Gary Campbell’s super nett 65 led the way, at Dunmurry Golf Club last Saturday, in the qualifying round for this year’s Thelma Cup.
With the weather and the course slowly improving, over the opening weeks of the season, scoring continues to improve with the top 16 requiring a level par round or better, in order to progress to match-play stages.
Nineteen handicapper, Gary got off to the perfect start with a birdie at the first hole, and with pars at the third, fourth and seventh, made it to the turn, three shots inside his handicap.
With the confidence of that strong start, Gary reeled off steady bogies on the back nine, before pars at the sixteenth and seventeenth, allowing him to pick up two further strokes, with a final hole bogey giving him top spot on nett 65, three strokes ahead of his nearest challenger.
That challenger happened to be Michael Meneely (13), who came to life over the back nine, to claw his way back into contention, to finish with a nett 68.
He struggled over the opening front nine, with pars at the third and seventh being his only source of comfort, as he reached the tenth, nine over par.
A double bogey six at the tenth, gave him no indication of what was to follow. He par the eleventh, and clearly buoyed by this, he strung together a run of pars, through to the seventeenth, before a final hole birdie, gave him a wonderful one over par, back nine of 36, and a nett 68.
Ivan O’Rorke (12) was similarly potent over the back nine, to finish third, also with a nett 68.
After struggling to eight over par through seven holes, pars at eight and nine, gave him a little hope. It appeared to be a false hope after a bogey at ten was followed by a double bogey at the twelfth.
Back to back birdies and thirteen and fourteen gave encouragement, before he covered the final four holes in one over par, returning a back nine score of two over par 37, and a nett 68 total.
Derek McLachlan (2) took the gross prize with a fine round of level par 70, helping him to fourth overall.
He started out with three straight pars, before dropping shots at four and six. He rallied to par his way to the turn, before starting his homeward run with birdies at the tenth and eleventh.
A third bogey of the day came at the thirteenth, before picking up his third gain of the day at the seventeenth, as he came home in two under par for a solid level par 70.
Chris Black (3) rounded out the top 5, just missing out on the gross prize, after a one over par 71, also gave him a nett 68.
A strong start saw Chris birdie the third and the fifth, but a run of bogeys to the turn, saw him drop back to two over par.
A further bogey at the tenth, seemed to kick him into action, and he reeled off three consecutive birdies at eleven, twelve and thirteen, returning him to level par.
His roller coaster round hadn’t finished though, as he dropped a further stroke at the short sixteenth to finish a shot out of the gross prize.
Level par nett 70 turned out to be the cut off score for the top 16 places with just two golfers missing out on that score, leaving a strong field for the match-play rounds.
Mixed fortunes for teams
It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the Dunmurry teams, with the Ulster Cup, Irish Fourball and Jimmy Bruen all in action.
Des Marley’s Ulster Cup team will take a commanding lead away to Omagh in a fortnight’s time, after winning six matches to one, in the home leg on Saturday evening.
Billy McAuley, John Dickenson and John McManus all had comprehensive wins, with Trevor Lamont and John Bell also winning well.
The final two matches were both decided one the eighteenth, with Ken Parkinson coming out on top in his match, before Chris Sweeney narrowly lost.
After a good win over Lurgan in the previous round, Jack Scullion’s Irish Fourball side headed to Castle Hume in strong spirits but they have an uphill task, after losing all five matches.
With many of the matches being closely fought, they still hold out hope the result can be overturned this Sunday at Dunmurry.
Neil Forsyth’s Jimmy Bruen team took part in the qualifying round at Balmoral on Sunday, but on a difficult day for scoring, finished well off the pace.