Round-up: Lowry at Augusta, Houston thriller, Stephanie Meadow, the West
(Left-right) Neil Manchip. Shane Lowry and Dermot McElroy at Augusta National. Picture ©

(Left-right) Neil Manchip. Shane Lowry and Dermot McElroy at Augusta National. Picture ©

Clara's Shane Lowry made one of his boyhood dreams come true on Sunday when he played Augusta National for the first time.

The 28-year old, who captured the imagination of Irish golf fans when he won the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur in his very first professional start, posed for a picture on the Hogan Bridge with his coach Neil Manchip and caddie Dermot Byrne.

He's the 14th Irish golfer to make his Masters debut following Joe Carr* (1967, 55th), Christy O'Connor Jr. (1977, MC), Garth McGimpsey* (1986, MC), Ronan Rafferty (1990, T14), David Feherty (1992, T52), Darren Clarke (1998. T8), Pádraig Harrington (2000, T19), Paul McGinley (2002, T18), Michael Hoey* (2002, MC), Graeme McDowell (2005, MC), Brian McElhinney* (2006, MC), Rory McIlroy (2009, T20) and Alan Dunbar* (2013, MC). 

*denotes amateur

PGA Tour — Padraig Harrington's putter got progressively cooler as the week went on as he followed rounds of 71 and 68 with a brace fo 74s in the Shell Houston Open.
The Dubliner completed his preparations for the Masters carding three bogeys and just one birdie in a quiet final round at the Golf Club of Houston where he tied for 67th on one under par.
The 43-year old ended the week 15 shots outside a three-way playoff for the title that ended with JB Holmes beating Johnson Wagner with a par four on their second visit to the 18th to capture his fourth PGA Tour title.
The big hitter closing with a 64 to make up a six-shot deficit on the leaders and set the target a 272 with 11 groups to finish.
First, Wagner holed a 18 footer on the 18th for birdie for a 69 to match Holmes before Jordan Spieth made an impressive up and down to join them.
The Texan was eliminated on the first extra hole when he bogeyed the 18th after a poor tee shot almost ended up in the lake and he bunkered his second from a sidehill lie.
That left Wagner and Holmes to return to the 18th tee for a third time but on this occasion, Holmes won after Wagner three-putted, missing a 6-foot par putt.
According to the PGA Tour, Holmes credited his good play this season to strong mental focus. He closes his eyes for several seconds as he stands behind his ball.
“I’m trying to take a deep breath and stay in the moment, not let (my) mind race, just sometimes say a little prayer,” Holmes said. This is his second year working with sports psychologist Jim Murphy.

LPGA — Stephanie Meadow tied for 20th in the ANA Inspiration to get her 2015 season off and running.

A closing 70 left the Jordanstown star on three under par and $26,632 richer in her first competitive start since last year's LPGA Q-School 

Her performance will also boost her father Robert, whose battle against serious illness prompted Meadow to stay away from the tour for two months to help take care of him.

Q. You said you haven't competed since December, is that partly because you don't have full stakes in the LPGA?
STEPHANIE MEADOW: Yeah, and partly because my dad was sick, so I took some time off to be with him and this is my first one back. I wouldn't have gotten into the other tournaments anyway, but I might have played a few Symetras.
 Q. So you sort of raised prominence last summer with your third place finish in the U.S. Are you getting kind of used to playing in majors now? Do you feel comfortable out there?
STEPHANIE MEADOW: Yeah, definitely. I played in a few majors as an amateur, and I think that really, really helped. I don't have any nerves. It's just a normal tournament. You have to feel like it like that.
Q. Do you feel different now being a professional and playing for money?
STEPHANIE MEADOW: A little bit at the start like oh, this is really a job now, and you have to put food on the table. But when you play golf for a living, what could be better? It's just fun.
 Q. So you went on to college out here. Do you feel more comfortable out here playing?
STEPHANIE MEADOW: You know, it's been a while. It takes me a while to get back into links. It's so different, and you have to think so differently. So I would say I'm pretty comfortable out here, but I (Indiscernible). Q. So plans for next week?
STEPHANIE MEADOW: Next week? I'm going home tonight, and hopefully I'll try to get in the field for Hawaii so we'll see. I'll get out there early."

As for the ANA Inspiration, Brittany Lincicome made eagle on 18 to force a playoff with Stacy Lewis before winning after a playoff.. It was nearly deja vu for Lincicome, who hit the exact same shot into the 18th six years ago to six feet for an eagle to win the championship by one.

This year’s version needed three more trips down the 18th fairway though before Lincicome had her second major championship and sixth careeer LPGA Tour victory with three straight pars in extra holes. 

“I mean, to make eagle on any hole is pretty incredible, and then to do it on Sunday at a major, at this major where I did it in 2009,” Lincicome said, “it’s really surreal. I feel like if you would have bet me all the money in the world to see how many times you could do it, if I went back to the fairway now I probably couldn’t hit that shot again. So like I said earlier, today was my day. Somebody was looking out for me today.” 

A superb picture by, summing up a day that started with fog and ended with late drama in the sunset

A superb picture by, summing up a day that started with fog and ended with late drama in the sunset

West of Ireland Amateur Open — Play was delayed again by fog but things hotted up later with some superb golf at County Sligo. The biggest shock fo the day was the 2 and 1 first round defeat of defending champion Jack Hume of Naas at the hands of Galway's Stephen Brady.

