The beginning of the second half of the Winter League can be looked upon as a sure sign of mid-winter or the start of the countdown to spring and the wide range of scores returned suggests there were many players who could firmly favour one of those two outlooks.
Top of the optimistic ‘countdown to spring’ group was Andrew Heron who lifted the day’s top prize with 32pts off 15. A very steady round included a trio of nett birdies at 14, 15 and 16 which saw him climb to the top of the leader board with 17 homeward pts.
Just beaten into second place on the back 9 was Neale McKinstry, 8. Neale looked as if he was going to run away with the competition after birdies at 8 and 9 helped him move to 2 under par after 9 holes. The next four holes did the damage however as they produced 3 bogeys and an NR.
In third place came winter specialist Philip Ward with 31pts off 12, double bogeys at 14 and 17 being the only blemishes on a very fine card indeed. Having won the Race to Portstewart last year he might just be considering what to pack for a run to Ballyliffin in the summer.
The gross prize went to Shane Magee with 28 gross pts. His birdies bogeys at 9 and 15 were countered by birdies at 1 and 10 for the day’s only level par round.
Brian Doley took the low section with 30pts off 8, edging Alex Denver into second place with 29pts off 4.
The middle section went to Barrai McConville with 30pts off 12. His birdie at 2 was immediately followed by a triple bogey but this experienced and seasoned winner got things back on track immediately thereafter. Barry Magee, 12, and Colm Nash, 10, each had 29pts with Barry narrowly taking second place on the back 9.
The high section went to Sean McEvoy with 30pts off 13. His birdies at 9 and 10 made him a strong contender for the top prize of the day but an NR at 15 greatly undermined his challenge. Clive Johnston took second place with 28pts off 17. His outward run mustered just 12pts but he found his form on the way home to claim his prize.