DE Vere Herons Reach members Jonathan Crickmore and Alan Gunnigle had a day to remember when they won the inaugural ‘King of Skins’ tournament – with a little help from United States Open champion Rory McIlroy!
The round-of-a-lifetime on the famous Ryder Cup course at the Belfry, in Warwickshire, saw them overcome testing, windy conditions to beat their nearest challengers by two stableford points.
Crickmore and Gunnigle qualified to play alongside world number three McIlroy by topping regional entries with the most nett birdies, during a qualifying round on their home course.
The pair took their place in the final with seven pairings from Scotland, Ireland and England, as well as representatives from Japan, Malaysia and South Korea in a ‘King of Skins’ event, organised by sportswear firm, Skins, whose products McIlroy wears.
After a round which included three holes playing alongside McIlroy, the pair couldn’t wait to tell their families and golfing buddies about a day which will live long in the memory.
Crickmore, who plays off a handicap of 18, said: “We’re ecstatic to have won, but even without such a bonus – it was just a pleasure to play alongside someone so talented.
“He is genuinely gifted and a thoroughly nice guy as well. it was an honour to watch him so close up and I can’t really believe it’s happened.”
Gunnigle, who plays off 13, said: “It’s hard to put it all into words.
“It was just a fantastic day.
“Rory was so professional throughout the whole day.
“Nothing was too much trouble for him and just to walk the fairways a play alongside him was an experience I’ll never forget.”
“Jon and I actually missed a county finals day for this, and with the greatest of respect to all concerned, I think we made the right decision.”
The pair’s team stableford score was enhanced by a contribution from McIlroy during the three holes they played together and afterwards, the man from Northern Ireland was full of praise for his partners.
McIlroy said: “It was great to see the lads enjoying their day. The wind made conditions tough, but we had a bit of banter, and I hope the lads enjoyed their day.”
McIlroy joined each of the two-player teams for three holes of their round.