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2017 Irish Close Championship
Unofficial Practice Times available by booking direct with Club on 091 522033 - reduced rate of €20.00p/p applies subject to availability and pre-booking.
Official Practice on Monday August 21st can only be booked by contacting the GUI.
Practice Range Open
Tuesday 07.00-10.00 & 11.30-14.45hrs
Wednesday 07.00-10.00 & 11.30-11.45hrs
Saturday 07.00-08.00 & 12-13.00hrs.
* Please note this is a short practice range suitable for short iron use. The club offers 2 practice nets adjacent to the 1st tee and a short game practice area which is also adjacent ot the 1st tee.
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From the Irish Times 22/08/2017
Paul Coughlan leads Irish Amateur Close after first qualifying round
Top 64 after Wednesday’s second qualifying round make the matchplay on Thursday
"It might measure “just” 6,532 yards from the back stakes but Galway Golf Club proved more than a match for the best in the land as just 10 players broke par in the first qualifying round of the AIG Irish Amateur Close.
“You’re on a knife-edge on every hole,” said West of Ireland champion Barry Anderson after an adventurous, one-over 71. “Once you get your tee shot away, it’s very scoreable. But it’s tight off the tee".
“Anything under par is always good around Galway. It’s a par 70, there are only two par fives and they’re not gimme birdies by any means.”
The top 64 after Wednesday’s second qualifying round make the matchplay on Thursday and a six-over par total might be good enough after the 132-strong field averaged 73.99 in a fresh southerly breeze.
Castleknock’s Paul Coughlan leads by a stroke from Co Sligo’s David Brady and Co Cavan’s Shane McDermott after overcoming a bout of suspected food-poisoning to card a four under par 66.
The 25-year old was one over par after just two holes but he made five birdies after that on a day when some of the big guns struggled.
“It’s my lowest round of the year,” said Coughlan, who credited a putting lesson with Castleknock professional Ryan Donagher for his impressive form on Galway’s pristine greens.
“He moved the ball back in my stance and I only had 27 putts today. The greens are slower than they look but they are pure. Finding the fairway is key around here.”
Starting at the 10th, Coughlan followed a bogey at the 11th with a birdie at the 16th to be out in level par before coming home in 31 thanks to birdies at the third, fifth, seventh and eighth.
Just four members of the Irish team that won the Home Internationals for the fourth year running last week are in action and they enjoyed mixed fortunes.
Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty shot a 71, Tramore’s Robin Dawson a three-over 73 and defending champion Alex Gleeson a 75 as Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell overcame a quadruple bogey eight at his seventh hole (the 16ah) and finished eagle-birdie-birdie for a level par 70.
“It was a bad eight,” Campbell said of his bunker trouble at the 16ah. “There’s never a good eight but that was definitely a bad eight.”
He made amends with his finish, rolling in a 35 footer for an eagle at the seventh before picking up two more shots at the eighth and ninth.
“The eagle gave me a bit of breathing space playing the last couple of holes,” Campbell said. “I didn’t feel comfortable out there at all today - didn’t feel comfortable over the ball - but I got it around and that was the main thing.”
Gleeson had three double bogey sixes in a 75 that leaves him tied for 81st with West of Ireland champion James Sauger and outside the top 64.
“It was a very frustrating round,” said Gleeson, who like many players, failed to get a practice round after heavy rain closed the course on Monday.
“I was struggling off the tee and on the greens, so it wasn’t ideal.
“You can see most of the trouble here. It’s more just getting familiar with where to miss it around the greens.
“I’ll just look to play solidly tomorrow and give myself the best chance of qualifying.”
