Home hero Caolan Rafferty put two successive second place finishes behind him to capture the Jeffers Sports Turf sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup by a massive five shots, writes Dundalk Golf Club.
The Dundalk fired rounds of 67 and 71 to win on six under par from Grange's Robbie Pierse. who bounced back from a first round 78 with a seven under par, course-record equalling 65.
"I won the Scratch Cup in Laytown-Bettystown a few years ago and this is my biggest win since then," said Rafferty who was a semi-finalist in the North of Ireland Championship last year and a quarter-finalist in West of Ireland last month.
"I have been playing well for the past year and it is great to finally win the Dundalk Scratch Cup after finishing second in the last two years
Only four players break par in the first round with Rafferty's 67 giving him a four-shot lead over Nicholas Grant, Paul Reavey and David Mulholland with Geoff Lenehan and Eddie Rogers a shot further back on level par 72.
Rafferty's opening round included two eagles — he holed a 50 metre bunker shot at the par-five sixth, then drove the 14th.
Having turned one under, thanks to his first eagle, Rafferty birdied the par-five 10th to go to two under and his second eagle moved him to four under. He went to five under with a birdie three at the 15th but then bogeyed the 16th after failing to get up and down.
However, a long drive at the 18th left him with a pitch and putt for his third birdie of the round and put him firmly in control of the competition.
Rafferty began his second round tentatively and had to scramble to save par at the first, fourth and fifth. A birdie four at the sixth should have settled him but he failed to get up and down at the par-five seventh after leaving his par putt on the lip of the hole.
Four more pars followed before a drive and a three wood set up a birdie on the par five 12th to move him to six under for the tournament.
He scrambled pars on the 13th, 14th and 15th before sinking a monster 40ft putt across the undulating 16th green for a birdie.
He finished on six-under when he bogeyed the last after finding a bunker off the tee but it didn't matter in the end as nobody came close to threatening his score.
"The two eagles in the first round certainly made a difference. I scrambled really well in the second round and it was a great feeling when I sank that monster putt on the 16th," said Rafferty.
The challenge of Grant, Reavey and Mulholland faded away in the second round and it was Pierce who stole the headlines with his superb 65 which included six birdies and an eagle to finish on 143, five shots behind Rafferty.
After working for the last few years at Paddock Wood Golf Centre in Dundalk, Rafferty recently moved with professional Brian Kerley to Ardee and he paid credit to Kerley for the work he has done with him over the last few years.
"Brian has been a big influence since I started working with him at the Paddock. I have seen a steady improvement in my game since then as my performances over the past year have shown," said Rafferty who now heads to England for this week's Lytham Trophy.
One of the highlights of the day was an albatross two by Tangradee's Jamie Stothers when he holed his six iron approach at the par-five 10th.
Dundalk Scratch Cup sponsored by Jeffers Sports Turf
- 138 - Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 67, 71
- 143 - Robbie Pierse (The Grange) 78, 65
- 146 - Tiarnan McLarnon (Masserene) 73, 73
- 146 - Geoff Lenehan 72, 74
- Best Nett: Maurice Murphy (3) (Dundalk) 145 (74, 71).
- 1st 18 Gross: Nicholas Grant (Shandon Park) 71
- 1st 18 Nett: Luke Woods (4) (Balbriggan) 70/34
- 2nd 18 Gross: Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 70.
- 2nd 18 Nett: Connor McCaughey (4) (Dundalk) 70.
- 1st Round CSS: 74. 2nd Round CSS: 73
MidWest champ McCormack romps to five shot win in Douglas Senior Scratch Cup
MidWest Alliance champion Andrew McCormack made his biggest breakthrough to date when he putted the lights out to cruise to a five-shot win and his first senior success in the Douglas Senior Scratch Cup.
The Castletroy man shot rounds of 69 and 68 to take top prize having finished third in Muskerry and second in Lee Valley in recent weeks.
Jack Ryan made it a one-two for Castletroy by adding a level par 72 to his 70 with former professional Peter O’Keeffe from the home club taking third as he added a 75 to his 70.
2016 Douglas Senior Scratch Cup, sponsored by Kieran Canty Financial Services
- 137 Andrew McCormack (Castletroy) 69, 68
- 142 Jack Ryan (Castletroy) 70 72
- 145 Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas) 70 75
- 146 Eanna Griffin (Waterford) 72 74
- 147 Eugene Higgins (Muskerry) 75 72
- 147 Dave Reddan (Nenagh) 73 74
- 147 John Hickey (Cork) 71 76 (1ST 18 PRIZE)
- 148 Mark Ford (Cork) 73 75
- 149 Mark Shanahan (Castlemartyr) 78 71
- 149 Barry O’Sullivan Geaney (Douglas) 78 71 (NEST NETT)
- 149 Ian Spillane (Mallow) 78 71
- 149 Daniel Hallissey (Muskerry) 77 72
- 149 Alan Thomas (Dungarvan) 75 74
- 149 Cillian Moloney (Fota Island) 74 75
- 149 Gary O’Flaherty (Cork) 74 75
- 149 Greg Barrett (Mallow) 70 79 (2ND NETT)
- 150 Padraig O’Connor (Macroom) 73 77
- 151 Edwin Hannon (Lee Valley) 80 71 (2ND 18 PRIZE)
- 151 Ronan Twomey (Muskerry) 77 74
- 151 Darren Hourihan (Douglas) 77 74 (3RD NETT)