Headfort’s Brian Casey survived a back nine challenge from Dessie Morgan and Dermot McElroy to win the 2012 Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trohy. Picture: Pat CashmanHeadfort’s Brian Casey might have forgotten to post his entry for the recent European Amateur Championship but he produced a first class delivery yesterday when he cruelly denied Dessie Morgan the chance to become the first home winner in the 50-year history of the Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trophy.

The 21-year old from Navan, who won last year’s Irish and Leinster Youths titles before storming to a 10-shot win in May’s Munster Strokeplay Championship, fired rounds of 71 and 70 on the final day to win by a stroke from Morgan and Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy on four under par 284.

Brian Casey with the famous trophy. Pic Pat Cashman“It’s a great title to win and a nice feeling to have my name on a famous trophy alongside names like Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Shane Lowry,” said Casey, who did remember to post his entry for next month’s European Tour Qualifying School.

“It was tough today but I feel it’s been coming. I’ve just been patient all year. I’ve had four wins now and hopefully I can hit a bit of form at the Q-School.”

Morgan put a brave face on his defeat but he was patently devastated to come up short in his bid to become the first Mullingar player to win the tournament in its golden jubilee year.

Tied for the lead overnight, he started his day with three bogeys but still shot a 72 to go into the final round a stroke clear of Castlerock’s Aaron Kearney on two under par.

Glory beckoned but the golfing gods had other ideas and as he went to the turn in a disappointing 39, he was five adrift of Casey, who opened with four straight birdies before a bogey at the eighth saw him turn in 32.

Irish international McElroy was latecomer to the party but while he set the clubhouse target at three under with a 69, Casey did enough coming home to clinch victory by the slimmest of margins.

The Meath man got off to a glorious start when he hit a pitching wedge to eight feet and birdied the first. He then drilled a three iron to 15 feet at the par-three second and hit wedges to six feet at both the third and fourth to complete an opening poker of birdies to move swiftly to six under par.

Morgan bogeyed the third to find himself three adrift but while Casey was forced to hole a great 10 footer for par at the seventh and bogeyed the eighth, he found himself even further ahead on five under par.

Brian Casey in action in the final round. Picture by Pat CashmanMorgan made a crucial double bogey six from just short of the green at the perilous sixth and then bogeyed the seventh, eventually turning in four over 39 to find himself five shots off the lead on level par.

McElroy was one over for the tournament after seven holes of his final round but the international birdied the eighth, 11th, 12th and 18th for a joint best of the afternoon 69 (with Cormas Sharvin) to set the target at three under par 285.

Casey was feeling the pressure at that stage and having birdied the 12th with a seven iron to 12 feet, he made a three-putt bogey from 30 feet at the 13th to see his lead reduced to just two shots.

Morgan birdied the 11th to get within four and when Casey bogeyed the short 15th, he edged to within just two with another birdie at the par-five 14th.

Playing two groups in front, Casey was just a shot ahead of clubhouse leader McElroy and two clear of Morgan. But he responded by hitting an 85-yard wedge stone dead at the 16th for birdie to get to five under.

Dessie Morgan needed to hole this difficult chip to win the Mullingar Scratch Cup or get up and down to force a play-off. He bogeyed the 17th, however, thre-putting again and when Morgan birdied the 16th, he knew he needed a solid finish to avoid throwing the title away.

A safe par five at the 18th, where he laid up and then two putted from 15 feet, gave him a 70 that left him at the head of affairs in the clubhouse on four under.

Morgan narrowly missed for birdie at the 17th and for the first time all day, asked how he stood.

“I didn’t know I was leading after the third round,” he said. “I heard on the 17th green that I was one behind and needed a birdie to force a play-off.

“I hit a great drive and left myself 239 to the flag and hit a great rescue. To be honest, I can’t hit that club 239 so I guess it was just adrenaline and he wind.”

His approach set off like a missle at the pin, bounced just past hole high on the sideslope left of the green, running up the slope and leaving him with an awkward third from a downhill, sidehill lie.

He scuttled his chip through the fringe, finishing just inside five feet. But he pushed his birdie effort wide of the cup to a collective sigh from the home gallery.

It was another runner-up finish for the popular local man, who was also force to settle for second behind Shane Lowry in 2008.

Asked if he felt he would one day lift the trophy, the 31-year old smiled and said: “I don’t think I’ll get another chance because life just gets in the way.

“I thought this was the year to be honest, I had a feeling. I am not going to do a Sergio Garcia and say I am not good enough to win one of these and maybe I will when I least expect it. But that was a great chance missed.”

Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon finished a fine fourth on one under after a closing 70 while recently crowned North of Ireland Strokeplay winner Cormac Sharvin of Ardglass was tied fifth with Simon Ward and Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan on level par.

Mullingar Grant Thornton Scratch Trophy, Mullingar GC (Par 72)

Final

284 B Casey (Headfort) 68 75 71 70

285 D McElroy (Ballymena) 75 71 70 69, D Morgan (Mullingar) 73 67 72 73

287 T McLarnon (Massereene) 72 73 72 70

288 S Ward (Co Louth) 74 75 67 72, C Sharvin (Ardglass) 73 76 70 69, S Grehan (Tullamore) 73 69 73 73

290 A Kearney (Castlerock) 72 71 70 77, S Walsh (Portmarnock) 69 71 75 75

291 C Fairweather (Knock) 71 75 73 72

292 C Glynn (Carton House) 72 71 76 73, J Greene (Portmarnock) 71 76 74 71

293 J Lyons (Birr) 72 73 77 71, N Grant (Knock) 71 72 76 74

294 S Carter (Stackstown/NUIM) 76 74 72 72, C O’Rourke (Naas) 74 74 70 76, C Rafferty (Greenore) 73 74 73 74

295 L Ashby (Killerig) 75 71 74 75, D Holland (Castle) 74 69 76 76, M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 72 78 75 70, C Molloy (Ardee) 72 77 72 74, J Fox (Portmarnock) 72 74 76 73

