Shay’s Short Game: Another top five finish for Leona Maguire

Paul McBride to the fore for Wake Forest, Kevin Le Blanc named in Ireland team

Maguire second at Gator Invitational

After holding a one stroke lead with 18 holes remaining, Leona Maguire finished second overall in the Gator Invitational, at the Mark Bostick Golf Course in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s Maria Torres carded a four-under-par, 66, in the final round to claim medal honours. Maguire, carded a one-under-par, 69, in the final round and finished two shots off the lead with rounds of 71, 67 and 69 for a three-under, 207. It marked her fifth top five finish of the season.

Maguire opened her day with three straight pars, before suffering her only bogey at the par four fourth hole. She came back with birdies at the sixth and 12th to play her final 14 holes at two-under-par to finish with a 69. Maguire's 44 pars led the field over the 54 holes. Playing as an individual, Lisa Maguire tied for 69th with rounds of 77, 76 and 82.


Florida fired a three-day total of 847, which was seven-over-par to win the team event. The Blue Devils registered rounds of 289, 283 and 283 to finish with an 855. Rounding out the top 10 teams were UCF (863), Campbell (882), Clemson (884), Maryland (889), FIU (890), South Florida (897), Virginia Tech (899) and Troy (901).

Duke will next compete in the LSU Tiger Golf Classic March 24th-26th in Baton Rouge, Los Angeles.

McBride third in Florida

Paul McBride helped the Wake Forest University men’s golf team to capture its second victory of the season as the final round of the General Hackler Championship at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Florida was cancelled due to rain and sleet.

The 21-year-old international from The Island, a semi-finalist in last year’s British Amateur and a bronze medalist with Ireland in the Eisenhower Trophy, finished third on seven-under-par at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club as Wake Forest took the team honours by 10 strokes from Kent State.

McBride opened with a 67 to take the lead, then added a 70 in the second round to finish two strokes behind Wake Forest team-mate Will Zalatoris, who shot rounds of 68 and 67 to win by one shot from Kent State’s Ian Holt on nine-under par.

The Deacs will return to action at the Valspar Collegiate Invitational in Palm City, Florida, next weekend.

LeBlanc to make senior debut

Rookie Kevin Le Blanc has been named in the Ireland team alongside Stuart Grehan, Alex Gleeson and Robin Dawson for European Nations Cup at Sotogrande at the end of this month

Victorious at La Reserva in 2016 where Jack Hume also won the individual title, Ireland will defend their title at Sotogrande from March 29th - April 1st.

Le Blanc makes his senior debut on the back of a superb run at the Spanish Amateur Championship, where he reached the semi-final. Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan, who qualified second at the Spanish Amateur, is one of three players from Maynooth University to make the team along with Le Blanc and Tramore’s Robin Dawson. AIG Irish Close Champion Alex Gleeson (Castle) completes the four-man lineup.

England to host European championship

England Golf will host one of the top events in women’s amateur golf when it stages the 2019 European ladies’ championship at Parkstone Golf Club in Dorset. The champion will be rewarded with a place in the Ricoh Women’s British Open and past winners include England’s Bronte Law in 2016.

The course, ranked in the top 100 courses of Britain and Ireland, will offer competitors a heathland challenge, coupled with a stunning setting known for its natural beauty.

This will be the third time England Golf hosts a European event in six years, following the European ladies’ team championship of 2013 and this summer’s European amateur championship at Walton Heath, from 28 June- 1 July.

The European ladies’ championship has been held once before in England, at Formby Golf Club, Lancashire, in 1997 when Italy’s Silva Cavalleri successfully defended her title.

McGrane again in the frame

Damien McGrane was in the prizes yet again while one of the favourites for the West of Ireland Championship Robbie Cannon took the gross in the Tuesday Winter Series outing at Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links. While McGrane’s level par 71 gave him the nett prize in on a countback from Portmarnock four-handicapper James Temple, Cannon’s 71 edged out Elm Park’s Charlie Denvir for the gross prize by a stroke with Laytown and Bettystown’s Cian Geraghty third in a field of 62 with a 73.

A former winner of the South of Ireland and Irish Amateur Open Championships, Cannon could be one to watch at Rosses Point from April 14th-18th. While he did not play last year, the 38-year old Balbriggan man was a quarter-finalist in 2015 and the beaten finalist in 2014, when Jack Hume triumphed by one hole.

McMullen fourth in Spanish seniors

After leading going into the final round Gertie McMullen had to settle for a fourth place finish in the three-round Spanish senior women’s international amateur golf championship at Isla Canela Golf Club, Ayamonte.

McMullen from The Island carded rounds of 77, 78 and 79 for 234 - four shots behind the Dutch winner, Nan Croockewit-Roland Holst who scored 79, 78 and 73 for 230. Jane Rees from Wales was runner-up, two shots behind the winner, with scores of 80, 78 and 74 for 232.

Ireland’s other qualifiers Kate Evans shot 85 80 85 for 35th place on 250 while Marilyn Henderson finished on 258 after rounds of 88, 88 and 82.

O’Malley takes Hilary prize

Royal Dublin’s Brendan O’Malley won the RaboDirect sponsored Hilary Golf Society outing at Laytown and Bettystown. The three-handicapper returned a fine 69, beating fellow Royal Dublin member Hugh Foley (scratch) by a shot. Foley finished with three birdies but despite his strong finish, he came up just short.

Co Louth’s Gerard Dunne (plus 2), the runner-up in last year’s East of Ireland Championship, claimed the gross prize with an excellent two-under-par 69. The team prize went to Portmarnock’s John Greene (plus 1) and five handicappers John Hutchinson from Royal Dublin and Martin Kelly from Forrest Little with a 12 under par 59.

The next outing takes place at Co Louth Golf Club, Baltray, on Sunday, March 26th.

End of an era as McGuirk bows out

IT was the end of an era recently in Howth Golf Club when professional John McGuirk’s association with the club came to an end. McGuirk’s retirement from the club marked the end of a 50 year link with the north Dublin club. He had taken over as club professional during the 1970s.

His shop at the club became renowned throughout the country for its exceptional good value. With him on that journey in the shop was Jimmy Tully who has also retired after 20 years of service. Of course there are still numerous other McGuirks Golf outlets in operation throughout the country.

The club - who celebrated their Centenary Year in 2016 and who this year appointed their first female President in Ann Coleman - have advertised for a new professional and the interview process is currently underway. It is hoped that the new professional will be unveiled in the coming months.

As part of a five year strategic development plan the club are redesigning the pro shop and the club Council has commissioned a special plaque marking the occasion of 50 years’ service by John McGuirk which will be unveiled once the renovations in the shop are completed.