Ireland hold off USA singles fightback to retain International King’s Trophy

May 25, 2017

Ireland’s Paul Sweeney (Dunmurry Springs GC) with Team USA’s Jacob Savlk (Bay Pointe GC)
Picture by John McVitty

Ireland retained the International King’s Cup at Lough Erne Resort on Thursday but the eventual margin of victory proved to be much closer than expected.
Leading by 30 points going into today’s (Thursday’s) 16 singles matches Ireland squeezed over the finish line by a mere eight points.
The Ryder Cup style tournament which honours golf’s greatest ambassador, Mr Arnold Palmer, features 16-man teams of club golfers from both Ireland and the USA going head-to-head over the Sir Nick Faldo designed course in Co. Fermanagh.
Under King’s Cup rules, players receive two points for a hole won, one point each for a hole halved and nothing for a lost hole.
Ireland had the better of things on the opening day, finishing a series of fourball and greensomes matches with 303 points to the USA’s 273 points.
With the singles left to play, Ireland needed to break the 576 point marker to retain the title but found the USA side in no mood to roll over.
The USA went on to win nine of the 16 singles ties but Ireland’s overnight buffer and a superb individual effort from Irvinestown’s Martin Peters (Donegal GC), who beat Joseph Costello (Tijares Creek) 27-9, saw Ireland home.
“Even though it’s friendly competition, there is still a lot of pride involved as you are representing your country and playing for your team mates so I was focused on doing well today,” said the 37-year-old Irvinestown based Peters.

“I got ahead around the sixth and from there on I stayed in control. In match play you have to try and keep the pressure on. Keep getting up on the tee first and finding the fairway.”

Team Ireland – winners of the 2017 International King’s Cup

Ireland’s other singles winners were Declan McKeever (Donegal GC), Tom Muldoon (Cloverhill), Colm Feeney (Galway Bay GC), John Collins (Westport GC) and Darren Carey (Dunmurry Springs GC) with Niall Clince (Craddockstown) claiming a half.
International King’s Cup founder, Larry Lunsford was disappointed to lose for a second time but bouyed by a strong fightback today (Thursday).
“All I can say is that I am proud of the team for making such a huge comeback on the last day.
It was remarkable, better than anything I have ever seen,” said Larry.
“You know, when we made the turn the teams were level on the day so to make up 22 points over the closing nine holes was a great effort.”

Thursday May 25
The International King’s Cup
At Lough Erne Resort
Singles results
Paul Sweeney (Dunmurry Springs GC) 12 Jacob Pavlk (Baypoints GCC) 24
Darren Carey (Dunmurry Springs GC) 20 David Adams (Castlewoods GC) 15
Declan McKeever (Donegal GC) 21 Dennis Bassham (Auburn GC) 15
Darren McKeever (Donegal GC) 16 Patrick Olsen (Auburn GC) 20
Tom Muldoon (Cloverhill) 22 Mike Farber (Golf Club of Georgia) 14
Kevin Commins (Ardee) 17 Marvin Warner (Atlanta CC) 19
Martin Peters (Donegal GC) 27 Joseph Costello (Tijares Creek CC) 9
Vincent Owens (Omagh GC) 12 Matt McDevitt (Tijares Creek CC) 24
Alan Moran (Tuam GC) 14 Carl Ellis (Pinery CC) 22
Colm Feeney (Galway Bay GC) 20 Andy Titterton (Pinery CC) 16
Niall Clince (Craddockstown GC) 18 Bill Orne (The Legends GC) 18
Kieran O’Brien (Craddockstown GC) 16 Michael White (New Berlin Hills) 20
John Collins (Westport GC) 19 Michael DiFrancesco (Sandridge GC) 17
Liam Friel (Westport GC) 12 Gary Morris (Sandridge GC) 24
James McAllister (Ballybofey & Stranorlar) 15 Andy Kieffer (Hawthorne Woods) 21
Patsy O’Donnell (Ballybofey & Stranorlar) 16 Phil Smith (Schaumburg GC) 20
Overall results
Fourballs: Ireland 148 USA 140
Greensomes: Ireland 155 USA 133
Singles: Ireland 277 USA 299
Total: Ireland 580 USA 572

