01 Jul 19
Brian Casey played some superb golf at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort to earn his place in the field at this week's Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The Headfort professional grabbed the lead on Saturday with an opening round 66 (-6) and then added a composed 69 (-3) on Sunday to collect the €6000 first prize and one of the four coveted starting spots in Lahinch.
“Sleeping on a lead is never easy and to be honest, I don't remember the last time I slept on a lead,” said Brian a regular on the Europro Tour.
“Ball control was the key for me today, keeping the ball down. That has always been an Achilles heel of mine. I really tried to commit to every shot out there and thankfully, I did for most of them.”
He will be joined in Co.Clare by two other young up and coming professionals, Paul McBride (The Island) and Conor O'Rourke (Naas GC) who both finished the event on six under par.
After opening with a credible two under par 70 on Saturday, O'Rourke surged through the field on Sunday courtesy of a best of the day 68 (-4).
“It was a couple of strong days golf especially today when the winds were very testing out there,” said the 24-year-old.
“I have some good memories of Lahinch. In my last amateur event, I was beaten in the final of the South by the new Amateur Champion, James Sugrue.”
In contrast, McBride struggled over the finishing stretch on Sunday and a closing run of double-bogey, par, bogey left him wondering if he had done enough.
“It was completely different from the first round. I got up, saw the wind and knew it was going to be tough,” said the 23-year-old.
“I started off nicely but the back nine was a grind, it really was. I took the wrong club off the tee on 16, hit it in the water and made double and on 18 I just hit a horrendous golf shot and laid it up in the water but then made a ridiculously good two-putt to go to Lahinch.”
Michael McGeady (Evolve Golf Coaching) grabbed the final place on offer, edging out Neil O'Briain (Old Conna) and amateur Robert Moran (Castle GC) on the second play-off hole after all three finished the tournament on five under par.
McGeady had to hole a curling 20 footer on the 18th green just to seal his place in the play-off and at 41 was relishing the chance to play in an Irish Open.
“That putt on 18 was ridiculous really. It's not the ideal putt you would want to leave yourself to get into a play-off but to hole it and then go through on a playoff, I'm over the moon,” said Michael who will be making just his second appearance in the event.
“I felt that over the years I should have played in more Irish Opens but to get in on my own merit there today feels great. I'm playing well so I would like to go down and hopefully make the cut and do well in the event.”