Posts Tagged ‘rory mcilroy’

GolfNow tees up Junior NI Open at Galgorm Castle for budding golfers

August 6, 2018

Faith, Theo and Noah gearing up for the GolfNow Junior NI Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club

GolfNow has renewed their sponsorship of the NI Open for the fourth year in a row and will once again stage an interactive, family event to inspire young people to take up golf.
In conjunction with the NI Open, GolfNow will host the Junior NI Open to run alongside the main tournament at the Interactive Zone, where children aged 4-7 and 8-11 can take part in the boys and girls competition.
Families stand to win a brand new set of junior TaylorMade clubs for their children and tickets to next year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Alongside this great prize, NI Open hosts Galgorm Castle will provide a junior membership to each lucky winner, while the NI Open’s presenting sponsor, Modest! Golf Management, will also be supporting the Junior NI Open with Modest! Golf prizes.

Andrew Hollywood, Marketing Director at GolfNow, said: “We are committed to growing the game of golf and have developed a fantastic junior tournament in line with the main event.
“The NI Open has a fun interactive zone at the tournament every year and this is the second year that GolfNow will host the Junior NI Open there. This fun competition is open all youngsters, regardless of experience and is free to enter.
“Last year the standard of golf from the young players taking part was outstanding. I have no doubt we will see some great golf from these budding Rory McIlroy’s and Olivia Mehaffey’s again this year.”
Ross Oliver, NI Open Event Manager, commented: “We are delighted to have GolfNow’s continued support for the NI Open. The Junior NI Open by GolfNow is a fantastic addition to the event and augments the message that the NI Open is truly a golf tournament for all the family.”
To take part in the Junior NI Open, simply pop along to the Interactive Zone during the NI Open, enjoy a free lesson from PGA Professionals, pick up your competition card from the GolfNow team and hit the pitch and putt course. The competition will run on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of tournament week (August 16-19) with the winners announced on the final day.
Entry to the NI Open is FREE, simply register for your free tickets online at http://www.niopen.golf or download the NI Open app.

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Russell Knox dreaming of Ryder Cup spot after brilliant Irish Open win at Ballyliffin

July 9, 2018

Russell Knox of Scotland celebrates with the trophy following his victory on the 18th green during a playoff at the end of the final round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin Golf Club on July 8, 2018 in Donegal, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Russell Knox is dreaming of a debut Ryder Cup appearance after edging out Ryan Fox in a playoff to win the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation at Ballyliffin.
Scottish born Knox drained two huge 40-foot putts on the 18th green, the second on the opening play-off hole to hold off Fox and secure his first European Tour win since the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2015.
Back in 2016, the 33-year-old, who is based in Florida, missed out on a wildcard pick with then captain, Darren Clarke, opting for Lee Westwood, Thomas Pieters and Martin Kaymer.
This time around he’s determined to take the decision out of the hands of current captain, Thomas Bjorn, and qualify for the team as of right.
“It was obviously disappointing not to make the team being so close, but that’s gone now. That’s in the past,” said Knox.
“I mean, my job is to focus on trying to qualify for the team this year. Like I say, of course, it’s disappointing, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbled for me.
“I’ve got to head down, and just play my best, and if I’m one of those top-12 guys come the end of qualification, then I would love to be there.”

Knox finished joint second at the recent French Open and took another huge step towards playing on the team in France with this win on the Inishowen Peninsula in front of 27,000 fans.
“I mean, I wasn’t in a great spot, I guess, before last week when it came to World Ranking, Ryder Cup points, FedExCup, Race to Dubai, all of that stuff,” he said.
“To play well last week in France was big. I mean, on a tough golf course, obviously, Ryder Cup venue, helped, too. To play well there, my confidence was snowballing. I had been playing well for a couple months now but just was lacking that big finish.
“Last week it was nice to play really good on Sunday and be up there. I never really thought I was going to win it, which obviously I didn’t, but this week, starting out, Sunday here, I knew I had a chance. I was playing well the first few holes. I made great swings and I was like, I’ve got a chance today.