First round Scores (Par 70):
66 P Coughlan (Castleknock)
67 D Brady (Co. Sligo); S Mc Dermott (Co. Cavan)
68 D Kitt (Athenry)
69 T Ford (County Sligo Golf Club); R Knightly (The Royal Dublin); J McCarthy (Stackstown); A Hill (Athenry); P Kerr (Royal Portrush); T Plunkett (Crover House)
70 J Walsh (Castle); M Shiel (Galway Bay); M Grehan (Tullamore); C Feeney (Co. Sligo); J Lyons (Galway); T Cleary (Woodstock); S Cullen (Slieve Russell); W Small (Tandragee); C Campbell (Warrenpoint)
71 B Anderson (The Royal Dublin); R McKinstry (Cairndhu); L Nolan (Galway); M O’Farrell (Galway); N Hearns (Mountrath); S Flanagan (Co. Sligo); T Nolan (Galway); R Cannon (Balbriggan); J Tuohy (Galway Bay); E Farrell (Ardee); C Rafferty (Dundalk); J Knipe (Royal Portrush); L Power (Galway); A McDaid (Palmerstown Stud); J Fox (Portmarnock)
72 C Hughes (Galway); J McVicker (Knock); J Temple (Portmarnock); D Coyle (Portmarnock); C Raymond (Newlands); D Foy (Laytown & Bettystown); J Brady (Rosslare); J Yates (Naas); J Fletcher (Warrenpoint); B Timlin (Galway); M Ryan (New Ross); R Black (Hilton Templepatrick); M Norton (Belvoir Park); A Ryan (Thurles); B Shally (Dromoland); H Foley (The Royal Dublin); R Moran (Castle); L Grehan (Mullingar); R O’Connor (Co. Sligo); W Russell (Clandeboye); T O’Connor (Athlone)
73 E Murphy (Dundalk); H Gillivan (Westport); C Butler (Kinsale); J Maginn (Mourne); J Hood (Galgorm Castle); C Ryan (Dun Laoghaire); R Pierse (Grange); J Doherty (Ballina); P Brennan (Belvoir Park); S Healy (The Royal Dublin); R Dawson (Tramore); O Crooks (Bushfoot); S Brady (Galway); R Mullarney (Galway); T McLarnon (Massereene)
74 C Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire); C Martin (Kilkenny); J Whelan (Newlands); J Blake (The Island); K McCarron (North West); C Denvir (Elm Park); A Hickey (Ballyhaunis); D Glynn (Galway Bay); G Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick); E Griffin (Waterford)
75 R Brazill (Naas); M McKinstry (Cairndhu); A Fahy (Dun Laoghaire); C Glennon (Glasson); T Smyth (Castle); S Kenneally (Kinsale); G Mann (Tullamore); T Collins (Dun Laoghaire); M Burke (Galway); A Gleeson (Castle); E Smith (Laytown & Bettystown); A Comerford (Galway); J Sugrue (Mallow); E McCormack (Galway Bay); R O’Doherty (Enniscrone)
76 K Lynch (Skibbereen); M McKenna (Dun Laoghaire); G Smyth (Clonmel); S McGlynn (Portmarnock); M Healy (Kinsale); C Nolan (Galway); J Mc Donnell (Forrest Little)
77 A Gaynor (Co. Sligo); J Quinn (The Island); D McAleenon (Edenmore); T Probst (Strandhill); R Dutton (Tandragee); J McKenna (St Patricks); T Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown)
78 R Tighe (Elm Park); A Wilson (Portmarnock); A Mulholland (Castlerock); P Carey (Nenagh); E Collins (Laytown & Bettystown); S Desmond (Monkstown); D Reddan Jnr (Nenagh); J Mc Quaid (Rossmore)
79 R Browne (Castle); D O’Connor (Fota Island); M Murphy (Clandeboye )
80 M Power (Kilkenny); A Moore (Adare Manor); D Smith (Castle)
81 C Waters (Lahinch); S Doyle (Athlone); L O’Neill (Connemara)
82 C Kelly (Fort Lauderdale)
83 C Henry (Strandhill); C Dowling (Mallow)
84 N Carroll (Athlone); J Hickey (Cork)
NR J Foley (Letterkenny)
From the Irish Times 23/08/2017
Peter Kerr leads the qualifiers in Amateur Close at breezy Galway
Mikey Burke had the round of the day - a three-under 67 that left him tied for 13th
Peter Kerr has displayed all the hallmarks of a Close winner in Galway. Experience is everything in championship golf and chemistry student Peter Kerr is hoping he can come up with the elixir of success and claim his first amateur major after leading the qualifiers in the AIG Amateur Close at breezy Galway.
