Ruairi O’Connor came out strongest in a three-way playoff on Saturday evening to win the McGettigan’s Applegreen, Lifford sponsored Portsalon Scratch Cup.
O’Connor, playing out of Co Sligo GC and off a plus-two handicap, ended the 36-hole event tied on a 153 total with Damian McCusker (+1) of Moyola Park and Rosapenna stalwart Enda Kennedy (0).
Ruairi O’Connor with sponsor Conor McGettigan and Portsalon Captain Mick McGlynn.
Inseparable in regulation play, the trio once again took to the first tee for a last-man-standing playoff and it was O’Connor that found the middle of the fairway en route to a par-four that would seal victory after both McCusker and Kennedy encountered troubles off the tee and came up short in their recovery attempts.
In winning the event, O’Connor showcased not just his golfing ability but the canny knack of learning very quickly from mistakes.
Portsalon’s second hole, classed by European Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley as one of the world’s finest par fours, has caught out many golfers and will faze many more.
Having teed off just after 7.30am, O’Connor found that earliest of challenges to be a chastising one, recoding a triple-bogey seven after an opening par.
The adjacent 17th hole was also to prove problematic come mid-morning, the powerful hitter having cleared both the 17th and second fairways with a drive that flew straight out of bounds and would lead to a second triple-bogey of the round on the final par-five of the round.
With six shots lost to the course in just those two holes, O’Connor’s class was evident elsewhere on his journey, eventually signing for an opening round of 78 – six-over par.
Birdies were collected at the third, fourth and eighth holes, positively banishing the memories of that early setback. Another shot was picked up on the 16th while the tricky closing hole would draw a bogey.
In his second round, O’Connor showed that it was a case on once bitten, twice shy with pars at the second and 17th holes.
The inward nine was a steady affair, with birdie two at the 12th balanced against a bogey on the Matterhorn for a level-par run to home that would see him joining his playing partners back on the first tee before claiming Portsalon’s Scratch Cup for himself.
It was the first time in a dozen years that Portsalon had played host to a Scratch Cup, an event kindly sponsored and made possible by Conor McGettigan of McGettigan’s Applegreen, Lifford.
With Portsalon currently ranked as Ireland’s 16th best layout by Irish Golfer Magazine, McGettigan set out following this year’s AGM in January to resurrect the Scratch Cup, which was last contested in 2006. With his drive and sponsorship, the plan was soon in place for a busy August Saturday and the excellent prize pool was always going to draw a strong field to the Fanad Peninsula.
The weather was not in the organiser’s corner this year, with misty rain hanging over the course throughout the day but it didn’t stop two brilliant battles for the Senior and Intermediate Scratch Cups. With the platform now back in place, it is envisaged that the Portsalon Scratch Cup will be able to go from strength to strength in the coming years.
Portsalon Senior Scratch Cup – sponsored by McGettigan’s Applegreen, Lifford
Winner: Ruairi O’Connor (Co Sligo, +2) – 153 (75, 78) * Playoff Winner *
Runner-up: Damien McCusker (Moyola, +1) – 153 (77, 76)
Third: Enda Kennedy (Rosapenna, 0) – 153 (77, 76)
Fourth: Kealan Quigg (Ballyliffin, 0) – 155 (80, 75)
Winner: Ryan McGettigan (5) – 147 nett (70, 77)
Runner-up: Mark Davis (7) – 148 nett BOT (71, 77)
Third: Jack Patton (4) – 148 nett BOT (74, 74)
Fourth: Connor Meehan (6) 148 nett (74, 74)