International King’s Cup – Day One report – Ireland on course to retain trophy

May 24, 2017

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Afternoon – Ireland look well placed to retain the International King’s Cup after a dominant afternoon greensomes session at Lough Erne Resort.
The Ryder Cup style tournament which honours golf’s greatest ambassador, Mr Arnold Palmer, features 16-man teams of amateur golfers from both Ireland and the USA going head to head over the Sir Nick Faldo designed course in Co. Fermanagh.
Under King’s Cup rules, players receive two points for a hole won, one point each for a hole halved and nothing for a lost hole. Leading by eight points after the morning fourballs, Ireland then won five greensomes ties to extend their lead to 30 points ahead of Thursday’s singles.
The display was epitomised by the Dunmurry Springs GC pairing of Darren Carey and Paul Sweeney who, beaten 24-12 by David Adams and Jacob Pavlk in the morning, responded to see off the same pair 21-15 in the afternoon.
“We were never down in the tie, played solid golf and dovetailed nicely,” said Kildare native Carey.
Ireland picked up points on their opponents in the top four ties with Darren McKeever and Declan McKeever, Kevin Commins and Tom Muldoon and Vincent Owens and Martin Peters all winning.
The run of victories was finally brought to a halt by the Parker, Colorado duo of Carl Ellis and Andy Titterton who beat the Co Galway pairing of Alan Moran and Colm Feeney 20-16.
“We just ground it out,” said Ellis, a 52-year-old who plays his golf at Pinery Country Club.

“Andy and I have played a lot of best ball competitions and that experience certainly helped today.”

The USA picked up two further greensomes wins via Bill Orne and Michael White and Andy Kieffer and Phil Smith but late in the day, Westport GC duo Liam Friel and John Collins completed a 25-11 victory over Michael DiFrancesco and Gary Morris to put Ireland in the box seat.
With a total of 1152 points on offer, the first team to reach 577 points will win the title.
The teams will play singles this morning starting at 9am.

Totals – Ireland 303 USA 273
Afternoon Greensomes
American names first
David Adams & Jacob Pavlk 15 Darren Carey & Paul Sweeney 21
Dennis Bassham & Patrick Olsen 17 Darren McKeever & Declan McKeever 19
Mike Farber & Marvin Warner 14 Kevin Commins & Tom Muldoon 22
Joseph Costello & Matt McDevitt 19 Vincent Owens & Martin Peters 21
Carl Ellis & Andy Titterton 20 Alan Moran & Colm Feeney 16
Bill Orne & Michael White 19 Kieran O’Brien & Niall Clince 17
Michael DiFrancesco & Gary Morris 11 Liam Friel & John Collins 25

picture by John McVitty, Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh, N.Ireland-07771987378
Morning – There’s little to choose between the USA and Ireland after the opening series of fourball betterball matches on day one of the International King’s Cup at Lough Erne Resort.
The sides split the eight morning matches four apiece but the unique scoring system employed by tournament organisers saw Ireland emerge with an eight point lead.
Under King’s Cup rules, players receive two points for a hole won, one point each for a hole halved and nothing for a lost hole.
Ireland finished the morning session on 148 points, with the pairing of Kevin Commins (Cloverhill GC) and Tom Muldoon (Ardee GC) leading the way. The experienced campaigners amassed 26 points against Mike Farber and Marvin Warner.
“We were solid right from the start. I think we finished with a three under better ball total,” said Tom.
Team USA got off to a blistering start with David Adams and Jacob Pavlk easing to a 12 point win over Darren Carey (Dunmurry Springs) and Paul Sweeney (Dunmurry Springs).
Pavlk produced one of the shots of the day at the par five fourth hole firing a 222 yard four iron into 20 feet before rolling in the putt for an eagle.
“We played well, both of us struck the ball well this morning,” said 38-year-old Adams a Mortgage Broker from Brandon, Mississippi.

“The trick was always having two guys in the hole with putts to win the hole.”