“But going forward, Ryder Cup-wise, still a long way away. To make that team, obviously, you have to win tournaments. Great start, obviously, this week. Last week, as well. But I mean, I fully expect — this is not good enough. I need to hammer down and I’m going to have to make that team in order to go to France.”

The next stop in his Ryder quest is a homecoming at the Scottish Open this week followed by The Open Championship at Carnoustie.
“I haven’t played there too much, to be honest. Years ago, I think I played a Scottish Amateur, Scottish Boys or something like that. So I probably only played it maybe two or three times. Honestly, I’ve watched it on TV many times, so I know it’s a beast,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s great to play an Open that’s being held in Scotland. Obviously, that’s a huge goal for Scottish players to play in their own country. But it’s obviously one of the best courses in the world, and to hold an Open, and me to be playing, I’m very happy. Might as well go try and win there.”

Ryan Fox

Kiwi Fox will also be playing in Carnoustie after collecting one of the three places on offer to the non-exempt players who finished in the top ten at Ballyliffin, the other two going to Andy Sullivan and Zander Lombard.
It was some modicum of consolation for the 31-year-old.
“I hit two great putts on 18 and one grazed the edge and one came back at me. Look, I’m happy. I hit the shots I wanted to down the stretch. Felt comfortable out there, and you know, it was close,” said Ryan.

“It’s a bloody nice consolation to get into The Open Championship. I’m excited and slightly nervous because Carnoustie is a bit of a beast. But I played the U.S. Open [at Shinnecock Hills] and hopefully, nothing can be as hard as that.

“I’ve played well around Carnoustie when I’ve played there before. Hopefully, I will have a few days to figure it out and see if I can play well at The Open.”
The Open Championship will also mark the next start for Rory McIlroy who brought the curtain down on four years as tournament host with a final round 71 (-1) that offered some hope of a positive future after a frustrating week on the greens.
“It was just an alignment issue and felt better today and felt like I could see the lines and I was starting the ball on a better line. I held some putts, which was good to see. If I putt for four days at Carnoustie like I did today, I’d be happy. “

It’s tough at the top as Harrington bows out of Irish Open

July 7, 2018

Erik Van Rooyen of South Africa

Maybe the bookies had it right all along in pricing Padraig Harrington long at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open?
The three-time major champion followed up an opening round 68 with a dispiriting 78 that saw him miss the cut at Ballyliffin GC.
Pre-tournament, Padraig had questioned his odds but the Pat Ruddy designed links in Co Donegal bit back in the sun yesterday.
Out in three over par 38, the 46-year-old lost a ball at the 13th resulting in a double bogey seven and then proceeded to drop another shot at the par three 14th.
He rallied with back to back birdies at the 16th and 17th but he hit a bad drive on the 18th, failed with an ambitious second and then three-putted after finding the green with his third.
“Early on I hit a couple of bad shots and with the three putts, you’re starting to struggle,” said Harrington.
“I had a feeling I could get back into it on the back nine, and obviously I had a few opportunities to make birdie.
“Losing the ball on 13, you know, you’re standing on the tee thinking that maybe you can get to three under par and you’re four shots behind the leader. All of a sudden, you’re struggling around the cut line. It’s obviously disappointing.”
Harrington wasn’t the only player with putting issues. For the second day in succession, Rory McIlroy struggled to get the ball in the hole and compounded matters by dropping shots at the 17th and 18th.
A second round 73 (+1) added to his opening round 70 left the tournament host on one under par and eight shots off the lead held by Kiwi Ryan Fox, France’s Matthieu Pavon and South African Eric Van Rooyen.
“I kept saying all week, it is a matter of putting your ball in play off the tee and if you can do that, you can score and you have control of your golf ball from the fairway,” said Rory.

“When you don’t hit fairways, it’s tough to hit the greens. It’s tough to get it anywhere close to the holes.

