foot birdie putt at the eighth to turn in 34 (-1).
The Belvoir man added four pars at 10,11,12 and 13 before grabbing his third birdie of the day at the 14th from close range. He parred the 15th and collected another birdie at the 16th but slipped back following a three-putt bogey at the 17th.
He wrapped up his round in style, firing a five iron into eight feet at the last and rolling in the putt to finish one shot ahead of Gary Wardlow (Spa GC).
Eddie Dorman, a Dungannon 15 handicapper, took the amateurs’ top nett prize with 38 points while the gross award went to Balmoral’s Liam Jennings who carded 29 points.
Next outing for the professionals will be on the Valley Course at Royal Portrush, next Tuesday, when the second round in the Links’ Trophy will be played.

Ping PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance Tournament at Whitehead – leaderboard

Professionals: 67 (-3) – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
68 – G Wardlow (Spa).
71 – V Teague (Loughgall), P Farrell (Laganview DR).
72 – B McElhinney (North West).
74 – G Graham (Groomsport DR).
Amateurs: Nett, 39 pts – E Dorman 15 (Dungannon).
Gross: 29 pts – L Jennings 3 (Balmoral).
Category 1 (8&Under): 38 pts – W Havelon 6 (Greencastle).
Category 2 (9-13): 36 pts – N Gallagher 11 (Hilton Templepatrick)
Category 3 (14 & Over): 37 pts – A Beattie 14 (Mourne).
Team: 90 pts – Pro V Teague (Loughgall) with P Girvan 9 (Killymoon), E Dorman 15 (Dungannon) & D Duffin 16 (Dungannon).

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Mooney finishes in style to claim Clandeboye UGA victory

November 2, 2017

Damien Mooney

Damian Mooney battled a balky putter on his way to success at the PGA Ulster Golfers’ Alliance event at Clandeboye.
Mooney’s ability to shake off mistakes was very evident on a day when he three-putted four times as he posted 37 points to finish one point ahead of Blackwood’s Stuart Bleakley.
The winner three-putted the first and third holes for bogey fives before he steadied the ship at the sixth with a drive and five iron to set up a birdie four.
Unfortunately, the putting woes crept back in at the ninth with another three-putt as he turned in 16pts.
A steady par followed at the 10th but after a further three-putt bogey on the 11th, Damian responded with an inspired run of golf that saw him play the closing seven holes in four under par.
He chipped and putted for birdie four on 12 and added a birdie three at the next after a sand-wedge approach to a foot. The par five 15th presented another opportunity and he reduced that to four blows with a drive, three-wood, a chip and putt, to pencil in a further birdie.
Now back to level par, Mooney polished off his round with a par-birdie-par finish, again steering a sand-wedge to one foot for birdie three on 17 as he came home with 21 points.
Donaghadee’s Craig Lyle, and amateur partners A Verner (Portstewart), J Ross (Donaghadee) and D Cooke (Donaghadee) claimed the team award.
The nett prize for amateurs was collected by Blackwood’s Jim Connelly who posted 38 pts.
The gross prize went to Clandeboys 4 handicapper Ian Smyth who carded 33 pts.

Ulster Golfers’ Alliance at Clandeboye – Pro Leaderboard

Relieved Caldwell earns 2018 Challenge Tour spot

October 26, 2017

The highlight of Jonny Caldwell’s PGA Europro Tour season was winning the Cobra Puma Golf Championship at Machynys Peninsula Golf Club

Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell will be playing on the Challenge Tour next season after claiming the fifth and final card on offer via the PGA Europro Tour Order of Merit.
The 33-year-old finished 15th in the last event of the season, the PGA EuroPro Tour Sky Sports Tour Championship at Amendoeria Golf Resort in Portugal.
“I am absolutely delighted after just missing out last year by slipping out of the top five at the Tour Championship,” said Caldwell who represented GB&I alongside Rory McIlroy at the Walker Cup in 2007 at Royal County Down.
“I’m delighted to get the job just about done. I tried to focus on my golf because there were so many guys in contention, all I could do was focus on myself. The support for me has been fantastic, I’ve had a solid year and I feel I’m ready to take it a step further onto the Challenge Tour.”
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy finished fifth in Portugal which was good enough for eighth place on the Order of Merit. Niall Kearney ended the tournament in a tie for third, finishing the season 11th in the rankings.
The tournament was won by Englishman Adam Chapman who fired a final round 71 to win by three shots. The winning cheque of £22,540 saw Chapman jump from 54th in the rankings into third place and secured him a place in Challenge Tour next season.

Rookie pro Grant bags PGA in North of Ireland Championship at Spa GC

October 15, 2017

Heather Edgar (Lady Captain Spa GC), Nicky Grant (Blackwood GC) Winner, Phil Posnett (PGA) and Gary Wardlow (Spa GC)

Former Irish amateur international, Nicky Grant, made a winning start to his professional career at the PGA North of Ireland Championship, supported by Golf Now.
Grant, now a PGA trainee at Blackwood Golf Centre, carded rounds of 36 and 38 points at Spa Golf Club to edge out Belvoir Park’s Chris Carvill by a point.
The tournament adopted a mixed format this year. The opening round was held as a team pro-am with the professionals carrying their individual scores forward into the pro-only second round.
Chris opened the event with a fine 38pts (-2) in difficult conditions. Heavy overnight rain had left the Ballynahinch venue very soggy underfoot and it took some sterling work from the greens staff and volunteers to keep play moving.

It didn’t seem to hamper Chris who was the only player in the field to break par. A drive and four iron onto the edge of the first green set up an opening birdie four but he three-putted the par three second to drop a shot.
After a five wood off the tee, a chip and putt gave Carvill a birdie three at the fourth hole and he added another birdie at the seventh when he holed from seven feet. Out in two-under-34 he increased his advantage with birdies at 11 and 13 courtesy of two excellent wedge shots.
However, he finished badly, dropping a shot at the 17th when he flew the green and, after driving into trees, he closed with a bogey five at the last for a back nine of regulation 36 and a round of 70 (38 pts)
Grant ended day one in second place following a level par 36 points with Nathan Kernaghan (Massereene GC) and Ciaran Molloy (Mayobridge GC) tied for third on 35 points (73).
Clandeboye’s Mark McCrory took the men’s top award in the pro-am on 39 pts, two ahead of former Ulster rugby player Andy Ward and David McCullough, both local members.
The gross prize was won by Scottish visitor Frazer Carr (Crail Golf Society), who plays off a plus-three handicap and returned 37 points.
Spa member Attracta Byrne was best in the women’s nett section with 33 points while Massereene assistant pro, Nathan Kernaghan, and Spa members Stephen Loftus, Philip Canaghan and David McCardle won the team event with an impressive 90 points.

PGA professionals Michael Bannon and Peter Hanna hosted a clinic ahead of the action at Spa GC

Overhead conditions improved overnight and Grant was quickly out of the blocks in round two, drawing level with Carvill at the turn. He wedged to 15 feet for birdie three at the fourth hole and on the next green rolled home a tramline 50-footer for another birdie three. He followed that with a two-putt birdie four from eight feet on the seventh to be out in three-under-33 to Carvill’s one under 35.
Chris dropped shot at 10 to put Grant ahead for the first time but the Belvoir man then birdied 12 and matched Nicky’s birdie at 13 to get back on level terms. With five holes remaining it was Grant who took charge, rattling off solid pars at 14, 15, 16 and 17 while Chris dropped a shot 14 and then double-bogeyed the par three 17th to fall three points behind his rival.
It gave Grant the luxury of knowing that a bogey would be good enough for victory but he wobbled down the last carding a double bogey six, after firing a three iron approach into trees. It gave Chris the chance to force a play-off with a birdie but his putt from 20 feet stayed above ground much to the relief of the new champion.
Brian McElhinney (North West GC) finished in third with a combined total of 69 points with Ciaran Molloy (Mayobridge GC) fourth with 68 points.

