McKenna thrilled by new honour

When you have achieved as much as Mary McKenna has in the game and in the name of Irish golf, you could get used to plaudits.

McKenna thrilled by new honour

Yet even two-time Curtis Cup captains and 12-time national champions can get their heads turned every now and again and that was certainly the case over the weekend when McKenna was honoured with a new all-Ireland tournament named in her honour.

Woodenbridge Golf Club officially announced the Mary McKenna Diamond Trophy Tournament, which will begin next year as an all-Ireland senior club championship for woman aged over 60 years and will be run similarly to it’s now well-established and successful JB Carr Tournament for men.

And now the Mary McKenna will take place alongside the JB Carr, a fitting tribute to arguably Ireland’s greatest female golfer.

“I have to say I was very taken with it, it’s a great honour for me,” McKenna told the Irish Examiner.

A glittering career in the amateur game, which included nine appearances on the Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup team she would later captain, has long been recognised, not least with the MBE she was awarded by the British in 2012 for services to golf.

Yet this latest honour is still special for current Irish Ladies Golf Union president McKenna given her approval of the competition her name will grace.

“It sits very well with the JB Carr at Woodenbridge,” she said. “They have a tried and tested tournament which is very successful for the guys and you have much the same committee running the ladies’, so I think it’s very good.

“People have floated it before but with Woodenbridge, they have the knowledge and the history of the JB Carr and it will make it a festival of mixed golf. Although they’re separate tournaments, they’ll have the two semi-finals and finals together, which will make a great weekend out of it.”

McKenna is as confident as the folks at Woodenbridge that the new competition will be every bit as successful as the JB Carr has been with the male over-60s since its inception 18 years ago.

“It’s an age bracket that’s not hugely catered for, even club seniors’ events the over-60s might not get on their team, so this is for them and if it takes off anything like the men’s it will be fabulous,” she said.

“Anything that keeps golfers competitive is to be applauded, absolutely. It’s social and it’s competitive and I think it will work very well and well done to Woodenbridge for taking it on.

“They’re excited by it and that in itself is brilliant.

“It’s just so important to keep people playing golf and this gives people an extra chance.

“It’s Scotch foursomes, greensomes as they call it, and everybody loves that form of golf because both people drive and it’s not quite as daunting as straight foursomes, so I think it will work well, I ready do.”

As mentioned on these pages previously, all ILGU affiliated golf clubs across Ireland will be invited to participate in the Mary McKenna Diamond Trophy Tournament for 2015, with each participating club selecting 10 lady members over the age of 60, playing off full ILGU handicap plus a courtesy shot to the away team.

It will run firstly at county level, progress to regional level and then the finalists will play the semi-finals and finals next September at Woodenbridge Golf Club.

“I just present the trophy and they do the rest,” McKenna said, “which I’m fine with!”

Muskerry’s Turner finds new lease of life in Asia

There’s a spring in their step down at Muskerry Golf Club, as team captain Greg O’Sullivan prepares his golfers for next week’s assault on a first Barton Shield title since 1953, more of which next week.

Yet it is not just the Barton boys flying the flag for the Cork club as Muskerry professional Niall Turner is enjoying a season to remember on the Asian Development Tour, hopefully putting behind him a terrible time with injury and illness by staying firmly on course for a full Asian Tour card for 2015.

After almost a year out of action as he struggled with a hip problem, followed by a bout of heat stroke he suffered in his first tournament back last April that kept him out for a further two months, the 31-year-old has been making up for lost time in the Far East this summer.

Turner won the Jakarta Classic in July and has been on a roll in his past four tournaments, starting with a 13th place finish in the CIPUTRA Golfpreneur Tournament, also in Jakarta.

There followed a seventh win in the Aboititz Invitational in the Phillippines before the Corkman claimed second place last weekend in the PGM Sabah Championship in Malaysia, his 11-under par total finishing three shots behind Thailand’s Sattaya Supuprama and advancing Turner to fifth in the ADT order of merit.

The Irishman brings his four-week stint in Asia to a close this week by staying in Malaysia for the PGM MNRB Sarawak Championship, before returning in October for the final three events of the ADT season to hopefully close out one of those all-important top-five order of merit places which are rewarded with full Asian Tour cards for next season.

Not that Turner will remain idle on his trip home. He will be one of 22 Irish golfers embarking on the nail-biting rollercoaster that is the European Tour Qualifying School. Turner will tee it up at Hardelot in northern France for the first qualifying stage Section C event, from September 23-26.

First of the Irish in action will be Omagh amateur Niall Kearns, who embarks on Section A today at Golfclub Schloss Ebreichsdorf in Austria.

Fitzgerald caps Waterford Castle comeback

Waterford Castle are the new Irish MixedFoursomes champions after a stirring fightback saw them defeat Castlecomer at Warrenpoint Golf Club last Friday.

Denny Sinnott and Fiona Fitzgerald had won a crucial match in Waterford Castle’s semi-finalvictory over Rossapenna but they were quickly on the back foot against the 2009 champions’ KenHovenden and Maria Downey, two holes down after seven.

The rally began with wins on three holes in a row from the eighth to the 10th to move in front by one hole — and that lead doubled on the 15th before Fitzgerald sank a tricky six-foot putt on the 16th green to win the Spanish Tourist Board-sponsored event and claim the green pennant for Munster.

Waterford Castle ran out 3-2 winners with Ben Murray and Patsy Garry and Francis Reynolds and Mary Madigan claiming the other points and making for a very happy trip back to the south-east.

Niall Kearney: Royal Dublin golfer hit form at Farnham.

Kearney finishes with a flourish at Farnham

Challenge Tour pro Niall Kearney made the most of his excursion to the PGA of Ireland circuit when he won the McCabe Pharmacy Charity Pro-Am at the Farnham Estate.

The Royal Dublin golfer, eighth on the PGA Order of Merit at start of play, carded a one under par round of 71 at the Co Cavan course to hold off a group of five players on level par.

The 26-year-old made a slow start to his round, dropping shots at the third and fourth before stirring into life with consecutive birdies at the fifth and sixth. He then gave another shot back at the par-five ninth and it was not until the 14th that Kearney made his move, going birdie, birdie, bogey, birdie and a par at the last to secure the win.

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