Posts Tagged ‘Royal Portrush’

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 / http://www.golffile.ie)

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 http://www.niopen.golf.

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.

Matt McClean and Adam Mulhall carry Ulster hopes at North of Ireland Championship

July 13, 2018

Matthew McClean (Malone)
Tos Caffrey / Golffile

The ‘home’ challenge ran into trouble on day four of the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush.
Four players from the host club were in action on Thursday raising hopes of a first win for the club since Patrick McCrudden in 2011 but, one by one, they all bowed out.
At the end of the day, Ulster hopes were left in the hands of leading qualifier Matthew McClean (Malone) and Adam Mulhall (Ardglass).
This is uncharted territory for McClean who reached the last 16 in 2014 before losing to eventual winner, Chris Selfridge.
“I felt happy enough today, surprisingly, I had minimal nerves,” said the 25-year-old optometrist who beat Barry Cashman (Belvoir Park) in the quarter-finals yesterday afternoon.
“Overall today I made a lot of good pars but missed some birdie chances.
“I didn’t miss a huge amount of greens and that will be hard to beat if you can do that for hopefully two rounds tomorrow.”
With seven visits to the ‘North’ under his belt, McClean is by far the most experienced of the four semi-finalists. In contrast to today’s opponent, Ian Lynch (Rosslare), conceded that two rounds in a day was ‘the most golf I have played in a long time’.
The 29-year-old software engineer is enjoying his best championship run and managed to beat Eanna Griffin (Waterford) on the 19th to reach the last four.
“Everything now is a bonus, I love it here,” said Lynch who has never qualified for the match-play stages in four visits to the North.

“I like to be attacking and hit driver everywhere. If it comes off, it comes off. I don’t do laying up.”

In the other semi-final Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) will play English visitor Kieran Babbage (The Players Club). Mulhall will become a trainee professional at Ardglass GC in October and would love to bow out of amateur golf with a win.
“It’s a bit of a surprise to get this far,” said the 22-year-old who recently graduated from Stirling University with a degree in Sports Science.
“I knew I was capable but it was a just a matter of putting it all together.”
Mulhall knocked out Tyrone Clarke, son of Open Champion, Darren, in the last eight yesterday while today’s opponent, Babbage, knocked out another home favourite Matt McAlpin.
“This is my first visit to play in the North of Ireland. I have never played in any events here,” said the 21-year-old.
“It’s pot luck that I am here at all. I was with my mate Dan Sheehan and he encouraged me to enter.
“I didn’t even know the tournament existed but when he said it was at Portrush, I was like definitely, I will come and play!”

Quarter-final results
Ian Lynch (Rosslare) bt Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 19th
Matthew McClean (Malone) bt Barry Cashman (Belvoir Park) 4&3
Kieran Babbage (The Players Club) bt Matthew McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 1hle
Adam Mulhall (Ardglass) bt Tyrone Clarke (Royal Portrush) 3&1
Today
8.15am – Lynch v McClean
8.30am – Babbage v Mulhall

Final
1.30pm

Don’t miss out – Tickets for 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush now on sale

July 11, 2018

PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND – JULY 09: Graeme McDowell, Major Champion and Mastercard Global Ambassador, returned to Royal Portrush Golf Club along with Charlotte Beatt, Emily Beatt and Josh Ervine to mark the going on sale of the first tickets to The 148th Open which will be held at the famous links from 14-21 July 2019 (Photo by Charles McQuillan/R&A/R&A via Getty Images

Graeme McDowell, Major Champion, returned to Royal Portrush to mark the going on sale of the first tickets to The 148th Open. The event will be held at the North Coast from 14-21 July next year for the first time since 1951.
An estimated 190,000 fans are expected to attend the Championship during the event week. Priority tickets are available now for a limited time exclusively to members of The One Club.
Registration to the club is free and guarantees first access to tickets as well as a range of other benefits. Hospitality experiences have been on sale since May and are selling fast with one facility already sold out for the Final day.
Customers purchasing with a Mastercard will benefit from a saving of GB£5 per transaction. Children under 16 will be able to attend The 148th Open for free alongside an adult guardian under The Open’s “Kids Go Free” programme. Those under 25 can purchase tickets at reduced prices and benefit from free camping.
The 148th Open is only the second time that The Open will have been played outside England and Scotland, the first being when Englishman Max Faulkner won at Royal Portrush in 1951.
The much anticipated return to one of Ireland’s most prestigious golf courses has been facilitated by the creation of two new holes freeing up space for The Open’s famous galleries.
Graeme McDowell said: “I am so excited at the prospect of The Open being played at Royal Portrush. The Open is a unique event in golf and one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.
“Northern Ireland is such a special place to play golf. The passion, support and knowledge of the fans is incredible creating an unrivalled atmosphere to play in front of.