“Those last two bogeys were bad tee shots and I was out of position from there. The rest of the round was okay. I felt like I drove the ball well for the most part, hit my irons pretty good. I missed a couple of shots on the wrong side which cost me but yeah, it’s just another one of those days where I couldn’t quite get it going.
“I didn’t hole anything, really, again. Holed a nice one for birdie on six but that was really it. I finished out okay. I’m going to have to hit it closer and hole a few over the weekend if I want to have a chance.
“I’m glad I’m around for the weekend. It’s a tournament I’ve always wanted to play well at. It’s not nice missing, especially as tournament host. At least I get to play another couple of days and hopefully play my way up the leaderboard.”
In the past, Rory has shown a remarkable ability to fire low rounds at the weekend. Back in March, he carded rounds of 67/64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitation. It seems unlikely that those types of scores are available this week in Co. Donegal.
The Glashedy Links is baked out by days of hot sun and all the competitors have struggled to get the ball close to the hole a fact that wasn’t lost on Graeme McDowell. The 2010 US Open champ dug in to card a one over par 73 that saw him make the cut on level par.

“I certainly got this golf course wrong,” said Graeme.
“I was scratching my head why no one has shot a low score. It doesn’t get any easier from a links golf point of view, the conditions we had today especially.
“It speaks volumes about how tricky this golf course is. I underestimated it from a trickiness point of view. It is very hard to get the ball in play off the tee.
“There is a lot of threading off the tee because the bunkers are in play and greens, it’s tough to get close to and hole putts.
“The greens are perfect and yet no one can seem to make a putt out there. The greens are tough to read. It’s a really good test of golf and like I say, I slightly underestimated it.”
The cut fell at one over par with 76 players making it through to the weekend. Amongst the star names to miss out were Ryder Cup players Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Rory’s mind games ahead of Ballyliffin test

July 5, 2018


Rory McIlroy is focusing on an improved mental approach and a more free-wheeling attitude to the game as he searches for the keys to further success.
“I think people don’t understand how mental the game is, and I feel if my mental approach to the game can just be better, I think that could make the world of difference,” said the 29-year-old, world number eight.
“Maybe I can become a little more consistent in some areas but it’s not as if I lack the ability to play certain shots. I feel like I’ve got every shot that I will ever need.
“It’s just about maybe doing it on a more consistent basis, but I feel the way to be able to do that on a more consistent basis is to be able to put yourself in a frame of mind where it allows to you do that. So that’s sort of where I’m getting at.”
Rory is back at Ballyliffin Golf Club for the first time in 12 years and has been blown away by its beauty as he tees it up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation – the fourth Rolex Series event of the season.
“I’d sort of forgotten how good it was and how beautiful the area was. It’s a great golf course. Pat Ruddy designed it, and he designed the European Club down in Wicklow, as well, and I’m a big fan of that,” he said.
“You know, it’s a tough track. You can’t put it in the bunkers off the tee. They really are penal. You have to hit fairways. The greens are getting firm. It’s getting bouncy out there. It’s going to be a really good test this week.
“The sun I think is going to shine for the next four days, as well. It will only get firmer. That’s the way a links should play, and I think everyone’s looking forward to that.”
Rory is making his first appearance in Europe since the BMW PGA Championship – where he finished as a runner-up behind Francesco Molinari – and having memorably won his home event at the K Club in 2016, the Holywood golfer is looking to add to his 13 European Tour wins.
“If I can give myself a chance to win this tournament like I did at Wentworth a few weeks ago, I’d be happy enough.” he added.

“I just learned over the years to try and treat it [this week] like a normal week and go out and play. The more I can freewheel, the better I’ll play, and that’s the way I need to approach it.

