Dramatic John Smith Scratch Cup win for Phillip Sweeney

On the August Bank Holiday Monday, many people would be thinking of taking it easy after one of the busiest weekends of the Summer but 96 hardy souls took to the Lucan Pitch and Putt course to take in the DCB John Smith Scratch Cup. The entries came from near and far with players traveling from Tipperary, Cork, Waterford along with the usual faces spotted on the Dublin Scratch Cup circuit.
The course was presented very well and the weather was kind throughout the day bar a couple of heavy showers which definitely softened up the greens a bit more than usual. The scoring early on showed this as players struggled to put two sub 50 rounds together with only 4 players actually achieving that feat throughout the day. The earliest of those was Paul Nolan who had -5 & -6 rounds and this was to sit 2 shots behind the lead which was posted by Darren Kane, who added a superb -9 to his earlier -4 and a -13 total. This was then matched by Anthony Malone with super scores of -6 & -7.
The number 13 seemed to be on one of its lucky days as that score held out to hold the top of the leaderboard all day long despite some players threatening to break it. None more so than McBrides Owen Smith who fired a stunning -9 first round and many thought he would easily pass the leading scores but it was not to be the case as he could only muster -3 round together to sit 1 shot behind the Lucan duo.
David O’Leary had a fantastic run in the Lucan Scratch Cup earlier in the year finishing 3rd and once again he threatened the leaders as he fired in a -7 first round. He managed to add a -5 round to it to also sit just one shot behind. JR Crangle was consistent in his two rounds as he shot match -5 rounds to lurk just 3 behind the leaders and within striking distance. Chris Gallagher, Paddy Noonan and Julian Kelly also all made the cut as they all shot the same two rounds of -4 & -7’s to also lie on -11 with Paul Nolan. Phillip Sweeney back from the sunshine in Dubai on his builders holiday started slowly and indeed he got building very quickly as he fired  -9 total to just make the cut alongside Anthony Kavanagh. That mark was to be the cut and it was commiserations for the newest Lucan Senior Dave Lee as he missed out on the back 9 to RGSC’s Junior Smith to take the final play off berth.
Paddy Croke was also to miss out on a countback for a final play off spot but he was consolidated with a winning Intermediate prize with an impressive score. The joy was to continue for the locals as another Lucan name popped up to win the Junior section as two steady rounds gave Alan Doyle a comfortable victory in the section. It’s not very often Ger Ward is seen on the Scratch Cup circuit due to other commitments but she certainly makes up for it when she is there as she delivered another masterclass performance to take the ladies prize.
The cheers came early on as the play offs began with Phillip Sweeney getting the start that everyone wanted with a trio of birdies on the first 3 holes. He would continue this scoring throughout and by the 9th hole he had broken the -13 barrier and was mounting a serious round and challenge for the cup. Out in front of him, Junior Smith was putting together a decent round and he would eventually finish with a 49 which would be good enough to take the final 18 prize. Anthony Kavanagh, JR Crangle and Paul Nolan all struggled to find their A game as the play off wore on for the earlier groups. The same could be said for the next duo on the course in Chris Gallagher and Paddy Noonan as they both failed to fire their best efforts around a course they know so well.
Owen Smith and David O’Leary were the 2nd last group on the course and despite another decent round for David, he could just not find enough birdies to push himself into contention for a prize. Owen was another of the players in the play offs who no doubt will be disappointed in his showing but he no doubt will bounce back. Within all those players, Glenville’s Julian Kelly was putting together a string of birdies helped by a fantastic chip in on 12 and another couple of late birdies he pushed himself up to -18. This though was to fall short as Phillip Sweeney just kept on rolling in the birdies. Fine chip ins of his own on the 13th & notorious 15th brought him to -18. A superb putt from the middle of the 16th green to its tricky back pin placement added another shot to his total and he finished off a majestic round of -11 with a stunning pitch to the final hole.
As this was going on all ahead of them, the final pair of Anthony Malone and Darren Kane were left wondering what the score to chase down would be. Darren was the one to emerge from the two ball as Sweeney’s main challenger, he had himself up to -19 with 5 holes to go and with the finishing stretch in Lucan one of the toughest around it was an extremely tough task. Anthony was to miss several putts throughout the round and would finish beside his good friend John O’Leary’s son David in 4th spot and a couple of shots away from the podium.
Darren though after unlucky putts on 14 and especially 15 all hope looked like it might be gone. Darren was to rectify that though with superb pitches to both 16 & 17 enabling him to birdie both holes and take a one stroke lead going up the final hole. The 18th in Lucan is a tricky shot at the best of times but into a gusty breeze, it is very hard to judge the distance especially with a gaping bunker to the front. Darren aware of this gave his pitch just that little bit extra and left himself with a very tough up and down to win the cup. His first chip was unlucky not to make it up the severe slope at the edge of the green and it trickled down to leave another nasty chip downhill. The chip was struck just slightly too firm and from a winning opportunity, Darren was now faced with a 6ft putt to take it to a play off. It slid by though and Phillip Sweeney was to become the 2017 John Smith Scratch Cup winner. A superb score of -20 with a final round of -11 that was scintillating and deserving of the title.
A great day for the host club as they took 3 of the 4 winning prizes with Glenville’s Julian Kelly taking 3rd spot. John Smith in his speech mentioned that the real winner on the day was pitch and putt as a day filled with drama came to an end.
The Dublin County Board would like to thank all players that participated, the supporters who came out and the Lucan club for their hospitality on the day.