With Kieran Grimley, Gary McAleavey and Joe Rooney already having tasted monthly glory this season, 119 contenders took to the city’s fairways on 30 July in pursuit of the latest Medal up for grabs at County Armagh Golf Club. And getting his hands on said silverware in the Alexander Mills-sponsored event was Sean Dougan Senior, who laid waste to all of those opponents with a quite peerless Sunday performance.
Dougan has already demonstrated his matchplay prowess this term in qualifying for the latter stages of both the Smith Cup singles and the Charlemont Cup doubles along with his son, also called Sean and no stranger to honours himself. Sean Senior even featured among the prizewinners in June’s ‘9 & Wine’ event but, on this occasion, he proved himself to be more than adept at coping with the challenges posed by the game’s bread-and-butter format: 18-hole strokeplay.
A gross 75 didn't appear to be in the offing when uninspiring early exchanges left Dougan four over par after five holes. However, it was at that juncture that the then 11-handicapper really hit his straps, backing up consecutive pars at the 6th, 7th and 8th with a brilliant birdie at the 9th. Even better than that latently fruitful three-over-par front nine was a homeward dander of just 38 strokes, where another birdie at Sequoias iced a back-nine victory cake also boasting five pars and acceptable bogeys at the 10th, 16th and 18th.
Sean Dougan, winner of the July Medal sponsored by Alexander Mills, is congratulated by County Armagh Golf Club Captain Richard Stewart.
Sean’s sublime nett 64 kept him two shots clear of a chasing pack headed by the in-form Paul Rice, who finished runner-up in the overall standings. Having already secured a Sunday Stableford second prize and a Captain’s Day category top spot in recent weeks, Rice continued his handicap-slashing hot streak with a terrific nett 66 that included a birdie at the 4th in addition to seven pars. This impressive campaign has seen Paul’s handicap plummet from 20 to 15 since the start of 2017, a statistic that must give the Keady man much satisfaction.
Birdies at the 1st, 9th, 15th and 18th helped Jerome Leer on his way to a typically high-class gross 71 that earned him first place in the category 1 pecking order. Jerome’s nett 67 was one stroke fewer than Adam Hunniford who, fresh from his McAnenly Transport tournament success three weeks previously, carded an excellent 77 in which his scintillating run of two birdies and five pars at the start of the back nine was undermined slightly by a regrettable 5, 6 finish.
Seamus Toner prevailed in category 2 with a fine nett 68 of his own. Toner, too, may reflect ruefully on a disappointing 6, 6, 5 closing sequence but seven pars elsewhere are a more accurate indicator of his meritorious day’s play. One shot adrift of Seamus was Dromiskin dynamo Garrett O’Reilly, who fired no fewer than a dozen pars on his second nine and might well have troubled the leaders but for some putting torment on his outward trek.
“Who needs enemies when I have friends like these?” may have been the painful question pondered by Stephen Nugent after his brilliant nett 66 lost out to playing partner Paul Rice on a break of tie. Nevertheless, Nugent should, and no doubt will, be delighted with his category 3 triumph and one-shot handicap reduction. Jimmy Kelly filled second position here with a creditable nett 68 that was lit up by a birdie at the Old Third — for anyone who’s wondering, that’s the 4th!
On Wednesday 2 August, Keady Kingpin Ian O’Hea overcame a poor start to eventually return a solid 36 points that was enough to prevail in the Seniors’ Open. The young lads’ Open on the same day was won by Niall Brady, whose fantastic gross 72 was the kind of round that, in a bygone era, Nick Faldo customarily produced on the final day of another Open Championship conquest, comprising as it did the steadiness of 16 pars and just two bogeys.