22 Dec 17
In a repeat of last year, the duo of Damien McGrane and David Higgins (Waterville) battled it out for supremacy on the PGA in Ireland region in 2017.
The pair combined to help GB&I retain the PGA Cup at Foxhills but for most of the season, they locked horns at venues across Ireland.
For the second year in a row McGrane topped the Order of Merit with the Kells golfer finishing the season with 27,175 points and the lowest scoring average of the year, 69.76.
When the final event was completed at Connemara GC, Damien had amassed a 3,900 point gap over Higgins, winning 13 events in total, 11 of which counted towards the Order of Merit crown.
David had to settle for second place in the standings but the Kerry man can look back on a season in which he won 14 times, that's five better than last year.
McGrane's success was ultimately built on a run of five wins in a row in early July. In fact, a closer inspection of the results reveals that he collected nine wins in 11 starts from the beginning of July until the middle of August.
“I had a really good run in the middle of the season. The most satisfying thing for me was winning five events in a row at that time, it was a nice run. My golf was great around then and ultimately that was the difference as it put me a fair bit ahead of the chasing pack,” he said.
Below the leading two, Simon Thornton (Simon Thornton Golf) finished third in the standings, Colm Moriarty (Drive Golf Performance) dropped to fourth and Michael McGeady ended the year in fifth place.
Michael, who completed his PGA training this year, won the Nuremore Irish PGA Assistant's Championship on the opening hole of a sudden death play-off against Tara Delaney (Eddie Doyle Golf Academy).
The Derry based professional, who won the pre-tournament Pro-Am, found himself five shots off the lead after the opening 36 holes but, helped by a switch of putter, he fired two rounds of 69 (-2) to claim his place in the play-off before winning the title.
“I felt coming into the event that I was one of the favourites but that means nothing with good players in the field. You still have to play the golf, hit the shot, manage what you are doing,” said the 39-year-old.
Limerick's Tim Rice made a substantial move up the rankings in 2017 driven on by a wire-to-wire success in the 107th Irish PGA Championship at Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort.
Remarkably, victory in Co.Kildare was Tim's first win on the PGA in Ireland circuit. He carded rounds of 66/67/68/70 to reach -17 beating Colm Moriarty by three shots.
“I haven't won anything in ages. The first three days here were as well as I have played for many years although I didn't putt very well,” said the 39-year-old on collecting the trophy.