STRABANE Golf Club played host on Sunday past to the closing day of the Irish PGA Walled City & Strabane Pro-Am, the first event of this type to come to town in forty years with the most recent previous Pro-Am taking place in 1979.
And although it is most unlikely that we’ll have to wait anywhere near a similar timeframe to welcome back some of the nation’s finest golfers based on the glowing feedback received following the tournament, it can still be said that this was most definitely well worth the wait.
The event, sponsored by Bishop’s Gate Hotel and Frylite and supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council, saw 41 teams each made up of one professional and three amateurs competing over 36 holes.
With a tightly packed leaderboard after the first day of play at City of Derry on Saturday, in both the professional singles rankings and the amateur betterball scoring, different questions were posed of the field when they were warmly welcomed to Strabane the following day.
And it was Tim Rice of Limerick Golf Club who found all the right answers to lead home a field of the country’s top talent which included a number of Challenge Tour regulars, past Walker Cup players and even the odd European Tour winner.
Rice opened with a round of 66 (-3) at City of Derry Golf Club and followed up with a 67 (-2) at Strabane Golf Club to finish the tournament on five under par and beat Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye GC) by two shots, ironically on the same day that Caldwell’s ex-Walker Cup foursomes partner went on to scoop a cool $15m in Atlanta!
After a quiet start to his opening round at City of Derry, Rice sprung into life on the back nine, carding four birdies in his closing seven holes. At Strabane, a double-bogey six at the par-four ninth threatened to derail his challenge but he fought back with three birdies on the back nine to post his five-under total. In both his winner’s speech and when speaking to his local press after the event, Rice did not hesitate to give the course his seal of approval.
A full rundown of prize-winners is available online and posted on the Club’s social media platforms.
FULL STORY IN YESTERDAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE