Posts Tagged ‘Portstewart GC’

DDF Irish Open champion Jon Rahm eyes up major breakthrough at Birkdale

July 11, 2017

Jon Rahm celebrates DDF Irish Open success

Jon Rahm won the DDF Irish Open at a canter on Sunday.
Honestly, rules controversies aside, it was men against boys stuff at Portstewart.
“I’ve never played my best golf. To actually play my best golf that I can remember till this day and shoot 24-under on this golf course and win it by six, man, that is not something I would have believed I was capable of,” said Rahm
“I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of, and it’s a really, really special day.”
The new world number eight is still just 22-years-old. That’s the same age as Gavin Moynihan, who played out of his skin on Sunday, compiling a final round 64 to finish tied for 14th and earn the biggest pay cheque of his career.
In comparison, Rahm is already at the stage when he doesn’t need to worry about money. He has already topped the €2.5m euro mark on the European Tour alone. It’s major titles he wants now.
“I said at the beginning of the week, even before the tournament started, that I haven’t played — again, I haven’t played my best golf on links golf courses,” he added.
“There was always something else. And to play the way I did here, it proves to me I can perform properly on a links golf course.
“And that’s what I’ve got to take to The Open. I know now that I have what it takes. Before that, there was a little bit of doubt in my mind but now I know that I have what it takes to win a tournament on a links golf course.
“The Open Championship, it’s a little different deal just because a major championship will be set up probably harder than this week was. But nevertheless, I know I can read the putts right, and I know I can interpret the wind and I can hit the shots and I can manage myself around the golf course properly enough to have a chance to win The Open.
“Will that happen? I don’t know. But I’m going to try to enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed this week.”

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

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.

 

Harrington – “I’m different, I’m special. I’m very special.”

April 30, 2017

Padraig Harrington


Padraig Harrington leans back in his chair. He has spent 15 minutes discussing Tiger Woods and whether he will ever return to anything like his best after his latest back surgery.

While refusing to rule out the prospect of Woods winning again, he concedes that any player reaching his 40s and with a 20-year career under his belt will find it hard to remain ‘mentally focused’.
And then one of the assembled scribes pipes up; “What about you, what’s your motivation?”
“I’m different. I’m special. I’m very special,” claims the 45-year-old with a smile who just happens to be recovering from neck surgery.
“I actually believe I’m in a great place, I do. I think I’m aware of the difficulties with that but you know, I always want to be out there on my own and try and do things different and being different. That’s what’s gotten me where I am.”

You can’t argue with that fact. Harrington has always walked his own path and he is genuinely convinced that he can be a factor in future majors even if that totally contradicts the argument he’s just outlined.
He added; “Yeah, I’m aware of the difficulty of staying motivated. This is my 20th year, and to be honest right now, you would have said that I followed the path exactly that I just described of all the other players.
“I started off, built myself up, won my big tournaments, played okay and then tailed off and have won a couple of events at the end of my 20 years like everybody else. And that’s why I kind of think Tiger is going to have a couple of wins.
“Golf is great. It always throws a win out. It always gives you something later on. It would be very easy to say with me winning the Honda (2015) and me winning in Portugal (2016) was that, here you go, here’s one at the end of your career, thanks very much.

“But I believe I’m different and I have to believe. Even if I’m not, I have to believe I’m different. I have to convince myself that there’s more in me and I really do feel very strongly about where my own game is at.”

A trapped nerve in his neck forced Harrington into surgery back in March and with his recovery going well, he is targeting a return to action in time for the Irish Open at Portstewart and the Open Championship at Birkdale, scene of his 2008 success.
“I’ve got another five weeks before I play. It’s about getting the right preparation, the right type of practice done,” added Padraig.
“I think my first event is going to be Wentworth [BMW PGA Championship] in five weeks’ time. There’s no doubt that all my practice when I do get going, will be more thinking about The Open Championship, plus obviously, the Irish Open is two weeks before that.”
And he continued, “Believe it or not I have never played Portstewart. Strangely enough, as an amateur, I never got there. For whatever reason, I missed out.
“I know the course at Portstewart is great, everyone has told me about it and the venue is fantastic, everyone will be into it, there will be a buzz about it and that really adds to a golf tournament when there is more to do around the event.
“We play a lot of events and we can be in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the sticks and no-one knows that a golf tournament is on. That won’t be the case up north. Everyone will be into it, there will be an excitement and a buzz which really helps the players.”
Padraig was speaking at an event hosted by the R&A at Dun Laoghaire GC

