Known for an almost yoga-like approach to his thorough mental and technical preparations for each round, all the best elements of Eric Allen’s game finally came together as he lifted the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke competition with 40pts off 16.
Eight nett birdies were offset by double bogeys at 5, 7 and 11, but only his second par of the year at 16 was the spur for a steady finish and victory. He will also be pleased that his handicap dropped from 16 to 14 and he can now hold his head high among his high-flying regular fourball.
Also on 40pts was Andrew Heron, 22, but his back 9 of 18pts was 2pts less than Eric’s over the same stretch and he finished runner-up. Andrew has been plagued with NRs which have recently been spoiling potentially good rounds and the only good thing he might say about his failure to score at the first was that at least it got the NR out of the way early. So rapid was his improvement that by the turn he had 22pts, and when he finally rids himself of the NR blight, his handicap will be in free fall.
Honorary Treasurer Warren McCleary will have mixed feelings about the 39pts off 12 which claimed third place for him. This was his second consecutive handicap reduction and could so easily have been his first victory of the year. Only a very unwelcome double bogey at the last denied him, as even a bogey would have done the trick.
Fresh from being led to victory by wife Margaret in the Majority Cups Open Mixed Foursomes, John O’Neill came 4th with 39pts off 6. His last 7 outings have seen 5 buffer zone finishes and one handicap reduction leaving him at 5.8 and tantalisingly close to a return to Category 1 where he started the season.
Gary McNally was the last of three players on 39pts and he took 5th place off 4. He had a great round of 71 which even included double bogeys at 2 and 14. His birdies at 1,4, 5 and 12 will have left him feeling a very low score had been a real possibility.
Michael McSherry continued with his merry subpar march with three birdies and two bogeys seeing him round in 69 shots to take the gross prize with 37 gross pts.