Posts Tagged ‘Royal Portrush’

Woods Masters win fuels chase for Open Championship tickets

April 16, 2019

It was probably just coincidence but Tiger Woods winning the Masters and extra tickets going on sale for July’s Open Championship sent the R&A ticket site into meltdown on Monday.
Woods’ remarkable victory at Augusta National has raised the excitement levels another notch ahead of the Open’s historic return to Royal Portrush.
“We were already looking forward to seeing him at Royal Portush (July18-21) but for him to come here as reigning Masters champion will make it extra special,” said Royal Portrush Professional, Gary McNeill.
“Perhaps that was reflected today with so many people looking to get tickets. I’m sure many people would have been looking those tickets anyway but the fact Tiger won no doubt spurred more people on to try and get their hands on them.
“He is such a big draw and you could see that at Augusta with all the patrons cheering and clapping him onto every tee and green and everyone was delighted to see him win.
“He will be thinking grand slam now. Next month’s PGA Championship is at Bethpage where he has won before and then the US Open is at Pebble Beach where we won in style back in 2000.
“Imagine if he arrives at Royal Portrush with those two under his belt as well. Now that would be incredible.”

Last year tickets for championship days (Thur-Sun) at The Open sold out in record time prompting The R&A to explore increasing the capacity. A further 15,000 were released on Monday via the R&A’s ‘The One Club’.
An R&A spokesman said; “We have seen extremely high levels of demand for tickets today which led to us experiencing some technical issues with the website. These issues were resolved earlier and we are now receiving orders from fans purchasing tickets.
“We have communicated with members of The One Club to keep them informed. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused and would encourage those fans on the waiting list to keep trying via the website.”
Woods has yet to set foot on the North Coast gem but his victory on Sunday ensures that he will deservedly be one of the favourites come July.
“It was unbelievable after what he has been through in the last 10 years,” added Gary.
“To come back and win a major, I wasn’t sure he would do it but having won the Tour Championship at the tail end of last year obviously proved to himself that he could do it.
“To be able to do it, in the most difficult of circumstances on a course that tests every aspect of your game. It was fantastic.”


Shorts or no shorts Molinari looking forward to Open Championship defence

April 3, 2019

In a bold break with tradition, the R&A announced on Tuesday that competitors would be allowed to wear shorts at this year’s Open Championship – on practice days only.
The news was revealed just as a particularly brisk snow shower whipped across the Dunluce Links sending golfers scattering in search of extra thermals.
The prospect of wearing shorts on the north coast, even in July, certainly seemed to amuse the defending Open champion, Francesco Molinari.
“There are people playing golf in shorts all around the world. So I don’t see why we should be different but I don’t think it will be a priority in Portrush this summer,” said Molinari.
Currently ranked number seven in the world, Molinari has enjoyed a dramatic rise to prominence over the last 18 months marked by his superb Open win at Carnoustie last year and a starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup success in France.
The 36-year-old Italian, who has some recent experience of playing Royal Portrush when he competed at the 2012 Irish Open, is expecting a fabulous atmosphere come July.
“It was impressive to see how quickly all the tickets were sold initially, so it’s nice to see the R&A making more tickets available to the fans,” said Molinari.

“I remember playing there in the Irish Open the year after Darren had won the Open Championship and being paired with Darren the first round, and yes, it was something I still remember, so I can only imagine what the Open is going to be – it is going to be even bigger, obviously, going back to Northern Ireland after so many years.

“Yeah, it is going to be nice for me, obviously – defending is always special – but defending in a place where the tournament has not been for so long I’m sure is going to be extra special.”
He continued; “I remember the weather [at Royal Portrush} was not great for four days and it was a very challenging course, you know, with the wind and the rain and yeah, probably obviously not as flat as Carnoustie but a bit more elevation changes from what I remember.
“But, yeah, apart from that, just a very typical links challenge. The weather is going to play a huge part. But, yeah, I’ve got nice memories from the course, from the town. I remember it being a fun week. So I’m looking forward to going back there and seeing the changes to the course as well.”
Molinari has shown no signs of resting on his laurels in the wake of his amazing 2018. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month and finished third in the recent WGC-Matchplay tournament.
“I think, for me, winning is a huge motivation and spurs me on to do even more, and that’s what I’ve done this winter, working as hard as I have ever done,” he said.
“And I think you can see the way I’m playing, that, you know, I didn’t settle, I didn’t stop. Like I was saying before, the dream is to keep improving. I feel like I haven’t reached my limit yet. So, the dream is to see how far I can go and hopefully get as many wins as possible along the way.”

