Eighteen year-old Conor Hynds retained his Ardglass Club Championship title in brilliant fashion last Sunday with a birdie blitz in the closing holes. Four birdies in the last eight holes blew away all his challengers and saw the Ardglass man take the title by a four-shot margin.
With the championship being played over 36 holes, Hynds was three shots off the lead after the morning round, carding a 74 despite a damaging triple-bogey at the 11th. The leader at the halfway stage was Gareth Donnelly with an impressive 71, including two birdies on the outward nine. In second spot was Mattie Fitzsimons on 73. The scratch man had four bogeys in his opening nine but finished strongly with two birdies in the closing holes.
Grouped on 74 along with the eventual winner Hynds were Marty Rourke and Jonny Feenan, with Arran Smith and the evergreen Gary Hamill one shot further in arrears. As the second round started the rest of the field, including some well-fancied challengers, were too far back to have realistic hopes.
Marty Rourke’s hopes too seemed to have faded with a triple-bogey on the opening hole, but here Fitzsimons picked up a birdie to get within one of the lead. By the tricky par-3 fifth, Donnelly was on three-over and still led by one from Fitzsimons, Feenan and the steady Hynds, with the rest two shots or more back.
At the ninth, a double-bogey for Donnelly allowed Fitzsimons and Hynds to share his lead, but Arran Smith had also come into the picture and now trailed by only one. Jonny Feenan and Gary Hamill had both suffered double bogeys on the front nine and had fallen back. Mattie Fitzsimons then birdied the 10th to take the lead for the first time, but his success was short lived. The dangerous 11th, graveyard of many players’ hopes through the years, put paid to the talented young Coney Island man’s challenge and he fell out of the running.
The hole was not kind to first round leader Donnelly either, who double-bogeyed to leave Conor Hynds three in front. Donnelly hit back immediately with a birdie at the 12th but by this stage Hynds was not to be denied. Although Arran Smith came back strongly with a couple of birdies in the closing holes, it was no match for the reigning champion Hynds’ scintillating finish. The young Ardglass man finished in style with a birdie at the last for a two-under round of 68, comfortably the best round of the day.
Smith’s excellent round of 71 was second best of the afternoon and good enough to propel him into second place in the standings, two ahead of former champion Gary Hamill in third, with Gareth Donnelly in fourth. Mention as well of Adam Mulhall’s creditable second round 71, after a complete disaster at the 11th in his morning round had ruled him out of contention.
1 Conor Hynds 142 (74, 68)
2 Arran Smith 146 (75, 71)
3 Gary Hamill 148 (75, 73)
4 Gareth Donnelly 149 (71, 78)
5 Adam Mulhall 149 (78, 71)