CLAIRE COUGHLAN RYAN and Peter O’Keeffe were the winners on Sunday as Douglas Golf Club hosted their inaugural mixed scratch cup.
Over 80 golfers teed it up for 36 holes, with men and women playing together as they each played for their respective scratch cups.
This was the first time that Douglas hosted a ladies scratch cup and the mixed format was an ideal way to start the new competition.
Douglas was in great condition for the competition and the greens in particular provided a test for all of the competitors.
Claire Coughlan Ryan won the ladies scratch cup by a single shot from Emma O’Driscoll.
The Curtis Cup player and Irish Open and Close winner admitted that it’s been a while since she had won.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in this position, and I’m absolutely delighted.”
Coughlan had a great opening round of 74 and had a four shot cushion going into the final round.
In the end she won by a single shot from Emma O’Driscoll, with Clodagh Coughlan in third place one shot behind O’Driscoll.
After many near misses, it was O’Keeffe’s first time winning the Douglas Scratch Cup.
Although he was favoured on several occasions he didn’t manage to pull off the win until now.
“I think I was second in this scratch cup eight times so it’s nice to finally win it,” said Peter at the presentation.
“It was a very enjoyable day playing with Clodagh, Emma and Mel. It was a great course set-up, the harder the better in my view. Everyone from the club made it a great event and Kieran Canty’s support was super too.”
The Douglas Black Course was in play for just the second time for the men.
It was used for the Munster Boys in July and the par 70 layout with several new tee positions proved a success.
O’Keeffe’s first round is now the course record. He was one over par after a bogey on the 4th but recovered with a birdie on the 6th and followed that with an eagle on the par five 8th hole.
With several tricky pins there was always going to be a few bogies but O’Keeffe recovered each time and a closing birdie on the par four 18th saw him sign for a three under par 67.
That gave him a three shot lead over David O’Sullivan with another four chasers back on 71.
His afternoon round was a bit quieter until he reached the turn.
At that point he had just one bogey but he birdied three in a row from the 10th to stretch his lead.
Another birdie followed on the 14th but then there was a run of a few bogies that narrowed the lead. A safe par to a tricky pin position on the last was more than enough as he went on to win by four.
Darren Hourihan took second place thanks to a second round 68, and Shane Kenneally was third.
It was a busy but successful week for O’Keeffe he played six rounds of golf from Wednesday to Friday in England, helping Ireland to win the Home Internationals for the first time since 2017.
After travelling back on Saturday he faced into another two rounds on Sunday. O’kee also won the Irish Close Championship in August and his three trophies were on display in Douglas on Sunday.
Peter was also one of the drivers behind the new mixed format and apart from the win he was delighted with how it went.
“I really liked the mixed format. We don’t get a chance to play with women at all. The first taste of a mixed event was this year at the inter-provincials, and even at that we played our own matches.
"We discussed that, and we wanted the men and women playing together. We were playing for different trophies but we were grinding away together.
"We had a great group, Clodagh and Emma are great players and we had Mel with us as well which brought a bit of youth to the group.”
There was plenty of positive feedback in clubhouse on Sunday evening and Peter is confident that Douglas have a strong template to work on for the 2022 event.
“It ran really well, we’re hoping the experience this year will appeal to the ladies and it’ll go from strength to strength.”
Douglas General Manager John McHenry was one of the people behind the event and he gave some context to how event developed.
"We see ourselves as a progressive club. For a long time we have held a Men's Senior Scratch Cup, but never a Women's event.
"We felt that with Golf Ireland now coming into the fray, it was the right time to launch a dual Scratch Cup.
"We want to get people to come and enjoy themselves. There was competition there, but it's all about integrating, and having the exchanging of ideas on course too.
"The priority was for everyone that comes to enjoy themselves and experience an open and competitive environment. We hope it's an event people will come back to and enjoy."
Although the men outnumbered the women, the positive experience of last Sunday should result in a much larger entry next year.
While the men played from the slightly longer black course, the ladies too faced a course with a reduced par and they also had to navigate the championship level pin positions.
The event was sponsored by Kieran Canty Financial Services. Canty is a Douglas member and has sponsored the event for 11 years.
That was one of the last scratch cups on the calendar for 2021. The Cork Scratch Cup will be played for next month at the Munster Strokeplay in Cork Golf Club.
The later date in the calendar means that the event will have a reduced field.
The cut off for entries was +2.6 and holder Peter O’Keeffe is part of the field.
Given his current form O’Keeffe will be among the favourites for the event.