Noel Murray shook off a painful back to win the Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship Irish qualifier at Co. Meath Golf Club.
Murray, of Massereene Golf Club, showed few signs of his injury problems as he carded a four-under-par round of 69 to beat Patrick Small (Galway) and Iarlaith Keane (Balcarrick) into second place.
They will join 10 other qualifiers at Coventry Golf Club for the £32,500 FootJoy-supported final on June 11-13.
Belfast-based Murray will be returning to the Midlands venue where he impressed in last year’s event. But he admitted he almost pulled out of the qualifier before going on to win it.
“I’d aggravated my lower back in the gym and it had been giving me problems in an event the day before,” he explained.
“To be honest, when it came to playing at Co. Meath I almost pulled out I was in that much pain.
“But the night before, I made sure I rested up with a hot water bottle. And in the morning I was fine after having it rubbed down.
“I decided to play and it wasn’t until the 16th hole that it started giving me pain again. By that time, I was on my way to qualifying.
“But I was back with the physio almost as soon as the event had finished. I won’t make the mistake of doing too much gym work again.”
Second year PGA Assistant Murray is keen to get back to Coventry after his top 20 finish in 2013.
The 23-year-old said: “I did okay last year considering it was my first time there.”
But he admitted that his back pains were not the only problem to contend with.
“It was pouring rain for a while and I think they considered calling it off,” said Murray. "In the end, we didn’t come off but there was a mopping up operation going on for a while.”
POWERADE PGA ASSISTANTS’ CHAMPIONSHIP supported by FootJoy
Irish Region Qualifier at Co. Meath Golf Club, 20 May 2014
1 69 (-4) Noel Murray Massereene
2= 71 (-2) Patrick Small Galway, Iarlaith Keane Balcarrick
4= 72 (-1) Ian Brennan Greenor, Neil O’Briain Old Conna, Graham Donohoe Rosslare
7 73 (LVL) David Allen Roe Park
8 74 (+1) Ryan Madigan Killiney
9= 75 (+3) Conor Gorevan Lisheen Springs, Brian McCormack Galway
11= 77 (+4) Brian Doheny Rathsallagh, Shane Corner Castlewarden, Steven Quinlan Lucan