Caolan Rafferty finds redemption with impressive win in the West

Dundalk golfer took the title just days after losing a five-shot lead at St Andrews

Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) winner of The West of Ireland Open Championship in Co. Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point. Photo: Thos Caffrey/www.golffile.ie

Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) winner of The West of Ireland Open Championship in Co. Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point. Photo: Thos Caffrey/www.golffile.ie

 

Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty held off a stellar chasing pack to win the first strokeplay staging of the West of Ireland Championship by four shots at a stunning Rosses Point.

The 26-year-old had lost a a five-shot lead in the final round of the R&A Scholars Tournament at St Andrews on Tuesday and was doubly determined to complete the job in perfect conditions at County Sligo’s pristine links.

“Having a four-shot lead, I was joking with my father last night, ‘aww, here we go again’,” a delighted Rafferty said after he closed with a one-over 72 in an easterly breeze to win on eight-under 276 from Chelmsford’s Arron Edwards-Hill and Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell.

“But golf’s golf; you can have a five-shot lead or a 10-shot lead, but you never know what the next day’s going to bring.”

In the end, it brought Rafferty a second championship success in the space of eight months following his breakthrough win “the South” at Lahinch last summer.

And having started the week ranked 41st in the world, he can now look forward to seeing the updated rankings on Wednesday having secured another boost and almost certainly copper fastened his place among the top 50 who will be exempt for the US Amateur Championship at Pinehurst in June.

He was “humming and hawing” about making the trip west at all following that painful midweek reverse and a growing workload at Maynooth University.

But with the “West” a stroke play affair this year due to a date change and County Sligo’s hosting of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open in May as part of the club’s 125th-anniversary celebrations, Rafferty knew it was perfect for him given his record in qualifying for the matchplay stages of the West every Easter.

“I sat down and looked at my scores and thought, well I’m actually not too bad at stroke play around this golf course,” he said. “And to have four rounds of strokes could actually play to my advantage. Luckily enough it did because I’ve a lot of college work to catch up on now!”

Four clear overnight, he birdied the fifth to keep his pursuers at bay and while Purcell had a chance to get within a shot of him with four to play, he missed a four-footer for par at the 14th and ended up shooting a 71 to tie for second with Edwards-Hill, who shot 72, on four-under par.

“I knew when I birdied the fifth, I was 10-under then and if I could keep it around level par the lads would have to shoot a really good score to beat me,” Rafferty said.

“This golf course doesn’t throw out too many birdies. We played really good golf over the last few days to get to the score we were on and I knew if I could hold it together, I should get the job done.”

Forrest Little’s Jack McDonnell finished an excellent fourth on two-under 282 after a closing 70 with defending champion Robert Brazill from Naas putting up a spirited defence with a closing 68 for fifth place on 285.

West of Ireland Amateur Open, County Sligo GC (Par 71), sponsored by Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo):

276 C Rafferty (Dundalk) 71 66 67 72;

280 A Edwards-Hill (Chelmsford) 69 72 67 72, C Purcell (Portmarnock) 66 75 68 71;

282 J McDonnell (Forrest Little) 70 71 71 70;

285 R Brazill (Naas) 68 70 79 68;

287 T McLarnon (Massereene) 72 71 70 74;

288 S Doyle (Black Bush) 77 70 70 71, R Mullarney (Galway) 72 70 74 72, H Gillivan (Westport) 71 73 70 74, R McNelis (Fintona) 71 71 71 75;

289 G Cullen (the Links Portmarnock) 74 71 70 74, J Fox (Portmarnock) 73 70 70 76, J Sugrue (Mallow) 72 69 70 78, S Flanagan (Co. Sligo) 70 74 75 70;

290 K Egan (Carton House) 76 72 71 71, M McClean (Malone Golf Club) 74 76 68 72, M Deasy (Lee Valley) 73 73 71 73, J Byrne (Baltinglass) 73 68 77 72, L O’Neill (Connemara) 71 73 71 75, G Collins (Rosslare) 69 76 76 69, M Kennedy (Royal Dublin) 67 70 80 73;

291 N Carroll (Athlone) 73 72 74 72, C Campbell (Warrenpoint) 73 70 74 74, E Griffin (Waterford) 73 68 75 75, G McDermott (Carton House) 71 73 71 76;

292 S Murphy (Portumna) 75 69 76 72, E McCormack (Galway) 71 72 75 74, P Coughlan (Castleknock) 68 76 73 75;

293 A McCormack (Castletroy) 74 75 71 73, T Ford (Co. Sligo) 71 73 72 77, A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire) 69 76 73 75;

294 S Walsh (Portmarnock) 76 74 68 76, G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 76 72 69 77, E O’Brien (Clontarf) 72 74 71 77, R Moran (Castle) 71 74 72 77;

