September Blog

Hi all,

Well it would be difficult to get two more disparate events than my recent ones. I played the Russian Open in Skolkova outside Moscow followed by the PGA Cup in Cordevalle in California. Sandwiched in between I managed to play particularly well in the St Margarets Pro-Am shooting 8 under and winning by 6 shots. Nice to pop in a hole-in-One there also. All in all its been a hectic few weeks but I’m left with some increlible memories.

Russian Open

This wasn’t my first event in Russia but it the highest profile event that I’ve played in this part of the world, it being a full European Tour Event. Our friends in the East don’t make it easy to gain access to their beloved country and I had no end of trouble attaining a visa in order to participate. However having sercured the appropriate paperwork off I set for Skolkova Golf Club. Although we had some apocolyptic rainfall, the course stood up extremely well with play being suspended only once apart from a Sunday morning delay due to heavy fog. My uncle Eamo travelled with me to caddy and I think its fair to say we were unfortunate in many ways during the week. On the course I played really solid golf and probably wasn’t rewarded for my efforts. I hardly missed a fairway all week but putting was really challenging with very few putts dropping for anyone outside 10 feet. We also got the half of the draw that experienced the worst weather conditions so although I managed a top 40 finish it could have been much better. Off the course, myself and Eamo planned to take a trip into Moscow to see the sights but tee off times and delays made this impractical. Although downtown Moscow was just 40km away, traffic conjestion could make this a 3 hour journey. So we had to make do with our hotel, which was pretty sterile. All in all it was a good week with a few much needed Euros bound for the bank. This course was built by Roman Abramovich and I believe he paid a flying visit during the week to witness progress. He would have to be happy with the course and it’s capacity for drainage.

The PGA Cup : Cordevalle Golf Club California

This event is played between PGA professionals form GB&I and the USA. It’s a biennial event played on a home and away basis. Having won last years Irish PGA Championship in Adare Golf Club and subsequently securing victory in the Titliest Regional Play Off Finals in Turkey, I was informed that I had qualified for the GB&I team for this years match. To be honest I knew little about the history and scale of this match but was honoured to qualify for the team. In reality it was one of the best golfing experiences I’ve ever had and met some great people in the process. The match is played in the same format as  Ryder Cup matches, with Friday morning foursomes followed by afternoon fourballs being repeated on Saturday. Singles are played on Sunday. The only difference between the competitions is that there are only 10 players on the PGA cup team as opposed to 12 in the Ryder Cup. I flew to the venue via Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic which was thoroughly enjoyable. We had plenty of practice days so we were well primed by the time Friday came along. Because there are 4 matches in the foursomes and 4 Balls, 2 players were left out of each set of matches. I have to say that I was dissappointed not to be selected for the Friday morning fourball and susbsequently made my debut in the afternoon foursomes. As many of you will be aware, foursomes is a difficult at the best of times as hitting every second shot can make it hard to get into a game. In the cauldron which I found myself it was a little unsettling. We lost that match 3&1 without ever really sparkling. Saturday however was a different story as I played both matches and was vitorious in both with myself and the lads setting up a mouth watering Sunday as the teams were locked at 8-8 on Saturday evening. Our Captain Jon Bevan pulled me aside and informed me that I was last out on Sunday in the singles and that there was every chance that the match could come down to my game. I had mixed feelings about my position in the batting order as there were several  permutations that could have played out on that faithful Sunday. In essence, the match could have been lost or won before I got into my back 9 leaving me with little or no chance to impact on the result. As it turned out I was more involved than anyone as play headed to a conclusion. You really couldn’t have written a believable script to describe the ongoings of the final day. The USA sprang from the traps and were ahead all over the board in the early stages. This was plain for all to see on the many score boards all over the course and practice area. By the time I teed off it was difficult not to get distracted with events going on elsewhere. However, I tried to cocoon myself in my own game and set off. 3 up after 3 was more than I could ask for and I actually felt that I might just put a blue number on the board before my team mates had a chance to. Things got much tighter after that however with my opponent playing some terrific golf and a few typical nervy matchplay holes ensued. As we went down the backnine I was acutely aware of the fact that our match was receiving more and more attention. I manouvered myself into a 2 up with 2 to play position and was hoping to close out the match on 17. My opposite number had different ideas. He played a fantastic bunker shot from all of 180 yards to 2 feet from the cup. The ensuing birdie left me 1 up with 1 to play. At this stage I was well aware that I was the last game on the course with outright victory depending on my winning my match. 18 is a par 5. We both laid up leaving relatively short irons to an undulating green over water. Standing in the fairway in 106 degrees of heat I waited for my opponent to play his approach. He must of taken 2-3 minutes to hit the shot and I honestly say that I’ve never been as nervous or as hot in my life. His ball finished some 45ft from the hole, so my turn. Nerves,adrelaline and a tricky lie in the rough resulted in my wedge shot flying the green and almost finding a watery grave over the back. Thankfully heavy rough prevented the ball from reaching the water but I had a nightmare chip over a bunker, onto a down slope to a pin nestling on a green that was registering about 13 on the stimp metre. I had no option but play a Michelson type flop shot and hope for the best. I couldn’t have played it any better despite the fact that it finished some 7 feet from the hole. So now the whole match comes down to the very last green. My opponent putts from 45 ft, great putt but slides past the hole. It’s a gimme. Now I have 7ft to negotiate to win the cup for GB&I. My caddy said “Right Edge” and walked away. To be honest I didn’t think much after that and although I was nervous as hell I put a great stroke on it and nailed it in the centre. Suffice to say that all hell broke loose and one of the proudest days of my career was complete. Great competition, gentlemen opposition and great team mates. What a week.

Irish PGA 2015 

I defend my Irish PGA title in Dundalk Golf Club from 1st-4th.It promises to be a great tournament with so many top Irish pros taking part. I’m looking forward to it immensely. If you get a chance to come up I’d love to see you there

Talk soon