Northern Bar sponsored the Bankers Cup at County Armagh Golf Club on Saturday 21 July and, when the results were returned, the drinks were on champion Mark Hughes, whose magnificent nett 63 topped a bustling field of 181 competitors.
Following a poor start that incorporated three double bogeys, Hughes sprung to life with a birdie at the 6th and proceeded immediately to reel off five pars in a row either side of the turn. Then, alternate bogeys and pars across the closing seven holes saw the Keady man over the line to a cup-clinching gross 81.
Mark had looked odds-on to take the Captain's Prize in June only to be undone by a late collapse, so this victory brings with it a satisfying sense of redemption as well as a new handicap of 16.
County Armagh Golf Club Vice-Captain, Kenny Edgar, presents the Bankers Cup to Mark Hughes, winner of the recent competition sponsored by Northern Bar, Armagh. Also pictured are other prizewinners Shane O'Halloran and Shea Brady.
Matching the winning total but losing out to Hughes on a break of tie was Shane O'Halloran. He negotiated the outward nine in just 41 strokes before responding to an ugly eight up the 10th with a gutsy par-birdie-par sequence that immediately recaptured his momentum. Shane would eventually register a superb nett 63 that scooped him the overall runner-up gong and clips his handicap by two shots.
Neil Cromwell maintained his recent rich vein of form with an exceptional two-under-par offering that included in its middle a scintillating spell of six birdies in 11 holes. Neil's nett 65 secured the honours in category 1, where second-placed Shea Brady produced a formidable gross 71 of his own. The inimitable Brady's resultant nett 66 contained a birdie at the Old Third and an eagle at the current 12th.
Cathal Cullen's outing was punctuated by eight welcome pars, and his splendid nett 64 proved without equal in category 2. Runner-up in this handicap bracket was Paul Rice, whose round was meandering aimlessly at 12-over-par after 10 holes until he grabbed it by the scruff of the neck in dramatically effective fashion, duly parring the remaining eight holes.
Liam O'Hagan was the last of a triumvirate to declare a nett 63 on the day, although he had to settle for category 3 pre-eminence on account of a back nine that was bettered by both Hughes and O'Halloran. That was largely down to a damaging quadruple bogey at the last but, prior to that, O'Hagan had played some high-quality golf while racking up seven pars and two birdies. One shot back in category 3 was runner-up, Leo McCann, whose tremendous nett 64 owed much to a commendably steady back nine that concluded with a pleasing four at Cathedrals.
The Bankers Cup came a few days after a weekly Wednesday Open competition on 18 July in which the scoring was no less spectacular. Kieran Beagan was the best of the seniors on that occasion with a bountiful 43-point showing that began with four consecutive pars and also featured a Sequoias birdie, while Stephen Monaghan recorded eight pars on his way to triumphing among the under-50s with a high-quality 40-point scorecard.