The USA went further ahead when Washington state duo Dennis Bassham and Patrick Olsen beat Kesh brother Darren and Declan McKeever (Donegal GC) 20-16. However, Commins and Muldoon stopped the rot and Ireland then enjoyed a period of dominance.
Vincent Owens (Donegal GC) and Martin Peters (Omagh GC) grabbed 19 points, Alan Moran (Tuam GC) and Colm Feeney (Galway GC) ended the morning with 21 points and then the Craddockstown duo of Kieran O’Brien and Niall Clince followed up with a 20 point haul.
“It was tough out there. We were two under for the back nine. That shows you the type of golf needed to get a result,” said O’Brien.
“It has been a fantastic event so far, there was even a bit of nerves there on the first tee this morning.”
The final two morning ties went the way of Team USA by just two points to narrow the gap to eight as the players grabbed some lunch before getting back on the course.
The teams will play eight greensomes matches this afternoon before a final day of singles matches on Thursday.
With a total of 1152 points on offer, the first team to reach 577 points will win the title.

Day One
Morning Fourballs
American names first
David Adams & Jacob Pavlk 24 Darren Carey & Paul Sweeney 12
Dennis Bassham & Patrick Olsen 20 Darren McKeever & Declan McKeever 16
Mike Farber & Marvin Warner 10 Kevin Commins & Tom Muldoon 26
Joesph Costello & Matt McDevitt 17 Vincent Owens & Martin Peters 19
Carl Ellis & Andy Titterton 15 Alan Moran & Colm Feeney 21
Bill Orne & Michael White 16 Kieran O’Brien & Niall Clince 20
Michael DiFrancesco & Gary Morris 19 Liam Friel & John Collins 17
Andy Kieffer & Phil Smith 19 James McAllister & Patsy O’Donnell 17

McIlroy waits until weekend to make decision on BMW PGA Championship

May 18, 2017

Rory McIlroy won the BMW PGA Championship in 2014

Rory McIlroy will not make a decision about playing in next week’s BMW PGA Championship until early next week.
The world number two aggravated a rib injury at The Players Championship and had an MRI scan on Monday to check the extent of the damage.
“It’s just a matter of taking a bit of time to recover and rest,” said Rory speaking by phone at a DDF Irish Open preview event at Portstewart GC.
“Hopefully I will start hitting wedges by the weekend then I will be in a position to play Wentworth next week. I will only make that decision after I start hitting balls again at the weekend. Fingers crossed that I will be there but we have to wait and see at the minute.”
McIlroy confirmed that one of world golf’s most exciting young talents, John Rahm, will play in this year’s Irish Open.
The world number 12 will join defending champion McIlroy, Justin Rose and a host of the world’s top golfers at Portstewart, from July 6-9, in what will be the third of eight world class events as part of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series.
“He has already proved that he can go a long way in the game,” said Rory about the Spaniard.

“He is so young, very talented, hits the ball a mile, he is not afraid of anyone and believes in himself. He has all the attributes to be a major winner.”

Jon Rahm

Rahm has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 12 months, bursting onto the professional scene with six top 25 finishes in nine starts on the PGA Tour last season before his breakthrough win in the Farmers Insurance Open in January.
He became a European Tour member at the start of March after breaking into the world’s top 50, and finished tied third on his first start in the WGC-Mexico Championship before reaching the final of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, where he took World Number One Dustin Johnson to last hole.
“I have some great memories as a kid watching the Spanish players competing in the big European Tour events on TV and it will be special to be able to now play in them myself,” said the 22-year-old.
“Obviously Seve, José Maria and Sergio have all won the Irish Open over the years, so it will be great to try and follow in their footsteps at Portstewart. Also, I’m really pleased to support Rory and everything he is trying to do for the event through his Foundation.
“The Rolex Series is a fantastic idea on the European Tour and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. I’m also looking forward to playing a different style of golf on the links of Portstewart which will be valuable preparation for The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale as well.”

