I must confess that I knew nothing at all about Seamus Power when it was announced that he and Padraig Harrington would be representing Ireland at the Olympics in Rio. I’ve since discovered that the 29-year old from Tooraneena, a wee village in county Waterford, is some cookie and we shouldn’t be surprised if he wins on the PGA Tour before too long. He made his debut in California last month, was in contention in Mississippi until a bad last round scuppered his chances and is now playing in Las Vegas on the trail to secure his card and take on the big boys.
Power, a member of the West Waterford club, won the Irish Youths Championship three times and represented Ireland before taking up a scholarship at East Tennessee State University when Rory McIlroy decided to give the college a miss and turn pro instead. A clever and talented lad, Power starred on and off the golf course, graduating with a degree in accounting, magna cum laude (the tops), before starting a less than seamless career as a professional golfer.
He honed his game on the eGolf Tour in South Carolina (no, to my shame, I had never heard of it either) but fell foul of Q-School on several occasions before making it on to the Web.com Tour last year. It wasn’t easy but the Irish Sports Council helped with funding and there was lots of support from the members of West Waterford and particularly the owners Pat and Nora Spratt, who opened the course in 1993.
He also had his father Ned, a farmer, in his corner. Seamus’s mother Philomena died when he was 8 years old and his twin brothers Willie and Jack were 10 and to fund the golf and other activities, Ned worked shifts laser-welding defibrillators, as well as running the farm. He wanted his sons “to follow their dreams” and Seamus, a strapping six foot plus, who had been a hurler as a boy and excelled at racquetball, applied his exceptional hand-eye co-ordination and enquiring mind to golf. He also developed the sine qua non of a successful sportsperson: an unshakeable belief in his own ability and a single-minded determination to succeed.
“If I ever had the moment where I felt like I wasn’t good enough,” Power said, “I would have quit on the spot. I never had that feeling. The thing that was going to get me was the financial side of it or the feeling that it was just taking too long. Because you have to live your life too and you have other important stuff going on.
“I know deep down I can win, otherwise I would have no interest in playing. When you put yourself in the actual position, it definitely gives you a bit more added confidence. I wasn’t at my best [in Mississippi] but with 18 holes to go, I still had a chance to win a PGA Tour event, so it was very encouraging.”
In Rio, Power finished in a tie for 15th place, two shots ahead of Harrington, another accountancy graduate with an enquiring mind and surely a kindred spirit. The time spent with Harrington, his caddie Ronan Flood and Paul McGinley, the team captain, another thoughtful, meticulous man, should prove invaluable.
Power is proof that there’s more than one route to becoming a successful professional and that there’s no need to panic if you haven’t won at least a couple of tournaments, let alone a major, before you’re 25. I’ll be following his exploits with interest via IrishGolfDesk.com, westwaterfordgolf.com and @power4seamus. It’s already been quite a journey.