“I believe that this coupled with the magic that is The Open is going to create a memorable occasion. I would encourage everyone to try to get to Portrush next July. It promises to be a magical experience for both the players and the spectators.”

Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “There is huge anticipation for the return of The Open to Royal Portrush for the first time in nearly 70 years and we are delighted to announce tickets going on sale to members of The One Club today.
“It will be a historic occasion for the island of Ireland and promises to be a true festival of golf with the world’s best players facing the magnificent challenge of the course. Tickets will be in great demand so this is a fantastic opportunity for fans to get in early and secure their places for next July’s Championship.”
Tickets for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush can be purchased at TheOpen.com/PortrushTickets.  All new members of The One Club will receive immediate access to priority tickets.

New look Castlerock primed to take advantage of North Coast golfing boom

May 10, 2018


These are golden days for the North Coast as a must play golfing destination.
Last year’s Irish Open at Portstewart coupled with the huge media exposure offered by next year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush has raised the region’s profile to new heights.
Now Castlerock Golf Club, close to Benone beach, has unveiled a raft of significant course changes constructed under the watchful eye of renowned golf course architect Martin Hawtree.
The 71-year-old Englishman has worked on numerous links courses including Lahinch, Ballybunion and Trump International in Scotland.
“We had intended improving and reshaping the existing bunkers but after consultation with the designer we felt that only reshaping the bunkers would still leave some weak holes,” said General Manager, Bert Mackay,
After further consultations, a plan to develop and update eight holes on the Mussendun Links was conceived which was eventually reduced to six with costs running into the £100,000’s.
As a result, the links venue is primed and ready to take advantage of any potential surge in golf visitors to the North Coast following the 2019 Open Championship.
“Our focus has been on improving the course primarily for our members,” added Bert.

“We will not be bidding for an Irish Open, we simply are not big enough, we will leave that for the likes of Royal Portrush.

“Castlerock has evolved over the last five or 10 years but it has been overlooked in the past. Now we have definitely put ourselves on the map as a golf destination, one that is very family friendly.”

Hawtree’s plan for the venue was to try and get Castlerock playing and feeling more like a traditional links.
“I want it to really feel like a links. I’m not interested in length for the sake of it. I do want to make the surrounds of the greens more interesting and lively and force players to think about things a bit more,” said Hawtree.
In achieving those aims the most significant changes have been made to two holes, the second and 15th which saw the construction of two new green complexes.
“Our intention was never to make the course harder, it was to make the course fairer,” added Bert.
“Unlike many other projects on a golf course, the aim was never to add length to the course, and as a result, the total length of the course has come down 25 yards in total. The second has been reduced by 41 yards and that has been offset by a small increase of the 13th hole by 16 yards.”
The members played the revamped course for the first time at the weekend with early feedback very positive. Whether that encourages them to press ahead and redevelop the remaining 12 holes remains to be seen.
“I would be lying if I said that Martin hadn’t looked at all 18,” added Bert
“This was the start of a process and there is a wider vision for further down the line.
“If the members wish, the plans are in my office to move on with phase two and three.”

R&A consider capping spectator numbers for Royal Portrush Open Championship

February 17, 2018

A visualisation of how the 18th green (the current 16th) will look in 2019

In an unprecedented move, the R&A is weighing up plans to cap spectator numbers at next year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
The historic nature of The Open’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time in almost 70 years coupled with the potential for a resurgent Rory McIlroy has given officials a headache as they consider how best to deal with what could be record-breaking crowds.
Given that the Irish Open in 2012 at the same venue was a sell-out – with over 130,000 people filling through the gates – R&A officials are now pondering a move which would be a first in 140+ years of the celebrated major Championship.
Speaking earlier this week R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers said the issue was being given ‘serious consideration’.
“It’s not just the compactness [of the site], but what do fans really want, which is they want to get as close to the players as they possibly can, and that plays into how many people can we actually physically get into the complex, into the course and give them that experience. And so there’s a lot of work being done on that we haven’t concluded yet,” he said.

“I think there will be also a lot of Americans will be there, especially for the first time. I think it could be a big crowd. And if Rory keeps playing well, it’ll be an even bigger crowd.”

Last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, won by American Jordan Spieth, attracted record crowds for an Open on English soil with 235,000 people attending during tournament week which includes the practice days. It was the third highest ever, falling shy of the St Andrews Opens of 2000 (239,000) and 2015 (237,000).

