Guernsey Press

A bit of brotherly love takes McKennas to title

TWO teenagers showed maturity beyond their years to beat one of the Island’s best-ever pairings to win the Guernsey Press Elite Men’s Foursomes Championship.

Steve Mahy shakes the hand of Rory McKenna, far right, at the end of the final on the 16th green. (32087252)

Although Rory and Conor McKenna admitted that there had been a few brotherly disagreements throughout the week on their way to the final, when it came to the title showdown on Friday night they were definitely on the same page as they saw off Jamie Blondel and Steve Mahy 3 & 2 at L’Ancresse, with a high-quality display that saw them finish just one-over par gross for their round.

That was an outstanding effort in such a big match against well-established opposition, but nothing less than the McKennas had set out to do.

‘It’s obviously known that they are probably the island’s best foursomes pairing. I said to Conor last night it was having the belief that we can win and go in to win, not just to play, so that’s what our attitude was going in today – to win, not just take part,’ said Rory, who turned 18 the following day.

Blondel and Mahy might have been warned of their opposition’s intent when the older brother arrived on the first tee for the pre-match photograph with traces of camouflage paint on his face.

That was the remnant of an Elizabeth College CCF activity earlier in the afternoon, but it fitted well with their determined and calculated approach to the final.

They had to come from behind, though, to claim the spoils as on the first Rory’s approach was too well struck and ended up through the back of the green from where they were unable to save par.

They would not drop another shot over the next 13 holes.

The brothers briefly got back to all-square on the third, where Mahy hooked his tee shot way left which led to a bogey, but he and Blondel responded to that error in the best possible way with a brilliant birdie on the fourth to edge ahead once more.

A couple of halves followed with Mahy twice going close with lengthy birdie attempts, but the momentum swung in favour of the youngsters as the pairings crossed the Mont Cuet Road.

There was something of a collector’s item on the seventh as short-game specialist Blondel miscued a chip shot and although Mahy very nearly redeemed the situation with another good putt from off the green, the McKennas won the hole with a par and the match was back to all-square.

Pars were good enough to win them the next two holes as well.

The thickening rough accounted for Blondel and Mahy on the eighth, but by now the brothers were right on song and not looking like making a mistake and their combined up-and-down was deserving of winning the tough ninth to put them 2 up at the turn.

The biggest test of their character came over the next couple of holes, though, and they passed with flying colours.

Mahy hit a pinpoint approach into the 10th that gave Blondel a short birdie putt that he was not going to miss and so the lead was reduced to one – pressure applied.

The response?

Conor thumped a drive straight down the middle of the 11th fairway before Rory put his approach from nigh-on 165 yards to 6ft and they were 2 up once more.

Blondel and Mahy were unable to strike another blow after that and when they lost a ball down the right-hand side of the 14th, the McKennas’ second and last bogey of the match was still good enough to put them 3 up.

They turned the screw with pars on 15 and 16 to clinch the title.

‘It’s been a while for both of us since we won something big like this, but it’s just reassuring to know now we can do it, there’s no excuses any more,’ said Rory.

Conor, who pointed out that their short-game had been a key part of their success all week, added: 'We really picked up the momentum in the last few holes of the front nine, we just said to each other, keep the foot down, keep on going throughout the back nine.’

As for those arguments? ‘There were a few that’s for sure... but it was a good week,’ said a smiling Rory.