Dubliner Jake Whelan from Newlands Golf Club was the toast of the town on Sunday, as he captured the prestigious Dundalk Scratch Cup, sponsored by One Finance, on the 58th edition of the competition.
The 26-year-old hit two three under par rounds of 69 to win by five shots from Cian Geraghty of Laytown & Bettystown and Roganstown’s Arron Edward-Hills.
Sunday saw strong winds, tricky pins and slick greens present a formidable challenge for the top class field – but Whelan, who has strong connections with Dundalk produced the day’s best golf to emerge victorious.
Whelan led at the halfway stage after shooting an opening 69. He was two under after five holes following birdies at the first and fifth but dropped a shot on the par three ninth to turn in one under. Down the back he birdied the short par four 14th and the long par four 16th to come home in 34 and set the pace at three under.
That left him two shots clear of Dundalk’s Aaron Grant, Roganstown Aaron Edward-Hills, the 2018 North of Ireland winner, and Portmarnock’s Geoff Lenehan.
Jack McDonnell of Forest Little and Daivd Shiels of Powerscourt were each a shot further back on level par.
Grant, who won this competition in 2013, opened with a birdie on the 10th, his first hole, but turned level after bogeying the 18th. He responded to that setback with back to back birdies on the first and second and parred his way in to sign for a one under par 71.
The defending champion, Caolan Rafferty, who was bidding for his third successive title and fourth in all, went out in one under par thanks to a birdie on the par four 11th. However, a wayward tee shot on the first, his 10th, led to a double bogey six and that was followed by a bogey five on the next.
He got back to level par for the round with birdies on the third and sixth but a bogey on the par five seventh meant he came home in 38 for a first round total of one over par 73 which was matched by his playing partner Colm Campbell, the only man to break Rafferty’s grip on the tile in the last five years.
In the second round, neither Rafferty or Campbell were able to mount a charge. Rafferty did birdie the ninth to turn level but fell away down the back nine and eventually finished on four over par. Campbell matching that score.
Dundalk Scratch Cup winners
View below to see a list of Dundalk Scratch Cup winners throughout the competition’s history.
In-form Whelan began his second round on the 10th, impressively reeling off ten consecutive pars, including a sublime up and down from the back of the first green. Then he holed a long putt from the front of the second, his 11th, for birdie to move to four under.
Although he handed that back at the next with a bogey he showed his confidence on the par five sixth when hit a driver off the fairway from 260 yards out and left the ball eight feet from the pin. His eagle putt didn’t drop but his tap-in birde brought him back to four under and he then birdied the par five seventh to move to five under before finishing in style by sinking a birdie putt on his final hole, the par three ninth, to finish on six under.
Speaking afterwards, Whelan said: “This is the biggest win of my career. It is one of the biggest Scratch Cups and there are some great names who have won it in the past. I am delighted for my family as we have strong links to the area and my father was a member here.
“I hit the ball well all day and I also putted well for a change,” he added. Whelan also added that he intended to keep an appointment he had made last week for a putting lesson on Tuesday with Dundalk professional Leslie Walker.
Final Leaderboard: 138 – Jake Whelan (Newlands) 69, 69. 143 – Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) 74, 69; Arron Edward-Hills (Roganstown) 71, 72. Robert Moran (The Castle) 74, 70. Jack Mc Donnell (Forest Little) 72, 72. 146 – Dylan Keating (Seapoint) 75, 71; Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock) 71, 75. 147 – Hugh Foley (Royal Dublin) 74, 73. 148 – Sean Keeling (Roganstown) 77, 71; Gerard Dunne (Co Louth) 75, 73; Joseph Byrne (Baltinglass) 74, 74; Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint) 73, 75; Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) 73, 75; David Shiel (Powerscourt) 72, 76. 149 – Richard Knightly (Royal Dublin) 75, 74; 150 – Paul Conroy (Enniscorthy) 78, 72, Jason Rackard (Enniscorthy) 75, 75; Daniel Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown) 75, 75; Aaron Grant (Dundalk) 71, 79.
Official Results: 1st Jake Whelan (Newlands) (+2) 138 (69/690). 2nd Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown) (+1) 143 (74/69) 3rd Aaron Edward-Hills (Roganstown) (+4) 143 (71/72). 4th Robert Moran (The Castle) (+4) 144 (74/70). Best Nett: Sean Keeling (Roganstown) (2) 144 (75/69). 1st 18 Gross: Geoffrey Lenehan (Portmarnock) (+3) 71/36. 1st 18 Nett: David Shiel (Powerscourt) (0) 72/37. 2nd 18 Gross: Dylan Keating (Seapoint) (+3) 71. 2nd 18 Nett: Graham Callaghan (Co Louth) (0) 72/36.
1st Round CSS 76 reductions only
2nd Round CSS 74