Nick Edmund takes Global Golf 4 Cancer campaign to Northern Ireland

March 6, 2019

Nick Edmund with Paul Hutchinson the men’s captain, Jackie Brown the ladies’s captain of the Lough Erne Golf Club and Leanne Rice (R) Head of Golf Marketing for Tourism Northern Ireland
(Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Nick Edmund is a man on a mission.
The 58 year old three-time head and neck cancer survivor wants the global golf community to ‘fly the flag’ and support cancer fighters worldwide.
In order to raise awareness of his ambitious ‘drive’ the barrister and golf writer – who also managed Faldo Design, Nick Faldo’s golf course design business for 15 years – is currently in the early stages of a 250-mile walk from Lough Erne Resort to Royal County Down.
The trek, complete with a set of golf clubs over his shoulder, will see Nick play the 4th hole at 18 Northern Ireland golf courses as he literally flies the flag for his Global-Golf4-Cancer charity.
“Through our distinctive Global-Golf4-Cancer ‘4-Flag’ and by encouraging golf clubs and event organisers to periodically fly this flag at the 4th hole of their courses we want to increase awareness and at the same time act as a catalyst for some imaginative fund raising opportunities,” said Nick who hopes the fact the 148th Open Championship is being played at Royal Portrush later this year will provide a fitting context for his awareness campaign.
Nick launched the 4-Flag campaign in March 2017 when he undertook a walk of almost 1,200 miles along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, carrying a set of golf clubs.

This month’s 250 mile walk is especially poignant for Nick as he has vivid memories of how The Faldo Championship course at Lough Erne Resort was conceived over a casual conversation in Spain some 15 years ago.
He added; “I recall well meeting the team that launched the Lough Erne Resort where they outlined their vision for a new golf course, and it’s been fabulous to see this vision being transformed into reality.

“My history with Lough Erne was probably one of the key reasons why we chose to commence our walk around Northern Ireland from there – plus some of the scenery throughout the golf course is out of this world.”

The epic Northern Ireland walk will be the third in a series undertaken by the Global-Golf4-Cancer founder to promote the campaign. With almost 1500 miles throughout the Wild Atlantic Way and Scotland already under his belt Nick plans to raise his flag on all six continents by the end of this year in pursuit of his global mission.
William Kirby General Manager of the Lough Erne Resort said: “We’re delighted and proud to be able to help tee-off this remarkable campaign and to host Nick at the start of his venture. Given Nick’s history with the Faldo Championship Course here – we were more than happy to provide our support and commit to flying the GG4C flag at our 4th hole during the year.”
Nick teed off his Northern Ireland campaign by playing four holes of The Faldo course at Lough Erne Resort on Saturday where he handed over a GG4C flag and then travelled from the 5-star resort to Killadeas via water taxi to begin his walk.
The Lough Erne to County Down campaign will highlight 18 of the country’s finest golfing venues from Lough Erne Resort to world famous Royal County Down at Newcastle and will include the likes of Castlerock, Portstewart, Royal Portrush, Malone, Royal Belfast and Ardglass.

