Martin McNeice would have to go back to mid-summer to recall the last time he had 11 pars and a birdie in the one round of golf, and on that occasion he was playing 18 holes.
This week’s similar tally was over just 14 holes and it brought him 36pts, off 9, and victory in the third week of the Winter League. His birdie came at the long 15th, and it will help him feel a little more comfortable when his regular playing partners bring up the subject of their recent successes on the golf course.The runners-up spot went to Barrai McConville who made a very welcome and long overdue return to the podium with 34pts off 12. But for double bogeys at 7 and 15 he would have been neck and neck with Martin for that top spot, but surely it is only a matter of a short time before he gets there. His improvement from 128th last week to 2nd just a few days later was dramatic indeed.
Five players returned 33pts with Bryan Turkington claiming third place over the last 9 holes. His birdie at 12 helped him cover that closing stretch in just 1 over par to continue the type of form which sees him among the prizes on a very regular basis.
Having returned level par rounds in two of his 3 rounds immediately previous to this week, Alex Denver went round in 2 under par for 30 gross pts to take the day’s gross prize. Birdies at 1, 6, 9 and 12, and bogeys at 2 and 11, comprised yet another very impressive score for this methodical and capable golfer.
Ronan McCrory was the only other player to break par and his score of 1 under left him just out of the prizes. Birdies at 1, 6 and 15 had left him 3 under par standing on the last tee, and he hadn’t dropped a shot at the closing hole on his previous 27 visits. On this occasion however, a most unexpected double bogey jumped up to spoil his chances. The low section went to Neale McKinstry with 33pts off 8. His 11 pars and 3 bogeys reflected a consistency which has seen this impressive golfer return just 3 NRs and 2 double bogeys over his last 145 holes. Dwaine Hanna took second place in the section with 32pts off 4, just edging out William McMillan over the back 9. Dwaine had birdies at 8 and 17, and bogeys at 2 and 10, for a level par round, while William’s bogeys at 10 and 14 left him just out of reach of the prizes. The middle section went to Terry McCrory who had ‘all kinds of everything’ on his way to 33pts off 12. Birdies at 1 and 12, a double bogey at 14, and an NR at 6 formed quite a see-saw round. Barely a week goes by without Henry McAreavey finding his way into the prizes these days, and there he was again with 33pts off 11 to take second place in the section. Any optimism engendered by Hugh O’Reilly’s opening pair of pars was immediately dispelled by an NR and triple bogey, but this seasoned veteran managed to turn things around and take the high section with 31pts off 16. Birdies at 10 and 12 signalled a revival which he maintained to the end. Alistair McCaffrey also had 31pts, off 16, to take 2nd place in the section leaving Gary Totton out of the prizes on a similar total.