20 May 19
Limerick Golf Club pro Tim Rice has earned the chance to claim a rare double by qualifying for next month’s final of the PGA Professional Championship at Hunstanton on England’s east coast.
Rice was victorious in the Irish PGA Championship two years ago and just two of his compatriots – Davids Higgins and Mortimer – have won that event and the PGA Professional Championship.
Should Rice emulate their achievement, however, he will do so at the first attempt.
Despite being one of the most consistent performers on the Irish PGA circuit – last year he earned more than €18,000 in prize money – he has not competed in the final of the PGA’s flagship competition.
He rectified that omission at the K Club by winning the PGA in Ireland qualifier for the Titleist and FootJoy sponsored tournament that carries a £78,000 prize purse with £10,000 going to the winner.
And the 42-year-old did so in fine style, negotiating the Palmer Ryder Cup Course in four-under-par to post a round of 68 and win the event by two shots.
Having reached the turn level on one-under-par with Richard Kilpatrick of Banbridge Golf Club, he moved into overdrive on the back nine with an error-free display that featured three birdies.
Kilpatrick, meanwhile, had to settle for a share of second place on two-under with Neil O’Briain of Old Conna Golf Club and Evolve Golf Coaching’s Michael McGeady.
The trio have also qualified for the final as have Adare Manor and Golf Resort’s James Walsh and David Barry of Douglas Golf Club who finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Looking ahead, Rice commented: “I’ve played many courses in England but not Hunstanton. Neither have I played in the final before so that will be two new experiences.
“I’ve heard Hunstanton is a great course and is very challenging – I’m looking forward to it.
“As for today, the Ryder Cup course at the K Club is challenging at the best of times and we were helped by the weather. Even so I’m very pleased with the way I played, especially as I’m not playing so much these days as I’m really getting into coaching.”
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