Itinerary (Subject to change)
7 THU Play 4th@Newtownstewart GC then on to Strabane
8 FRI Strabane to Prehen, nr Derry;
9 SAT play 4th@Derry City GC Derry to Coleraine-Castlerock by train
10 SUN REST (possibly play 4th at Royal Portrush?)
STAGE 2: “Causeway Coast”- Castlerock to Carnlough
11 MON 4th@Castlerock GC then to Portstewart
12 TUES 4th@Portstewart GC then to Portrush
13 WED ((4th@Royal Portrush GC)) then via Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills to Ballintoy
14 THU Carrick Rope Bridge & the Dark Hedges picture opportunities; then to Ballycastle
15 FRI 4th @Ballycastle then to Cushendun
16 SAT Cushendun to Carnlough
17 SUN (St P’’s Day) REST
STAGE 3: “Belfast” – Lisburn to Bangor
18 MON Transport to Lisburn via 4th@Galgorm Castle GC
19 TUES 4th @Lisburn GC then to Malone area
20 WED 4th @Malone GC then to central Belfast
21 THU Titanic Exhibition 4th @Belvoir Park GC then via Shandon Pk GC? to central Belfast
22 FRI from Belfast to 4th@ Holywood via Knock GC? & Stormont Castle then to Culloden
23 SAT 4th@ Royal Belfast GC
24 SUN REST Leaf & Berry Cafe Jazz Bruch with SD Bells PM: To Bangor
STAGE 4: Clandeboye to County Down
25 MON 4th @Clandeboye GC then to Mount Stewart/Greyabbey
26 TUES Greyabbey (via Mount Stewart) to Kircubbin
27 WED Kircubbin via 4th @Kirkistown Castle GC then on to Portaferry
28 THU Portaferry to Ardglass
29 FRI 4th @Ardglass then to Tyrella
30 SAT Final walk from Tyrella to Newcastle
31 SUN 4th @Royal Co Down GC

PGA Fourball teams go low at Royal Portrush

March 2, 2019

The 18th at the Valley Course, Royal Portrush

Four pairs posted scores of six-under-par 65 to share first place at the PGA Northern Branch Fourball Betterball tournament played over the Valley Links at Royal Portrush.
The format has been added to the season’s schedule and a similar outing will be held at Lough Erne Resort on Tuesday, April 9. Given the positive response, there is a distinct possibility that a list of the events will be added into the new 2019-2020 fixture list.
The Enniskillen combination of Shaun Donnelly (Castle Hume) and David Allen (Lough Erne Resort) was first to set the target at 65 with Donnelly’s eagle three on the 16th hole being the deciding factor.
Gary Wardlow (Spa) and David Hughes (Massereene) were next in with 65 but will rue a bogey four on the 17th where both missed the green and failed to get up and down.
Moyola Park’s Gareth Shaw and Banbridge pro, Richard Kilpatrick, had a similar fate at the par three 15th hole which prevented them from taking the outright lead while the seasoned pair of Peter Hanna (Lurgan) and Paul Stevenson (Portadown) proved once again that age is no barrier to success.
Hanna is, of course, the PGA Captain Elect and the pair were anxious to make it known that their combined ages totted up to 113! Who said golf was a young man’s game.

PGA Northern Branch Fourball Betterball Tournament at Royal Portrush (Valley)
65 (-6) – S Donnelly (Castle Hume) & D Allen (Lough Erne Resort).
65 – G Wardlow (Spa) & D Hughes (Massereene).
65 – G Shaw (Moyola Pk) & R Kilpatrick (Banbridge).
65 – P Hanna (Lurgan) & P Stevenson (Portadown).
66 – G Graham (Groomsport DR) & C Lyall (Donaghadee).
66 – R Whitford (Knock) & N Grant (Blackwood).

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Claret Jug takes centre stage during schools’ visit

February 26, 2019

The Claret Jug, golf’s most iconic trophy, visited local schools in Coleraine and Ballymoney ahead of The 148th Open being played at Royal Portrush as a thank you to pupils who will be employed as litter pickers during the Championship.
Around 250 pupils led by around 30 teachers from Coleraine Grammar School, Loreto College and Dalriada School will ensure that Royal Portrush looks its very best for the tens of thousands of visitors who will pour through its gates when The Open returns to the famous Dunluce Links in July.
The pupils were given the opportunity to get up close to the Claret Jug and have their picture taken with the trophy today, while they will also receive tickets to attend The Open and merchandise from official supplier Hugo Boss.
Richard Beggs, Teacher at Coleraine Grammar School, said, “The pupils and I are really excited about joining the thousands of people involved in helping to stage The Open each year and we look forward to welcoming fans and visitors to the town of Portrush in July.”
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “It’s fantastic to see that there is great excitement about the prospect of The Open coming to Royal Portrush and we are very thankful to people living in the local communities in and around Portrush for their support. We are looking forward to enjoying a true celebration of golf in July.”
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Councillor Brenda Chivers said, “There’s a real sense of excitement among the young people involved in today’s visit and it’s inspiring to see them so engaged and enthusiastic about The Open.
“Tens of thousands of visitors will travel here to enjoy the event in July and I have no doubt that their experience on the course, matched by our warm welcome, first class hospitality and unrivalled scenery will create an occasion to remember for everyone involved.”


