Portadown’s Matt Lavery is relishing an exciting September as he prepares to tee up in the Lombard Trophy final at Gleneagles just days before starting a new job as a teacher.
Lavery, 28, will play alongside his PGA Professional, Paul Stevenson, in the £43,600 championship final over the PGA Centenary Course, host to last year’s Ryder Cup, on September 1-2.
In total more than 800 clubs entered the event this year and the Portadown pair are one of just 16 teams to have made it to the Auchterarder showpiece.
It marked a major achievement for Lavery who only returned to his childhood sport at the end of March, just two months before the club qualifier.
He won that event on countback to secure his place alongside Stevenson in the regional final at the K Club, which they subsequently won by one shot.
“It was a bit amazing really,” he confessed.
“I definitely didn’t expect to make it this far. It’s funny looking back!
“I’d stopped playing golf for a few years and then decided to come back into it.
“I played a few rounds last year but then joined Portadown in March – so I went into the club qualifier of this with no expectations. To win was amazing.
“It’s going to be a nice end to the summer, playing at Gleneagles and then starting a new job the following week.
“I’ve got really high expectations, Gleneagles was somewhere I had on my bucket list so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I certainly won’t be putting any pressure on myself though. I tend to shoot better scores when I’m just thinking about enjoying my golf rather than going out there and focusing on winning.”
Lavery admitted he has built up a good friendship with Stevenson, and hopes that will help when it comes to the final.
“Some of the amateurs out there might barely know their pro so that might add to the nerves a little bit,” he considered.
“But for me it’ll be like playing with a mate so there won’t be any of those nerves there.
“I guess it all helps when you’re going out there and playing Gleneagles in a tournament like this.”
Meanwhile, Damien Mooney (Ballyliffin) was back amongst the prizes at Friday’s Naas Pro-Am on the PGA in Ireland circuit.
The Belfast golfer shared first prize with home favourite Gavin Lunny (Nass Golf Club) at the Co Kildare venue.
The duo carded two under par rounds of 69 to finish one shot ahead of David Higgins (Waterville).
Malahide’s John Murray guided his amateur partners to victory in the team event with 91 points.