James Sugrue pictured with Irish Mens Captain John Carroll
2019 was a stellar year for Cork golfers. With seven Corkmen winning international caps, there were plenty of great performances among several notable individual wins. Just three years ago there wasn’t a single Cork golfer on the national mens squad, this year there were three golfers to reach that standard in what must be regarded as a great run for Cork golf. With three seniors, one boys and three mens representatives, it was an impressive number of caps. Top of the list of course was James Sugrue, the Amateur Champion. The Mallow man won the Castletroy Scratch Cup in May, but less than a month later his world would change with the win of a lifetime in Portmarnock. An Amateur Championship win seemed unlikely at a few stages during that week in Dublin. After just five holes on the first day of qualifying Sugrue branded the course as “insanely long”, and he found himself three down deep into the back nine in the second round of matchplay. In what was a marathon rather than a sprint, Sugrue played himself into form, thanks in equal parts to a new Titleist driver, solid advice from Neil Manchip and a hot putter. On that Saturday morning playing in the Amateur Championship final, few would have thought it was his seventh round of the week. He sprinted into a five up lead against Scotland’s Ewan Walker. Despite the impressive start, the final would prove to be another marathon lasting the full 36 holes. The Mallow man, watched by a record crowd of over 3,000 claimed the win on the final green, becoming the second Cork golfer after Jimmy Bruen to win the Amateur Championship. That win saw Sugrue’s schedule change, with an unplanned visit to Portrush for the Open championship taking priority in his calendar. James was very unlucky to miss the cut, a lost ball on the 14th on Friday cost him a place at the weekend when Shane Lowry created his own bit of history. Although injury hampered Sugrue towards the end of the season he had the honour of raising the Irish flag at the Walker Cup in Royal Liverpool in September.
Peter O’Keeffe started the year off with a win, he came out on top in Muskerry in April winning their senior scratch cup. A five under par 66 gave O’Keeffe a good start and he was under par again in the second round to win the competition by two strokes. It was the second time that O’Keeffe won in Muskerry, his first coming 13 years ago in 2006. O’Keeffe was fifth in the East of Ireland and topped that by reaching the final of the North in July. Prior to the North he spent the week in Lahinch caddying for Robin Dawson in the Open. Peter finished second in the North of Ireland, which this year moved to Portstewart and Castlerock due Portrush staging the Open Championship. He lost out to Englishman Aaron Edwards Hill after a final that went to the 17th hole. The Douglas man was back in Lahinch later on in July, this time as a player in the South of Ireland. He started well, finishing in the top ten after the Strokeplay qualifier. He then Continue reading
Muskerry’s Fionn Hickey made his international debut this week, and the 16 year old did himself proud at the Boys Home Internationals. The annual event took place in Ashburnham Golf Club in Wales and Ireland opened with a win over Scotland on Tuesday. It was a disappointing start for Fionn as he narrowly lost his singles match. There was better luck for the Muskerry man yesterday as Ireland beat Wales and Fionn won his singles match against Toby Bishop. That win set Ireland up for a winner takes all match against England today. Hickey partnered Dylan Keating for a half this morning with Ireland taking a lead, the score was 3.5 to 1.5 after the foursomes. Fionn won his match this afternoon, but the wind was in the English sails. They won six of the matches to win by a single point and take the title. While the final result was a disappointment, England were the favourites and solid play from Hickey on his debut will spur him on for a strong end to the season.
Girls & Womens Home Internationals
Sara Byrne was also in action for the Irish Girls over the Continue reading
Rachel Thompson is set to earn her first senior Irish cap next month following her selection on the Irish Ladies team for the Home Internationals. On the back of her win at the Connacht Senior Womens title, the Cork member would have been high on the list of probables, and earlier today her place was confirmed. A strong team was named as Ireland hope go one better this year and win the event. Clodagh Coughlan was selected as a non-travelling reserve, the Douglas golfer’s performance at the recent interprovincials brought her onto the national radar.
Sara Byrne was selected as part of the seven strong Girls team. This will be Byrne’s third year playing in the Home Internationals, a pretty big achievement considering she first played in the Under 18 competition when she was just 15. Sara is now a senior on the team, but Continue reading
Sara Byrne, Picture: Pat Cashman
Sara Byrne came up just short of winning her second Irish Championship today, she was runner-up at the Irish Girls Close at Galway Golf Club. The Douglas golfer was in a fine vein of form, and had made the final day with relative ease. On Tuesday she shot a second round 71 (-2) to take second place in the strokeplay qualifier. That meant she was safely through to the matchplay phase. On Wednesday she wrapped up her first round match on the 14th, and on Thursday she beat Emily Murray and Lucia Masding to book a place in this morning’s semi-final.
Byrne got off to a great start this morning in the semi-final, going three up against Aine Donegan. But when the finished out on the 18th it was all square. Donegan’s comback included a birdie on the 17th and a chip in birdie on the last hole, but on the 24th – the sixth tie hole – it was Byrne who had the rub of the green. An eagle putt estimated at just over 30 feet dropped in to send the Douglas teenager into the final.
Sara faced leading qualifier Beth Coulter in the final and the 15 year old from Kirkistown Castle got off to a flier. Coulter was four under for the front nine, continuing a great run of golf in Galway. She was three up after six holes but Byrne birdied the 6th, eagled the 7th and birdied the 8th to Continue reading
Lee Valley’s Mel Deasy is in the top ten at the McGregor Trophy, the English Under 16 Strokeplay Championship, and safely through to today’s final 36 holes. Deasy opened on Tuesday with a level par 70 but it was a mixed round. Starting on the 10th, Deasy was five under after 12 holes, but he was back to -1 after doubles on his 13th and 15th holes. He closed out the round with a bogey to finish on level par, that was good enough for 17th place. Mel’s second round was steadier, two birdies and two bogies along with 14 pars led to his second 70. That saw him jump into the top ten, tied for 9th place at the halfway stage. The Lee Valley man is now just five shots off the lead held by England’s Rohan Miah. Galgorm’s Joshua Hill is in second place just one behind the leader. The final 36 holes take place today with Deasy on the tee at 9.30m. The event meant that Deasy missed out on a chance to retain his Munster U16 title which took place this week. He’ll be back in Munster colours next week when the Boys Interprovincials take place on Athlone Golf Club.