PGA in the North of Ireland Championship Leaderboard

Chambers secures PGA Tankard victory at Castlerock

October 5, 2017

Gary Chambers (Centre) with his Killymoon team members Catherine Irwin and Patrick Brown

Killymoon professional Gary Chambers climbed the winner’s rostrum for the first time this season when he won the pro’s section of the PGA Tankard Ulster finals at Castlerock.
Chambers posted a one-under-par 72 to be one shot clear of joint second placed Neil Graham (Portstewart) and Ricky Whitford (Knock).
Gary started his round at the 10th with an opening birdie following a wedge to 15 feet and then birdied the par five 11th. He gave a shot back at the short 14, where he found a greenside bunker off the tee, and at the long 17th where he drove right into trouble, hacked out into a bunker and finally three-putted for six.
That gave Chambers an opening nine of regulation 37 before he covered the first nine holes is one-under 35.
Eight pars and a birdie four at the third hole, where he got down in two from 35 feet after a drive and eight iron to the green, was his steady run home.
The men’s amateur nett award went to Ivan Kerr (Dungannon) who carded 38 points off a 13 handicap, while the gross award was collected by Co. Armagh’s Shea Smyth.
Gwyneth Cordner, a Spa 20 handicapper, won the women’s nett prize on 36 points while Violet McBride (Belvoir Park) posted 27 points to win the gross section.
The team prize was taken by Royal Portrush players, assistant professional Thomas Minshall along with amateurs Patrick McCann (8) and female Terry Leitch (19). One score at each hole counts and the winners carded 45 points.

The PGA Tankard in the North of Ireland Leaderboard

With thanks to Tony McGee

McGeady finishes PGA season on a high with victory in Connemara

September 29, 2017


Michael McGeady closed out the PGA in Ireland competition season in style with victory in the Connemara Pro-Am.
The 39-year-old fired a six under par 66 at Connemara GC to win by two shots at the event which was cut from 36-18 holes because of bad weather.
Strong winds on day one forced PGA officials to abandon play midway through the afternoon, scrapping any scores already returned.
That was particularly harsh on Damien McGrane who had signed for a superb level par 72 in the morning wave to grab the early lead.
“I really struggled in the conditions on day one, it was some of the worst weather I have ever tried to play in,” said Michael.
“It was very unfortunate for Damien [McGrane]. His level par round was an incredible effort, he must have played some golf.
“That’s the luck of the draw. Conditions were perfect on day two. We had a wee bit of wind at the start of the round but it dropped away as we turned to come home.”
Starting his round at the 10th, Michael played his opening nine holes in three under par 34 with a bogey at the 11th cancelled out by birdies at the 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th.
Turning for home he added three further birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh to top the leaderboard on six under.
“It was a solid round of golf and while it could have been a few better, I also had to hole a few par putts to keep things going,” he added.

“I think the key was that I drove the ball very well and I played a lot from the fairway.”

Victory in Connemara was Michael’s seventh win of the season and fourth since August.
“I had PGA exams to deal with earlier in the season and I think I was probably concentrating more on those than my golf. I wasn’t focused on golf, I wasn’t hitting balls and I was trying to do a bit of coaching as well,” he said.
“For the last three months, with my exams out of the way, I was able to focus on my schedule, maybe play a practice round if I could fit it in and it freed things up. I was able to enjoy it and I felt really good about things over the last couple of months.”
Damien McGrane, Mark O’Mahony (Titleist Fitting Centre) and Cian McNamara (Monkstown GC) finished tied for second on four under par. Cian and amateur partners Martin Walsh, Jamie O’Mahony and Eddie O’Sullivan won the team prize.

Connemara GC Pro-Am leaderboard