Whelan triumphs in Portumna

Irish Golfer

Jake Whelan (Grange) winner of the 2024 Connacht Men's Stroke Play Championship, Portumna Golf Club, Portumna, Co Galway. 09/06/2024. Picture: Golffile | Fran Caffrey

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The weather threw everything at the thirty-three qualifiers on the final day of play with strong winds making life difficult for players, but in the end, it was Jake Whelan (Grange) who stood up to the challenge and walked away as the 2024 Murray Timber Group Connacht Men’s Stroke Play Champion.

Coming into the final two rounds it was all to play for as overnight leader on two-under David Kitt (Athenry) took a one-shot advantage into round three, with a bunch of players waiting to pounce. David Howard (Fota Island) was the closest challenger while Paul Coughlan (Castleknock), Jason Rackard (Bunclody), Adam Smith (Mullingar), Gerard Dunne (Co.Louth) and Whelan were each back on level par.

With players struggling on the greens and winds steadily getting stronger across the course, Whelan pulled away from that group, plotting his way around excellently in round three to card a five-under round of 67 and take a three-shot lead over Dunne and Howard into the afternoon session.

Conditions did not get any easier as the fourth and final round got underway with winds picking up even more and drizzle beginning to fall. Whelan himself fell victim early, carding three bogeys across his opening nine holes.

“I was just trying to keep it in front of myself and not do anything silly, then I bogeyed two of the first three so it was kind of gone straight away,” said Whelan.

“Just made hard work of it for a while but I got it back together in the end”.

The Cork and Louth based golfers, Howard and Dunne respectively, put the pressure on to make it a three-way tie as the leaders turned for home.

Whelan though settled himself on the back nine, picking up birdies on 12 and 15 to open up a one stroke lead walking to the 18th tee.

As the crowd gathered around the Portumna clubhouse, Whelan left his drive short left of the green, chipping on and two-putting for bogey to finish on four-under. This opened the door for Howard to perhaps force a playoff with a par on 18, but when the Fota Island golfer closed with a bogey of his own it was Grange’s Whelan who was crowned champion. A final round of 73 enough to claim a one-shot victory over Howard, with the pair the only players to finish the championship under par.

“Played solid all day just struggled a bit on the green at times with the greens being so quick. Everything is difficult, inside three feet there’s no gimmes,” said Whelan

“It was a long day, made hard work of it so just happy that it’s done”

View the final results from Portumna here


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