Dungannon’s Fergal Rafferty fed off some renewed confidence in his putting to claim his first win as a professional in the Young Life Abilene Open on the Adams Golf Pro Tour.
The 25-year old graduate of Sam Houston State University walked away with a cheque for $10,850 when he closed with an immaculate, six under par 66 to win by a stroke on 18 under par at Abilene Country Club’s Fairway Course in central Texas.
“It feels great,” said the Carrickmore native. “I’ve been playing well for the last three weeks but the key was probably getting a putting coach, because I have never had one before.
“I went to a guy from Dallas called Pat O’Brian and he has helped me greatly. I also had my swing coach Gordon Sherry caddying for me this week, so that was a big help.”
Rafferty plans to tee it up in the first stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School later this year and he can take great heart from a superb performance in Abilene, where a bogey-free third round 64 got him within a shot of leaders Kevin Tway (son of Bob) and Zack Fisher.
It was just his second start of the season on the Adams Golf Pro Tour. Last week he was tied for third in Kansas and he is now 13th on the money list with $15,050 and looking forward to another good run in what will be the last ever PGA Tour Qualifying School this autumn.
Fischer fell away with a closing 72 but Rafferty showed great guts and determination to fire an eagle and four birdies in a 66 to win by a shot from Tway and Michael Arnaud.
The Tyrone man reached the second stage of Q-School last year and will be hoping to go at least one step further this season.
If he shows the kind of sharpshooting skills that made Abilene famous for western movie fans worldwide, you wouldn’t bet against this flame-haired gunslinger hitting another bullseye.