Consistent O’Flaherty forges clear of rivals

Gary O’Flaherty retained his Lee Valley Senior Scratch Cup yesterday after he posted a solid level par final round 72 in blustery conditions.

Consistent O’Flaherty forges clear of rivals

The Cork GC golfer started the tournament with a first round 75, but with ideal conditions Saturday, he signed for a superb second round of 64 with nine birdies and just one bogey.

This near flawless second round gave the +4 handicapper a two-shot lead going into Sunday, with Galway’s Ronan Mullarney and in-form James Sugrue amongst the chasing pack.

The third round proved a much harder challenge for the 36 players who made the cut, as the wind picked up and flag positions were made more difficult by the Lee Valley Committee.

Despite this, O’Flaherty made a steady start and after a bogey on his seventh hole followed by a birdie on eight, he went into the back nine on level par, five under for the tournament.

After claiming a convincing win last weekend in the Fota Island Senior Scratch Cup, Mallow’s James Sugrue was expected to mount a final round charge, and when he eagled his eighth hole to place himself two shots off the lead, it looked promising.

Sugrue struggled to keep his momentum, though, and when he double-bogeyed the tricky 10th, his challenge faded.

Despite the wind, O’Flaherty showed no sign of letting the lead slip, and his vast experience was to the fore as as he matched two bogeys with two birdies during the tough No 10-15 hole stretch. Straight-forward pars on his final three holes solidified the win for Gary O’Flaherty, and he claimed his experience played a key role in this victory.

“My experience definitely helped. Obviously, after Saturday I was pretty confident anyway, but I knew if I got off to a solid start I’d be okay.”

Meanwhile, France’s Alexander Levy boosted his chances of qualifying for a Ryder Cup debut on home soil by claiming his fifth European Tour title at the Hassan Trophy in Morocco.

Levy carded a final round of 70 at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to finish eight under par, a shot ahead of overnight leader Alvaro Quiros.

Quiros birdied the 18th to claim outright second, with Italy’s Andrea Pavan, Finland’s Mikko Ilonen and the Swedish pair of Joakim Lagergren and Alexander Bjork a stroke behind on six under.

Levy began the final round a shot off the pace, but moved into the lead with three birdies and a bogey in the first eight holes and recovered from a bogey on the 16th with a vital birdie on the next.

The 27-year-old will have little time to celebrate his win as he heads straight to Beijing to defend his Volvo China Open title.

Final Lee Valley scores:

211:

Gary O’Flaherty (75, 64, 72),

216:

James Sugrue (70, 73, 73)

218:

Keith Crowley (72, 73, 73), Sean Desmond (72, 70, 76), Ronan Mullarney (70, 71, 78).

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