HAVING held a 21 year membership at City of Derry, Johnny Harding’s decision to switch to North-West Golf Club, Lisfannon, appears to have reaped dividends for the three handicapper.
Playing in the North-Western Alliance at Portsalon on Satudray last, Harding topped both the nett and gross categories with a nett 69.
His decision to move to Lisfannon was simply because he fancied a change and a change in form he certainly received with a top score on a course in superb condition.
After four cancellations due to the inclement weather over the Christmas and New Year periods, the Alliance finally got a competition played and despite the gales and rain of the past week, Saturday turned out to be quite mild apart from one shower.
Indeed, many of those taking part at Portsalon showed how rusty their games were with just two players breaking par. The course, as ever, was presented in excellent condition which was a fitting tribute to the club’s head greenkeeper, Johnny Shields, and his staff .
And what a day it was for the winner but his round was all the more impressive thanks to an “ace” on the par three 10th hole - 142 metres - when holing out with his trusty six iron.
In fact, when he reached the 10th he was three over par having experienced an indifferent start - three over after just five holes. He birdied the 8th, a par five, but gave that shot back to the course on the 9th.
But his superb ‘hole in one’ at the 10th provided the necessary confidence booster and he went on to marke par at the next four holes before dropping a shot at the 15th.
He bounced back with birdies at the 16th and 17th and finished with a par at the last. So from three over after the first nine, Johnny was three under for the back nine which gave him a comfortable victory at level par gross.
Noel Callan, free from golf teaching duties for the day at the Faughan Valley club, claimed the gross prize. He was four over for the first nine and level for his back nine and it was a perfect back nine having hit all greens in regulation and he parred every hole.
The runner-up in the gross category was Keelan Quigg, he too was four over on the front nine but a bogey on the 12th and eight pars saw him finish a shot back on 77.
The second nett prize was secured by Keith Shiels who was the only other player to finish under par .He had a very steady round with a mixture of nine pars, eight bogies and one birdie.
In the race for the “Golfer of the Year” in the nett category, Keith Shiels is on 16 points; Eamonn McGlinchey 13; Kieran Doherty 12 and Eddie McHugh also 12, all Letterkenny members except Kieran who is a member of Strabane.
In the gross category’s “Golfer of the Year” Justin MacLochlain, North-West, is on 20 followed by Michael McGeady, the tour professional also on 20, and Jayson McIntyre, from City of Derry, who is third on 18.
The next outing of the Alliance will take place at Ballyliffin Golf Club this Saturday, February 12th.w
Full results from Portsalon were - Nett Category - 1, Johnny Harding (3), North-West, 69; 2, Keith Shiels (8), Letterkenny, 71; 3, Eamonn Davis (10), Letterkenny, 72; 4, break of tie, Hugh Doherty (21), Letterkenny, 73; 5, Keith Lapsley (5), Dunfanaghy, 73; 6, Eamonn McGlinchey (8), Letterkenny, 74.
Gross Category - 1, Noel Callan (scr.), Faughan Valley, 76; 2, break of tie, Keelan Quigg (2), City of Derry, 77; 3, Justin MacLochlainn (2), North-West, 77; 4, break of tie, Cathal Patton (4), Strabane, 78; 5, Sean Forbes (4), Strabane, 78; 6, Kieran Doherty (6), Strabane, 80.
While Johnny Harding carded an “ace” to scoop half the balls on offer, the following players registered “2s” and will receive two balls each - C. Doherty, S. Harris, D. McLaughlin, M.Houston, E.Corry, M.Davis and K.Lapsley (2).