The illustrious trio are amongst the winners of the club’s famous Scratch Trophy, and many other former victors gathered in this corner of Westmeath yesterday for a Champions’ Day of golf and memories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the competition.
Clarke won the event in 1989 with Harrington claiming honours five years later and McIlroy in 2006.
The Mullingar tournament began in 1963 due to the foresight of leading club members Paddy Dunne and Paddy McCartan while it was all brought to fruition by Albert Lee, now the Honorary Secretary of the GUI.
It came as little surprise when Joe Carr and Tom Craddock, two of Ireland’s finest amateurs, were victorious in ’63 and ’64, respectively, but even they were unable to withstand the brilliance of young Englishman, Peter Townsend, who proved unstoppable over the next two years. Townsend, Clive Clark and the Scot Ronnie Shade were just three of a number of leading cross-channel golfers who participated until moving on to the professional ranks.
The winners list remains a ‘who’s who’ of the game’s finest. In addition to Clarke, Harrington and McIlroy, the Ryder Cup players to capture the title were Townsend, Des Smyth, Philip Walton and Paul McGinley while among those to also prosper in the professional game were John McHenry, Raymond Burns, Gary Murphy, Peter Lawrie and Shane Lowry.
MULLINGAR SCRATCH CUP WINNERS 1963: J B Carr; 1964: Tom Craddock; 1965 and ‘66, Peter Townsend; 1967: Bryan Malone; 1968: Martin O’Brien; 1969: Noel Mason. 1970: Peter Benka; 1971: Martin O’Brien; 1972: Des Smyth; 1973: Mark Gannon; 1974: Bryan Malone; 1975: Hugh Smyth; 1976: Martin O’Brien; 1977: Eddie Dunne; 1978: Bertie Wilson; 1979: Frank Gannon. 1980: Val Smyth; 1981: Mark Gannon; 1982: Philip Walton; 1983: Ian Elliott; 1984: Paul Murphy; 1985: Garth McGimpsey; 1986: John McHenry; 1987: Frank Gannon; 1988: Adrian Morrow; 1989: Darren Clarke. 1990: Leslie Walker; 1991: Paul McGinley; 1992: Raymond Burns; 1993: Eddie Power; 1994: Pádraig Harrington; 1995: Gary Murphy; 1996: Peter Lawrie; 1997: Sean Quinlivan; 1998: Pat Collier; 1999: Tim Rice. 2000: Johnny Foster; 2001: Colm Moriarty; 2002: Eoghan O’Sullivan; 2003: Colm Moriarty; 2004: Greg Bowden; 2005: Gareth Shaw; 2006: Rory McIlroy; 2007: Paul O’Hanlon; 2008: Shane Lowry; 2009: Conor Doran. 2010: Keelan McDonagh; 2011: Nicky Grant.
This year’s tournament takes place on August 25 and 26.