Olympic champion Justin Rose set for Irish Open

April 25, 2017


Olympic Champion Justin Rose has added his name to the list of world-class stars lining up to play in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at Portstewart Golf Club from July 6-9.
The Englishman will be playing in Northern Ireland for the first time in his professional career. His last Irish Open appearance was back in 2010 at Killarney when Ross Fisher claimed the title.
The 36-year-old finished tied for 44th in Co Kerry but has since become a Major Champion – winning the 2013 US Open – as well as securing Olympic Gold at the Rio 2016 Games.
The nine-time European Tour winner came agonisingly close to a second Major title at the recent Masters Tournament, losing out to Sergio Garcia in a play-off at Augusta National.

That impressive performance came on the back of a solid opening five months of the season that included a second place finish at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Tickets to watch Rose attempt to dethrone the reigning champion and home hero Rory McIlroy can be purchased at http://www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com
“I haven’t played the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for a while so I’m excited about going back,” said Rose, currently ranked eighth in the world.
“With Rory’s involvement the last couple of years the event has gone from strength to strength and being part of the Rolex Series will give it an even bigger boost.
“Irish fans are always a lot of fun to play in front of, it’s always good ‘craic’ out there! We’ll all enjoy the tournament and it’s obviously great preparation for The Open Championship too.
“I think it’s very good to get some links golf under your belt before The Open. Playing the Scottish Open the week before is a great idea and also playing two weeks before is great because you can have a week before to fine tune.

“The fact that we have these options running into The Open is fantastic and they are top quality events which will hopefully attract not just the top European players, but maybe some players from across the pond in the USA as well.”

Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at http://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.
Official Hospitality packages are also available on the ticketing page, or alternatively contact the European Tour’s dedicated Hospitality Sales Team, who will be happy to answer any queries and discuss the various hospitality options, on enquiries@europeantourhospitality.com or +44 (0) 1344 840681.

The clock is ticking, don’t miss out, grab your tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

March 28, 2017

The countdown has officially begun and with only 100 days left until the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, hosted by the Rory Foundation tees off at Portstewart, Tourism NI is urging fans to book their tickets and accommodation now to avoid disappointment later.
With confirmation that former winners Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry will be lining up alongside Rory McIlroy at this year’s tournament, Tourism NI Director of Events and Business Support Aine Kearney is urging fans to book their tickets now before it’s too late.
Aine said, “Following the success of the Irish Open in 2012 (Royal Portrush) and 2015 (Royal Co Down) with the support of the European Tour and the Rory Foundation we are gearing up for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2017 to be the biggest and best Irish Open yet. Tens of thousands of tickets have already been sold, with only 100 days to go to the tournament and with big names still to be announced we are confident this event will sell out.

“The potential of golf tourism is huge with the average golf visitor spending over £1700 per trip. Tourism NI wants to grow total revenue from golf tourism from £32 million to £50 million by 2020 and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is the perfect opportunity to showcase our world class golf courses to golfing audiences around the world.”

