Muskerry golfer Zak Collins lands his first Munster title at U17 Championship

Muskerry golfer Zak Collins lands his first Munster title at U17 Championship
Muskerry golfer Zak Collins claimed a big prize last weekend.

MUSKERRY'S Zak Collins won his first Munster title last week, claiming the Muster U17 Championship in style in West Waterford. 

The Muskerry member who plays off a handicap of two is used to the challenge of championship conditions. He was part of the club's team who win the Fred Daly Trophy in Clonmel last year.

Collins had a very impressive round in tough conditions. Heavy rain in the morning hampered everyone, and play was suspended for 30 minutes as officials helped to clear standing water from several greens. 

Collins went out in 40 (+4), and while that may have been disappointing in normal circumstances it proved to be a very tidy score considering the heavy rain that fell in the morning. He opened the back nine with a birdie on the 10th to restart his challenge. After one bogey on the 15th he closed strongly with three birdies in the last four holes.

The impressive finish saw him win by one shot from Ballykisteen’s Sean Calvert on 74 (+2). Calvert, the holder from 2019 had two birdies on the back nine to challenge but finished one behind. Ballyneety’s Iestyn Winn was third with a 75 (+3). 

Kinsale’s James Walsh finished in second place in the Munster Under 15 Close Championship which also took place in West Waterford last week. He was going well and was helped on the back nine with birdies on the 14th and 15th. Unfortunately for Walsh, he had a double-bogey six on the 17th hole and Lucas Lyons from Limerick ended up winning the title. Fota Island’s John Doyle won the under 14 section, beating Cork’s Paddy Quill on the countback.

Peter O’Keeffe picked up some silverware last week when he shot a four-under-par 66 to win the Macroom Senior Scratch Cup. O’Keeffe finished five clear of the field in an impressive performance. 

He had finished second a week before that in the Ring of Kerry Scratch Cup and was also in the prizes in the Kinsale Invitational Scratch Cup. It’s been a good few weeks for O’Keeffe who will be hoping that his current form continues into the important Bridgestone Order of Merit events in Mullingar and Cork in the coming weeks.

There was disappointment for John Murphy who was forced to withdraw from the US Amateur this week. The college campus on Louisville was locked down after a number of Covid-19 cases were identified in a number of Cardinals sports teams. That meant that Murphy and two other Louisville golfers missed the showpiece event in Oregon. 

Murphy had returned to the US a few weeks ago to access a number of key events including the US Amateur. His college term was also due to start later this month but there’s no indication of when the NCAA Fall series events will start.

While John Murphy will not be around to defend his Mullingar Scratch Cup title this weekend, there is a strong challenge from Cork. Peter O’Keeffe and James Sugrue lead that challenge with Cathal Butler, Gary Ward and Robbie Walsh all making the journey from Kinsale. Mel Deasy, Fionn Hickey, Paul Tobin and Paul Buckley are also in the field, as is Fermoy’s Dean O’Riordan.

James Sugrue will miss out on the opportunity to defend his Amateur Championship later this month, following travel guidelines from the GUI. The revised 2020 golf schedule saw the amateur deferred from its usual date in June to late August, and Sugrue had planned to defend his title in Royal Birkdale, the course where Jimmy Bruen won his Amateur title in 1945. This no doubt adds to the frustration for the Mallow man who has now missed out on five big events in 2020.

The decision to withdraw came on the back of GUI guidelines that advised Irish golfers not to travel to England in line with the public health advice issued by the government. There were 13 Irish golfers entered for the competition which starts with a 36 strokeplay qualifier on 25th August. 

Several of those golfers, including Sugrue had also entered the Brabazon Trophy, the English Strokeplay Championship which takes place a week earlier in Sherwood Forest. The reigning Amateur champion had also entered the Brabazon which would have been a great warmup for the US Open.

Sugrue will now continue with his practice and two Bridgestone events in Ireland as he prepares for the US Open in Winged Foot in September. This will be Sugrue’s second major having played in the 2019 Open in Portrush last year. He also has the rescheduled Masters to look forward to in November.

2020 should have been an exciting year for Sugrue, a trip to the Masters in April should have been followed by the US Open in June. Invites to the Arnold Palmer in Bay Hill and the Jack Nicklaus hosted Memorial in Ohio were also missed. His plans to turn pro in the Summer were also deferred as he waited for the opportunity to compete in the two golf Majors.

The GUI guidelines on travel will have a benefit for the Munster Strokeplay in Cork Golf Club in early September. Many of the top amateurs had entered the Amateur Championship meaning that they would miss the Strokeplay due to the 14-day quarantine requirements. The Munster Strokeplay should now have a strong field as it’s one of very few events on the GUI Bridgestone Order of Merit.

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