The 19-year old has all the hallmarks of a Close winner having reached the semi-finals last year, where it took a brilliant birdie by eventual champion Alex Gleeson to send him home.
Having just finished his first year at St Andrews University in Scotland, Kerr has no excuses when to comes to mixing golf and academics and he looks like a player who will be tough to beat after he carded a second successive 69 to win the Silver Medal on a countback from Co Sligo’s David Brady.
The Rosses Point man followed his opening 67 with a 71 to finish alongside Kerr on two under par, one stroke clear of Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty, who was Ireland’s leading points scorer on his debut in Home Internationals last week.
“Last year’s Close was a great experience for me,” Kerr said of his experience at Ballyliffin. “It was the first time that I had done well in one of the big men’s championships.
“It was a surprise to me because I didn’t have a lot of form going into it. I putted very well in stroke play and my game got better and better as the week went on.
“Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.
“The main thing I learned last year was that I didn’t have to play my A game to get that far.
“It showed me also the importance of the short game, I putted really well a lot last year and it just showed me that I didn’t have to hit every fairway and every green to get that far.”
Exactly 64 players qualified for Thursday’s first round of matchplay combat on eight over par 148 with East of Ireland champion Reece Black (149) and two-time Irish Boys champion Mark Power (152).
While Galway’s Mikey Burke had the round of the day - a three-under 67 that left him tied for 13th - in-form Rafferty must be highly fancied to go far.
The 24-year old has moved to a new level this year and after winning five points out of six on the Irish team that captured its fourth successive Home Internationals, he’s busting with confidence.
After a 68 left him alone in third place on one-under, Rafferty said: “Last week gave me that extra little bit of belief too, getting the big experience with the lads and realising that I’m not that far away from everybody so hopefully I can keep going this week and get the win.”
From the Irish Times 24/08/2017
Ronan Mullarney uses local knowledge to good effect in Irish Close
Galway man claims the major scalp of holder Alex Gleeson at Salthill venue
Galway’s Ronan Mullarney used his local knowledge to good effect as he defied winds gusting up to 40 kmh to beat defending champion Alex Gleesonand remain on course to become the first home winner of the AIG Irish Amateur Close for 30 years.
While the 21-year-old now faces a tough third round showdown with the in-form Dundalk international, Caolan Rafferty, his intimate knowledge of the Salthill venue must give him a chance of becoming the first player from the host club to win the “Close” since Eddie Power triumphed in Tramore 30 years ago.
“I know where to go and where not to go,” said Mullarney, who was an estimated four-under par to Gleeson’s one over as he won 5 and 4 in high winds and driving rain.
“With some of the pins out there today, local knowledge could have been worth two holes. There is something comforting about knowing where to go and where not to go.”
Four up after eight, Mullarney saw Gleeson chip in for birdie at the ninth to reduce to deficit to just three holes but birdied the 10th to go four up and halved the 12th and 13th in birdie before closing out the match on the 14th.
“I’ve had stars and NBs beside the Close in the calendar,” confessed Mullarney, who lives just a ten-minute drive from the course.
“I’ve been looking forward to this week. It would mean a lot to win this here, but there is a long way to go.”
In the top half of the draw, leading qualifier Peter Kerr from Royal Portrush fell by 2 and 1 to 20-year old Cian Feeney from Co Sligo, who now faces against East of Ireland runner-up Robbie Pierse from Grange.