To add some further context, individual daily attendance figures at the Open Championship regularly top 40,000. In 2014, when Rory McIlroy collected the Claret Jug at Hoylake, some 42,000 people came through the gates. Given that figure, upwards of 50,000 a day could well be expected at Royal Portrush.
Work is continuing apace at Royal Portrush to install the infrastructure needed to host the event next July which is set to include daily seating for approximately 20,000 spectators.
Two new holes on the championship Dunluce Links, designed by Mackenzie and Ebert and built specifically for the Open Championship were opened for play in July last year. The R&A will stage the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart from 14-19 August this year.

Team NI target three-in-a-row following sensational 2017 Belfast golfing experience

January 4, 2018

Team NI celebrate Writer Cup 2017 success

Whisper it quietly, but the worm may have turned.
Northern Ireland’s golfing journalists retained the Writer Cup in 2017. That’s right, two in row! So long the whipping boys, Team NI has finally found a backbone.
The eighth edition of the Writer Cup – the Ryder Cup style event hosted by Tourism NI that pitches Northern Ireland journalists against Republic of Ireland journalists was played at Holywood GC and Royal Belfast GC.
While most of the golfing focus in Northern Ireland gravitates towards our classic links venues – Royal Portrush, RCD, Portstewart etc – Belfast can provide a unique golfing experience of its own.
Nine-holers, municipal courses, Championship venues – Belfast has pretty much every option available. There’s driving ranges and even an indoor facility – Citi Golf – when the conditions take a turn for the worse.
Staying and playing in Belfast means you can make the most of a city that has been branded ‘the best place to visit in 2018’ by top travel guide Lonely Planet.
Inspired by the surroundings of Rory McIlroy’s home course, Team NI completed a day one whitewash in the fourballs at Holywood GC to grab a commanding 4-0 lead.
The teams were treated to a wonderful evening meal at Belfast’s McHugh’s Bar after which they retreated to their base for the evening, the Hilton Hotel, near the iconic Waterfront Hall.
Team ROI had a mountain to climb in the day two singles which were staged at the historic Royal Belfast GC.
Needing just two points to retain the title a comfortable victory appeared on the cards for the ‘home’ side.
In the end, the outcome was much closer than anyone expected with ROI winning the singles 4.5 to 3.5.
It was not enough (thankfully) to prevent Team NI collecting the trophy for the second year in succession by a 7.5 to 4.5 margin. Can they make it a hat-trick of successes in 2018?

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Holywood GC and Royal Belfast are both situated just outside Belfast within 30 minutes drive of the Hilton Hotel.

Plans for new clubhouse at Holywood GC


Holywood GC

Holywood GC has recently embarked on an ambitious development plan which will transform the club in the next 18 months.
The clubhouse is set for a major upgrade to include new facilities including, a state of the art fitness suite, an indoor golf simulator and entertainment room and a Golf Academy complete with the latest technology.
In preparation for these changes, the 18th green has already been moved further away from the clubhouse and remodelled. The course is an 18 hole undulating parkland neighbouring Redburn Country Park. It overlooks the city and Belfast Lough with views that are unrivalled in the area.
To score well requires accurate driving as opposed to length and good approach shots are needed to find the greens.
Rory McIlroy stated that; “Holywood was a great course for me to learn the game on, it has all the traits that develop your game from playing it regularly. It helps you to learn to shape your shots, places emphasis on your short game and creates more versatile and adaptable golf game through the variety of different shots encountered. I have no doubt that the course helped me to become the golfer I am today.”

Looking down in the eighth green and to the left the ninth fairway at Royal Belfast

Royal Belfast
Founded in 1881, Royal Belfast Golf Club lays claim to the title of the oldest golf course in Ireland. The present layout dates back to 1925, when responsibility for the design was handed to the now revered course architect Harry Colt.
With the assistance of Walker Cup player W.A. Murray, Colt produced a course of great charm which provides a true test of skill and enjoys unrivalled views of Belfast Lough and the Antrim plateau beyond.
Royal Belfast is always meticulously maintained with impeccable greens and groves of rhododendrons and gorse providing a colourful backdrop in spring. There is a secluded, timeless feel to the club, one that has attracted the likes of tour players Michael Hoey and Rory McIlroy to play and practice at the venue.
At the heart of its varied challenges is the constant requirement for accuracy rather than length, providing all levels of golfer with a fair test of golf. The numerous bunkers and subtly sloped greens ensure that posting a low score is indeed a difficult feat.
It offers a stern golfing challenge, and the club has hosted numerous championships, most recently the Senior British Open Amateur Championship won by Spain’s Macarena Campomanes Eguiguren

Gary McNeill and Brian McElhinney top of the pile at Portstewart

December 6, 2017


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

PGA Links Trophy at Portstewart Leaderboard