The Dublin Gents Championship got underway on Saturday. For many the main event is the senior championship on Sunday. However there was a bumper entry and high quality pitch & putt from the Inter & Junior entrants today.
The junior were first into action and the main headline maker after 18 holes was Ring Common’s Paddy Coates who shot an excellent 50 to lead from the highly fancied Eric Doyle and a number of Lucan challengers. In the 2nd 18, the leaderboard really tightened up with Paddy joined by Eric on -5 and Lucan’s Dave Lee was just two shots further back on -3, Jay Condron was also in contention finishing on level par.
Paddy & Eric started locked together but it was Paddy who was first to strike with a brilliant two on the 1st. Eric was to fall futher behind after 3. However Eric has not won junior scratch cup events at the Ierne and Dublin Scratch Cups without having great steel and he drew on that reserve to forge his way back as Paddy began to find trouble and hit a disastrous six, Eric Struck strongly with three birdies in a row and the initiative swung well and thoroughly in the Ballyfermot man’s direction. Coates had no answer and Eric was to extend that leader further to add a fine 51 in his final round and win by five shots. For Paddy he was almost caught by Jay Condron, as Paddy bid for glory faltered, Jay was finding his form and a final round of 52 allowed him to finish third just one shot behind Paddy. Dave Lee would have been disappointed with his finish after a 59 ended his hopes of a Dublin title. The day though belonged to Eric, he has been the standout junior in the capital this year and with the Leinster crown up for grabs next Sunday, he might well be adding another title in the coming days.
The inter event saw a large field assembled, in the opening three ball was Trevor Ward and Trevor put down his marker early as he surged to -5 after 9. Trevor was to find birdies harder to come back on the back nine but his 49 was to lead the way. In fact it looked like it might be the leading score after 18, but Charlie Egan put paid to that idea, Charlie one of the pre favourites lived up to that billing with a 47. Gary Phelan with a 49 and Aaron O’Droighneain and Paul Griffin with 50’s were very much in the mix. In the 2nd round, although the conditions were still favourable, the scoring was higher. Trevor failed to build on his 49 adding a disappointing 57. Aaron though showed great consistency to add a 2nd 50 and lead the way on -8 from the early groups. Glenville’s Gary Phelan was enjoying an excellent day on the greens and he joined Aaron on that mark. The 1st round leader local player Charlie Egan was not going to relinquish his lead and he added a 2nd round of 49 to finish on 96 and take a four shot lead into the final round. Trevor Heffernan was another to move into position on 102 and Anto Carroll was showing good form with a 104. The big surprise though was the performance of Glenn Woodward, he was runner up the last two years and after a solid 52 we expected fireworks in round 2, but sadly for Glenn they never happened despite a hole in one on the 1st, he was to miss out on the final round.
Of the early starters in the play-off Trevor Ward was to rediscover his form of round 1 and after making the turn on -4 including a hole in one on the 9th, he added four birdies on the back nine to add an impressive 46 to finish on 152(-10), that score was a marker proving tricky for some to match, David Hayden II, Liam O’Reilly and Eric Byrne were to finish well but were too far back to mount a serious challenge. Alan Byrne from Ierne was the next to make his move and despite finishing with a bogey, Alan played brilliantly in the rain to finish with a 48 and join Trevor on -10. Gary Phelan and Trevor Heffernan failed to find their earlier form and their challenge petered out. The next person to join Trevor and Alan on -10 was local player and a man returning to the sport after a long absence Anto Carroll, Anto though was to curse a five on the closing holes and he still managed a closing 48. Charlie and Aaron were in the final group and both started cagey with a serious of par’s, but once Charlie found his range, he was unstoppable, Charlie grabbed two birdies on the opening eight holes to move further ahead and then he delivered the knockout blow with six birdies between 9 and 14. Charlie finished the round with a birdie on 17 as well. Aaron was finding the putts much harder to come by and he desperately needed a strong finish to finish 2nd. Aaron duly delivered despite missing a short putt on 16, he found the birdie on 17 and then struck a long putt across the difficult 18th green to finish 2nd on -11. The day though belonged to Charlie. He had waited a long time for his maiden title and when the opportunity arose he delivered with great style, his final round of 45 left him -21 and a massive ten shot winning margin. To win this title on the club’s 50th anniversary and to follow in the footsteps of his good friend Dave Donnelly made it a hugely emotional day for the popular Inter, but he showed great coolness under this extreme pressure and was delighted with his achievement. It was Charlie’s 2nd big win after his 1st win the Leinster Strokeplay in Shandon back in 1976.
The County Board were delighted to have new sponsors Drain Doctor MD Paul Griffin in attendance to assist with the presentation. The County Board Chairman before the presentation remembered the late Dave Donnelly as a minute silence was observed. The course was in superb condition for the players and the scoring reflected this. All eyes now move to the senior event that tees off on Sunday Morning.