O’Keeffe produces professional display to win Irish Amateur Championship at RCD

May 15, 2017

Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas) winner of the Flogas Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal County Down Golf Club. Picture by Pat Cashman

Cork’s Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas GC) showed the value of experience as he eased to a three-shot victory at the Flogas Irish Amateur Championship on Sunday.
A patient approach around Royal County Down paid off for the former professional as he closed with a two over par 73 to finish three shots ahead of Scotland’s Christopher MacLean and England’s Tom Sloman.
“I am absolutely delighted. I had a feeling I was going to win something big this season,” said the 35-year-old.
“It feels fantastic. It was tough to keep my emotions in check there going up the last and it was nice to have a few shots to lean on. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

O’Keeffe made six visits to the European Tour Q-school before reapplying for his amateur status at the end of 2013. He was then forced to sit out a two-year eligibility period and returned to the amateur game in 2016.
“It was tough. I always knew that I was going to be competitive at some level again. It wasn’t a case of retiring,” he added.
“My problem was that I never had the financial structure to plan a professional career. I still believe that I have a good game to bring me to a certain level. It’s nice to get a title like this to reaffirm that.”
And while his professional career may not have gone as planned, the experience gained was put to good use as he plotted his way around the Championship course.
“I don’t get flustered on a golf course anymore. When I was on tour, I had a buddy in Dave Connolly caddying for me, and he will tell you that was our big thing,” he said.

“There were times when I’d be ripping gloves off my hand on the golf course. Crazy stuff. I have done a complete full circle on that. But that took a lot of work. It took a long time and a lot of bad experiences to realise that was the way forward.

Marc Norton (Belvoir Park)

“I remember playing with Simon Thornton in my very first tour school, and we were playing in horrendous conditions. I got through but he cruised through, and that was the unflappable attitude that I wanted to get.”
Peter began Sunday’s final 18 holes one shot ahead of MacLean and two shots ahead of Belvoir Park’s Marc Norton and England’s Matthew Jordan. He played the front nine in level par 35 and turning for home, had extended his advantage to four shots.
A birdie at the 11th extended his lead to five before his only wobble of the day at 15th when he managed to four-putt.
“Yes I felt pressure, I lost concentration on the 15th green but I ground out a par on the next hole and then I just cruised in really,” he added.
Norton’s challenge was effectively ended on the ninth when he walked off with a quadruple bogey eight. The 19-year-old eventually signed for a 12 over 72 that saw him finish in a share of 39th.
Defending champion, Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), who opened with a disastrous eight over par 79, battled back to end the tournament tied for 30th alongside Colin Fairweather (Knock) on 12 over par.

PGA Pro-Am at Kilkeel GC to raise funds for Down’s Syndrome Association

May 15, 2017

(l-r) Declan Fitzpatrick Kilkeel Golf Club Captain, Liam McCarten Kilkeel Golf Club President, Caiomhe McPolin, Seamus McKibben PGA & Pro Am Organiser, Sophie Allister, Yvonne Cassidy PGA.

Kilkeel Golf Club will host a PGA in Ireland Pro-Am on June 8th to raise funds for the Down’s Syndrome Association NI.
The team event will feature 50 of Ireland’s leading PGA professionals competing alongside amateur players at the Co Down venue.
Kilkeel was designed by the great golf course architect Eddie Hackett and is situated within the walls of the Kilmorey Estate at the foot of the Mourne Mountains. The par 72 course measures 6,615 yards from the medal tees.
There is a limited number of tee times available at a cost of £350. This will entitle three amateur players to compete in the Pro-Am alongside one of the professionals. A morning and afternoon shot-gun start will be in operation with food served to all the competitors on the completion of their rounds.
Alternatively, for those who cannot attend but still want to support the event there are still some tee sponsorship opportunities available.
The Down’s Syndrome Association aims to create the conditions that all people with Down’s syndrome need to live full and rewarding lives. The NI operation, based in Belfast, consists of five full-time staff members who rely solely on fundraising efforts to fund their support groups.
If you are interested in entering a team for the Pro-Am, sponsoring a tournament tee or would like to make a donation please contact, Seamus McKibbin, Pro-Am coordinator at seamusmckibbin19@gmail.com 07793811015 or Jerry Scullion PGA Professional at Kilkeel GC at jerryscullionpga@gmail.com 07766818466

