Shay’s Short Game: Kevin LeBlanc ‘gutted’ not to win in Spain

Trinity win Colleges Matchplay Sprint title, ‘TheFairWay’ campaign gets under way

Kevin LeBlanc, The Island and Maynooth University, who reached the semi-final of the Spanish Amateur Championship at El Saler, Valenciato.

Kevin LeBlanc, The Island and Maynooth University, who reached the semi-final of the Spanish Amateur Championship at El Saler, Valenciato.


LeBlanc goes out in Spanish semi-final

Welshman Jack Davidson (Llanwern), who beat Ireland’s Kevin LeBlanc 2 and 1 in the semi-final, staged a strong comeback from twice being two down, to beat English teenager Marco Penge by 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final of the Spanish men’s amateur international championship at El Saler, Valenciato.

The 18-year old LeBlanc, a member of The Island GC and a student at Maynooth University, beat Spain’s Ángel Hidalgo 2 and 1 in the quarter-finals but he had to bow to Davidson’s short game wizardry.

“I played well and I was level par in windy conditions,” LeBlanc said. “But he got some really good up and downs from 40-60 yards a couple of times for par and I didn’t get much going. It was a good week but I still feel a bit gutted because I felt I really could’ve won here. The greens really suited my eye.”

LeBlanc will be one of the fancied players for the West of Ireland Championship at County Sligo, where he reached the quarter-finals last year.

Trinity surprise in matchplay sprint

Trinity College overcame the University of Ulster’s B team by four holes to claim the inaugural Irish Colleges Matchplay Sprint title at a wet Woodbrook last week.

On a day where studying rather than golf would have been more favourable eight teams had progressed to the knockout stages after Thursday’s round-robin group format, and extra holes were needed for two of the four quarter-finals with the University of Ulster B and Maynooth University A overcoming their teammates to meet IADT Dun Laoghaire A and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in the semi-finals.

In perhaps the upset of the competition, Trinity knocked out Maynooth’s A team with Cillian Tully and Conor Fitzgerald beating Eanna Griffin and Kyle McCarron by two holes as Jack Killeen and Nick Armstrong halved with Eugene Smith and Liam Grehan.

IADT bowed out to UU’s A team but with the third place playoff match conceded due to the inclement weather, they were awarded their first bronze medal.

“It’s such a surprise, I am not sure how we got here but we are delighted all the same,” said TCD captain, Nick Armstrong after his team’s four-hole win in the final.

“The format has worked really well, it levels things out and makes the game so much quicker which is great. “It has been one of the most enjoyable formats we have played in Intervarsity Golf thus far.”

The Student Series continues later this month with the Munster Students Amateur Open at Cork Golf Club from March 20th-22th.

Wilson the only Irish qualifier

Ireland’s only qualifier Annabel Wilson went out in the first round of the matchplay stages at the Spanish International Ladies Amateur Championship. After qualifying in sixth place she faced Spaniard Teresa Diez Moliner and lead from the outset until the 12th. Moliner rallied winning three holes to close out the match 2 and 1.

Frida Kinhult from Sweden, the fifth seed, won the title at Sherry Golf, Jerez near Cadiz. Frida, whose older brother Marcus won the Lytham Trophy tournament at Royal Lytham St Annes in 2015, beat Italy’s Alessia Nobilio at the 19th hole in the final.

It was a tough couple of days for the rest of the Irish, especially for Chloe Ryan from Castletroy, who had to withdraw due to injury after the first round of strokeplay.

Also missing the cut were Maria Dunne from Skerries who shot 154 (76, 78), Lisburn’s Paula Grant on 160 (82, 78) and Georgia Carr from Milltown on 169 (87, 82).

GUI “TheFairWay” campaign gets under way

The Golfing Union of Ireland is spearheading the campaign for fair and consistent handicapping by tackling the cheats in an innovative Handicap Awareness Month. Throughout the month of March, the GUI will be running TheFairWay campaign, which is designed to educate players and clubs alike.

The game and the handicapping system rely on the integrity of the individual and it is up to every player to observe the spirit and intent of the handicapping system. A dedicated website - - has been set up so clubs can access essential information, including a “how-to” guide for administering and maintaining handicaps.

“There is a culture of tolerating handicap cheating which isn’t the case for other forms of cheating within golf,” said Pat Finn, CEO of the GUI. “The finger seems to be pointed at the GUI or the branches of the GUI or indeed to club committees to deal with this problem. I don’t think it can be.

“It is endemic and the only real way of tackling it is at member-to-member level where everyone takes a proactive approach in dealing with the issue and calling out fellow members on their behaviour and saying it is not going to be tolerated anymore.”

To hammer home the message, the GUI have defined handicap cheating and it is prominently displayed on the Union’s website: “Playing in a qualifying competition and setting out with the aim of ‘getting 0.1 back’ or not trying your best at any point in the round with the aim of manipulating your handicap is CHEATING.”

The Union reminds clubs that Handicap Secretaries should not act on their own, pointing out that decisions should be made as a committee in accordance with the rules.

Lahinch to host Palmer Cup

Lahinch Golf Club has been named as the host venue for the 2020 Arnold Palmer Cup. The Co Clare links, which celebrates its 125th anniversary this year and hosts the Home Internationals in 2019, will welcome teams of men and women representing the United States and the Rest of the World from July 3th-5th, 2020.

It will be the fourth Irish staging of the event following Doonbeg (2002), Ballybunion (2004), Royal Portrush (2010) and Royal County Down (2012).

Since its inception in 1997, the Arnold Palmer Cup (co-founded by the late Arnold Palmer and The Golf Coaches Association of America) has grown from strength to strength and is now regarded as the world’s leading collegiate golf competition, run on a Ryder Cup style basis.

From 2018, the leading collegiate lady golfers will participate in the annual competition which will be expanded to include golfers from across all six continents in the annual USA versus the Rest of the World matchplay tournament.

Club professionals at Dromoland Castle

The 2017 Irish Club Professional Tournament will be played at Dromoland Golf and Country Club in Co. Clare, on Thursday, May 4th and Friday, May 5th. The event, which will feature a prize fund of €12,750, will be preceded by a Pro-Am Tournament on Wednesday, May 3rd.

The tournament will be sponsored by Carr Golf. The Irish Club Professional Tournament was launched in 1993 and previous winners include three-time champions Damian Mooney, Neil Manchip and Leslie Walker. Waterville’s David Higgins added his name to the list in 2016 when he edged out Michael McDermott on the second hole of a play-off at Dunmurry Springs.

Parties interested in sponsoring or entering a team in the Pro-AM should contact Dromoland Golf and Country Club on 061 368 444 or email

Olympic committee warn Tokyo 2020 golf venue

The International Olympic Committee has warned that it will move the Tokyo 2020 golf tournament from the current venue if the club doesn’t change its policy on female members. Kasumigaseki Country Club is scheduled to host the competition, but currently does not allow women to become full members or play on a Sunday.

The club’s board members met last month to discuss the issue, but have still yet to make a decision about changing their policy. The venue has previously hosted the Japan Open and the Asian Amateur Championship

IOC vice president John Coates visited Tokyo this week and remains hopeful the event won’t need to change venues, but has warned that time is running out for a decision to be made.

“My understanding is as recent as this week there have been more discussions with the club, that it’s heading in the right direction for them to have a non-discriminatory membership,” Coates said.

Justin Rose is the defending men’s Olympic champion after winning gold in Rio ahead of Henrik Stenson, while South Korea’s Inbee Park took top spot in the women’s event.

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