Posts Tagged ‘Neil O’Briain and Simon Thornton’

Kilpatrick to realise Irish Open ambition at Portstewart

June 28, 2017

Richard Kilpatrick

Banbridge professional, Richard Kilpatrick, will realise a long-held ambition when he plays in next week’s DDF Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation.
Richard earned his place in the Irish Open field by finishing sixth in the PGA in Ireland 2016 Order of Merit.
He will be joined at Portstewart by Damien McGrane, David Higgins, Colm Moriarty, Neil O’Briain and Simon Thornton
“I can’t wait. The crowds, the buzz, the field that is being assembled. I can’t wait to tee it up, let it go and see what happens. It will be some test,” said the Banbridge GC assistant.
“I had the chance to play in the Irish Open as an amateur but it often clashed with the Brabazon Trophy and the GUI would send us over to England to compete in that instead.
“It means a lot to get to play in my first Irish Open up here (Northern Ireland) and at Portstewart as well. My aunt has a place in the town and I played the course a lot as an amateur.
“Even now, during the winter and when I can in the summer months I try to get up and play. The club professional, Neil Graham, has been very good in accommodating me.”
Richard turned professional in 2007 after winning the East of Ireland Championship and helping Ireland collect the European Team Championship title.
He spent the best part of eight years playing on the Challenge Tour, Alps Tour and EuroPro Tour before opting to follow the PGA route.
He has performed impressively on the PGA in Ireland circuit in recent seasons and has two wins to his name in 2017 at the PGA Irish Club Pro-Am and the Ruddy Cup for Young Professionals.
And whilst he may be inexperienced in terms of playing at the highest level, he may have pulled off a masterstroke when is comes to hiring a caddy for the week.
Former college team mate and major winning LPGA caddy, David Jones, will lug Richard’s bag around Portstewart during tournament week.
Jones, who was formerly the PGA professional at Bushfoot GC, also happens to be a member at Portstewart GC and has cleared his schedule to caddy for Richard in the Irish Open.
“I’ve known Davy for years. I was starting my first year of college in America at the University of Toledo just as he was finishing his studies there. He was the groomsman at my wedding last December ” added Richard.

“The thing for me will be getting used to the atmosphere, to the grandstands and the corporate boxes. I’ve played a few rounds up there recently trying to familiarise myself with the place and how it will look during tournament week.”

That’s not something Damien McGrane will have to worry about. The Kells man has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt. McGrane topped the Order of Merit last year and also won the Irish PGA Championship. He is leading the way again in 2017 and if his competitive instincts take over he is capable of making an impact at Portstewart.
You can put Simon Thornton into the same bracket. A winner on the European Tour in 2013 (Najeti Hotels et Golfs Open), Simon is still returning to full fitness following surgery to his feet at the start of the year.
“I think I’ve only missed one [Irish Open] in recent years. It is a great event and you get used to playing in them but this will be a bit different now that’s it’s part of the Rolex Series,” said the 40-year-old.
“For us, as PGA guys, you have to try and blank all that out. You can’t really start thinking about the money that is on offer. You have to focus on those first two rounds and if you can make the cut great, then try and do as well as you can.”

A longer version of this article appeared in the July edition of Irish Golfer Magazine

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