Aine Kearney, Tourism NI Director of Business Support and Events and Simon Alliss, Irish Open Championship Director, put in some practice at Portstewart Golf Club

Expectations are high that upwards of 100,000 spectators will attend the tournament at Portstewart Golf Club from the 6th to the 9th July.
Simon Alliss, the European Tour’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Championship Director, said: “The countdown is really now on for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in July and there are a host of exciting announcements to be made in the coming weeks and months.
“So we would urge golf fans across the island of Ireland to get booking as we have already had two sell-out Irish Opens on Northern Irish soil and we expect this one to be no different.
“A percentage of all ticket sales go to the Rory Foundation to help make children’s lives better, so all those purchasing tickets will also be contributing to a great cause.”
The Rory Foundation today announced that Sport Changes Life will be the primary beneficiary of this year’s tournament.
Sport Changes Life work in disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland to help young people find a path to a brighter future with the help of international student-athletes, the Victory Scholars.
The money raised by the Rory Foundation for Sport Changes Life will go towards their eHoops programme. eHoops is a 24 week programme designed for teenagers aged between 14 and 19 years of age.
The programme is created to mentor young people through difficult times in their lives and address social issues of concern with the aim to help the young people with their education, job search, health and mental well-being through the aid of the Victory Scholars.
Sport Changes Life are currently aiming to establish the programme in Coleraine, Ballymena, Portrush, Londonderry and Belfast.
Other charities in the region who will also benefit, will be announced over the coming months.

For more information please visit https://www.discovernorthernireland.com/irish-open-2017/
To buy tickets to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation please visithttp://dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com/

Ambitious plans revealed to resurrect the Ladies Irish Open on Belfast stage

February 22, 2017
Hugh Morrow with Stephanie Meadow (centre) and Betty Morrow (right)

Hugh Morrow with Stephanie Meadow (centre) and Betty Morrow (right)

Plans are at an advanced stage to resurrect the Ladies Irish Open and bring it to Belfast possibly as early as next year.
Belfast born Hugh Morrow, chief executive of Canadian sports marketing firm, Sports Properties International, has revealed an ambitious strategy to relaunch the dormant Ladies European Tour (LET) event.
“I have always had this sense that bringing an event to Northern Ireland would be very special to me personally,” said the 68-year-old who was schooled at Sullivan Lower before emigrating with his family to Canada in 1957.
“The Ladies Irish Open hasn’t been played since 2012. The idea of bringing it back really jumped out and bit me in the backside. This was something we should do.”
Morrow’s company has been the driving force behind the successful Canadian LPGA tournament, the Maulife Classic and he is determined that this new incarnation of the Ladies Irish Open will, “plant a flag and be there for a minimum of five years.”
He continued, “Over the last eight to 10 months I have been searching around, visiting golf courses, meeting with politicians, talking to Tourism NI, Invest NI, Tourism Ireland and Belfast City Council to really establish a platform so we can bring this event back to life.
“We are getting very close. The fact that there is currently no NI government has thrown a bit of a wrench into things but we understand that come March 2 a government will hopefully be reformed and we will begin to move forward again.

“We hope to stage the event in July next year. We have talked to the LET at length and they are very supportive about what we are trying to accomplish.

“We are trying to build a UK swing for the LET that involves the Irish, Scottish and the Ladies British Open all taking place within three weeks of each other. It would make it a unique stop on the LET.”

Catriona Matthew

Catriona Matthew

The Ladies Irish Open has had a fitful existence and was last staged in 2012 at Killeen Castle (Co Meath). Northern Ireland actually hosted the very first Ladies Irish Open in 1983 at Portstewart GC and the following year at Clandeboye GC, an event that was co-sanctioned by the LPGA. However, without further funding and lacking a major sponsor, the tournament was mothballed following Catriona Matthew’s victory in 2012.
Morrow continued; “We are looking for a title sponsor, someone that has the financial strength and the desire to bring back the Ladies Irish Open and get involved in women’s golf across Ireland.
“The funds that we may receive from the likes of Tourism NI are great and we are hoping they will support the event but in the long run we need someone to stand up and and say ‘yes’.
“We believe that the right investment can bring women’s golf to the forefront in Ireland.
“We are working with a Belfast firm to identify some potential sponsors and hopefully, in the next few months I will be coming over to meet with them to discuss the opportunities and the benefits of being involved with the LET and golf in general.”
The Ladies European Tour is clearly supportive of Morrow’s efforts with CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh stating; “Women’s professional golf offers a time proven way for brands to engage with their customers and the Ladies Irish Open presents a unique opportunity to bring people together through the power of sport.
“A Ladies European Tour event offers a shared experience that engages, entertains and inspires people of all ages and athletic abilities. Women’s golf in Ireland has a rich sporting history – and a promising future – and we could not be more excited about the opportunity to re-launch this event.”

