Monday 23 April 2018

Rafferty leads way in West as wind takes its toll

Caolan Rafferty
Caolan Rafferty

Eric Hughes

Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty claimed the bragging rights after the first round of strokeplay at the Radisson West of Ireland Golf Championship at a windswept Rosses Point yesterday.

Rafferty was the only player in the field of 120 to break par at the County Sligo Golf Club, with his one-under 70 giving him the clubhouse lead heading into this morning's second day of qualifying.

Two more players did manage to stay level par, Tiarnan McLarnon from Massereene in Antrim and Alex Gleeson - a former member at the host club, but now playing out of Castle in Dublin.

But on a day when scores averaged in the high 70s and low 80s, most will still feel their hopes of matchplay golf on Sunday are still alive going into today's second round.

The rain thankfully kept off, but sharp cold winds made scoring difficult throughout the day and many struggled.

Wednesday's qualifiers were out early in the morning, and Gary McGrane (The Royal Dublin) - whose father Noel was a winner here in 1987 - maintained the form that helped him lead the qualifiers by posting a respectable 76 in the conditions.

Portmarnock's David Kelleher managed to match McGrane's 72 on Tuesday, but had to settle for a 79, as eight of the first 12 golfers home posted scores in the 80s.

Sligo native Barry Anderson matched the score of his Royal Dublin clubmate McGrane, but youngster David Brady - who shot a club record 64 at this stage last year - struggled with an 83, while his older brother Stephen fared better with a 78.

The last local to triumph at Rosses Point, Jimmy Feeney, returned from his home in England to join local youngster Sean Flanagan and another Sligo player in Alex Gleeson.

Feeney finished strongly to post an impressive 78, though he was overshadowed by Gleeson's superb level par round, while Flanagan was just two shots worse off, as the pair climbed to the top of the leaderboard.

The top 62 after today's second round of strokeplay join internationals Jack Hume, the reigning champion, and John Ross Galbraith in the matchplay stages after the pair were granted 'byes' into the last 64.

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