“You always have to be willing to fail in order to succeed. I think the way I’ve approached the game at sometimes this year, I haven’t been willing to, I’ve been sort of too careful and I haven’t been willing to hit the right shot or hit driver when I need to be aggressive.
“So yeah if I can get back to that freewheeling, carefree approach, that will do me a world of good.”
This event will mark the end of Rory’s four-year stint as tournament host of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and it has given him a new appreciation for the work that goes into bringing a huge event together.
“I think of the effort it is to put on a tournament like this, and I think of the people that are involved, the hundreds and thousands of people that it takes to make it run smoothly,” he added.
“It’s a real team. I feel like I get too much credit for what’s happened here because it’s not just me. Obviously, we are a part of it but there’s also The European Tour have been a huge contributor to making this what it is. Dubai Duty Free stepped up and put a lot of money into sponsorship.
“It’s hard to justify spending millions of Euros a year sponsoring a tournament, but they had faith in the tournament and we are fortunate they came on board when they did and they will continue to support the tournament.”
Joining the four-time Major Champion on the Inishowen peninsular is World Number Five Jon Rahm, who is defending in Ireland following his emphatic six-shot victory at Portstewart Golf Club last year.
The Spaniard, who followed in the footsteps of countrymen Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal and Sergio Garcia when he triumphed on the Emerald Isle, goes in search of a third Rolex Series title.

Dunne looking forward to ‘fifth major’ at Ballyliffin

June 7, 2018


Paul Dunne is hoping to become the latest home winner of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation when he returns to the Rolex Series event, which he regards as important as any of the four Major Championships.
The Wicklow player burst onto the global golf scene in 2015 when he shared the lead heading into the final round of The Open Championship at St Andrews, and he has been living up to the billing as Ireland’s next golfing star having claimed his maiden victory in just his second season on the European Tour.
Now the 25 year old is hoping to add to his British Masters supported by Sky Sports title by claiming a glorious home triumph when the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open – the fourth Rolex Series event of the European Tour’s 2018 Race to Dubai – is played at Ballyliffin Golf Club for the first time from July 5-8.
Should he win in County Donegal, Dunne would join an illustrious list of home winners. Rory McIlroy became the eighth Irishman to claim the title when he stormed to a spectacular victory in 2016, while Shane Lowry’s emotional triumph as a young amateur in 2009 will also live long in the memory.
Two years prior to that, Padraig Harrington had bridged a 25-year gap when he emerged victorious from a sudden-death playoff for a success which proved a precursor for a famous maiden Major win at The 2007 Open Championship in Carnoustie.
Dunne is now determined to get his hands on the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open trophy and put his name alongside some of the greats of Irish golf.
“The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is the tournament we look forward to the most,” said Dunne.
“To win it would be right up there with the four Majors for me personally.

“I think Ballyliffin will be a great test of a venue this year. It’s always good to play in front of the home crowd and the support is always incredible. They always keep you in it and they provide a nice buzz.

“It’s going to be another great week and hopefully the weather holds up nicely. If I can give myself chances over the next few years to win it I would be delighted. Hopefully, this year gives me one of those chances, but we’ll see.”
If Dunne is to earn a second European Tour victory in just under a month’s time, he will have to overcome a star-studded field which includes the defending Champion Jon Rahm of Spain, the tournament host McIlroy and his fellow 2016 Ryder Cup players Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Fitzpatrick, Danny Willett and Chris Wood.
Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at http://www.europeantour.com/tickets and begin at €20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing €32 and day tickets for the weekend costing €34 each.
An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just €110.

Sunday tickets for the 18th grandstand at the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation have sold out completely, and fans hoping to get exclusive front-row seats for the prestigious Rolex Series event are now being urged to act quickly with limited tickets remaining.

Info courtesy of European Tour

It’s a brave new professional world for Leona and Lisa Maguire

June 7, 2018


The Maguire twins launched themselves into the pro ranks in some style yesterday ahead of Friday’s debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve waited to turn pro since we were little kids. This first week at ShopRite, couldn’t really ask for a better start,” said Leona, the former leading amateur player in the world who was No.1 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a record 131 consecutive weeks.
Lisa and Leona have agreed a management deal with Modest! Golf and will be sponsored by KPMG with other brand associations including Allianz, PUMA Golf clothing and PING golf equipment.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 23-year-old sisters from Co Cavan who have only recently finished their four-year stint at Duke University.
“It’s been a quick transition. Went from Stillwater [venue for the NCAA finals] a few weeks ago, obviously wrapped up our careers with Duke there. We had an incredible four years. It’s been exciting trying to get all the pieces put together and ready to go this week,” added Leona.
The duo have grown up in the public eye, especially at home in Ireland, so it was no surprise to see them handling Wednesday’s press conference with relative ease.
The challenge ahead is to make the adjustment to playing for a living and that may not be plain sailing, particularly as the pair will be playing different schedules over the coming months.