Quartet secure Open Championship spots at SMBC Singapore Open

January 21, 2019

Jazz Janewattananond, Yoshinori Fujimoto, Doyeob Mun and Prom Meesawat secured their places in The 148th Open after qualifying at the SMBC Singapore Open.
The SMBC Singapore Open was played over the Serapong Couse at Sentosa Golf Club and was the third event in The Open Qualifying Series, which gives golfers around the world opportunities to book their place at Royal Portrush from 14-21 July 2019.
Janewattananond posted a fantastic final round 65 that included seven birdies to triumph at the SMBC Singapore Open for the first time, his third and biggest ever win on the Asian Tour, and clinch the first qualifying place for The Open.
The 23-year-old from Thailand finished on an 18-under-par total of 266 and he will now make his second appearance in The Open after qualifying for the first time at last year’s SMBC Singapore Open when he earned a spot at Carnoustie.
“Playing in The Open last year was a huge moment in my career and I’m so happy to have qualified again by winning the Singapore Open,” said Janewattananond.

“Getting a place in The Open is the best and I am looking forward to Royal Portrush now. I have heard it is tough and it will be a challenge so I will need to prepare well.”

Yoshimori and Englishman Paul Casey, who had already secured his starting berth at Royal Portrush, finished two shots behind Janewattananond in a tie for second place on a 16-under-par total of 268.
The 29-year-old from Japan sealed the second available place on offer for The Open this week after carding a 68 during today’s final round. He will also make his second appearance in golf’s original championship following his debut at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012.
Matthew Fitzpatrick finished in fourth place on a 14-under-par total of 270 and has already qualified for The Open meaning that Doyeob Mun and Prom Meesawat earned the two remaining qualifying places after completing the tournament in a tie for fifth place on nine-under-par, a total of 275.
Mun will make his debut in The Open at Royal Portrush, his first ever major championship appearance, despite posting a final round 72, while Meesawat made a vital birdie putt on the 72nd hole to qualify for the Championship for the first time since 2011 at Royal St George’s.
The next event in The Open Qualifying Series will be the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at Bay Hill from 7-10 March.

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.

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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

Ronan Mullarney secures place in NI Open field

July 17, 2018

Galway’s Ronan Mullarney receiving the Northern Ireland Amateur Open trophy from Peter Daly, Captain Galgorm Castle, and Valerie Penney from Specsavers Ballymena

On a day of low scoring, Ronan Mullarney came out on top to win the 2018 Modest! Golf Northern Ireland Amateur Open, sponsored by Specsavers Ballymena and Cleveland Srixon, at Galgorm Castle and with it booked his place in next month’s NI Open.
The Galway international was in sensational form, carding rounds of 67, 66 for a nine-under-par total 133 to win by three from Forrest Little’s Jack McDonnell (68, 68) in second. Local favourite and Galgorm Castle member Michael Reid took third with rounds of 70, 67.
Reid’s better afternoon card edged out Ardglass’ Adam Mulhall (68,69), who also finished on four-under 137. Mulhall continued his great form of late just days after reaching the semi-final of the North of Ireland at Royal Portrush.
Mullarney hit the front after his opening 67 and went on to shoot the best score of the afternoon too by going one better for his 66 to win comfortably.
The winning strategy was simple. “Keep it out of the water, the rough, the trees and hole a few putts,” said the plus four handicapper afterwards.
Having started on the 10th, Mullarney covered the back nine in four-under 31 in the final round before picking up a sixth birdie of the afternoon at the par five ninth, his final hole.
Mullarney was part of the International Palmer Cup side that lost to the United States at Evian Resort, France two weeks ago and is now looking forward to teeing it up with the professionals at Galgorm Castle when the NI Open takes place from August 16-19.

