Sports

Maguire follows route 66 to Lonsdale glory

Thursday, 22 June 2017

It's difficult to imagine a performance more deserving of glory than that produced by John Maguire on Saturday, June 10.

Maguire illuminated the Lonsdale Cup, sponsored by Armagh City Hotel, with a stunning four-under-par gross 66 to earn a two-shot victory over the rest of a packed 195-man field.

Having netted category and gross prizes in recent weeks, John had already signalled that he was recapturing something like his best form.

Now, after turning in such a majestic display in one of the most prestigious fixtures in the County Armagh Golf Club calendar, he has identified himself as very much a golfer for the big occasion.

The then four-handicapper's sublime showing began with a tepid five at the 1st. However, a hat-trick of birdies at the 3rd, 6th and 7th and just one more dropped shot, at the 8th, saw him reach the turn in only 33 strokes.

Then followed an utterly flawless three-under-par back nine, in which another quick-fire Maguire birdie treble nestled nicely among six serene pars.

Uppermost among the myriad impressive aspects of John's Lonsdale masterclass are the fact that it arrived on a day of such stiff winds and his assured 4, 4, 4 denouement when many others would surely have lacked such composure.

Runner-up to Maguire's nett 62 was Martin Gill, who also broke par with a superb gross 69. Remarkably, Gill even matched the winner's back-nine heroics, with a four at the 12th preceding a scintillating back-to-back birdie blast at the 16th and 17th that rocketed him up the leader board.

This nett 64 also boasted a birdie at the 2nd as the five-handicapper constructed a solid two-over-par front nine platform from which to launch that outstanding homeward assault.

A marvellous nett 65 saw Marty Oliver seal third position. The Past Captain started and ended proceedings with two consecutive bogeys but, happily, was level par for the 14 holes in between. Birdies at the 4th and 15th cancelled out bogeys at the 5th and 10th as Marty returned an excellent gross 74.

Finishing on the same terrific four-over-par total was Kieran Donnelly, who birdied the 8th and posted 12 pars elsewhere to finish 4th and secure his maiden prize of the 2017 qualifying season.

Gary McCourt has had his handicap reduced from nine to eight as his 38 blows on each nine combined to yield a classy nett 67 and 5th-place berth.

A brilliant three-over-par front nine into the wind and a birdie at the 11th had the then 11-handicapper Nigel McMahon very handily placed. Although he would eventually fall away somewhat with five dropped shots in the last seven holes, Onion is unlikely to be shedding too many tears after a nett 67 that granted him 6th spot.

Sneaking into the prizes in 7th was Club Honorary Secretary Paddy Burns with a nett 68 that contained a birdie at the 6th and four pars in a row at the beginning of his back nine.

With Maguire and Gill frying bigger fish atop the overall tournament standings, Shea Brady captured the gross prize with a tremendous 73. The Club barman's quite amazing round consisted of six birdies, six pars, three bogeys and three double bogeys -- never a dull moment.

Trailing Shea by a single shot in the gross reckoning was Niall McGurgan, whose altogether more orthodox four-over-par outing included two birdies and 10 pars.

One the subject of the club's low handicappers, Philip Kelly finished a creditable tied 5th at a windswept Connacht Strokeplay Championship in Athlone.

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