The winner is due to meet Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley or Warrenpoint’s Jamie Fletcher, who beat clubmate, Colm Campbell, 2 and 1
From the Irish Times 25/08/2017
Schoolboy David Kitt into semi-finals of Irish Amateur Close
Former Boys internationals Marc Norton and Jamie Fletcher could meet in the final
Former Boys internationals Marc Norton and Jamie Fletcher could meet in the final of the AIG Irish Amateur Close today, but the romantics might not be upset if a 17-year-old schoolboy and an unheralded Dubliner come through to dispute the blue riband title at Galway Golf Club.
With a warm breeze and sparkling sunshine replacing the wind and rain that marred the first three days, Athenry schoolboy David Kitt and 25-year old Paul Coughlan from Castleknock remain on course for what would be a fairy-tale victory.
Kitt might have one eye on the start of his fifth-year studies at Holy Rosary College in Mountbellew in a fortnight’s time, but the diminutive Galway hope played like a veteran yesterday as he beat Belvoir Park’s Patrick Brennan by two holes and Cairndhu’s Ryan McKinstry 5 and 4.
He now faces 20-year-old Oakland University scholarship golfer Norton for a place in the final as Coughlan takes on 21-year-old Warrenpoint talent Fletcher having beaten not one but two internationals by one hole yesterday.
Not only did the golf retailer come from one down with three to play to beat Co Sligo’s Sean Flanagan on the 18th, but he also dominated proceedings against Tramore’s Robin Dawson in the afternoon, closing out the win with a chip and putt par at the 18th.
“It’s one person at a time, anyone can win a match,” said Coughlan, who gave Dawson hope by three-putting the 17th.
“Hopefully, I can keep it going. It’s been my best week to date. I was second in Connacht Stroke Play last year but that’s nothing compared to this.”
Like Coughlan, Kitt has nothing to lose against last year’s Leinster Youths champion Norton, who was three-under par and bogey-free when he beat the in-form Dundalk international Caolan Rafferty 2 and 1.
“I knew if I played well I would have a good chance around here,” said Kitt, who was bogey free as he cruised past the powerful McKinstry.
“It is not too long a golf course for me, and even though Ryan was hitting it 50 yards past me today, I knew I had a chance.”
Norton beat Mullingar’s Liam Grehan 3 and 1 before taking a huge step towards the title with a 2 and 1 win over Rafferty, who was superb in the morning as he dashed the hopes of Galway’s Ronan Mullarney 3 and 2.
“My short game this week has been class,” said Norton, who knows Galway well having played it more than a dozen times in previous Boys and Youths events.
“I’ve been getting everything to that holeable distance inside six feet, and the greens here are pure, so if you hit a good putt, it will probably go in.”
Fletcher beat Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley 3 and 1 before seeing off Co Sligo’s Cian Feeney 2 and 1.
“I was in the quarters two years ago and lost, but I felt a bit more comfortable today,” Fletcher said. “I think I have a good chance now if I keep playing the way I am. If I can get a few more putts dropping, I will be hard to beat.”
From the Irish Times 25/08/2017
Warrenpoint’s Fletcher claims Irish Close title by one hole against Athenry’s Kitt
Warrenpoint’s Jamie Fletcher kept a cool head to hold off a late rally from Athenry teenager David Kitt and win the AIG Irish Amateur Close by one hole at Galway.
The 21-year old former Boys international confessed that he once struggled to keep his emotions in check on the golf course. But thanks to his Barton Shield and AIG Irish Senior Cup experience alongside the likes of veteran international Colm Campbell, he became the third Warrenpoint man to win the Irish Close title in the last 37 years.
After following in the footsteps of 1980 winner Ronan Rafferty and 1991 champion Gary McNeill, Fletcher said: “Unbelievable. I didn’t know it was going to feel like, but it feels like a pressure lifted off my shoulders.
“I have seen my game come on in the last few years by playing Senior Cup and Barton Shield. When the whole club is down watching you, you get used to the pressure.