Lough Erne misses out on Irish Open amid claims Euro Tour is now pursuing ‘links strategy’

April 12, 2016
The 10th at Lough Erne

The 10th at Lough Erne

There is a great sense of frustration in the statement released by the owners of the Lough Erne Resort following the European Tour’s announcement that the Co Fermanagh venue would not be hosting the Irish Open in 2017.
Tourism NI officials were informed at the weekend of the European Tour’s decision and Monday’s official confirmation only served to rubber-stamp what was already a widely held belief.

Read this report from earlier in the year.
http://www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/golf-news/lough-erne-resort-insist-plans-are-in-place-to-host-irish-open-2017-1-7189096

EUROPEAN TOUR STATEMENT
The European Tour can today confirm that the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation will not take place at the Lough Erne Resort.
European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley said: “During a recent visit to the Lough Erne Resort, I was delighted to meet with the owners and to learn more about their significant investment plans for the golf course and hotel. It is a beautiful facility with an outstanding championship golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo.
While the 2017 Irish Open will not be staged at Lough Erne, the European Tour looks forward to working with the new ownership consortium, and I am confident that the Lough Erne Resort will host an event with the European Tour in the future.
“Details of the 2017 venue will be announced in due course, but in the meantime we are solely focused on ensuring that the 2016 tournament, which will be staged at The K Club in County Kildare in six weeks’ time, is a great success.”

It looks like there is a promise of an event of some type in the future but that will be of little consolation for everyone at Lough Erne and in Fermanagh as a whole.
The Irish Open is big business and usually provides a major boost to the local economy. It appears that Portstewart GC will reap the rewards, particularly as according to the Lough Erne statement the European Tour is now pursuing a ‘traditional links course strategy’.

LOUGH ERNE RESORT STATEMENT
“We are extremely disappointed that the European Tour has announced a change in its decision to hold the 2017 Irish Open Championship at Lough Erne Resort. From the day we acquired the Resort, we have been excited and committed to hosting the event, and we have never waivered from that commitment.
We have in fact continued to make additional investments in the course and the Resort facilities, both of which are in superior condition to when the 2014 announcement was made.
But, over the last several months, senior tour officials began telling us that European Tour management was considering a ‘traditional links course strategy’ for future Irish Opens, and because of that new strategy there had been indications that the 2017 date at Lough Erne might be in jeopardy.
From the beginning of those conversations, we have remained steadfast in our position not to accept this change from the Tour, and we have spent the last few months trying to work with Tour officials at the highest level to persuade them to keep their commitment to Lough Erne Resort and the region.
However, despite our willingness to work with the Tour in every way to convince them to maintain their commitment, they have made the decision to change the venue to a traditional links course in 2017 and at this point we have no choice but to accept it. We are disappointed not only for the Resort, but also for our staff and the good people of County Fermanagh.
We have to accept the decision that the Tour has made, with its strategic commitment to links golf in the Irish Open for the near future, and we do welcome the decision to keep the Open in Northern Ireland next year.
If and when that strategy changes, Lough Erne Resort looks forward to being first in line to host the next Irish Open that is not on a links course.
We would like to thank all of those that worked so hard on initially obtaining this event for Lough Erne Resort. We would especially like to thank officials of the Northern Ireland Government for their unwavering support for Lough Erne Resort and for doing everything possible to avoid this outcome.
While we are clearly disappointed with the European Tour’s decision, the Resort’s ownership group remains committed to working with Tour officials towards bringing a future Irish Open or an equivalent event to Lough Erne Resort.”

