Sports

Jenkins joy on Richard's big day

Thursday, 6 July 2017

IT was on the hoisting of the official County Armagh Golf Club flag that the showpiece fixture in the local golfing calendar got under way in earnest.

With the lady members and juvenile girls and boys already having competed in their various categories earlier in the week, 293 men filled the city fairways on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24 in the hope of grabbing glory on Richard Stewart's Captain's Day weekend.

There was no discernible difference in playing conditions between the two days so the entire field was faced with merciful dryness, a stiff and challenging wind and a golf course looking suitably resplendent. It all added up to a fair but exacting golfing examination -- to the best man the spoils.

Away from the sporting action, family, friends and members joined Richard for a Saturday coffee morning that provided the perfect opportunity for all those in attendance to catch up with old pals, admire the wonderful array of prizes on offer, and wish our endlessly industrious and infectiously enthusiastic Captain all the very best.

The pristine clubhouse and environs and the refreshments enjoyed by everyone present also served as testimony to the club staff and volunteers who work so diligently to ensure that such events run smoothly.

Meanwhile, we were down to serious business back out on the golf course, where a stunning one-over-par gross 71 made Samuel Jenkins a most worthy Captain's Day champion.

Having previously plied his golfing trade in Loughgall, Samuel joined County Armagh only in March but has found the club to his immediate liking.

This was never more in evidence than on Captain's Day when the Hamiltonsbawn contender exploded out of the traps with an outward nine comprising seven pars, a solitary bogey and a bonus birdie at the 5th.

Further birdie brilliance followed at the 10th and 12th enabling the then eight-handicapper to depart the 15th green in an incredibly commanding one-under-par position.

A pulled drive at the Lakes meant Jenkins's direct route to the green was impeded by the net that guards the 7th tee box. And, when the Salamander engineer attempted to draw an 8-iron towards the target, he went long and right, his ball nestling in the flower bed beside the 17th tee. Drama and potential heartache.

However, the fortunate lie, the Seve-style recovery shot and the miraculous par that ensued had Jenkins believing that this might indeed be his red-letter day.

After an understandably jittery double bogey at the penultimate hole, Sam composed himself admirably to record a gutsy four at the 18th and put the seal on a fantastic nett 64 and richly deserved Captain's Day success.

Trailing the victor by a single shot was runner-up Brendan Lynch, who returned a marvellous nett 65. Brendan has been a linchpin of the All-Ireland Fourball Trophy team's journey to round 4 of that tournament, and he proved himself to be a man for the big occasion once more with this showing of five pars and general steady excellence.

Speaking of consistent performers, Alan Wilson took the plaudits in the 0-12 handicap section with a nett 66 scorecard that boasted one birdie, 10 pars and the characteristic absence of anything worse than a bogey.

A treble bogey at the 4th threatened to put the skids on Conor McGuigan's challenge but the now 15-handicapper had other ideas, firing a birdie at the 13th and nine pars elsewhere on his way to a tremendous nett 65 and warranted category 2 triumph.

The same superb score granted Paul Rice first place in category 3. The Keady man registered seven pars, including a profitable run of four in a row late in his outward trek.

A 72-stroke masterclass earned Jerome Leer the gross honours, as birdies at the 12th and 14th punctuated the talented leftie's terrific level-par back nine.

A seven at the 17th was the only significant blot in Pearse McBride's Captain's Day copybook.

The Past Captains and Presidents were forced to surrender to the Pearse pressure as no fewer than 12 pars led to his fine nett 68.

A birdie at the 15th was the highlight of a classy gross 78 and nett 67 that resulted in Ian Millar carrying off the Council and Committee award.

In the eclectic country, overseas and 18-24 age group classification, Jamie Calvert was top man with a highly creditable nett 68, and an assured five-over-par nett 67 saw Andy Donaldson secure the visitors' prize.

Scoring was just as impressive in the ladies' section, where Phil Rice emulated son Paul with a magnificent 41-point return that paved her path to glory. Phil was pushed almost all the way by Colette McAleavey, who filled the runner-up berth with a splendid 40 points.

Prevailing among the senior and junior juvenile Boys were Caolan McReynolds and Fionntan Oliver respectively. Both lads signed for top-notch nett 66s.

Rebecca Cheevers's accomplished 33-point haul edged out her 18-hole juvenile girl rivals, while Caitlin Leeman tasted 9-hole success with her peerless nett 55.

After a most agreeable Captain's Night Dinner, the bar was packed for the speeches and prizegiving.

Samuel, the first recipient of the new Captain's Day Perpetual Cup spoke humbly of his shock at this victory and expressed his appreciation to all those who played a part in his momentous day: the greens staff, the catering staff, his playing partners and, of course, the Captain himself.

In seconding Samuel's vote of thanks, Richard's younger brother described a man for whom it is a genuine honour to be Captain of our club.

Richard echoed that sentiment before paying particular tribute to his wife Eileen, son Darren, daughter Nicola as well as his new family, namely all the members and staff of County Armagh Golf Club.

The music played, the drink flowed and the craic raged until the shutters finally came down on a memorable 2017 Captain's Day.

Roll on next year.

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