First out leads way
Higgins prospers from strong start
The second New Ross Golf Club Pro-Am, sponsored by Culcita Garden Furniture and Outdoor Living, took place on Friday. Following horrendous weather conditions on Thursday, the course was a little softened by the heavy rain but nonetheless in excellent condition.
New Ross Pro-AM
The Pro-Am attracted a very strong field with European Tour regulars Damian McGrane, Simon Thornton and David Higgins, and ladies' European Tour player Rebecca Codd, teeing it up alongside a host of the country's top club professionals. Among the other fancied names were the in-form defending champion, Damian Mooney, and current Irish region order of merit leader, Eamonn Brady.
David Higgins, who was first out, made a very quick start to his round with birdies at the first, third and difficult fourth before adding another at the eighth to get to the turn in 30. He made a great par save on ten after a visit to the water and added two further birdies on the 13th and 16th to get to six under for the round.
A closing bogey on the 18th, where he failed to get up and down from just short of the green, meant that he did not eclipse but equalled the course record 65 set by Damian Mooney at the 2014 Pro-Am.
Another of the morning starters, Mooney, got to five under after eleven, with birdies on the first, fourth and eleventh and a brilliant eagle three on the tenth, but dropped shots on the 13th and 14th to fall back to three under, and he signed for a 67.
As conditions got tougher during the day, with the wind picking up and the occasional shower, Higgins' five under 65 looked a difficult target to overhaul. Clontarf's Eamonn Brady looked like getting close to that mark after making a brilliant start to his round.
He was four under through five before a treble bogey at the sixth undid his good start. Undeterred, he picked up further shots at the tenth and 12th but could not make any more inroads and finished with a 67.
And so it was that David Higgins, the first man out, set a mark that was not to be beaten. Damian Mooney and Eamonn Brady finished in a tie for second, two strokes back, with Glen Robinson and Monkstown's Cian McNamara a further shot back in a tie for fourth.
Seven other players, including Damien McGrane, broke par with one under 69s. McGrane was left to rue a number of missed chances on the greens and on another day would have challenged the winning score.
It was also a case of what might have been for Simon Thornton and Rebecca Codd who created enough chances to finish well under par, but did not convert them and both signed for two over par 72s.
Higgins was fulsome in his praise, not only for the course but also for the atmosphere in the club and the way in which the members had welcomed the professionals and gotten behind the event. It was a sentiment echoed by his fellow professionals and Nigel Howley, P.G.A. Captain, went to great lengths to express the gratitude of his compatriots for the generosity of spirit in the club, the condition of the course and the generous support of the sponsor.
The Pro-Am organisers were extremely satisfied with the day. Club Captain, Rory Hussey, said: 'It's been a great day for the club. We took a bit of a step into the unknown last year in hosting a Pro-Am. Last year went very well, exceeded all our expectations and this year has been better again.
'We managed to get a very strong field this year and it's created a huge amount of excitement around the club.
'I have to pay tribute to those involved in running the event, our sponsor Culcita Ltd., in particular Paschal Bolger and Noel Whelan of Culcita, and also to the club members for supporting the event in every possible way.
'We run the Pro-Am to showcase our course and club. We are very proud of the course as it gets better every year and is always in excellent condition thanks to the hard work and dedication of our head greenkeeper, Seamus Power, and his team.
'We're delighted that all who took part will go away with a very positive impression of the club. We are confident that we will be back again next year, and with the continued support of our members the Pro-Am will be a fixture for many years to come.'