Grehan powers to Donegal Pro-Am glory

Mark McGowan

Liam Grehan with the Donegal Pro-Am trophy

Mark McGowan

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Liam Grehan found birdies hard to come by on day one of the Donegal Pro-Am, but he made up for it on day two, reeling off seven in the final 18 holes for a six-under winning total.

The K Club man heads for West Lancashire Golf Club in Liverpool for Open Championship Final Qualifying and the omens are good after he blitzed the field at Murvagh and ran out a four-shot victor.

Starting on the 10th, he’d reel off four pars before getting on the birdie train thanks to a pinpoint wedge at the par-5 14th. He’d make it back-to-back birdies with a ‘three’ on 15 and another birdie on 17 moved him to the head of affairs on the leaderboard.

Another birdie on the par-5 first opened clear daylight and though he’d give a shot back on the fourth, birdies at six, eight and nine – the latter coming after he crushed a drive to the front edge of the green on the 380-yard par-4 – set a clubhouse target that nobody would even come close to equalling.

“I think I hit the ball just as well yesterday, but just it was so hard to get close,” an understandably delighted Grehan would say afterwards. “It was nice this morning that the greens were a little bit softer, you could hold them a little bit better and just give yourself realistic chances where I felt like I was doing well to putt from 30 ft all day yesterday and I hit it just as well.”

It was a relatively stress-free 67 as well, thanks in no small measure to a strong game off the tee seeing him avoid all major trouble.

“Yeah, the driver has been good,” he explained. “I think it’s so important in links golf because obviously the rough can be pretty tough and it’s pretty lush, and you just you don’t know what’s going to happen.

“I suppose like you can get lucky in some spots and unlucky in others, so it was good to keep it out of there and give yourself chances.”

And with Open Championship Final Qualifying to come on Tuesday, this was ideal preparation and will see him head off to Liverpool brimming with confidence.

“I’m excited that I was able to go pretty low today,” he said, “because there’s no question that that’s what will be required on Tuesday.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself, but I’ll try to go and emulate that, play one shot at a time and and see what happens.”

Galway’s Andrew Hickey put back-to-back 72s together to take runner-up honours on -2. A loose tee shot on the par-3 fifth – his 14th – proved costly and lead to a double bogey that saw him slip back at exactly the same time as Grehan was making his birdie charge around the turn.

To Hickey’s credit, the reigning PGA Assistants Championship trophy holder responded with a birdie on the next and eagled the par-5 eighth to complete a very impressive 36 holes.

Donegal’s own Brian McElhinney posted a two-under 71 to take the early clubhouse lead at level-par, and he was later joined on that number by Colm Moriarty who now heads for Burnham & Berrow Golf Club near Brighton for Open Championship Final Qualifying, and new Elavon Order of Merit leader Tim Rice who overtakes Simon Thornton at the top.

Banbridge’s Richard Kilpatrick and his amateur team of David Stapleton, Sean Walsh and Ben Walsh put together cards of 88 points and 90 points to take a two-point victory in the Pro-Am team category. Second ere Brendan McGovern, David Henry, Damien McGivern and Dermot Dempsey, with Gemma McClenaghan, Anne Bonner, Paul Bonner and Declan Prendergast taking third.

East Cork’s David Ryan with Tadhg Murphy, Michael Coughlan and Danny Meade had the best team score on day two with a 92-point tally.


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