“I have a full Symetra Tour card, so the next few months and weeks I will be predominately focused on that to try to get my LPGA card for next season. Probably a few LPGA invites along the way, but predominantly focusing on the Symetra Tour for the near future,” added Leona.
Lisa said; “Obviously this week is great to get the invite from ShopRite, the two of us here together. I know Modest! have been working really hard especially on my behalf especially to secure more invites. Obviously, I don’t have the same sort of status as Leona does right now.
“We’ve secured some Symetra Tour invites for the coming weeks, so I’m looking forward to playing in those, doing well in those, and securing more status kind of going forward.”
Lisa tees off on Friday from the 10th tee alongside Natalie Gulbis and Taylor Totland at 12.48pm (GMT).
Leona also tees off from the 10th at 5.48pm (GMT) paired with Maddie McCrary and Lauren Coughlin.

“I’m thrilled and very proud that Leona and Lisa have become the first Irish players to sign with the Modest! Golf management stable,” said singer/songwriter and Modest! Golf director Niall Horan.
“They’ve both represented Ireland at junior and senior amateur level with distinction and we’re confident that they’ll take the professional LPGA circuit in their stride and raise the profile of Irish golf even further.”

It’s Tom versus the Shot Clock on the European Tour

May 20, 2018

Tom McKibbin

Holywood GC’s rising star, Tom McKibbin, will make his European Tour debut at the innovative new Shot Clock Masters tournament at Diamond Country Club in Altzenbrugg, near Vienna, on June 7-10.
The 15-year-old from Newtownabbey has caught the attention of the golfing world with a string of international victories, most recently at the 2018 Junior Honda Classic (U18) and The Faldo Major Champions Invitational, both in the United States
The Irish boys international became one of the youngest players ever to tee it up on the European Challenge Tour in 2016, aged just 13 years and 222 days when he played in the Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm Castle.
Now, Tom will tee it up in the first event of its kind, one that will see every shot timed as part of the European Tour’s bid to combat slow play.
He said: “It is very exciting to play on the European Tour for the first time, and especially in the first ever tournament like this. Teeing it up at Diamond Country Club will be an amazing experience, but I’m also looking forward to seeing the shot clock technology and how the whole event works.

“I’m in favour of fast play and I consider myself to be a fast player so I think the idea behind the Shot Clock Masters could be great for the future of golf.

“I’m grateful to the European Tour and the promoters of the Shot Clock Masters for giving me this opportunity. It is my dream to play on the European Tour in the future and I can’t wait to experience the environment and take the chance to learn as much as I can from the players in Austria.”
Tom has experienced life on the European Tour in the past, playing alongside Rory McIlroy in the Pro-Am at the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation, and is looking forward to making his tournament debut.

The 2018 Shot Clock Masters will be the first tournament in professional golf to use a shot clock on every shot.
The European Tour experimented with a shot clock on one hole at the inaugural GolfSixes in 2017 – a move which proved popular with both players and fans.
In a marked difference to the GolfSixes model this tournament will embrace the Tour’s official timing policy (similar to policies used across the world of professional golf) over 72 holes, with an intent to showcase a European Tour event played at a more compelling pace.
In accordance with this official policy, each player in the field will have 50 seconds for a first to play approach shot (including par 3 tee shot), chip or putt and 40 seconds for a tee shot on a par 4 or par 5 or second or third to play approach shot, chip or putt.
Players will incur a one-shot penalty for each bad time incurred and these will be shown as a red card against their name on the leaderboard.
Each player will have the right to call two-time extensions during a round which will permit them twice the usually allotted time to play the shot.
In 2016 the European Tour pledged to speed up the game of golf, introducing a new pace of play policy which included monitoring penalties, handing referees additional powers to target slow players. This policy had an immediate effect, leading to a visible reduction in round times, and the additional development in Austria could have an even more dramatic impact.
It is hoped the move will cut round times by around 45 minutes, reducing three-ball timings to approximately four hours, and two-balls to around three hours 15 minutes.