295 R Griffin (Ballybofey & Stranorlar) 80 66 75 74, R Black (Hilton Templepatrick) 78 72 72 73, E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown) 77 73 71 74;

296 M O’Rourke (Royal Tara) 72 72 78 74;

297 J Lyons (Galway) 75 77 71 74, P O’Hanlon (Carton House ) 75 75 71 76, D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh) 75 72 75 75, R O’Connor (Co. Sligo) 72 77 70 78;

298 C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire) 74 75 71 78, B Best (Rathmore) 73 74 73 78, E Murphy (Dundalk) 73 70 77 78, R Williamson (Holywood) 72 75 72 79;

299 S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 75 72 73 79;

302 G O’Mahony (Fota Island) 77 73 73 79;

303 D Flynn (Carton House) 72 75 73 83.

Missed cut:

224 R McCormack (Palmerstown House) 81 70 73, C Denvir (Elm Park) 80 74 70, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 77 72 75, A Marshall (Lisburn) 75 78 71, G Ward (Kinsale) 75 75 74, P McKeever (Castle) 75 74 75, R Abernethy (Dun Laoghaire) 74 73 77, J McVicker (Knock Golf Club) 73 75 76;

225 B Murray (Waterford Castle) 75 79 71, H Foley (Royal Dublin) 75 75 75, K Murphy (Dun Laoghaire) 74 77 74, L Power (Galway) 74 76 75, J Whelan (Newlands) 74 74 77;

226 C Ryan (Dun Laoghaire) 77 73 76, A Decorde (Bordeaux Lac) 77 72 77, R Latimer (Knock) 76 81 69, N Crawford (Mourne) 74 77 75, W Russell (Clandeboye) 74 75 77, M Nolan (Dun Laoghaire) 74 74 78, N Hearns (Mountrath) 71 79 76,

227 D Kitt (Athenry) 78 75 74, S Greenberg (Tandragee) 77 72 78, R Galligan (Elm Park) 75 75 77, P Buckley (Memorial, USA) 74 77 76, J Sabir (Moate) 73 77 77, J Tuohy (Galway Bay) 73 77 77, J Cleary (Elm Park) 71 80 76;

228 M Sinclair (Knock) 76 75 77, F Carr (Kirkistown Castle) 74 80 74, S Underwood (Co. Sligo) 73 80 75, J Stothers (Tandragee) 72 80 76;

229 R Dutton (Tandragee) 81 75 73, S Hogan (Nenagh) 74 74 81;

230 P O’Connor (Macroom) 82 73 75, C Vaughan (Limerick) 80 76 74, J Walsh (Castle) 80 72 78, A Collins (Laytown & Bettystown) 78 77 75, F Kennedy (The Island) 77 80 73, J McCarthy (Grange) 76 80 74, S Cullen (Slieve Russell) 76 76 78, E Sullivan (Carton House) 74 76 80, T Higgins (Roscommon) 74 75 81;

231 R Clarke (The Island) 80 78 73, E Gaughan (Co. Sligo) 80 74 77, P Connolly (Killeen Castle) 78 79 74, M Kennelly (Galway Bay) 77 75 79, S Desmond (Monkstown) 77 74 80, J McCabe (Roganstown) 76 79 76, R Pierse (Grange) 75 75 81, J Maginn (Mourne) 74 77 80, R McCrudden (Royal Portrush) 73 80 78;

232 L Hutchinson (Royal Dublin) 77 81 74;

233 A Smith (Mullingar) 82 75 76, S Carter (Royal Dublin) 80 74 79, D Leufer (Athenry) 77 76 80;

234 O Maguire (Slieve Russell) 81 75 78, J Rackard (Enniscorthy) 81 73 80, K Fitzpatrick (Kinsale) 78 79 77, C Byrne (Woodbrook) 76 76 82, J Monaghan (Royal Dublin) 75 80 79, G McKenna (Donaghadee) 74 79 81;

235 S Barker (Mourne) 77 82 76;

236 T Plunkett (Crover House) 78 79 79;

237 E Farrell (Ardee) 77 80 80;

239 A Hill (Athenry) 86 75 78, D Reidy (Co. Sligo) 81 76 82, R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 78 82 79;

244 K Murphy (Cork Golf Club) 79 81 84;

258 G Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 74 86 98; NR S Irwin (Killeen) 74 78; RTD P O’Keeffe (Douglas) 77 78, C Butler (Kinsale) 76 84; WD A Maguire (Laytown & Bettystown) 73 76, C Dullaghan (Greenore) 77 WD, J Gibson (Fintona) 78 WD; NS M Looby (Greystones) 82 78, E Rumley (Kinsale) 76 84; WD J Hadnett (Castletroy) 81 WD, K Howard (Dromoland) 78 86; RTD A Grant (Dundalk), B Cashman (Belvoir Park).

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