Conor Hynds Wins Ardglass Golf Club Championship

A new name will be going on the Club Champions board in the Ardglass clubhouse this year as 17-year-old Conor Hynds clinched the 2015 championship in dramatic style last week.

The young Ardglass player showed remarkable composure to lead the field almost from start to finish and to hold off a determined challenge in the closing holes from reigning champion Daniel Vaughan. In an amazing finish Hynds holed out from the bunker at the final hole to win the title by one shot.

[caption id="attachment_58253" align="alignleft" width="390"]Conor Hynds at Ardglass Golf Course is the new club champion finishing by holing a bunker shot on the 18th. Conor Hynds at Ardglass Golf Course is the new club champion finishing by holing a bunker shot on the 18th.[/caption]

Three-handicapper Conor got off to a blistering start in the morning round with three birdies in the first six holes, eventually reaching the turn in two-under. At this point he shared the lead with Arran Smith, who birdied three of the front nine.

Smith took a clear lead with another birdie at the 11th and went on to finish with a two-under total of 68. However Hynds finished strongly and birdies on the last two holes gave him a share of the lead at the halfway stage.

Four shots further back were Gareth Donnelly and four-times champion Vaughan on 72. Also not out of contention was Raymond Madine, whose round included five birdies and two double bogeys in his 73. With some of the other fancied contenders out of the running, the title seemed to rest between these five.

Playing in the final group with Vaughan and Smith in the afternoon round, Hynds opened with a birdie at the first to take an outright lead that he was never to relinquish. Smith was starting to drop shots, and Madine and Donnelly, though playing steadily, could make no inroads. At the turn, the championship had turned into a head-to-head between Hynds and the more experienced Vaughan.

Both players were out in level par with Hynds still four ahead. A birdie at the 11th saw Vaughan reduce the gap to three. By the 13th it was down to two and by the 14th there was only one in it. At the 16th Vaughan bogeyed and the lead was two. At the 17th Hynds did likewise and it was back to one again, going down the final hole.

[caption id="attachment_58271" align="alignright" width="390"]Last years Club Champion Daniel Vaughn, left, presents Conor Hynds with the 2015 trophy on the 18th green at Ardglass Golf Club. Last years Club Champion Daniel Vaughan, left, presents Conor Hynds with the 2015 trophy on the 18th green at Ardglass Golf Club.[/caption]

In a tense atmosphere, defending champion Vaughan left his second shot close to the flag, giving himself a real birdie opportunity. His young challenger’s approach raced through the green and into the back bunker. Now, with the pressure really on, Hynds played the shot of the day, and to the roars of a sizeable crowd, saw his bunker shot roll perfectly into the hole for a birdie three.

Vaughn’s successful putt kept the margin to one shot but there was no mistaking who was the hero of the day. Having already come close in finishing runner-up last year, Conor Hynds has shown himself to be a real star for the future, with a temperament to match his undoubted talent.

Further down the field some of the other younger members of the club were showing that they too have the makings of top-class players. 18-year-old Michael McMahon shot a one-under par 69 in the afternoon round, with three birdies. 16-year-old Ashley Emerson also returned 69, with a round which at one point saw him shoot twelve straight pars. 17-year-old Feargus Bannon had three birdies in his last four holes for a 73. In fact, five of the top ten finishers were teenagers, which is a testament not only to the players themselves but also to the hard work being done in the Junior Section of Ardglass Golf Club.

Junior Convenor Martin Smyth said: “The Ardglass club is producing some fine young players. Cormac Sharvin is knocking on the door of a place in the Walker Cup squad and is well placed at the moment in the US Amateur Open being played this week. He recently won the English Amateur title this summer. And Matt Fitzsimons has performed well too at Ireland level. The junior and youth section is very talented.

“There are a number of reasons for this. Our Club Pro Paul Vaughn who is out with Cormac Sharvin at the moment in the US is very active with them and provides a lot of support and training. And there is certainly a healthy competitive spirit which drives them on.

“Ardglass can be a hard unforgiving course to play especially when it is windy and this too sharpens up our young players for all eventualities making them more adaptable to a variety of courses.”