By John Manley
Any doubts that Richard Coughlan has the kind of game that can not only make cuts on the PGA Tour but contend for championships as well should have been allayed with the Offaly man’s play in last week’s Quad City Classic at Oakland Country Club in Coal Valley, Ill. Although Coughlan finished in a tie for 35th place, nine strokes behind the winner, Steve Jones, he knocked the balata out of the ball in both his opening and closing rounds.
He carded a 5-under-par 65 on Thursday, recording birdies on six of the first 12 holes. He was actually in second place approaching 13, and was on a pace to finish the day with the lead as most of the field was in the clubhouse with the leader at 7-under. The embers stilled somewhat at that point, though Coughlan parred 13 and 14, then bogeyed 15, while staying even on 16, 17 and 18, to earn himself a slice of fifth place.
Friday saw Coughlan fall out of contention with a 2-over 72. There were no birdies on his card. Saturday had a similar look. Bogeys on 3, 4 and 9 spelled trouble, and he offset those with only two birdies to finish 1-over at 71.
It appeared as if Sunday might produce more of the same, what with a bogey on 4 after playing the first three holes even. But Coughlan notched birdies on both 6 and 7, then really caught fire when he turned the corner onto 10. He reached down to amass five birdies on the back nine, coming in with a 30 over that leg to finish at 6-under for the round. Despite the disappointment of battling for the lead only to see the competition leave him in the dust, Coughlan had every reason to go through the motions, earn his check and move on to the next stop. But he sucked it up, and played championship-caliber golf, which should put some wind in his sails as he heads for Madison, Miss., where the Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic tees off on Thursday.
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