County Armagh Golf Club's 2017 Open Week concluded on 19 August with Gary McAleavey lifting the Gerry Lenagh Memorial Trophy after victory in a tournament often regarded as one of the ‘majors' in the club's calendar.
On a blustery Saturday when a damp course yielded little run, scoring among the 202 contenders in the stableford event sponsored by Morgan McLernon Transport Distribution was slightly more conservative than usual, if no less impressive. Gary's hard-fought 40-point winning tally was aided by a useful haul of five homeward pars, which proved decisive in seeing off on a break of tie the significant challenge of his older brother Pat, who captured the runner-up award with a terrific 40-point return of his own.
Honorary Treasurer Pat can reflect with pride on a seven-par showing that clips his handicap from 17 to 16. And, while one can only guess as to the extent of this sibling rivalry, he surely couldn't have chosen a better man to lose out to! For his part, Gary's classy Gerry Lenagh success is merely the latest in a glorious season in which he has also secured both the May Medal and a massive nine-shot handicap reduction.
Oh brother! Gary McAleavey pipped Pat to the Gerry Lenagh top prize on a break of tie.
John Vernon tends to reserve his very best golf for Sunday competitions, but an outstanding gross 75 consisting of 13 pars and five bogeys showed that he can do it on a Saturday too; he came 3rd with 39 points. Thirty-eight points was a popular score as those in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th places all recorded that total. Bagging 4th prize was Niall McGeown, who birdied the 17th and registered five pars elsewhere, and in-form Adam Cromwell followed up his midweek success — more of which later — with four birdies and a 5th-place finish.
An excellent outing featuring birdies at the 3rd and 6th clinched 6th position for former Club Captain Richard Black, while Lee Campbell crept into 7th with a wonderful gross 73 to match Adam's. The prolific Jarlath McReynolds particularly enjoyed the penultimate holes of each nine, eagling the 8th and birdieing the 17th in a one-over-par round that represented the day's lowest gross. Stewart Stevenson was one shot back in the gross pecking order with a characteristically assured 71.
County Armagh Golf Club Captain, Richard Stewart, presents the Gerry Lenagh Memorial Trophy to Gary McAleavey, winner of the annual Open Stableford competition sponsored by Morgan McLernon Transport Ltd. Also pictured are other prizewinners (L-R) Lee Campbell, John Vernon, Jarlath McReynolds and Pat McAleavey.
Open Stroke, Daly Motor Spares Ltd, Saturday 12 August
Open Week had kicked off seven days earlier on 12 August, when quite scintillating results in the stroke event sponsored by Daly Motor Spares Ltd were evidence of the somewhat more favourable conditions. Coming out on top among a highly competitive 182-strong field here was Gervase Hughes, whose exceptional gross 74 and accruing nett 64 contained birdies at the 3rd, 4th and 17th and, perhaps most pleasingly, renders him a single-figure handicapper once more.
Laurence Corr also carded a brilliant nett 64 but had to settle for 2nd spot on account of Gervase's superior back nine. Corr's round featured one birdie, eight pars and, satisfyingly, nothing worse than a bogey. A masterly gross 71 incorporating a hat-trick of birdies enabled Neil Linton to fill the bronze-medal slot, while Brian McGuigan plundered no fewer than 13 pars on his way to 4th prize and the same superb nett 65 tally.
Nett 65 was also the figure declared by Kevin McElvanna, as a 5th-place performance marked the latest milestone in the Madden man's eye-catching debut campaign at County Armagh. Rodney Villiers's clickety-click nett 66 for 6th included six pars, and Calum Connell reeled off five pars in a row from the 12th to the 16th as he nabbed 7th prize on the same nett score. One eagle plus four birdies on the spin plus two more birdies plus six pars plus five bogeys equalled a peerless three-under-par exhibition with which John Maguire headed the gross standings by two strokes from Jerome Leer, who shot a formidable 69 of his own.
Prizewinners in the Open Stroke event on 12 August, Brian McGuigan and Kevin McElvanna, are presented with their prizes by Peter Day from sponsors Daly Motor Spares Ltd and County Armagh Golf Club Captain, Richard Stewart. The competition was won by Gervase Hughes.