A ‘links strategy’ has long been mooted for the Irish Open but to my mind, this is the first time it has been referred to as tour policy. It will be interesting to see if Tour officially confirm that they only want to take the Irish Open to links venues in the future. If that’s the case, the likes of Mount Juliet and the soon to be refurbished Adare Manor Resort might be reconsidering their own ambitions.
On a more positive note the Lough Erne statement reveals that the Irish Open will return to Northern Ireland in 2017 although, once again, that has clearly not been confirmed by the European Tour.
If the Tour is following a links strategy, then by a process of elimination, Portstewart will be the host venue given that Royal Portrush is currently being redeveloped for The Open and Royal County Down is highly unlikely to take it back so soon after the staging in 2015.
None of this will be going down well amongst the corridors of power at the NI Executive who made a significant commitment to the European Tour in 2014 when the Lough Erne announcement was first made.
If the tour is working on a links course strategy then it flies in the face of the government’s strategic plans to grow the value of the golf tourism business in Northern Ireland. Could that jeopardise any further financial and logistical investment from the Stormont Executive in the Irish Open??
For background on the NI Golf tourism strategy read – The Irish Open, Lough Erne and the government’s £50million tourism strategy

A spokesperson for Tourism NI said; “Together with the NI Executive, Tourism NI has been working towards staging the tournament at Lough Erne Resort, as announced by the European Tour in April 2014.
“We are therefore extremely disappointed at today’s decision by the European Tour not to stage the Irish Open at Lough Erne in 2017, which was formally communicated to us over the weekend.
“We have requested an urgent meeting with the European Tour to discuss options open to the Executive following the announcement, and where this decision leaves plans for the return of the Irish Open to Northern Ireland which is a matter of contractual agreement.
“We welcome the European Tour’s commitment to Lough Erne in the future and expect these plans to be forthcoming as a matter of urgency.”

Murray finishes Ulster Golfers’ Alliance season with victory at Portstewart

April 3, 2015

Powerade PGA Assistants' Championship - Irish Regional Qualifier
The Ulster Golfers’ Alliance wrapped up their season at Portstewart with Noel Murray making light of wet and windy conditions to win the final outing in The Ping Race to the Strand.
Murray carded a blemish-free five-under-par 67 to be three strokes clear of tour player Simon Thornton (Team Ireland), with Damian Mooney (Ballyliffin) and Barrie Trainor (Cairndhu) sharing third place a further shot back in joint third position.
Murray was in sparkling form as he raced to the turn with a hat-trick of birdie threes for an outward run of three-under-33. At the second he holed from 10 feet and then, after five straight pars, made back-to-back birdies at eight and nine.
He maintained his charge around the turn and added another birdie at the par five 13th courtesy of a two-putt and then finished his round in style at 18, pitching to 12 feet and rolling in the putt for his fifth birdie of the day.
There was a tie at the top of the amateurs’ nett leader board as Scrabo’s David Graham (6) and Balmoral’s Niall McCallin (9) both posted 38 points.
Graham took first place with 19 points coming home to McCallin’s 17. The gross winner was Galgorm Castle member Michael Alexander (5) who carded 31 points.
The winning team was led in by local pro Neil Graham who had Portstewart amateurs Marty Hughes (5), Stephen Henry (10) and Joe Lyons (18) as his partners. The home team won on 87 points.
With the winter action now completed the players will move on to the Ping Summer Masters Series with the first tournament in that scheduled for Lurgan on April 23.

PING PGA Ulster Alliance Race to the Strand final at Portstewart
Professionals: 67 (-5) – N Murray (Massereene).
70 – S Thornton (Team Ireland).
71 – D Mooney (Ballyliffin), B Trainor (Cairndhu).
72 – R Whitford (Knock).
73 – G Wardlow (American Golf).
Amateurs: Nett, 38 pts – D Graham, senior 6 (Scrabo) … 19 back.
38 – N McCallin 9 (Balmoral) … 17 back.
37 – R Hanna, junior 6 (Lurgan).
Gross, 31 pts – M Alexander 5 (Galgorm Castle).
Team: 87 pts – Pro N Graham with amateurs M Hughes 11, S Henry 10 & J Lyons 18 (all Portstewart).
Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Mooney collects Conor Mallon Memorial Trophy at Lough Erne

March 25, 2015
Ballyliffin's Damian Mooney (left) being presented with the Connor Mallon Trophy by Seamus Mallon after winning the Desmond Motors PGA Grand Prix Order of Merit.