Ballyliffin ready to make the most of Dubai Duty Free Irish Open opportunity

May 13, 2018

TEEING OFF: John Farren, General Manager of Ballyliffin Golf Club, Barry Funston, Chief Executive of the Rory Foundation, Simon Alliss, the European Tour’s Championship Director of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dubai Duty Free, Des Smyth, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Tournament Ambassador and Martin Donnelly, Business Development Manager of Failte Ireland.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Ballyliffin GC will roll out the red carpet for the great and good of the European Tour when the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation touches down in Co Donegal from July 5-8.
The European Tour is breaking new ground by taking the tournament to the North West of Ireland for the very first time.
“It is a big big deal for this part of the world,” said Ballyliffin GM, John Farren.
“We are very grateful that the Tour had the confidence to bring this event to the region.
“We are looking forward to it. We will seize this opportunity and we will be ready.”
Tournament Director, Simon Allis, described advance ticket sales as ‘encouraging’ insisting that no-one would be, ‘disappointed’ by the final figures attending the event.
Farren was bullish about the prospects of big crowds coming through the turnstiles, pointing to the likely support of thousands of fans from across the border.
He added; “Ballyliffin is held in very high esteem across Ireland. Our proximity to Northern Ireland means that it is very accessible and the Northern Ireland golfing fans, well, they travel to Irish Opens no matter where they are.

“This will be a new option, a new destination for people and the Irish Open is so much more than a golf event now. The European Tour and the sponsors have developed a festival atmosphere around the tournament.”

Rory will again headline the event with world number three Jon Rahm returning to defend the title he won in record-breaking fashion at Portstewart last year.
The event will enter a new era in 2019 with a rotation of tournament hosts featuring the biggest names in Irish golf. Four of Ireland’s most revered golfers – The 2014 Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley as well as Major winners Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell – will share the hosting duties with McIlroy, beginning with McGinley next year.

“Four years ago Rory decided he wanted to improve the lot of the Irish Open,” said Rory Foundation CEO, Barry Funston.
“We were very fortunate to have a terrific partner in Dubai Duty Free who bought into that vision straight away and over the years, the evolution of the tournament has been well documented.
“From the perspective of the Foundation, it has been terrific. We have raised in excess of three million dollars for charitable causes in areas around the host venues.
“There is a deliberate strategy of moving the event around Ireland and we think that is the right thing to do. Getting it to Ballyliffin is something Rory has spoken about for years and we are delighted that our four-year term is coming to an end at Ballyliffin, a course Rory holds in great affection.”
A venue for the 2019 staging has yet to be confirmed but Dubai Duty Free has agreed a four-year extension of its title sponsorship of the Irish Open taking the partnership through to 2022.

Will Jonathan Caldwell rise to the Challenge in 2018? Clandeboye golfer ready to go in Turkey

April 25, 2018

Jonathan Caldwell (pic via PGA Europro Tour)

It’s been a long time coming but Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell will finally get his Challenge Tour season underway on Thursday at the Turkish Airlines Challenge in Belek.
Caldwell secured his Challenge Tour card on the final day of the Europro Tour season back in October at the Sky Sports Tour Championship. A 15th place finish in Portugal saw him grab the fifth and final card on offer via the Tour’s Order of Merit.
Since then he’s had precious little competitive golf and he’s ready to get started.
“It’s been a long wait between tournaments but generally I have managed to stay patient and positive,” said Jonny.
“I played in the second stage of European Tour Q-School and narrowly missed out there and then in February, I went to Spain for a couple of weeks to play on the Evolve Tour.
“I managed to get a win over there but it was mostly about finding out what stage my game was at and what I needed to be working on.”
A long wet, cold winter hasn’t been particularly conducive to quality practice but the 33-year-old is determined to make an impact on the Challenge Tour this season.
After a number of years struggling to find his way as a professional, Jonny, a former leading amateur who played Walker Cup alongside Rory McIlroy at Royal County Down in 2007, is finally moving in the right direction again.
With the support of the Clandeboye members and some key sponsors – Wirefox, Woodgate Aviation and the Safety Advice Centre, Bangor – he has been freed from financial worries to focus on golf and has turned his fortunes around on the course over the last 18 months.

