One of the largest amateur golf competitions run in Northern Ireland came to a thrilling conclusion in Spain last week at the Grand Final of the Region of Murcia Masters in association with Next-Gen Power.
housands of club golfers around the six counties took part but only ten golfers qualified for the tournament, which was held across three days at three of the top courses Murcia has to offer, and battled it out for the right to be called the first Murcia Masters champion.
Competing at the stunning La Torre GNK, UGOLF Saurines de La Torre and the North Course at La Manga Club Resort, the ten competitors went head-to-head at three of the best courses Spain has to offer on the Costa Calida, which was bathed in sunshine and boasted in mid-20s temperatures all week.
The winner was Rodney Orr, representing Clandeboye Golf Club, who shot a fantastic 79 points across his rounds at La Torre and Saurines to lift the trophy, which was presented to him at a dinner held with representatives from around the region on Thursday night.
The Killinchy man finished six points ahead of runner-up Darren Craig (Whitehead), while Peter Mulhall (Ardglass) finished third with a score of 69 points, with the competitors’ two best scorecards from their three rounds counting towards their final score.
“I think I speak on behalf of all ten qualifiers and our guests when I say that we’ve enjoyed the trip of a lifetime,” said Orr.
“We left Belfast on a cold, wet miserable Monday morning to play golf in the sun on three of Murcia’s finest courses. We stayed in a super hotel and ate the best of food in the finest restaurants.
“It really was a dream prize and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Region of Murcia Tourist Board, the hotel and all three golf courses – they treated us like kings and their hospitality was second to none.
“Finally, I’d like to thank all of my fellow competitors and guests. We couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people with whom to share this truly amazing experience.”
The ten golfers – which included former Northern Ireland international Tommy Wright, who was representing Dunmurry – reached the Grand Final through a series of qualifying events at their respective clubs, which earned them and a guest a place on the five-day trip to Murcia, where they stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton at La Torre Resort.
The golfers were also treated to some of the sights and experiences that the region of Murcia has to offer throughout the week, including trips into the capital city of Murcia and to the city of Cartagena where they were able to sample some local cuisine.
They were joined by the competing clubs’ touring professionals, who had their own prize to play for which was won by Lough Erne’s Damian Mooney, who made his return to La Manga for the first time since the early 1990s when he competed there as a member of the PGA of Europe Team Championships.
“It was great to make a return to this incredible golfing region, especially a victorious one,” commented Mooney.
“It’s been a long time coming but honestly, after the experience we’ve just enjoyed, it won’t be long before I’m back. It really is a golfer’s paradise and a must visit destination for golfers back home wanting to explore new courses in fantastic weather.”
Known as a Golfer’s Paradise, Murcia boasts 20 world class golf courses and is rapidly becoming one of the premium golfing destinations in Europe, with over 55,000 golfers from the UK heading there each year.
The region boasts courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, as well as more than 300 days of sunshine, an average temperature of 19 degrees and around 252km of spectacular coastline.
“Northern Ireland is a very important market for golf tourism here and I think it has a lot in common with the Region of Murcia in terms of size, population and the friendly fun-loving nature of its people,” said Maria Martinez, general manager at the Tourism Institute of the Region of Murcia.
“We know how much people in Northern Ireland love golf, which is reflected by the success that players from the region – like Rory McIlroy – have enjoyed on the global stage, so we thought we would show our appreciation by creating the first ever Region of Murcia Masters – a bespoke golf competition especially for the Northern Ireland market.
“Across the 10 participating clubs, thousands of golfers took part to compete for this wonderful prize, so we were delighted and excited to host our 10 qualifies and their guests this week.
“I would like to congratulate Rodney on becoming the inaugural Region of Murcia Masters Champion but I really hope that all of our qualifiers consider themselves winners and enjoyed everything that the region had to offer – and not just the golf. I’m pretty sure that they did even though they all promised to come back to Murcia soon with their families.”
Graham Bailie, chief operating officer of title sponsors Next-Gen Power, added: “The Region of Murcia Masters really captured the imagination of golfers throughout Northern Ireland so, as a locally-based company, Next-Gen Power was very keen to support this To install fantastictournament.
“Rising energy costs are causing all of us to rethink how we heat and power our homes and businesses, so to have this platform to help promote and educate people across Northern Ireland about the cost-saving and environmental benefits of using solar power is a ‘ no brainer’ for us.
“I’d like to congratulate Rodney and all the qualifiers who made it to the Grand Final in Murcia. As event sponsor, it’s been a pleasure to help light the way to Spain for all involved.”
Region of Murcia Masters finalists: Ardglass Golf Club – Peter Mulhall (from Ardglass), Castlerock Golf Club – Brad Stewart (from Coleraine), Clandeboye Golf Club – Rodney Orr (from Killinchy), Dunmurry Golf Club – Tommy Wright (from Ballyclare), Edenmore Golf Club – David McEwen (from Moira), Galgorm Castle – Ralph Mealiff (from Strabane), Killymoon Golf Club – Emmet Hughes (from Clonoe), Lough Erne Resort – Martin Peters (from Irvinestown), Portadown Golf Club – Peter Liggett (from Portadown), Whitehead Golf Club – Paul Craig (from Ballyclare)