296 C Geraghty (L&B) 77 71 77 71, D Downie (Sutton) 74 77 74 71, A Hogan (Newlands) 73 72 74 77, B Walton (The Island) 70 79 74 73, M Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 70 72 77 77

297 P O’Kane (Moyola Park) 75 74 74 74

299 G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 75 72 75 77, A Purdy (Ballyclare) 70 75 79 75

300 J Hume (Rathsallagh) 75 74 77 74, P Small (Bangor) 74 75 73 78, T O’Connor (Athlone) 72 72 77 79

301 L Grehan (Mullingar) 71 78 72 80

302 J Carvill (Banbridge) 78 72 75 77, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 73 75 78 76, J Gourley (Holywood) 72 78 78 74, M Kane (Whitehead) 72 76 73 81

303 S McGlynn (Carton House) 77 72 77 77, E Smith (Ardee) 76 71 77 79

304 R Weldon (Killeen Castle) 75 76 73 80

305 R Bridges (Stackstown) 75 72 75 83

306 C Cunningham (Carton House) 74 73 83 76

307 A Duffy (Royal Tara) 77 72 80 78

308 A Doran (Ardee) 76 73 79 80, S Smyth (Co Louth) 75 75 80 78

WTD M Murphy (Enniscorthy) 75 73 82 WTD, K McDonagh (Athlone) 74 77 WTD

RTD G Lawlor (Newbridge) 70 74 RTD, S Healy (Claremorris) 79 67 RTD, S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 70 78 RTD

After 54 holes

212 D Morgan (Mullingar) 73 67 72

213 A Kearney (Castlerock) 72 71 70

214 B Casey (Headfort) 68 75 71

215 S Grehan (Tullamore) 73 69 73, S Walsh (Portmarnock) 69 71 75

216 D McElroy (Ballymena) 75 71 70, S Ward (Co Louth) 74 75 67

217 T McLarnon (Masserene) 72 73 72

218 C O’Rourke (Naas) 74 74 70

219 D Holland (Castle) 74 69 76, C Sharvin (Ardglass) 73 76 70, A Hogan (Newlands) 73 72 74, C Glynn (Carton House) 72 71 76, C Fairweather (Knock) 71 75 73, N Grant (Knock) 71 72 76, M Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 70 72 77

220 L Ashby (Killerig) 75 71 74, C Rafferty (Greenore) 73 74 73

221 C Molloy (Ardee) 72 77 72, M Kane (Whitehead) 72 76 73, T O’Connor (Athlone) 72 72 77, L Grehan (Mullingar) 71 78 72, J Greene (Portmarnock) 71 76 74

222 S Carter (Stackstown/NUIM) 76 74 72, G Lenehan (Portmarnock) 75 72 75, R Bridges (Stackstown) 75 72 75, P Small (Bangor) 74 75 73, J Fox (Portmarnock) 72 74 76, J Lyons (Birr) 72 73 77

223 P O’Kane (Moyola Park) 75 74 74, B Walton (Malahide) 70 79 74

224 E Smith (Ardee) 76 71 77, R Weldon (Killeen Castle) 75 76 73, A Purdy (Ballyclare) 70 75 79

225 J Carvill (Banbridge) 78 72 75, C Geraghty (L&B) 77 71 77, D Downie (Sutton) 74 77 74, M McAlpin (Royal Portrush) 72 78 75

226 S McGlynn (CartonHse) 77 72 77, J Hume (Rathsallagh) 75 74 77, A Lowry (Esker Hills) 73 75 78

228 A Doran (Ardee) 76 73 79, J Gourley (Holywood) 72 78 78

229 A Duffy (Royal Tara) 77 72 80

230 S Smyth (Co Louth) 75 75 80, M Murphy (Enniscorthy) 75 73 82, C Cunningham (Carton House) 74 73 83

RTD G Lawlor (Newbridge) 70 74 RTD, S Healy (Claremorris) 79 67 RTD, S Ryan (Royal Dublin) 70 78 RTD

WTD K McDonagh (Athlone) 74 77 WTD

 

Non-qualifiers:

152 D Reidy (Co Sligo) 76 76, G Shaw (Mullingar) 76 76, L Hutchinson (Royal Dublin) 75 77, J Rothwell (Curragh) 74 78

153 C McGrogan (Newbridge) 79 74, R Burke (Castle) 79 74, D Lally (Mullingar) 77 76, A Grant (Dundalk) 76 77, B McGarry (Birr) 75 78

154 M Kelly (Mullingar) 77 77, S Hogan (Nenagh) 75 79

155 E Farrell (Ardee) 78 77, M Boucher (Carton Hse) 77 78, J McGuinness (New Forest) 77 78, J Rackard (Enniscorthy) 75 80, G McGrane (Royal Dublin) 74 81, J Conroy (Bray) 74 81

156 S Egan (Castle Bearna) 75 81

157 T Jordan (Dungannon) 78 79

158 C Tormey (Mullingar) 77 81

159 C Rentes (Highfield) 82 77, R Symmington (Lisburn) 77 82

160 P Burke (Mullingar) 85 75, M Richards (Carton House) 82 78, I Brennan (Greenore) 81 79, G Carr (Mullingar) 80 80, R Knightly (Royal Dublin) 79 81

NR G Walsh (Mount Juliet) 80 NR, L McMillan (Blessington Lakes) 86 NR, D O’Connor (Athlone) 89 NR

WTD G O’Connor (Malahide) 79 WTD