Westmeath County Board

County Strokeplay Preview 2013

Westmeath County Strokeplay Preview 2013.

Custume Pitch and Putt Club is the venue for the 2013 Westmeath County Strokeplay Championships. 77 players will take to the excellent Athlone course on Sunday morning. Once again predicting winners on the day will be very difficult but it can be guaranteed that there will be some very exciting pitch and putt along the way and anyone lifting cups Sunday evening will be very deserving winners.

The Gents junior grade gets proceedings under way and there are five names that come to the fore while looking at the staring list. The first is Custume player Sean Langdon. Although a quiet start to the season from Sean this year so far one cannot rule him out as he is the 2012 junior matchplay champion. The next player who could make an impact is another Custume man, Declan Murphy. After a very strong performance in the Custume Scratch cup a number of weeks previous where he claimed the overall final 18 prize is just an indicator of what he is capable of. Young Kilbeggan man Brendan McMahon is another who can definitely find himself lifting the cup on Sunday evening. Brendan has had an excellent start to the 2013 season after qualifying for the national matchplay finals and he will be eager to continue this good run of form in Custume. Martin White of Rochfortbridge is another young player who can challenge for the junior title. Playing solidly so far this year Martin can go well and find himself amongst the medals on Sunday. Kevin Balfe of Custume having already won both the Custume and Kilbeggan junior scratch cups this year already could add a county title to his collection of cups on his home turf.

The Gents Intermediate grade is possibly the toughest section to predict a winner in. With the recent changes to the handicap system there are a number of players moving from senior to inter and this is after creating a very strong inter field in Westmeath. The first two ball of William Prendergast and Niall Corcoran could contain the champion and both will more than likely make the playoff. John Joyce of the home club will be another man who knows the course well enough to make an impact on Sunday. Pat Stephens, winner of the Kilbeggan intermediate scratch cup is a player who could win on Sunday. Pat has the pitching ability and overall game to score well. Westmeath county team manager Martin Carter is a man moving from senior to inter due to the handicap changes and is a strong enough player to perform well and make the playoff. The next 3 ball of Stephen Raune, Damien Mullins and current Leinster Matchplay Champion Dessie Baker are all strong enough to make a playoff and Dessie must go down as pre tournament favourite on his current form. Davy Reddin from Custume is another contender for the title. Davy won the Custume intermediate scratch cup a number of weeks ago and will look to carry this good form into this weekend.

The Ladies Grade 2 section contains five players who will all want to play well and with the nature of the Custume course if any get into a run of good pitching, good scores will be on the cards. Competing in this section are Mary Carroll, Veronica Clarke, Joan Henry, M Kelly and Ena Clinton. After a strong first trail in Hillview and unlucky not to win this grade in the Kilbeggan scratch cup Veronica Clarke could win this section on Sunday.

The Ladies Grade 1 section is going to be very competitive this year. Liz Bloem returns this year and will be want to regain the title. Liz has the game that makes her one of the country’s top ladies players and will be looking for a good performance on Sunday afternoon. Miriam Sheerin the current holder always returns a fine score and on her home course she will be very tough to beat. Other Ladies that can challenge are Anne Kelly, Geraldine Daly and Kathleen Carton. We will be looking forward to a very close finish to this section.

Finally to the Gents Senior Grade. 21 men take part and all 21 will believe they can win and take the spoils after three challenging rounds. Custume is always known as a pitchers course and all players are strong enough at this part of the game to score well. Looking down thru the time sheet one doesn’t have to look too far to see the name of one of the favourites in Pat Malone. Pat is having an excellent year so far,  leading the inter county trails and after capturing the Kilbeggan scratch cup Pat will want to add a Senior county title to this on the mantel piece. Mick Foley of Custume is playing good pitch and putt this year and with a second place finish under his belt in the scratch cup at this venue he will be hoping to go one better. The next three ball of Ronan Whelan, Alan Hanlon and Niall Cuffe have all won this championship on numerous occasions each. Ronan will be looking to get his name back on the cup for a fourth time on Sunday and will want to make the playoff. After an astounding 9 shot victory in the Custume scratch cup which included a round of 42 we truly saw a magnificent display from Alan Hanlon. Alan will be looking for a repeat performance of this over the 54 holes in Custume.  Niall Cuffe is always a strong performer under pressure and will surely be in contention and secure a playoff place. Sean Dinnegan and Liam Buckley are both performing well this year in the inter county trails and both men will be looking for good scores that could mean they win the title. Martin Kenny of Custume has all the ability and skill to win the title on Sunday and with good performances so far the year he also has the form coming into it to mount a serious challenge. Collinstown player Rene Bloem will be looking to win a first county title and after some excellent displays of pitch and putt over the last number of years Rene has established himself as one of the top players in the county. One cannot overlook John Browne adding a strokeplay county title to his matchplay one and John would be thrilled to hold both cups at the same time. Fantastic scores in both trails and numerous scratch cups this year to date implies John is on form. Last but certainly not least is current county strokeplay champion Michael Buckley. Michael will want to retain the title for 2013 and with the all round game of pitching, chipping and putting, this is a huge possibility.

Don’t be surprised if any of these players lift the cups come Sunday!!

The Westmeath County Board would like to wish all players the very best of luck.