Shay’s Short Game: Maiden Challenge Tour title for Callum Hill
Milltown’s Alex Gleeson secures victory in the Bridgestone Order of Merit
Alex Gleeson from Milltown after winning the Bridgestone Order of Merit at The European Club. Photograph: Cashman
Maiden victory for Scotland’s Hill
Scotland’s Calum Hill raced up the leaderboard with a closing 64 to go with earlier rounds of 66, 67 and 68 to claim his maiden European Challenge Tour title in dramatic fashion at the Galgorm Resort and Spa NI Open.
Hill started the day four shots behind overnight co-leaders Scott Henry and Victor Perez and began to climb the leaderboard immediately by driving the green on the 336-yard par four second before going on to hole the eagle putt.
After reaching the turn in 33 Hill made his move over the back nine, reeling off four birdies in eight holes before narrowly missing an eagle putt on the 18th.
The 23-year-old tapped in for birdie to reach 19 under par, 265 overall, and after Henry dropped four shots over his closing three holes it was Hill who was crowned champion.
Henry shot rounds of 67, 66, 64 and 69 to share second place with Stuart Manley from Wales who carded 64, 68, 66 and 68 for 266.
With victory Hill rises up 156 places on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah to 43rd position with 33,379 points. After sharing second place with Henry, Manley moves up to fourth place in the Rankings with 95,649 points.
Home favourite Cormac Sharvin fired 69, 71, 67 and 63 for 280 - five shots back in a share of ninth place, a result which made him the inaugural winner of the Bridgestone Award, which was given to the leading Irish player under 30.
Other Irish scores included Jonathan Caldwell 68, 66, 71, 67 for 272; Michael McGeady 71, 68, 67, 70 for 276; Niall Kearney 72, 70, 70, 68 for 280 and Conor O’Rourke 71, 71, 784, 67 for 283.
Gleeson takes Order of Merit crown
Castle international Alex Gleeson has finished first in the race for the Bridgestone Order of Merit. Gleeson overtook long-time leader Robin Dawson at the final event of the season. The 24-year-old Dubliner took top prize thanks to his semi-final run at the AIG Irish Close in what was the first year of the Bridgestone series.
“To win the Bridgestone Order of Merit is very rewarding for me,” said Gleeson. “My goal at the start of the year was to get into contention in as many events as possible.
A memorable season for Gleeson began at the West of Ireland in April, where he was runner-up, and he backed up that performance the following month at the Flogas Irish Amateur Open, where he was tied second to Dawson.
That victory put Dawson ahead on the order of merit but Gleeson eventually reeled him in at the final event of the series. By reaching the semi-finals of the Irish Close, Gleeson finally moved past Dawson in the race for the Bridgestone title. In all there were eight events in the series.
BRIDGESTONE ORDER OF MERIT - TOP 10
1 Alex Gleeson (Castle) 615; 2 Robin Dawson (Tramore) 503; 3 Robert Cannon (Balbriggan) 430; 4 Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 420; 5 James Sugrue (Mallow) 404; 6 Mark Power (Kilkenny) 393; 7 Robert Brazill (Naas) 375; 8 Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas) 351; 9 Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Rowan Lester (Hermitage) 306.
Walsh and King for Youth Olympics
Lauren Walsh from Castlewarden and Athenry’s David Kitt have been nominated by the Confederation of Golf in Ireland (CGI) for selection by the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) on the Ireland team at this year’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Youth Olympic Games take place from October 6th-18th and the golf competitions begin on October 9th at Hurlingham. There are three separate golf competitions: Men’s Individual Stroke Play; Women’s Individual Stroke Play; and Mixed Team.
The men’s and women’s individual events are 54-hole stroke play tournaments and take place from October 9th-11th. The mixed team event runs from October 13th-15th and is played over 72 holes - round one is fourball; round two is foursomes and round three is a team score combining men’s and women’s individual scores.
Lauren Walsh, who has jumped over 400 spots this year on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), had her name put forward by the Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU) for nomination by the CGI. Walsh first represented Ireland at the Girls Home Internationals in 2016 and made her senior debut at this year’s European Amateur Team Championships. At the Connacht Women’s Championship in Ballinrobe last June, Walsh set a course record 67 on her way to victory.
David Kitt came through a qualification system run by the Golfing Union of Ireland (GUI) to secure his place at the Youth Olympic Games. Kitt came out on top based on his performances at five listed events: Connacht Boys Amateur Open, Flogas Irish Amateur Open, East of Ireland Amateur Open, Irish Boys Amateur Open, and Leinster Boys Amateur Open. In 2017, Kitt reached the final of the AIG Irish Amateur Close and this year he represented Ireland at the European Boys Team Championship.
Team manager James Corcoran (GUI) will accompany the Ireland players in Buenos Aires.
Leinster go for four in-a-row
Leinster have won the Senior Interprovincial Series title for the last three years and with three current champions on the side, Robbie Cannon fresh from his victory in the Irish Close Championship last week, Robert Brazill, West of Ireland Champion and South of Ireland Champion, Caolan Raftery there should be plenty of great golf on display at Athenry on August 29th-31st.
