High winds halt McVeigh challenge

Danielle McVeigh saw her challenge at the NCAA Women's Championship halted by high winds yesterday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

McVeigh, a second-year on the Texas A&M team from Kilkeel, Co Down, was six strokes off the individual lead in a tie for 23rd place following an opening-round, one-over-par 73 on the University of New Mexico Championship Course before of winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour blew some golf balls off greens and forced tournament officials to suspend play.

McVeigh and Texas A&M had reached the antrional finals after coming through the 54-hole NCAA Women's Golf Central Regional, which proved a bridge too far for fellow Irishwomen Sinead O'Sullivan and Tara Delaney, whose East Tennessee State and Kent State teams failed to advance.

Delaney, a Curtis Cup team member for GB and Ireland in 2006, finished tied for 89th individually but Kent State head coach Mike Morrow said: “Our players can’t let this one performance detract from what was a great season overall. I can’t say enough about Tara Delaney for helping us take the program to another level. We are really going to miss her.”

Galway’s O’Sullivan also finished an otherwise stellar sophomore year at ETSU in a tie for 93rd place.

In men’s golf, Limerick’s Cian McNamara made up for a nightmare opening to turn hero for East Tennessee State University at the weekend’s National Collegiate East Regional Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

McNamara’s collegiate career in America was heading for a disastrous conclusion following an opening-round, 10-over-par 81 that left him 138th on the overnight leaderboard at the Council Fire Golf Club. He got back into form with a second-round 73 and saved the best for last in the 54-hole tournament.

McNamara fired a team-best four-under-par 67 that steered the No. 21-ranked Buccaneers up the team leaderboard from 13th to a final finish of eighth.

Also shooting scores in the 60s for ETSU were West Waterford’s Seamus Power with a 68 and Lisburn’s Gareth Shaw with a 69, all of which helped the Buccaneers to a team score of eight-under 276 on the day, securing the team a berth in the NCAA Championships for the third year in a row.

“I was really disappointed with my first round and felt like I had let myself and the team down, especially being a senior,” said McNamara, following his seven-birdie final round.

“I definitely wanted to made amends, so instead of putting pressure on myself and thinking about this being my last tournament, I just went out there and trusted myself. That attitude paid off and it was really satisfying watching the rest of the guys coming in with their scores.”

While McNamara shone on the final day, Power and Shaw’s consistency led to higher finishes, the pair tying for eighth at six-under 207 on the individual leaderboard, Power posting rounds of 71, 68, 69 and Shaw 67, 71 and 69.

Georgia’s Russell Henley and Alabama at Birmingham’s Zach Sucher finished tied for the top spot at 13 under, with Henley’s team winning the event 21 strokes ahead of second place Augusta State.

With ETSU also reaching the NCAA Championships on May 28-31 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex’s Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Indiana, McNamara gets to extend his collegiate career to one final tournament.

While McNamara prepares for the NCAAs, Belfast’s Jonny Caldwell saw his standout career with the University of South Alabama come to a conclusion at Council Fire despite an even-par final round of 71.

The Walker Cupper, competing as an individual following his Sun Belt Conference title success, finished with a score of one-over 214.

“It was a great tournament and I enjoyed competing against some of the top players in the country,” Caldwell said. “I’m pleased with my performance but feel that I left enough shots on the course that made the difference in moving on to nationals.”

Caldwell will now travel home to prepare for the collegiate version of the Ryder Cup, the Palmer Cup at Glasgow Golf Club’s Gailes Links in Scotland, June 26-27. Also competing for Europe will be ETSU’s Shaw.

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