All but one of the last 16 has been decided with Ardee's Eugene Smith one up after 11 on Barry Anderson, the County Sligo man playing out of Royal Dublin. the winner will have the pleasure of taking on another displaced Co Sligo man, Gary McDermott, who had two big wins as a Carton House player to take his place in the third round.

he Island's Kevin Le Blanc (just 16) beat Gary McGrane 5 and 4 and then won on the 24th against Mount Wolseley's Mark Morrissey to set up a fascinating clash with Claremorris' Stephen Healy, also playing out of Carton House these days.

thers to watch out for include Waterford's Eanna Griffin, Richard Bridges, Des Morgan talking on Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon, Close champ John-Ross Galbraith against last year's runner up Robbie Cannon and the potentially explosive clash of home hero Sean Flanagan and the vastly experienced Pat Murray.

allymena's Dermot McElroy, still searching for that elusive first "major" meets the Cavan-born Galway veteran Eddie McCormack with the McDermott v Smith or Anderson match another potential cracker. 

West of Ireland 2015




Stephen Healy (Carton House) v Kevin Le Blanc (The Island)

Barry Daly (Edmondstown) v Eanna Griffin (Waterford)


Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) v Richard Bridges (Stackstown) 

Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) v Des Morgan (Mullingar)


John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) v Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan)

Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) v Pat Murray (Limerick)


Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) v Eddie McCormack (Galway)

Gary McDermott (Carton House) v Eugene Smith (Ardee) or Barry Anderson (Royal Dublin), Smith 1 up after 11




Stephen Healy (Carton House) bt John Hickey (Cork) 5/4

Kevin Le Blanc (The Island) bt Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) 24th

Barry Daly (Edmondstown) bt Mark Nolan (Delgany) 3/2

Eanna Griffin (Waterford) bt Michael Sinclair (Knock) 4/3


Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt Shane McGlynn (Carton House) 1 hole

Richard Bridges (Stackstown) bt Ian O’Rourke (Royal Dublin) 4/3

Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt Jake Whelan (Newlands) 1 hole

Des Morgan (Mullingar) bt Stephen Brady (Galway) 2/1


John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) bt Jeff Hopkins (Royal Dublin) 3/2

Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan) bt James Fox (Portmarnock) 1 hole

Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) bt Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) 5/3

Pat Murray (Limerick) bt Jonathan Yates (Naas) 4/3


Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) bt Gary Collins (Rosslare) 2 holes

Eddie McCormack (Galway) bt Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell) 1 hole

Gary McDermott (Carton House) bt Kyle Harman (Wales) 6/5

Eugene Smith (Ardee) 1 up after 11 v Barry Anderson (Royal Dublin.




Stephen Healy (Carton House) bt Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 5/3

John Hickey (Cork) bt Ben Best (Rathmore) 1 hole

Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley) bt Conor O’Rourke (Naas) 1 hole

Kevin Le Blanc (The Island) bt Gary McGrane (Royal Dublin) 5/4

Mark Nolan (Delgany) bt Thomas O’Connor (Athlone) 1 hole

Barry Daly (Edmondstown) bt Alex Gleeson (Castle) 1 hole

Eanna Griffin (Waterford) bt Paul Flynn (Tramore) 21st

Michael Sinclair (Knock) bt Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 3/2


Shane McGlynn (Carton House) bt Kevin Stack (Dungarvan) 5/3

Jack Pierse (Portmarnock) bt Keith Crowley (Fota Island) 3/2

Richard Bridges (Stackstown) bt Evan Farrell (Ardee) 5/4 

Ian O’Rourke (Royal Dublin) bt Kevin Andre Wright (Norway) 6/4

Jake Whelan (Newlands) bt Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock) 1 hole

Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene) bt William Hanna (Kilkeel) 20th

Des Morgan (Mullingar) bt David Sutton (Lurgan) 3/2

Stephen Brady (Galway) bt Jack Hume (Naas) 2/1


John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) bt Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) 1 hole

Jeff Hopkins (Royal Dublin) bt Joe Lyons (Galway) 4/3

James Fox (Portmarnock) bt Paul Murphy (Rosslare) 1 hole

Robbie Cannon (Balbriggan) bt Shaun O’Connor (Carton House) 4/3

Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo) bt Tom Slowman (England) 2/1

Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick) bt Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little) 1 hole

Jonathan Yates (Naas) bt Andrew McCormack (Newcastle West) 5/4

Pat Murray (Limerick) bt Thomas Mulligan (Co Louth) 2/1 


Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) bt Daniel Holland (Castle) 3/1

Gary Collins (Rosslare) bt Matthew Kane (Whitehead) 1 hole

Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell) bt Matthew McPartlin (Carton House) 3/1

Eddie McCormack (Galway) bt Colin Fairweather (Knock) 5/4

Gary McDermott (Carton House) bt Alan Thomas (Dungarvan) 7/6

Kyle Harman (Wales) bt Stephen Barker (Mourne) 2/1 

Eugene Smith (Ardee) bt Sean Ryan (Royal Dublin) 1 hole 

Barry Anderson (Royal Dublin) bt Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint) 2/1