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Portmarnock Win the 2016 World Club Championship


2016 WCC First Round

Bangkok, Thailand (December 9, 2016) - The Final Day of competition, day three of the Amazing Kingdom of Thailand 2016 World Club Championship, began bright and early with the second 9 of the Semifinals of Match Play. The pairings were Geoff Lenehan and Jack Pierse of Portmarnock Golf Club, Ireland versus John Callaghan and Sandy Horacek of Los Angeles Country Club, USA; and Karl Gilbert and Richard Osterdahl of Royal St. George’s Golf Club, England versus Matias Sanchez and Will Heffernan of Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia.

Portmarnock got a sleepy early morning victory, winning the 10th hole with a bogey, which put them 3 up. Los Angeles tried to hang in there, but the strong play of Portmarnock won out, giving them the 4 & 3 victory.

Semifinal #2 was strongly in Royal Melbourne’s favor after they won 13 and 14 with pars to go 2 up with 4 to play. A phenomenal birdie on the par-3 16th by Karl Gilbert brought Royal St. George’s back to 1 down. Mr. Gilbert has had good success on the par 3s this week, making a hole in one on the 12th in the 1st round of qualifying. Karl made another birdie on the 17th hole, bringing his team one down with 1 to play. Melbourne stepped up with a solid par on 18, and they closed out the match 1 up.

So the final was set: Portmarnock Golf Club versus Royal Melbourne Golf Club. It was a matchup of young guns Pierse, age 25, and Lenehan, 28, versus young guns Sanchez, 18, and Heffernan, 23. The energy and enthusiasm among all four was obvious and the sportsmanship and camaraderie was a testament to the future of amateur golf.

The first blood came at the par-5 3rd hole, when Sanchez of Melbourne failed to get in for par after ripping it over the green in 2. Lenehan from Portmarnock laid up, then stuffed his 3rd shot close, giving them the victory. The match was all square coming to the par-3 7th, when Sanchez hit a superb tee shot that settled in gimme range, giving them a 1 up lead. They came to the 9th green at the same score, and Lenehan of Portmarnock drained an unbelievable uphill double breaker for birdie. The Melbourne boys could not match his putt, and they made the turn all square.

The back 9 started with Melbourne turning the tide, knocking in a birdie at 10 to go 1 up. They then birdied 11, the momentum clearly on their side as they went 2 up.

Don’t count out those young lads from Portmarnock though. They made a fantastic par on the extremely difficult par-3 12th, firing 5 and 6 irons in to come away with the victory. Again, the momentum shifted as Heffernan from Melbourne hit an amazing 3rd shot at the par-5 13th, sending his team back to 2 up.

Things started to go wrong for Melbourne at 14, when Matias missed a 3-foot putt for par to halve the hole. On 15, Jack of Portmarnock hit a beautiful approach from 155 yards to gimme range, which proved too hard for Melbourne to match.

The final came to the par-3 16th tee all square, setting up the drama to come. After great tee shots by all, no one was able to convert on the tricky green, a trademark of this fantastic course at Ayodhya Links.

At 17 all 4 players hit fantastic tee shots, giving them a chance to go for the par-5 green. Matias hit the best 2nd, sticking it to 15 feet for eagle. Jack Pierse had his own plans, hitting an unbelievable 3rd shot from long right of the green that landed perfectly and trickled down into the hole! The team erupted in joy, but quieted down quickly as Matias approached his putt to halve. It slid by the hole, and Portmarnock took a 1 up lead to 18.

The joy wasn’t long lived for the team from Ireland, as they both hit their tee shots right into the water at the difficult par-4 18th, sending the match back to the same tee for a playoff.

The fortunes were turned in the playoff, as both Irish boys hit it safe off the tee, but Will from Melbourne found the water right. An excellent 2 putt by Geoff from Portmarnock left Matias with 15 feet for par to extend the match. The putt wasn’t to be, giving Portmarnock from Ireland the victory in the 2016 World Club Championship.

The victory was long overdue, the team having made the semifinals the last three competitions but failing to advance. They toasted their friends and compatriots from home in a champagne celebration on the 18th green, and will take the trophy home to enjoy for a year.

The closing ceremony upheld the tradition of presenting the trophy to Portmarnock followed by Thai entertainment and music and the ceremonial lowering of the flags with WCC Chairman Bob Ford declaring the 2016 WCC closed. Dinner and festivities continued into the night.

Host Founder of Ayodhya Links Mr. Pitak was gracious in his congratulations to a job well done by the WCC Committee and his team of organizers and staff. A special thank you was given to the WCC Founder David V Smith for creating the event and for the expert execution of the tournament since 2002. Mr. Pitak was given a standing applause for hosting the WCC.

Until next time…when we reconvene at the home of the WCC at The Club at Nine Bridges in Jeju Island, South Korea. Congrats to Geoff Lenehan and Jack Pierse from Portmarnock on a job well done!

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