Kilpatrick maintains early season form by claiming The Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals

May 12, 2017

l-r – Patrick Ruddy (The European Club), Richard Kilpatrick, Yvonne Cassidy (Tournament Controller PGA in Ireland) and Gerard Ruddy (The European Club)

Banbridge professional Richard Kilpatrick fired a one under par 70 to claim the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals at the European Club.
The 35-year-old edged out playing partner Noel Murray (American Golf) by a shot at the Pat Ruddy designed masterpiece in Co Wicklow.
“You couldn’t have played this place in more benign conditions. It was perfect, what a class golf course,” said Kilpatrick, a winner of the recent PGA Irish Club Pro-Am at St Anne’s GC.
Richard went to the turn in one over par 36 with birdies at the first and third cancelled out by dropped shots at the fifth, seventh and eighth. He added three more birdies on the back nine at the 13th, 14th and 17th with his only dropped shot of the back nine coming on the par four 15th.
“It was a great tussle with Noel. He was leading by one as we played the 17 but I managed to get that birdie while he dropped a shot,” added Richard.
“It was great to get that kind of competitive battle so early in the season.”
Aside from that bogey on the 17th, Murray was also left to rue a quadruple bogey eight at the par four seventh which dented his chances.
The next event on the PGA in Ireland circuit is Roganstown Golf Hotel Pro-Am on May 15th

Scoring – The Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals

Belvoir Park’s Chris Carvill masters Summer series event at Castlerock

May 10, 2017

The ninth green at Castlerock GC

Belvoir Park’s Chris Carvill won the opening event of the Ping Summer Masters Series at a sun-drenched Castlerock GC.
Carvill’s level par 73 earned him a one shot win over Knock’s Ricky Whitford and Castle Hume’s Sean Donnelly.
It was a mixed bag of four birdies and four bogeys for the Belvoir Park man who handled the long holes well but had trouble with the short ones.
He began with birdie three at the first hole being just four feet from the pin after a rescue and eight iron approach. At the next, he handed back his advantage when short of the green and failed to get up-and-down for par four.

Chris Carvill

However, he turned in one-under-par 35 after holing from 15 feet on the eighth green for birdie three.
Off the 14th tee Carvill buried his four iron into a greenside bunker and pencilled in bogey four but immediately regained the lost ground when he chipped and putted for a four at the long 15th hole to be one under again.
That situation didn’t last long as he double-bogeyed the par three 16th when, after being short right and chipping on, he three stabbed the green.
He got back to level par when trimming the long 17th hole to four blows when, after a three wood and nine iron approach, he chipped and putted for birdie.
The amateur’s best nett prize was won by Castle Hume 17-handicapper Michael Kearney who carded 40 points with Belvoir Park’s Marc Norton taking the gross award on 37 points.
It was double success for pro Donnelly and amateur Kearney as they dovetailed perfectly with their Castle Hume colleagues Raymond Gallagher and Graham Veitch to win the team event on 102 points. Two scores count at all holes except the ninth and 18th where all four scores count.

Full scores – Summer Masters Series at Castlerock

Ping PGA Summer Masters Tournament at Castlerock
Professionals: 73 (Level) – C Carvill (Belvoir Pk).
74 – R Whitford (Knock), S Donnelly (Castle Hume).
75 – D Mooney (Damian Mooney Golf).
76 – G Graham (Groomsport DR).
77 – V Teague (Loughgall).
Amateurs: Nett, 40 pts – M Kearney 17 (Castle Hume) … 1st;
40 – A Verner 5 (Portstewart) … 2nd;
39 – D Barber 3 (Portstewart).
Gross, 37 pts – M Norton +1 (Belvoir Pk).
Team: 102 pts – Pro S Donnelly with amateurs R Gallagher 5, M Kearney 17 & G Veitch 12 (all Castle Hume).

