Gary Ward had a double win last weekend, the Kinsale man scooped two senior scratch cups over the course of two days. On Saturday he headed to Kanturk and went around the North Cork course in one under par to record his second win of the year. On Sunday it was off to Co Clare for the 36 Dromoland Senior Scratch Cup, and Ward topped the leaderboard again after shooting rounds of 69 and 77. Ward won the Cobh Senior Scratch Cup in May, shooting a course record 66 on the way to his first senior scratch cup title. Ward played Kanturk for the first time on Saturday and it was a winning debut as he described. “It was my first time playing Kanturk and all I knew was that it was tight” said Ward. “I hit the ball where I could see it and played really steady golf the whole way around. The pins were very tough, a few hanging off slopes so it was tough to put it close. I never went over par and never went better than -2, my 3rd birdie on the par 3 16th saved my round and took my pars on 17 and 18 for a 70 to win by 1 from Peter Duane.”
After that win it was off to Dromoland for the Top Golfer 36 hole scratch cup. There was a top class field in place on Sunday including locals Fergus Harold, Tony Cleary and David Hunt. Gary reached the halfway point (18 holes) on three under par and he found himself leading by five shots. That included a 15 foot putt to save par on the 18th. Conditions deteriorated in the afternoon making it difficult for golfers in the second round. Although he was five shots over par, Ward did enough to hold his lead and claim the win.
“Dromoland was playing very long due to the soft ground” explained Ward. “Pins were extremely difficult so hitting the greens was crucial. I got off to a hot start with birdies on 2,3,4,5,7 in the first round and turned -4 and happily accepted a +1 back nine for 69 (-3). Conditions got tough in the second round with stronger wind and a bit of rain. I was disappointed with a 77 after struggling on the back 9, but when I found out I had won I was delighted.” Gary had called on the experience of John Murphy while preparing for the competition, Murphy played several rounds in Dromoland last year before and during the Munster Boys. “Since John had won Munster Boys there last year I had him talk me through the course and tell me everything he knew a few days beforehand. I told him I’d love to win it just before he went away. We were all together on Sunday evening watching the golf when I got the phone call saying I had won by a shot.”
Gary has been part of the Kinsale Senior Cup and Barton Shield team this year and came through the very successful Kinsale junior academy which saw Mark Healy, Eric Rumley, John Murphy and Cathal Butler all come through in the past few years. Ward along with Murphy and Butler were recently honoured by Kinsale Golf Club in a reception to mark their various achievements over the past 12 months. Ward shot a course record in Cobh, Butler did the same in Newlands with a 64 and Murphy won both the Munster Students and Leinster Students this year. Ward has now matched the achievements of Cathal Butler and Peter O’Keeffe in winning three senior scratch cups in a season. And he’ll have a few more opportunities to add to that. Kinsale are holding their scratch cup in September and there are further cups on offer in Doneraile, Fermoy and Castlemartyr in the coming weeks.
It’s been a bit of a funny year for Gary, and he’s experienced a few lean weeks and months before he hit form in May. “I struggled a bit at the start of this year but I’m finding my game come together again. I’m taking it easy for a few weeks now with just a few scratch cups then hopefully heading to Scotland in to play the Stirling invitational in September.”