The Smith Engineering sponsored NI Open Qualifier Medal held at Galgorm Castle Golf Club had a very close and exciting finish involving eleven golfers and only two shots separating them.
Turning for home Derrick McClelland (16) was leading by two shots from James McKervill (12), Malcolm McIlroy (14) and William Kennedy (20). A shot behind this trio came Colin Steele (5) who was a shot ahead of Paul Sittlington (9), Damien Casey (15) and James Campbell (27). James Taylor (9) was a further shot behind with Ciaran Doherty (18) and Jack Douglas (21) at one and two shots further behind respectively.
With two holes to play McClelland was still ahead but by only one shot from Kennedy and an improved Sittlington. Taylor, McIlroy and a much improved Douglas were two shots behind the leader. Stele, McKervill and Campbell were a further shot down with Doherty and Casey at one and two shots respectively further behind.
McClelland ran into bogey trouble over the closing two holes and finished bogey, double bogey and was joined by Kennedy (double bogey, par) and Steele who continued his run of pars with a par, birdie finish. Steele with a better back nine which included seven pars and a birdie was the Overall Winner. McClelland won Division 3 with Kennedy taking Division 4.
Taylor won Division 1 by one shot with a bogey, par finish from Sittlington. There was a real scramble for third place in this division. Through twewlve Gary Henry (4) held a three shot advantage over JJ McAnally (5), Ronald Beckington (10) and Billy Cull (7). McAnally continued his run of pars and after another four was one shot ahead of Henry who stumbled with a double bogey up the Grove. Beckington was another shot behind with Cull a further shot back. McAnally finished with two bogeys to take third place one shot ahead of Henry (bogey, par), Beckington (par, bogey) and Cull (bogey, birdie) who finished together.
In Division 2 with two to play McIlroy and Norman Nicholl (11) were one shot ahead of McKervill who in turn was two shots ahead of Casey and Jonathan McCart (13). McIlroy finished with two bogeys and was joined by McKervill (bogey, par) and Casey (bogey, birdie) and with a better back nine Casey finished in first place followed by McKervill (BB6) in second place and McIlroy third. Another shot behind came McCart (two pars) and Nicholl (double bogey, bogey).
Kennedy was one and two shots respectfully ahead of Douglas and Campbell with two to play in Division 4. Ian Manson (22) and Brian McFall (24)were one shot behind Campbell. Kennedy finished bogey, par to take first place one shot ahead of Douglas (two bogeys) followed by Campbell (bogey, double bogey) in third. A further shot down came Manson (two bogeys) and McFall (double bogey, bogey).
Through twelve in Division 3 McClelland had a commanding three shot advantage over William Crawford (18) who had a one shot advantage over David Kilpatrick (17). Two shots further behind came Ciaran Doherty (18), Austin McGillion (18) and James Hayburn (18). Ian Rainey (19) was another shot down. Up the Grove and McClelland had increased his lead to four shots over Crawford who was joined by Kilpatrick and Doherty. Two shots further behind came McGillion and Rainey with Hayburn another shot behind.
McClelland’s lead was reduced over the closing two holes but after a bogey, double bogey finish he held on to win by two shots from Doherty (bogey, par).
Five golfers finished two shots further back, all vying for third place – Crawford (bogey, double bogey), Kilpatrick (bogey, double bogey), McGillion (par, bogey), Rainey (bogey, par) and a late effort from Hayburn (two pars) and with a better back nine Rainey emerged to take third place.
Owen Smith (6) won the gross prize, while David Mudd took the Seniors’ award.