With thanks to Tony McGee

Modest! Golf invite secures spot in NI Open for leading U18 player at NI Amateur Open

May 7, 2017

Cormac Sharvin

Two places in the NI Open are up for grabs at this year’s Northern Ireland Amateur Open at Galgorm Castle.
The winner plus the leading under-18 player will qualify for the NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf, as the golf management company extend their support of the NI Open.
The Northern Ireland Amateur Open, sponsored by Specsavers Ballymena, has become one of the province’s standout amateur championships since its inception in 2009 and this year promises to attract another quality field, especially with the added incentive of competing against Europe’s leading professionals from August 10-13.
“Last year we enjoyed a dramatic sudden death playoff before Warrenpoint’s Jamie Fletcher overcame local favourite Michael Reid from Galgorm Castle to add his name to the illustrious list of champions,” explained Galgorm Castle’s Ross Oliver.
“Walker Cup player Cormac Sharvin won in 2012, Ireland internationals Reeve Whitson (2010) and Tiarnon McLarnon (2015) also feature on the roll of honour, while Ballymena’s current shining light, Dermot McElroy, won in 2013 and went on to finish tied ninth at the NI Open and finish as leading amateur.”
Former winners such as Sharvin and McElroy will return to Galgorm to compete as touring professionals, illustrating the role tournament golf at Galgorm plays in the development of Ireland’s young amateurs and professionals.
This year’s Northern Ireland Amateur Open will also guarantee a place in the NI Open for the leading under-18 player, courtesy of an invite from Modest! Golf, as they continue to provide playing opportunities for young amateurs just like they did by inviting Tom McKibbin to play in the 2016 NI Open.

Niall Horan, Director of Modest! Golf, said: “We are excited to be involved in the Northern Ireland Amateur Open and are delighted to extend an invitation to the leading under-18 competitor. These guys are the future stars of the game and we want to support this next generation of talent.”

Tom McKibbin

Fellow Modest! Golf Director Mark McDonnell commented: “We hope this invitation to the leading under-18 player will encourage more applicants from this age group than ever before.
It’s a great platform to test and improve their game and we must thank Galgorm Castle and the European Challenge Tour as always for supporting our values and vision.”
The prestigious 36-hole strokeplay event holds a key date in a busy summer schedule for the game’s elite amateurs.
The Northern Ireland Amateur Open doesn’t clash with other championships and is expected to attract a strong field, not only for the chance to win but for the opportunity to compete in one of the best professional events on the European schedule.
Amateurs competing in the NI Open will also have the opportunity to earn ranking points in the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman, but before that, all focus will be on becoming the 2017 Northern Ireland Amateur Open champion.
Entry forms can be downloaded at niopen.golf or galgormcastle.com.
The closing date for entries is Monday July 3rd, 2017, entry is £35/€45 and includes lunch. For further information contact the Galgorm Castle Professional Shop on +44 (0) 28 2564 6161.

Info courtesy of Paul Gallagher

Ireland finalise team to face USA in the International King’s Cup at Lough Erne Resort

May 3, 2017

Ireland’s team to face the USA in the International King’s Cup has been confirmed after a final qualifying event at Lough Erne Resort.
Following four regional qualifiers at Ardglass GC, Ennis GC, Westport GC and Dunmurry Springs GC, 60 players arrived at the Co Fermanagh venue, focused on securing a place on Ireland’s 16-man (8 pairs) team to face the USA in May.
Blustery conditions made life tricky for many of the competitors but it didn’t seem to bother two Kesh brothers Declan McKeever and Darren McKeever. The duo earned their spots on the Ireland team with a solid two-over par round of 74. They were later joined by another Co Fermanagh based pair of Vincent Owens and Martin Peters.
The best score of the day came from a pair of three-handicappers from Munster – Alan Moran (Tuam) and Colm Feeney (Galway GC) – who finished with a fine better-ball score of two under par 70.
Lynn McCool, Director of Golf and Head Professional at Lough Erne Resort said: “Many thanks to the clubs that hosted regional qualifiers and all the players who competed to try and earn a place on the Ireland team.

“I’m convinced that we have put a very strong team together capable of defending the trophy we won last year. We are looking forward to the main event now and can’t wait for the Americans to arrive in Northern Ireland so they can get a taste of golf, N.I style.”

