Dublin University Golf Club (DUGC) claimed the first prize of the calendar year, thanks to a fine display from Luke Flynn and Darragh Walsh in the inaugural Student Sixes competition held at Heath Golf Club, Portlaoise last weekend. Flynn and Walsh, showing glimpses of their class throughout the competition, produced a well-rounded day two performance at the tournament to claim the Best Nett Score on countback.
Joining the prize-winning team in representing DUGC at the season-opening event were the pairings of Dylan Lambe and Cian McCormack, brothers Adam and Stephen Keogh, Ian Smith and Conor Fitzgerald, with Eamon Haran and James Coonan completing the line-up.
This first Student Sixes tournament proved to be an exciting change from the usual strokeplay or matchplay, commonly played at other tournaments, with the weekend consisting of five rounds of six-hole foursomes matchplay, followed by six holes of Stableford. The quicker format proved popular amongst players, with an extra sense of pressure on to perform right from the first tee adding to the tension and excitement.
Flynn and Walsh were initially well-matched in their first outing of the tournament by a strong Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) outfit playing off similar handicaps. After an even start, the third hole saw the DUGC pair move one hole in front thanks to a chipping error from the CIT cohort. The next two holes were halved with hard fought pars, before Flynn showed nerves of steel to hole a six-foot pressure putt for a share of the spoils on the sixth and final hole, allowing the Trinity men to prevail overall.
There was to be no let-up in standard for Trinity’s standout pairing, with their season’s baptism of fire continuing against another CIT team comprised of two former interprovincial players, John Hickey and Gary Ward, of superior handicaps. Two foolish errors saw the men from the capital slip two holes into arrears, before displaying fine strength of character to even the tie heading onto the sixth tee. The DUGC pair managed to set Walsh up for an eight-foot putt to finish the tie level, but a narrow miss consigned them to defeat in a well-contested affair.
Fellow teammates the Keogh brothers were next on the agenda for Flynn and Walsh in an all-DUGC match-up at the end of day one. A hard-fought contest ensued, with Flynn and Walsh eventually emerging victorious with a two-hole victory, leaving them plus two overall after the first day and third place in a tight group. Unfortunately for DUGC, the team of Lambe and McCormack were forced to withdraw due to illness despite leading their group after the first day.
An early-morning frost delay did little to dampen the optimism of the DUGC men heading into day two of the competition. However, a pair of comprehensive two-hole defeats to very strong UCD and Maynooth outfits damaged Flynn and Walsh’s chances of capitalising on their promising opening day’s work in the overall competition. Resilient as ever, the Trinity pair set their sights on the afternoon’s Stableford competition, with both gross and nett prizes on offer.
An early bogey on the first hole proved to be but a minor blip, with the pairing producing more of the solid, well-rounded play which they had shown so much of the previous day. A dropped shot on the fifth left Flynn and Walsh under pressure on the final hole, but a fine putt from Walsh to nail a five-foot putt secured the title of Best Nett Score and 13th place in the overall tournament.
Elsewhere, Haran and Coonan produced a strong performance, finishing third in their group and 17th overall. After a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable two days of golf and competition, despite the tough conditions, players were thankful the new, more entertaining format had been introduced by the Golf Union of Ireland (GUI), with many looking forward to the return of the tournament next year.