Thrilling Finish to Irish P.G.A. Championship
The Irish PGA Championship has produced it’s fair share of photo finishes since it’s inception just over 100 years ago and this year was no exception with the outcome not resolved until the third tie hole in gloomy light at picturesque Mount
Juliet. The championship which was due to be decided over 72 holes commencing on last Thursday had to be curtailed to 54 holes due to the incessant rain which fell during Wednesday night and again on Thursday morning as play commenced. Players had already started their round only to be called in after less than an hour and it was reluctantly decided to abandon the first round and to shorten the tournament to 54 holes. After the 1st round the early leader was Peter Martin from Riverside Golf Acadamey in Northern Ireland with a 67, which was 5 under par and he was followed by John Kelly, Eamon Brady and Barrie Trainor on 69. Peter Martin still led after the second round on -6 after a 71 and he was just ahead of Eamon Brady and local hope Gary Murphy both of whom had closed to within a shot with the remainder of the field closing in on the leader as well.
After the second round the field was reduced to 54 players and play had to be suspended for 3 hours on Sunday morning due to heavy fog. When play eventually got under way three players were making a move up the leader board and these were Noel Murray of Massereene, Gary Murphy and David Higgins of Waterville with Peter Martin still holding on to the lead. Gary took over the lead on the 8th hole and moved to 8 under par for the tournament after a succession of birdies. He held this lead until the very last hole where he was joined by David Higgins and Noel Murray. Gary was still a shot ahead of his pursuers playing the 54th hole but he unfortunately dropped only his second shot to par over the final round when he had a five.
The play-off was over the par five 17th and par four 18th holes and the format was a sudden death. Unfortunately for Gary he made his exit on the first play-off hole, the 17th,when he hit his second shot to the front edge of the green he proceeded to three putt and although David Higgins and Noel Murray had not executed as fine an approach they both chipped and putted for birdies. This meant that Gary was eliminated from the play-off and both Higgins and Murray continued play down the 18th. Here both players had a four after they both chipped and putted to save their pars. Up the long 17th again and after David Higgins’ approach shot came to rest some 90 yards short of the green and under a large tree he executed a divine low chip to within a foot for a winning birdie 4 with Noel Murray lipping out from the bunker for a half after his approach chip finished in the left hand bunker. Gary was unfortunate not to win the championship as he had chances for birdies to consolidate his lead on the 16th and 17th holes in his final round.
The winner pocketed a cheque for €3,500 with the two runners-up receiving a cheque for €2,150 each with Peter Martin getting €1660. It was a day to remember for David Higgins as he also won the Order of Merit and another handsome cheque.
Result of the Irish P.G.A Championship 2012
Winner: David Higgins, Waterville Golf Club (70,72,67.) ….209
Second: Noel Murray, Massereene Golf Club (70,70,69)……209
Gary Murphy, Laytown Bettystown (70,69,70)……..209
Fourth: Peter Martin, Riverside Golf Academy (67,71,72)….210
The Pro-Am which took place on Wednesday before the championship was won by a team from Stranorlar/Ballybofey Golf Club led by John Dolan with a massive score of 100 points. They just got home on a countback from a Castlecomer Golf Club Team led by Robert Giles with a Mount Juliet team led by John Dywer of Ashbourne Golf Club on 97 points in third place. John Dwyer shot a sizzling eight-under-par 64 to win the professional prize.