McGeady hits top form to win Mourne PGA Charity Pro-am at RCD

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Conor Dillon, Manager PGA in Ireland Region, Edward Johnston, Captain Royal County Down Golf Club, Michael McGeady, winner of the Mourne Golf Club Charity Pro-Am and Paddy Curran, Captain Mourne Golf Club (Photo: Danny Hillen)

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The Mourne Golf Club Charity Daisy Lodge Pro-am hosted at Royal County Down was played in perfect conditions last Friday where Donegal’s Michael McGeady hit top form to take the spoils.

Although the 46-year-old focuses largely on coaching these days, he certainly tapped into some great form of his own in Newcastle to fire a bogey free five-under-par 66 on the Championship Links.

The Letterkenny man sounded almost surprised that he found such good form and was delighted with his day’s work on the famous links that will host the Amgen Irish Open on the DP World Tour later in the year (Sept 12-15) when Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and others will be in action.

“You might well ask how that just happened,” quipped McGeady after his round. “Good question, because I haven’t been playing much golf lately to be honest, doing a lot of coaching at home, plus I always struggle to get going early in the season too.

“I’m delighted to have shot a good score under the belt so early in the year. The golf course seemed to play to my strengths. As the round went on, I hit a lot of fairways and kept the ball in play, and that’s crucial out here. It’s the only way you can get into the greens with your approach shots. My iron play was great.

“Still used my driver a fair bit, but more like a wee dunt to keep it in play rather than flat out, if that makes sense. Fairly controlled and it worked well.”

McGeady thought his score might not be enough to win but in the end, he finished two clear of the chasing pack that included a couple of local favourites; Simon Thornton, Royal County Down Assistant PGA Professional Lee Campbell and Limerick’s Tim Rice who tied second on three-under after signing for 68s.

McGeady started on the 10th and picked up his first birdie at the 16th (his seventh) then hit it into six feet on the first but missed for eagle.

“It’s hard to believe when you shoot 66, but I left a few chances out there today, maybe four very makeable putts,” added McGeady. “I had a great run to birdie three in a row at 6, 7, 8 but again I missed another short putt on nine, my last hole. At that point I thought I might have needed to get to six under to have a chance to win.”

McGeady was full of praise for the £20,000 event and would love to see more PGA events at top courses like Royal County Down.

“The event has been great. It’s always nice to come along and support a charity, and fair play to Spider (Seamus McKibben), this event was his baby, and he is part of the PGA family so it was a pleasure to come and support his event too.

“Then you have the double pleasure of playing a really, really good golf course like Royal County Down. That to me is a real selling point, when you have that everyone wants to come and play and there’s no problem selling the Pro-am teams.”

When asked if McGeady has any chance of returning to Newcastle for the Irish Open in September, he said no but was delighted Thornton earned the PGA spot.

“I won’t get into the Irish Open here in September, unless Spider has a wee special invited tucked away for me! All of that was done through thew PGA Play-Offs which Simon Thornton won. He has that invite which is great. I’m delighted for him, because he and his family are from Newcastle and RCD is like his home track. I know he is the Head Pro at Spa Golf Club, but he trained here under Kevan Whitson. He’ll have a lot of home support in September.

“To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t be playing enough golf to go out and compete with those guys on tour. If I got a spot I’d need to start putting the work in six months out,” joked McGeady.

“Today was great and I really enjoyed it, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’ll play in plenty of PGA events, but there’s a balance between travelling from Donegal and the coaching and looking after my clients. But when I do tee it up, I love competing.”

In the team event, Banbridge pro Richard Kilpatrick brought home the winning team with amateur players Ben Walsh, Patrick Coyle and John Kielty, who won with a team score of 92 points.

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