Monday, June 17, 2024

Smith looks to reclaim ISPS Handa crown – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Former champion Brad Smith (Royal Cromer) leads the way on level par after the opening round of the ISPS Handa Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability at Roganstown.

The English golfer, who won this tournament in 2022, shot an opening round 71 in testing conditions, and he holds a one-shot lead over fellow countryman Thomas Blizzard (Droitiwch).

Smith was the inaugural winner of the ISPS Handa Irish Open for Golfers with a Disability when he finished one shot clear of Aidan Grenham (Ballinasloe). That was a thrilling finish where Grenham had a hole-in-one on 17 and Smith held on by the minimum after a double-bogey on the last.

However, he knows that experience could be crucial this week and he had three birdies and three bogeys on his card today.

“It was a good round, I played solid,” said Smith.

“The greens here are tricky, they’re slopy, they’re quick in places so it’s easy to get on the wrong side and struggle for two putts but I putted quite well today and obviously struck it well, hit a lot of greens and rolled a couple nice putts.

“Good solid start. It’s one of those you can’t win it but you can lose it so it’s nice to be there or there abouts. Look forward to tomorrow.

“I know the course quite well; I feel like it suits my game. I played here before and played well so that’s always a good confidence boost coming in and I feel like my swing is in a good place right now, its feeling quite nice so we’ll have to see can we post a bit of a better one tomorrow.”

Reigning champion, Alan Gaynor (County Sligo) was another one of the players who excelled in Round 1 after he registered a solid 75. Mehmet Kazan (Kemer) and Paul O’Kelly (Portmarnock) complete the top five in the gross stroke play division.

Last year’s G4D Open winner, Brendan Lawlor (Carton House) and James McParland (Chigwell) both retired ill and 24 players will battle it out for that title tomorrow.

Lambeg golfer, Mark Clougherty, shot 69 in the net stroke play and he is tied at the top of those standings alongside Gavan O’Dwyer (Grange) on -2.

Smith is also in contention in the net section with David Quinn (Arklow) in fourth place on level par, just ahead of Johnny Reay (Stoneleigh Deer Park).

Australian golfer Kieran McBrien (Tallebudgera) took the overnight lead in the Stableford division where he shot 48 points.

Smith will hope to win back his crown in the stroke play gross division but Gaynor is also in prime position to retain the title.

“It was great to come back, nice memories of last year and look hopefully I’ve just lent the trophy back for a few days and I get to bring it back with me, but we’ll see we have a long way to go,” said Gaynor.

“The only pressure is what I put on myself really, I want to play as well as I can but I haven’t played too much coming into the week, so the expectations were quite low. It’s nice to get a half decent score on the board and we’ll take that into tomorrow and see how we get on.

“Hopefully get out and have a good start and put a bit of pressure on the leaders and see where that takes us. We’ll go with the same approach as today and try and take one hole at a time, all the cliches in the book but we’ll give it a go.

“Be nice to get in the mix on the back nine.”

View the scoring here

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