“The invite to the NI Open was the main reason for playing here today. I really wanted to play in a professional event this year and I’m delighted to secure my place in the NI Open.”

The Paddy Harrington scholar at Maynooth University will now seek out Jordan Hood, fellow Maynooth scholar and Galgorm Castle member, for some extra practice at the Ballymena venue in the coming weeks.
“I might have to get a few more games here with Jordan. The course really suited my eye and I knew yesterday that I liked the place. It’s not a million miles from my home course,” added the winner, who is busy combining golf with his studies.
“I’ll play the South (of Ireland) and the (Irish) Close and some club golf, Senior Cup and Barton Shield between now and the NI Open. I actually have a college assignment to do to as well. I’m doing a Masters in Strategy and Innovation. It’s going ok, the golf is going better than the studies.”
Entry to the NI Open is free, simply register online at

Leading scores from the 2018 Northern Ireland Amateur Open at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, Ballymena
Full results
133 Ronan Mullarney (Galway) 67, 66)
136 Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little) 68, 68)
137 Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle) 70, 67, Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) 68, 69
141 Stephen Watts (Cairndhu) 72, 69
142 Jonathan Gourley (Shandon Park) 71, 71
143 Adam Barr (Ballymena) 71, 72, Max Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 71, 72, Marc McKinstry (Cairndhu) 69, 74
144 Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) 70, 74

Outsider Lynch grabs his moment in the sun at Royal Portrush

July 14, 2018

Ian Lynch (Rosslare)
Tos Caffrey / Golffile

Unheralded Ian Lynch (Rosslare GC) won the North of Ireland Amateur Championship at a sun-baked Royal Portrush GC. The 29-year-old software engineer beat Englishman, Kieran Babbage (The Players Club) 2&1 in Friday’s final.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I came up here for a bit of a family holiday and some golf and now I’m North of Ireland champion. It’s surreal to even say it, it’s unbelievable,” said Lynch moments after clinching victory on the 17th.
“I was playing ok before the tournament started. I won a scratch cup a month or so ago but still, this is a big step up. I played alright on the first day of qualifying on The Valley, shooting three under.
“I thought, ‘fair enough, you have a chance of making the matchplay stages now’.
“From then on I was just taking it one round at a time. Anything can happen in match play. In the first round I won on the 20th and then in the quarter-finals, I went to the 19th.
“If any of those tight matches go the wrong way I’m home early but thankfully, they went my way.”
There was nothing to separate the finalists in the early exchanges and the match was level as they turned for home. Lynch then made his move, winning the 10th and 11th in par to go two clear.
Babbage conceded the 14th when he came to grief in a greenside bunker to fall three behind. Although Lynch bogeyed 15, Babbage could not capitalise and that left him needing to win 16 to keep the match alive.
Lynch failed to find the green with his tee shot at Calamity and Babbage this time took advantage and made par to take the final down the penultimate hole.
That was as far as they went. Lynch found the fairway with his drive down the hill on 17 and pocketed a regulation par from 30 feet to take the title.
“I didn’t play great in the semi-final, kind of scraped it around and holed a few putts but in the final I played a lot better,” added Ian.

“Kieran threw a few birdies at me and I was playing par golf. If he birdied a hole to beat me I didn’t feel too bad about that but if he bogeyed my solid par stuff was winning me the hole.

“I made a mental error on 16, I should never have been anywhere near that flag. I should have been up the left all day but I almost had an unbelievable up and down from the valley in front of the green. That would have been a nice way to win but I’ll take doing it with a par on 17 any day.”
In the morning semi-finals Lynch saw off leading qualifier, Matthew McClean (Malone) 2&1 while Babbage finally beat Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) on the 19th hole.
Next year’s North of Ireland Championship will retain the same date but will move to Castlerock and Portstewart to accommodate final preparations for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.