Alan Hanlon continued on his rich vein of form by winning one of the most prestigious competitions in the Club Calender – namely the Gents Captain’s Prize. Play began last Friday afternoon at 2 pm and continued right throughout the weekend until 8 pm on Sunday evening. The amount of members that turned out and the number of cards played over the weekend was a testament to level of respect that both of our captain’s are held in. Our Lady Captain, Kathleen Bray has been a member of the club for many years now and was instrumental down through the year’s in building the club into the fine sporting institute that it now is. Our Gents Captain, Watty Kenny, is an example of everything that is good about the sport. By his own admission, he will never be a world beater, but he loves the game and his enthusiasm for Collinstown Pitch & Putt club is an example to all.
So it was no surprise that the members turned out in large numbers to play over the weekend, and with that of course, brought scoring of a high standard. John McDonald set the early pace on Friday with a couple of 47′s and this score of 15 under par was good enough to hold the over-night lead. But from recent history, no one suspected that this was going to hold up as the leading score come Sunday evening – in fact in all likelyhood, it would be more like a score that would just make it inside the cut for the final round. Saturday morning arrived and with it a new leader as Stewie Tarleton hit a fantastic 46 to move to 17 under par. Indeed as the rain came in on Saturday evening, it curtailed any big scores so Stewie’s score stood as the leading score going into the final day.
But Sunday always causes chaos in Collinstown’s Captain’s Prize and this year was no different. Mick Buckley was the first to make an impact with a superb back-to-back 45, 44. Stewie soon regained the lead though by adding a 50 to his 46 to give him a 20 under total. But then the rounds of the day were produced by Gary Middleton. Gary hit a blemish free 45 and followed it with a 47, combine this with his 7 handicap and he moved into a clear lead on 23 under par. This was a lead that was to remain going into the final round so the rest of the focus turned to the cut mark. As always – everyone wanted one of those treasured top 10 spots in order to compete in Sunday evening’s play-off. The cut mark had been steadily rising all day and when Larry McGinn shot a 45 as last man on the course, he insured that this year’s cut had moved to 15 under par.
So the final 10 players going out in the last round were:
Gary Middleton -23
Stuart Tarleton -20
Alan Hanlon -19
Mick Buckley -19
Liam Buckley -17
Stephen Ruane – 16
Larry McGinn -16
John Browne -16
Darren Reilly -15
John McDonald -15.
The early mover in the final round was Alan Hanlon as he birdied the opening three holes. Larry McGinn and John Browne both got off to a reasonable start as well. Early bogies for Tarleton and Middleton meant that the field had tightened up and it was all to play for. As the round progressed though it became obvious that Larry McGinn was making a substantial move from the middle of the pack. Larry played the opening 9 holes in 6 under par and proceeded to add 4 more birdies on the back 9 for a brilliant 44. This left him the leader in the clubhouse on -26. When this channeled back to the field, his nearest challenger was Alan Hanlon who was on -25 with 4 holes remaining. Alan as always, wasn’t found wanting when a challenge was put in front of him. He proceeded to birdie the difficult 15th to draw level and followed with birdie on 16 to go one ahead. Gary Middleton in the final group also birdied 16 to keep in the game, but when the ball caught the lip of the hole for an ace on 17 and ended up out the back of the green – his chance had gone.
This meant that a par on the last was all Hanlon needed to win. These days though, that is no longer a given as the new bunker is fast becoming a graveyard for the best of players. On this occasion though Alan navigated the bunker safely and made his par to claim victory.
The ladies event unfortunately only had 4 competitors – its sad to see how bad a shape the ladies game is in at the moment, not just in Collinstown but country-wide. Nonetheless, the ladies that played, did so with a drive and determination that did justice to the competition. Moira Nugent shot two superb rounds over the weekend of 54 & 55 to hold a 7 shot lead going out in the final round. And although her final round was not as good, she had plenty in reserve to hold off the challenge from the rest of the field. Anne Kelly finished runner-up in the end.
Both Moira and Alan were very gracious in the speeches and both praised their respective captain’s and thanked them for the weekend and the generous prizes.