The International King’s Cup was first played last year and finished in dramatic style with Ireland winning after a thrilling play-off. The Ryder Cup style tournament, which honours golf’s greatest ambassador, Mr Arnold Palmer, will take place this year from May 23-25.
Both teams will stay on-site at the Lough Erne resort, with full access to the golf academy, receive specially commissioned outerwear courtesy of Glenmuir and attend two Gala dinners as part of the event.

International King’s Cup Qualifiers
Senior Championship – Alan Moran (Tuam GC) & Colm Feeney (Galway GC)
Senior Category A – Niall Clince (Craddockstown GC) & Kieran O’Brien (Craddockstown GC)
Senior Category B – Liam Friel (Westport GC) & John Collins (Westport GC)
Senior Category C – James McAllister (Ballybofey & S GC) & Patsy O’Donnell (Ballybofey & S GC)
Open Age Championship – Darren Carey (Dunmurry Springs) & Paul Sweeney (Dunmurry Springs GC)
Category A Open Age – Declan McKeever (Donegal GC) & Darren McKeever (Donegal GC)
Category B Open Age – Kevin Commins (Ardee GC) & Tom Muldoon (Cloverhill GC)
Category C Open Age – Vincent Owens (Donegal GC) & Martin Peters (Omagh GC)

Harrington – “I’m different, I’m special. I’m very special.”

April 30, 2017

Padraig Harrington


Padraig Harrington leans back in his chair. He has spent 15 minutes discussing Tiger Woods and whether he will ever return to anything like his best after his latest back surgery.

While refusing to rule out the prospect of Woods winning again, he concedes that any player reaching his 40s and with a 20-year career under his belt will find it hard to remain ‘mentally focused’.
And then one of the assembled scribes pipes up; “What about you, what’s your motivation?”
“I’m different. I’m special. I’m very special,” claims the 45-year-old with a smile who just happens to be recovering from neck surgery.
“I actually believe I’m in a great place, I do. I think I’m aware of the difficulties with that but you know, I always want to be out there on my own and try and do things different and being different. That’s what’s gotten me where I am.”

You can’t argue with that fact. Harrington has always walked his own path and he is genuinely convinced that he can be a factor in future majors even if that totally contradicts the argument he’s just outlined.
He added; “Yeah, I’m aware of the difficulty of staying motivated. This is my 20th year, and to be honest right now, you would have said that I followed the path exactly that I just described of all the other players.
“I started off, built myself up, won my big tournaments, played okay and then tailed off and have won a couple of events at the end of my 20 years like everybody else. And that’s why I kind of think Tiger is going to have a couple of wins.
“Golf is great. It always throws a win out. It always gives you something later on. It would be very easy to say with me winning the Honda (2015) and me winning in Portugal (2016) was that, here you go, here’s one at the end of your career, thanks very much.

“But I believe I’m different and I have to believe. Even if I’m not, I have to believe I’m different. I have to convince myself that there’s more in me and I really do feel very strongly about where my own game is at.”

A trapped nerve in his neck forced Harrington into surgery back in March and with his recovery going well, he is targeting a return to action in time for the Irish Open at Portstewart and the Open Championship at Birkdale, scene of his 2008 success.
“I’ve got another five weeks before I play. It’s about getting the right preparation, the right type of practice done,” added Padraig.
“I think my first event is going to be Wentworth [BMW PGA Championship] in five weeks’ time. There’s no doubt that all my practice when I do get going, will be more thinking about The Open Championship, plus obviously, the Irish Open is two weeks before that.”
And he continued, “Believe it or not I have never played Portstewart. Strangely enough, as an amateur, I never got there. For whatever reason, I missed out.
“I know the course at Portstewart is great, everyone has told me about it and the venue is fantastic, everyone will be into it, there will be a buzz about it and that really adds to a golf tournament when there is more to do around the event.
“We play a lot of events and we can be in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the sticks and no-one knows that a golf tournament is on. That won’t be the case up north. Everyone will be into it, there will be an excitement and a buzz which really helps the players.”
Padraig was speaking at an event hosted by the R&A at Dun Laoghaire GC