New caps include Robert Brazil, Alan Fahy and Robert Moran which keeps a healthy mix of energy on the side and which has worked well for Team Captain, Seamus McParland who has had unparalleled success with the team over the last three years.
Leinster Team: Robert Brazill (Naas), Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan), Alan Fahy (Dunlaoghaire), Robert Moran (Castle), Mark Power (Kilkenny), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk),
Eugene Smith (Laytown & Bettystown), Jonathan Yates (Naas). Non-travelling Reserve - Charlie Denvir (Elm Park). Team Captain - Seamus McParland (Greenore). Team Manager - John Cullen (Enniscorthy).
The Connacht Senior Selection Committee under the captaincy of Diarmuid Caulfield (Galway) has selected an impressive team to represent Connacht Golf at Athenry.
The team is full of Championship winners across various age groups and as well as many Internationals, current and former, as it has a super mix of youth and experience.
Connacht: Alex Gleeson (Castle), Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo), TJ Ford (Co Sligo), Allan Hill (Athenry), David Kitt (Athenry), Joe Lyons (Galway), Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little), Ronan Mullarney (Galway). Captain: Diarmuid Caulfield (Galway). Manager: Dara Bruen (Castlerea).
O’Reillys best in Father and Son
Biff and Edward O’Reilly won the 29th-annual World Invitational Father & Son Tournament at Waterville Golf Links in Co Kerry. They came out on top as 98 teams from nine countries teed it up in the popular event run by Carr Golf.
Playing out of New York’s Winged Foot Golf Club and Westchester Country Club, respectively, Biff and Edward finished with a 125-point total in the three-day Stableford scoring competition to win the championship division by a decisive 10 points over the second-place team of Daniel and Oscar Masters from Scotland’s Murrayfield Golf Club.
With a three-day total of 104, Steven Lee and Steven Lee Jr. of Westchester Country Club won the Gross Division by a single point over John and Michael Anthony from Indiana’s Morris Park Country Club.
Rice strikes late for victory
Limerick’s Tim Rice closed with a best-of-the-day 66 to clinch PGA EuroPro Tour’s “FORE” Business Championship at East Sussex National Golf Resort & Spa.
Rice started the day five shots behind leader Matt Cort and despite going out in two-under 34, he was still four shots behind Cort. However, a blemish-free back nine with four birdies, including a superb 12 footer from the fringe on the 18th, gave Rice a six-under 66 and the clubhouse lead on 11-under par.
Cort’s back nine was a completely different story and after bogeys at the 15th and 16th left him needing a par at the last to force a playoff, he bogeyed the 18th for a 74 and a share of fourth place.
Dave Coupland also collected a top ten finish to extend the gap at the top of the leaderboard with just two regular events left in the season.
The win sees Rice leap up 59 spots to 13th in the Race To Desert Springs.
Malahide are fourball champions
The Leinster final of the All-Ireland fourball saw Malahide go one step further than last year when they secured the Leinster pennant with a 3½ - 1½ win Wexford in the final at Tullamore.
The Malahide pairing of Gary Mahood and Mick Murphy got Malahide off to a great start winning 5 and 4. However, Wexford answered back swiftly after that when former hurling great from the model county, John Quigley - with partner John O’ Brien - had an impressive 6 and 5 win. Mick Gaffney and Paraic Conlon secured the second win for Malahide and things were quite tight, but when Noel Minihan and Kieran O’Dwyer played the percentage game on the 16th to win the hole with a bogey the winning putt was greeted with a huge cheer from the large number of Malahide supporters. Malahide now progress to represent Leinster in the All-Ireland finals at Limerick Golf Club on September 15th.
Austrian Spitz wins at Ardglass
Emma Spitz became the first Austrian player to win the Girls British Open Amateur Championship, defeating compatriot Isabella Holpfer 2 and 1 in a compelling 18-hole final at Ardglass. The 18-year-old emerged from a field of 144 competitors from 24 countries to seal the biggest victory of her amateur career, joining a roll of honour that includes Anna Nordqvist, Suzann Pettersen and the new Ricoh Women’s British Open Champion Georgia Hall.
Following this success, Spitz has earned an exemption into Final Qualifying for the Women’s British Open next year and will bid to secure a place in the starting field for Woburn.
The two-time Junior Solheim Cup player has also secured a spot at next year’s inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.
Irish hopes ended in the second round. Hannah Darling, the Girls Under-16 Open champion, won three holes from the 10th as the 15-year-old turned around her tie with Annabel Wilson (Lurgan), prevailing on the 18th. The last Irish player standing, local Beth Coulter from Kirkistown Castle, was then ousted in the final match of the day, defeated by Huddersfield’s Charlotte Heath 4 and 3.
Gough is Amateur champion
England’s Conor Gough defeated Jose Luis Ballester 3 and 1 to win the Boys Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush. Gough becomes the first Englishman to lift the trophy since Matthew Fitzpatrick’s victory at Notts (Hollinwell) in 2012. He will now play in The 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock and The Island, and gains an exemption into Final Qualifying for The 148th Open, also at Royal Portrush, as a result of his victory.
Kilkenny’s Mark Power made his exit in the quarter-finals. All square with three to play against Lake Nona based English player Joseph Pagdin, Power lost the 16th and 17th to fall 2 and 1.