“If I made a mistake before, I’d get annoyed. Now I stay calm. I see it with Colm Campbell, he stays calm. It feels class to win.”
Fletcher beat Castleknock’s Paul Coughlan 2&1 in the morning semi-finals as 17-year old Kitt defeated Belvoir Park’s Marc Nolan by the same margin.
Jamie Fletcher will join the likes of Ronan Rafferty, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell to have won the Irish Close title.
The Warrenpoint man was the favourite for the title having won the Faldo Series in 2015 and last year’s North of Ireland Amateur Strokeplay. But he didn’t have it all his own way in the final against the diminutive Kitt, who came back from three down with four to play to take the match to the 18th. Kitt three-putted the fifth to go one down, then bogeyed the sixth after overshooting the green to fall two holes behind.
He could have been three down after seven holes but played an exquisite pitch stone dead to halve the hole in par fives as Fletcher left his 40 foot eagle putt eight feet short and three-putted.
But after forcing Fletcher to hole a six footer for a half in birdies at the eighth, Kitt made a slick 15 footer for birdie at the 10th to reduce the deficit to just one hole in a final that saw both player go around in an estimated two over 72.
The young Galway talent was giving up more than 60 yards to Fletcher off the tee and made life difficult for himself by missing three times inside four feet, following his three putt at the fifth with two more at the 12th and 14th to find himself three down with four to go.
To his credit, he did not give up and when Fletcher drove behind a tree at the 15th and bogeyed to see his lead reduced to two up, he found himself just one down with two to play when Fletcher took two to escape from greenside sand at the 16th and racked up a double bogey six.
The champion showed true grit on the run home, however, two putting for par at the 17th before hitting a smooth, 155-yard eight iron to 25 feet at the 18th after Kitt had overshot the green by a yard.
And when Kitt’s chip finished inches short, Fletcher made no mistake and two putted for the title.
“It gives me a lot of motivation to know that I can win,” said swimming instructor Fletcher, who will almost certainly shelve plans to turn professional. “My dad was talking about me turning pro and playing the Europro Tour, but maybe after winning today, I will stick around for another couple of years.
“I was one of the underdogs coming in here with all the internationals playing but I knew that I had the game to beat them and now that I have won, I know I can win again.”
Kitt will have more days in the sun and he hopes to lift the Fred Daly Trophy with Athenry on Tuesday. And while he was disappointed to lose, he said: “If you had said to me at the start of the week that I’d reach the final, I’d probably have taken it.”
AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship, Galway GC:
Semi-finals: Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint) bt Paul Coughlan (Castleknock) 2&1; David Kitt (Athenry) bt Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) 2&1.
Final: Fletcher bt Kitt 1 hole.
Looking for Accommodation? The following are located nearby to the Course for ease of access:
Salthill Hotel, Rockbarton, Salthill, Galway
Galway Bay Hotel, The Promenade, Salthill, Galway.
The Ardilaun Hotel, Taylors Hill, Galway.
The Westwood Hotel, Dangan, Newcastle, Galway
The Clybaun Hotel, Knocknacarra, Galway
Sea Breeze Lodge, 9 Cashelmara, Salthill, Galway.
Amber Hill B&B, 12 Cuan Glas, Bishop O’Donnell Rd., Salthill
Ocean Crest B&B, 6 Ocean Wave,Salthill, Galway
Ontario House, 48 Dalysfort Rd. Salthill
The Rise Guesthouse, 6 Cuan Glas, Salthill, Galway
Atlantic View Guesthouse, 4 Ocean Wave, Salthill
Claremount House, Salthill
Cashelmara Lodge, Salthill
Seashore Lodge, 4 Cashelmara, Salthill, Galway
Sunrise Lodge, 3 Ocean Wave, Dr. Colohan’s Rd. Salthill
Please note: Galway GC does not accept responsibility or liability for any of the premises listed.