Open Mixed Greensomes, Gaffney Estate Agents, Sunday 13 August
Leer was at it again 24 hours later when he and Mary Black scooped the best gross award in the Open Mixed Greensomes on Sunday 13 August. This Gaffney Estate Agents-sponsored event was won by Gerry and Jacqueline Kelly with a fine nett 66, while the accolades for 2nd and 3rd were carried off by Cormac O'Hare and Sylvia Ashe and the visiting Nugent pairing respectively.
Prizewinners in the Gaffney Estate Agents-sponsored Open Mixed Greensomes played on Sunday 13 August.
Club Stableford, Sunday 13 August
In a Club Stableford competition on the same day, Nathan Grimley led the way with a magnificent 43-point scorecard boasting stunning back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th and three more birdies elsewhere. Brian McGuigan capped a highly profitable weekend with a brilliant gross 73 that was one stroke fewer than his Saturday showing and handed him the runner-up gong.
On the category front, winner Nathan's old man, Kieran, ruled among the 0-12 handicappers with a high-quality gross 76 for 41 points. Kieran pipped Patrick Quinn on a break of tie despite the latter registering three birdies in a gross 77. Conlon Rice accepted the category 2 plaudits with 39 points after symmetrical nines of 42 shots, while 2nd-placed Paddy Burns opened with a hat-trick of pars and eventually signed for 37 points.
In category 3, Gary Jordan notched five consecutive pars either side of the turn to land the honours with 41 points, which was one more than Tomas McElmeel who reached the halfway point in just 40 blows. Sunday's gross prize went to the aforementioned Lee Campbell for his marvellous one-over-par performance.
Open Stroke, Holmes and Doran Building Surveyors Ltd, Tuesday 15 August
It was back to strokeplay for the Holmes and Doran Surveyors-sponsored Open on Tuesday 15 August, when a nett 64 earned victory for Adam Cromwell. The five-handicapper's sublime one-under-par offering was made up of three birdies, 13 pars and two bogeys. The runner-up berth here was filled by Dean Chambers, whose handicap has been trimmed to 14 on account of his fabulous nett 65.
With all three posting a nett 66, back-nine countbacks separated Simon McGurk, Rónan O'Reilly and Conor McGuigan into 3rd, 4th and 5th positions respectively. McGurk recorded three birdies in a gross 78 and O'Reilly fired four in his gross 73, while McGuigan racked up 10 pars but was undermined a little by a 7, 5 closing sequence.
Two fat ladies, an eight at the 8th, was the only blot on Mark Frazer's copybook as, otherwise, the new single-figured handicapper played very nicely in finishing 6th with a nett 67. Meanwhile, Lee Campbell — that man again! — nabbed 7th spot with a customarily accomplished gross 72 and resultant nett 67. After his gobsmacking back-to-back holes-in-one, Joe Rooney retained his composure admirably in proceeding to complete his 18 holes in only 67 hits to take the gross honours. Runner-up in the gross reckoning was Jarlath McReynolds with a none-too-shabby gross 72.
County Armagh Golf Club Captain, Richard Stewart, makes a special presentation to 16-year-old Joe Rooney to mark his incredible back-to-back holes-in-one in the Holmes and Doran Surveyors-sponsored Open Stroke tournament on 15 August.
Open Stableford, Wednesday 16 August
The regular Wednesday Stableford tournament also fell under the Open Week umbrella and saw Oliver Connell triumph with a 40-point return that would have been even heftier but for a punishing 8, 4, 6 climax to proceedings. Happily for Connell, his being just one over par for an eight-hole stretch in the middle of his round painted a more accurate picture of his splendid day's play.
Oliver's nearest challenger was Dean Chambers, who appeared on the podium once again after a serene round of seven pars, 11 bogeys and 39 points. Conversely, comprising five birdies, seven pars, four bogeys and two double bogeys, the 39-point display that grabbed 3rd place for Shea Brady was wonderfully chaotic. Brian McGuigan concluded his five-day hot streak by prevailing among the over-55s with 37 points, while Kieran Beagan and Terry Chin both posted the creditable total of 34 to clinch 2nd and 3rd spots respectively.