Ballyliffin’s Damian Mooney (left) being presented with the Connor Mallon Trophy by Seamus Mallon after winning the Desmond Motors PGA Grand Prix Order of Merit.

It was an emotional Damian Mooney who received the Conor Mallon Memorial Trophy from Seamus Mallon, father of the late Narin & Portnoo club pro, after the final round of the Desmond Motors Grand Prix Tournament at Lough Erne Resort.
Mooney didn’t win the last outing in the competition but, in sharing third place with Castle Hume’s Shaun Donnelly, the Ballyliffin golfer gained enough points to top the Order of Merit with a bit to spare.
Noel Murray (Massereene) and former Castle Hume assistant, Andy Peoples (Darren Clarke Golf School), topped the leaderboard on one-over-par 73, one stroke ahead of Mooney and Donnelly.
Murray stared badly by driving into water at the first which cost him a double bogey six but he fought back with birdies at the fourth and the seventh, after driving the green.
A three-putt on nine saw him to the turn in one-over-par 38 before he came home in regulation 35 with a bogey at the 10th cancelled out by a birdie two, from five feet, at 13.
Peoples also dropped a shot at the first hole but went 4-2-3 for birdies at the fourth, fifth and seventh before closing his front nine with a bogey to turn in one under 36. Seven pars and two bogeys at 10 and 16 saw him come home in two over 37.
Shandon Park one-handicapper Stuart Bleakley matched the winning pros’ 73 to win the amateurs’ gross prize while Castle Hume manager Pat Duffy took the nett award on 32 points, playing off five. Castle Hume pro Shaun Donnelly and Concra Wood five-handicapper Sylvester Quinn won the team prize with 41 points.
The final round in the Race to the Strand will be played at Portstewart next Monday. With the 13 qualifying events having been completed, the line-up for the final has been announced with Cairndhu professional Barrie Trainor heading the list from the points table.
The top 13 players in the points’ list go through to the shootout and they are joined by the top seven, who haven’t qualified via the points’ table, from the money list.
The points’ qualifiers are: Barrie Trainor (Cairndhu); David Hughes (Massereene); Noel Murray (Massereene); Phil Farrell (Laganview DR); Gary Wardlow (QUB); Vivian Teague (Loughgall); Wes Ramsey (Knockbracken GA); Shaun Donnelly (Castle Hume); Peter Hanna (Lurgan); Peter McCarroll (Allen Park); David Graham (Scrabo); Ken Revie (Ballymena); Will Carey (Shandon Park).
Those through from the money list are: Peter Martin (Colin Park GA); Damian Mooney (Ballyliffin); Paul Vaughan (Ardglass); Damien McEvoy (Ballycastle); Simon Thornton (RCD); Ricky Whitford (Knock); Stephen Hamill (Lisburn).

Desmond Motors Conor Mallon Trophy Grand Prix final at Lough Erne Resort
Professionals: 73 (+1) – N Murray (Massereene), A Peoples (Darren Clarke School).
74 – S Donnelly (Castle Hume), D Mooney (Ballyliffin).
75 – D Leathem (Nevada Bob).
76 – M Jones (Lough Erne Resort).
Amateurs: Gross, 73 (+1) – S Bleakley 1 (Shandon Pk).
76 – S Quinn 5 (Concra Wood).
76 – P Posnett 3 (St Patrick’s).
Nett, 32 pts – P Duffy 5 (Castle Hume) first on last six holes from R Gallagher 5 (Castle Hume).
Team: 41 pts – Pro S Donnelly (Castle Hume) & Amateur S Quinn 5 (Concra Wood).
Order of Merit final Standing
85 pts – D Mooney (Ballyliffin).
71 – B Trainor (Cairndhu).
68 – N Murray (Massereene).
62 – S Donnelly (Castle Hume).
Info courtesy of Tony McGee