Sara Byrne had another good day in Galway at the Irish Girls Close. The Douglas golfer recorded a 6&4 win over Evelyn Park. That follows two good rounds on Tuesday when she shot 76 & 71 to finish just one off the lead. This morning she will take on Emily Murray from Co Louth in the round of 16 match, with the quarter finals also taking place tomorrow.
Roger Russell, General Manager of The Metropole Hotel, presenting the youth sports awards trophy to Sara Byrne Douglas Golf Club with John Buckley, John Buckley Sports, Award Sponsor.
Picture: Gerard Bonus.
Sara Byrne was back in the news last week when she won yet another award. The Douglas teenager won the Cork City and County Youth Sports Award last week at a reception in the Metropole Hotel. It was a great award to win, beating the 11 other monthly award winners to scoop the title. This is the second award for Byrne, who was named the Irish Golf Writers Womens Amateur Golfer of the Year Award in December. For Sara and her family it was a change to reflect on the successes of the year, although Sara was a bit more clinical in her review of the year when she accepted the award. “2018 was a bit of a rollercoaster year” said the Douglas and Ireland golfer, “there were plenty of ups and downs and feeling frustrated at times, but the adrenaline rush is unreal when you succeed. Last year gave me some really hard knocks but some magical moments also. I’ve advanced my goals hugely, Irish Ladies Champion. Irish Girls Order of Merit winner, getting to +1 handicap and getting to into the top 100 in the WAGR rankings”.
There was more than that for the talented teenager. She represented Ireland at Continue reading
2018 was a breakthrough year for Sara Byrne, and that was recognised last week when she won the Irish Golf Writers Womens Amateur of the Year award. The award was a reflection on the results Sara achieved during the year as well representing Ireland at two international competitions. It was a busy year for Sara, although she committed to playing in fewer events this year, the competitions she did select were higher in profile and the quality of the field was generally stronger. In terms of other awards, Byrne topped the Girls Order of Merit by a clear margin, and she also finished third on the women’s order of merit. Sara’s season started in March when she finished third in the Munster Womens Championship in Killarney. Rounds of 74, 75 and 78 saw her claim a podium finish although she did miss out on retaining her Munster Girls title by one shot. Despite playing well, she couldn’t manage to claim the top spot until she got to Enniscrone in June for the Irish Womens Close. She came through two rounds of Strokeplay and five rounds of matchplay golf to win the national title. Aside from the mental battle of matchplay, she also had to contend with extreme weather as wind and Continue reading
Sara Byrne (Douglas) during the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship, Enniscrone Golf Club, Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey All photo usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Fran Caffrey)
Sara Byrne and Valerie Clancy have made it through to the matchplay stage of the Girls Amateur Open in Ardglass. Byrne continued her good form on Tuesday with an opening 71 that saw her finish the first round in 6th place. She finished the second round tied for 12th place, a second round 75 in more testing conditions was more than enough to see her through, although she did describe it as “hanging on”. Valerie Clancy also made it through in the top half of the draw, steady rounds of 73 and 76 saw her finish tied for 19th place from the field of 140 golfers. Ireland will be well represented in the matchplay with a total of seven golfers qualifying. The first two rounds take place today.
Fionn Hickey (Muskerry), Jack O’Donoghue (Bandon) and Ross Higgins (Douglas) have all mande it through to the matchplay stage of the Kerry Boys Championship. Hickey finished third in the qualifier after rounds of 73 & 79, and he’ll face Ross Higgins in the first round. Jack O’Donoghue will face Glasson’s Conor Gleeson who was the top qualifier on -3. Cork is well represented in the plate with six Continue reading
Zak Collins and Eoghan Cassidy have been named on the Irish squads to play in the Reid Trophy (Under 14 English Championship) in Reading next week. Collins from Douglas and Cassidy from Kinsale have been playing well all season and both golfers featured on the successful Munster team who won the Under 14 interprovincial championship last week. The event is a great opportunity for the cork duo, it attracts a top quality field of English and international players whose playing handicap is 7.4 or better. The 54-hole stroke play championship is played over three days. The full field plays 18 holes on each of the first two days with the leading 70 competitors going on to play the final 18 holes on the third day. The Cork pair will be joined by two Limerick golfers, Ballyneety’s Morgan O’Sullivan and Iestyn Winn in a strong Munster line-up. Faithlegg’s Alex King Continue reading
Sara Byrne (Douglas) during the Irish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship, Enniscrone Golf Club, Picture: Golffile Fran Caffrey
Teenager Sara Byrne is the new Irish Women’s Close Champion. The Douglas golfer beat all before her in Enniscrone over the past three days to claim the prestigious national title. A 2&1 win over Louise Coffey this afternoon meant that another national title is headed back to Douglas Golf Club.
“This is just amazing, I knew I could do it” said a delighted Byrne. “When Louise won the 3rd I knew that it was better to be up at the end of the match than at the start, I knew that a one hole difference was nothing so I stayed patient. This is definitely my number one achievement to date, on the final few holes I got a bit nervous but I told myself that I had worked too hard to give this one away. This brings my golf career up a step and any event now I play in I can tell myself that I can win because I am Irish Champion!”
The Irish and GB&I capped golfer now joins an elite group, Continue reading