Tim Rice was made to work devilishly hard on Sunday as he claimed back-to-back Annesley Williams SKODA 9-HOLE MATCHPLAY titles in dramatic fashion at Sutton Golf Club.
The Limerick man came through a thrilling semi-final with Glasson pro Colm Moriarty before pipping East Cork’s David Ryan to the post on the fourth extra hole.
“I could have been beaten about four times including the last time. It’s nice to have, it’s lovely,” said Rice who earned his third win of the season.
“Maybe the members are moving my ball in the rough or something, they are very kind! The last time I really enjoyed the event so maybe when you come back you remember winning matches and it does help having won before because you know the course so well. It took a lot of hard work this time.”
The Sutton fixture made its return to the PGA Ireland schedule after a two-year Covid enforced hiatus and after three rounds of round robin matchplay eight players made the early Sunday morning quarter-finals.
Having seen off Connemara Pro-Am winner Neil O’Briain in the tie of the round in the morning Rice survived two late birdies from Moriarty to win his semi-final tie 1UP.
That teed up a decider with Ryan who had a hole in one on Saturday and seen off one of the tournament favourites, David Higgins, in the semi-final. The final itself was played out to a thrilling conclusion in front of the local members.
Rice and Ryan couldn’t be separated after regulation play with Ryan going two up early on having nearly holed his tee shot on the opening par 4 but Rice came back and was 1Up on the 8th tee before a clutch birdie from Ryan levelled the match heading to the final hole.
With the final hole halved it was on to extra holes with the Limerick native birdieing all four of the extra holes to finally see off Ryan (who birdied three of them himself) in a final that will live long in the memory.
“I needed to birdie all four holes that was the problem. David birdied the 8th hole to tie up the match so he was really annoying me. Colm Moriarty birdied 8 and 9 this morning so guys don’t lose matches too easily,” said Rice.
“It was heavy, six matches and the round robin Champions League format was a great idea by Paddy I think everybody enjoyed that and it added a lot of excitement to it. 54 holes in two days and a few more today.”
And so it was that after a total of 499 holes played there could only be one winner and with sponsor Cian Bennis of Annesley Williams Skoda a proud Limerick man, it was fitting that another took the title once again!