Dromoland Castle's Tony Cleary produced a sensational six under par back nine to hold off all comers and win the Titleist sponsored 50th Anniversary Mid West Alliance 72-hole event at his home club.
Dromoland's PGA professional Dave Foley was three points clear of Galway's Joe Lyons Galway and four ahead of Cleary entering Sunday's final event of the season.
But there was no doubt about the winner in the end as Foley produced a string of birdies down the stretch to win the Mid West Alliance title for the third year running.
Our correspondent reports:
After a nervous start by the final group which saw both Foley and Lyons go out of bounds on the second hole it was straight driver Cleary who managed to settle first. After eight holes Lyons had fallen back to fourth position behind clubmate Ronan Mullarney and Cleary was now just three pts behind Foley.
In the five years that the MWA event has been played over the Dromoland Castle course, the 9th, 10th and 11th holes (all water holes, better known as ‘Amen Corner’) have proved pivotal and last Sunday’s final round was no different.
Foley with the honour on the par-four ninth went for the carry over the water and missed the green 40 yards left which led to a difficult pitch and only a par.
Cleary who fancied his chances of making the carry on the ‘Tiger line’ got lucky as he came up short right of the green only just clearing the lake. A slack pitch gave him a par and the deficit remained three points.
Foley with the honour on the par-four 10th severly pulled his tee shot left and with no green to work with, the pro took his medicine and pitched his second shot into the middle of the green to set up another par.
Cleary sensing the door slighlty opened choose the ‘Tiger line’ yet again and with an arrow straight drive at the pin his ball rested off the back of the green which set up an easy birdie three. The gap was now just two points in favour of Foley.
Cleary now with the honour on the treacherous par-five 11th again took the ‘Tiger Line’ with the driver and his ball finished in the perfect spot on the right side of the fairwary.
Foley, sensing Cleary’s challenge off the tee attempted the ‘Tiger line’ also but failed to make the carry across the lake.
After reloading, Foley scratched the hole. At this critical moment in the final round Tony Cleary was now in a safe position in the 11th fairwary and he could have played safe and avoided the lake which would give him a regulation par and two points which would tie the lead or else he could attempt to take on the second shot over the trees and water with 235 yards to the pin.
It was truly a great shame that there were not more witnesses to what happened next because the lion hearted Cleary pulled a fairway wood from his bag and hit a fantasticly high three-wood over the immediate trees and then the lake where the ball finished 25 feet from the hole. Two putts later Cleary recorded a three-point birdie and he went in the lead for the first time in this year’s event.
Now with the adrenaline pumping Cleary chipped in for a birdie on the 12th, missed from inside 10 feet for birdie on the par-three 13th, holed a 15 footer for birdie on the difficult 14th, hit a brilliant pitch on the short 15th to record another birdie, a par on 16th, a 20 footer on 17 for another birdie and a par on 18 for a six under par back nine and his third straight MWA title.
For winning this year's 50th Anniversary event both Tony Cleary and former Clare All- Ireland senior winning hurler Alan Neville (Category 4-9 winner) are off to Carton house to be custom-fitted for the latest Titleist drivers.
Sunday's final round scores:
1. Tony Cleary Dromoland 42 points.
2. Jason O'Leary Dromoland 37 points.
3. Seanie Burns Dromoland 35 points.
1. Declan O'Leary Dromoland 40 points.
2. David Casey Dromoland 38 points.
3. John Hadnett Castletroy 37 points.
The most birdies category
Tony Cleary with 8 birdies.
The nearest the pin
7th - Pat Lucey Ennis.
13th- Kieran Cunnane Woodstock.
17th- Dave Foley PGA Dromoland.
Overall results 2014 season
Category one 0-3 handicap overall. Stableford gross format for 72 holes.
1. Tony Cleary Dromoland 149 pts.
2. Dave Foley PGA Dromoland 144 pts.
3. Joe Lyons Galway 142 pts.
Category two 4-9 handicap overall results. Stableford nett format for 72 holes.
1. Alan Neville Dromoland 170 points.
2. David Casey Dromoland 155 points.
3. Declan O'Leary Dromoland 152 points.