Golf

Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty finishes in top 10 at African Amateur Strokeplay Championship

Golf

Gerry McDermott

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Gerry McDermott

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sport@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty finishes in top 10 at African Amateur Strokeplay Championship

Caolan Rafferty finished sixth in the African Amateur Strokeplay Championship in his first tournament outing of 2020 and also managed to record the second competitive hole-in-one of his career to date

Caolan Rafferty finished sixth in the African Amateur Strokeplay Championship in his first tournament outing of 2020 and also managed to record the second competitive hole-in-one of his career to date.

The ace came on the third day of the tournament at Leopard Creek Golf Club when he holed a pitching wedge from 145 yards at the par three 12th hole.

“I got the yardage, picked a club, and tried to hit a shot,” said Rafferty.

“It was one of those funny ones. I didn’t really catch it and turned away in a bit of disgust. As I was turning back, I heard my playing partner telling it to go in, and I was like, ‘Sorry, that can’t be right!’

“And as I turned around, it just disappeared!

“It was lovely to get the hole-in-one because it’s been a while since I had one. It wasn’t a pretty shot, but that’s golf for you, the bad ones end up being the best sometimes.”

The hole-in-one helped to propel him into the top 10 and into contention for the tournament going into the last round after he had opened with rounds of 74 and 72 to sit on two over par and tied 16th at the halfway stage.

In addition to the ace, he also recorded two birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey on his way to a one-under par 71 which was one of just seven sub-par totals in the third round.

It moved Rafferty up to tied fifth and just four shots off the lead going into the final day. But he was unable to mount a challenge and needed a birdie on the last to join Ireland teammate and British Amateur champion James Sugrue in sixth place on three over, seven shots behind the winner Martin Vorster, who won the 2019 East of Ireland Championship at Baltray.

Nonetheless, Rafferty was very happy with a top 10 finish and the opportunity to dust off the cobwebs ahead of what will be another very busy year for him.

“It was a funny old week because I didn’t play wonderful at all. I just managed to get it round in a way that kept me ticking over. It was my first tournament of the new year so to finish tied sixth was nice. It leaves me looking forward to next week and trying to improve on that.”

Rafferty’s next assignment in South Africa is the South African Amateur Strokeplay at Rand Park Golf Club which has previously hosted the South African Open.

Rafferty wasn’t the only Dundalk player in action abroad last week. Eoin Murphy, who is a student at Maynooth University, was in Portugal for the fourth round of R&A Student Series where he finished tied 27th after rounds of 76, 77 and 79 in the three-round, 54-hole event.