For as long as he has a memory Seamus Power will never forget Sunday 19th July 2021. It was the day that the big Irishman from a wee place called Tooraneena in county Waterford realised a very big dream and won his first title on the PGA Tour.
While young Collin Morikawa was in Kent winning the Open Championship with insouciant ease, Power was in Kentucky, winning the Barbasol Championship at the sixth hole of a not-so-sudden play-off, outlasting J.T. Poston at Keene Trace GC in Nicholasville.It was joy unconfined, the reward for years of toil, dedication and unwavering self-belief, working his way up from a golf scholarship at East Tennessee State (he graduated with an honours degree in accounting, magna cum laude, exceptional), turning professional and, eventually, hoisting aloft a trophy on the world’s biggest, most lucrative tour. Not bad for a lad who started out at West Waterford GC, a few miles from Dungarvan and was hooked on the game from the age of 12.
Power’s mother Philomena died when he was just eight and his twin brothers Willie and Jack were 10. Ned, the boys’ father, a farmer, said, “I can’t emphasise enough what West Waterford meant to me when Philo died….the club and my great friends John and Celia Walsh were a great help to me….”
It was the late Celia who took Seamus out one day to carry her bag and that was the start of it all. By 2016 West Waterford had themselves an Olympian when Power represented Ireland in Rio, alongside Padraig Harrington and now their most famous son has joined Harrington, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry, the only other Irishmen to win on the PGA Tour. Note that they are all also major champions…
“This changes everything for me,” Power said. “For ever now I’ll be able to say I am a winner on the PGA Tour….I couldn’t be more proud. My caddy Simon Keelan…all of the Spratt family, my own family, all the members at West Waterford…I have just too many people to thank. It’s unbelievable….It’s an incredible day……career-changing, life-changing, all that kind of good stuff. It’s not going to sink in for a while.”
With all the partying that’s undoubtedly going on at West Waterford – all being well Seamus should be home by now – there’s a lot of worry too because the receivers are in and, according to a piece on irishexaminer.com the club is going up for auction next week. The course, designed by the legend that was Eddie Hackett, opened in 1993, is still busy and popular and the members are hoping to raise enough money – just over a million Euro – to buy it. Good luck to them and fingers crossed they succeed.
And many thanks to the tireless Brian Keogh and his daily updates on IrishGolfDesk.com for keeping this blog well informed.
The world’s best women are on the shores of Lake Geneva at Evian-les-Bains for the Amundi Evian Championship, the fourth of their five majors and the seniors are at Sunningdale for the The Senior Open Presented by Rolex. It’s a lovely, nostalgic wallow, a case of all our yesterdays and a bit of a test to recognise some of the players, what with beards, white hair, no hair, avoirdupois (Pooh and his stoutness exercises come to mind – as do the words pot, kettle etc). It’s easier when they start swinging and the signature moves are still there, if a little creaky in some cases.
They’re still worth watching, especially on a lovely golf course at a wonderful venue. Not sure how many people are being allowed in but Sunningdale is always worth a visit.The Olympics in Tokyo have already started – Sweden’s women beat the USA 3-0 in the football and American talisman Megan Rapinoe was first on my Olympic IIWII chart: “It is what it is,” she said, “we got bopped…They’re one of the best teams in the world….”
It’s only the group stages, so the Americans, the world champions, have time to recover from the shock.
Here in the UK, we’re eight hours behind Japan, so there’s loads going on even as we sleep, available on the radio, the BBC red button, who knows quite where. The opening ceremony is scheduled for some time today (Friday) but it’ll all be a bit odd, with no spectators to generate excitement and inspiration and most events taking place in a bit of a vacuum, with most of the reporters thousands of miles away and the athletes on red alert for a virus whose variants are more real than virtual.
Good luck to everybody. Stay safe.
It’s all a far cry from the first Olympics that I remember: Tokyo 1964. I still recognise the BBC’s theme music and names like Mary Rand, Lynn Davies, Jim McCourt, Ken Matthews, Ann Packer, Abebe Bikila. I looked up Irish Olympians and found out that Tokyo was the great Maeve Kyle’s third Olympics. At the age of 36, she reached the semi-finals in the 400 and 800.
When she became Ireland’s first woman Olympian in track and field at Melbourne in 1956, Kyle was a real pioneer, excoriated by some who called her “a disgrace to motherhood and the Irish nation” according to one letter in the Irish Times.
“You could call me an athletic suffragette, I suppose,” Kyle said. Read all about her exploits on hersport.ie, it’s fascinating and I’m just sorry I didn’t realise quite what a huge star and amazing woman Maeve was when she hoped that I would make a long jumper….