“My expectations are high. Hopefully, I will be competing at the top end of the leaderboard,” added Jonny.

“I feel that I have had some decent prep this winter considering the weather we have been dealing with. My game is in reasonably good shape and a couple of days in Turkey will hopefully help sharpen up the short game.

“My number one goal this year is to win and then to finish inside the top 70 which will guarantee my playing privileges for 2019.”
The Turkish Airlines Challenge is the third event of the Challenge Tour season which will include visits to Galgorm Castle for the NI Open in August and Concra Wood in Co.Monaghan for the Irish Challenge in September.
Joining Jonny in Turkey are Cormac Sharvin and Michael Hoey alongside a number of bright young Irish talents in Stuart Grehan, Gary Hurley, Gavin Moynihan and Ruaidhri McGee.

Day Four – Master 2018 – Resolute Reed claims green jacket; Rory’s Grand Slam quest continues

April 9, 2018

2018 Masters Champion, Patrick Reed (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Patrick Reed claimed his maiden Major Championship title after holding off the charges of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to win the Masters Tournament.
Grand slam chasing Rory McIlroy entered the final day three shots behind the leader but he was never able to put any real pressure on the American and his challenge faded.
Loose off the tee and struggling on the greens Rory eventually signed for a two-over par 74 and finished the tournament in a tie for fifth.
“I played probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played here this week, it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Rory.
“Of course it’s frustrating and it’s hard to take any positives from it right now but at least I put myself in a position, that’s all I’ve wanted to do.
“For the last four years I’ve had top tens but I haven’t been close enough to the lead. Today I got myself there, I didn’t quite do enough but I’ll still come back next year and try again.

“I think 100% I can come back and win here. I’ve played in two final groups in the last seven years, I’ve had five top tens, I play this golf course well. I just haven’t played it well enough at the right times.

“I can’t give a good answer as to what I can take from this into the future but I’ll sit down and reflect over the next few days and see what I could have done better.”
Although the Holywood golfer’s chances ended in disappointment, Augusta National still produced plenty of final day drama.

The 2015 Masters Champion Spieth was the first to test the nerve of the overnight leader Reed, threatening the course record with a remarkable streak of nine birdies in the opening 16 holes, including four in five from the 12th.
An unfortunate break on the final hole though, where his drive clipped the trees mid-air and dropped just short of 180 yards from the tee in the rough, spoiled his chances as a bogey five meant he had to settle for an eight-under 64 and a 13 under total.
Next up was Fowler, who birdied the last to post a 14 under total after a five under 67, but Reed stayed resilient the whole way through and a two-putt par at the last for a one under 71 was enough to clinch a one-stroke triumph on 15 under par.

“I knew it was going to be tough. Any time trying to close off a golf tournament is really hard, but to close off your first Major and to do it at a place that is so close to me,” said Reed.
“I knew that the lead was going to shrink at sometimes, I knew the lead could grow, it’s just the flows of golf. You just have to know how to handle it and the only way I felt like I could get that done was to make sure the putter was working.

“It was tough out there but to be able to make that putt on 14 and then to make the two-putt on 17, it just gave me that momentum going to 18 which in the past has given me so many issues.

“It’s almost impossible to put into words. Just to make the par on the last and watch the ball go in the hole and know that I’ve won my first Major. One of my huge goals this year was to not only contend in Majors but also get back in that winning circle. To do it in the first Major and finish off that drought, it just meant so much to me.”