Dougie Stevenson’s Team 7 lead the Winter League at Banbridge Golf Club with just two rounds left.
The fourth round of the Winter League was completed, despite the dreadful weather conditions.
The three teams, which were strongly fancied before the start, are in the top three places. It promises to be an exciting finish.
The key to success, as always, is for every member of the team to return a score. The captains all know this and will be emphasising it to their team members.
This is how round four unfolded:
Team 7, captained by Dougie Stevenson, lead the Winter League after four of the six rounds have been completed.
The course has been reduced to 11 holes so a score of 25 points or better would be considered top class.
Tom Mulholland, the number one player for team 7, had the top score in round four, a magnificent 28 points.
Bobby Geddis 27, Joe Whiteside 26 and John Crothers 25 followed suit.
Then came B. J. McAnarney 24, Mel Hamill 23, Aidy McEvoy 22, Philip Mallon 21, Verdun Bond 19 and John Hanna 18.
That all adds up to 233 points, the second best team total of the round. Team 6 got 6 team points and their running total is 20.5 points. That puts them into first place on their own with two rounds to play.
Team 4, captained by Gerry Blevins, had the top team score in round four, a very impressive 246 points. They got the maximum 7 points for that effort and they moved up one place into second. They have a grand total of 20 points, one behind the Gerry Blevins, their team captain, led from the front. His 30 points was the highest score of the round. That is an amazing score for only 11 holes.
Ashton Clydesdale 28, Norman Doak 27, Peter Hillen 26, Malcolm Russell 25, Kyle Buchanan 23, Eamon Galloway 23, Colin McDonald 21, Merton McDowell 21 and Eamon McAnarney 21 all contributed to an excellent team score.
Despite all the adverse weather conditions, team 4 have only had 3 no-returns over 4 rounds. That is one of the reasons why they are doing so well.
Team 3, captained by Philip Strong, slipped up somewhat in round 4 of the Winter League. They had 9 scores returned, one short of the required number. Their team total was 212, the fourth best of the round. Another average card would have been so valuable.
They got 4 team points, which raised their overall total to 18.5 points. They dropped from joint first place to third.
Michael Robinson 26, Danny O’Boyle 25 and Philip Strong himself 25 were the top three players for team 3.
Bill McCandless 24, Kenny Arlow 24, Neville Kerr 23, Robert Haire 23, Sam Wilkinson 22 and Colin Kennedy 20 were the other counting scores.
Teams 7, 4 and 3 were my predictions to fill the top three places and that is how they stand after four rounds. Could they possibly finish in that order?
Team 1, captained by Johnny McKinstry, moved up one place from fifth to fourth after a courageous performance in round four.
Their 10 cards totalled 216 points. That was third best, got them 5 team points and upped their grand total to 17 points.
They still have a good chance of a podium finish provided every member of the team turns out and does their best.
Joe Glass was their top scorer with 29 points.
Then came Felix Duffy 27, John McDowell 24, John Redpath 24, Brian Knox 23, Kenny Baines 21, Johnny McKinstry 20, Neil Clydesdale 18, John Cowan 17 and Robin Jardine 13.
Team 2, captained by Sean Quinn, had a disastrous round four in the Winter League. They went into the round in joint third position, well in contention.
What happened? Well, they had only 7 cards returned and 7 absentees.
Their team total was 157 points, the lowest of the round. They only got 1 point, which put their overall total up to 14 points. As a result of all this, team 2 slipped down to fifth place.
The 7 players, who braved the elements to return a score, deserve credit.
Cameron Morton 27 was top man.
Sean Quinn 25, Seamus McGrath 24, John Poots 23, Cathal O’Neill 21, Philip McCourt 20 and Alan McVey 17 all gave of their best.
Team 5, captained by Kieran McGreevey, stay in sixth place in the Winter League after a lacklustre performance in round four.
They managed 9 returns, one shy of the required total. That put them at a severe disadvantage right away.
Their team total was 206 points, which was only good enough to get them 3 team points. Their overall total is now 12 points and they occupy sixth place.
Kieran McGreevey played a true captain’s role with a superb 28 points.
Tony Lunney 27 and Patrick McAleenan 26 were also in great form.
Declan Dooher 24, Ronnie Collins 21, P.J. Johnston 20, Kerry McCluskey 20, Paul McCullough 20 and Sean McGrevey 20 were the other counting scores.
Team 6, captained by Alan Close, looked resigned to the fact that they are going to finish last in this year’s Winter League.
In round four, they had only 8 cards returned. They needed the full quota of 10 in order to have any chance.
Their 4 top scores were brilliant. Colin McKinney and Albert Morrison each had 26 points while Gary McCormick and Ian Craven each had 25.
They should have been able to capitalise on that start.
Norman Robb had 24, Mark McCullough 21, Vaughan Lamont 20 and Adam Kerr 19.
But where were the other 5?