Irish Open: Kilkenny’s Mark Power takes professional debut in his stride at The K Club

23-year-old just the latest to show that US collegiate golf is the perfect springboard for move to the paid ranks

Mark Power plays his tee shot off the 17th tee during the second round of the Horizon Irish Open at The K Club. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

There’s one telltale sign about how new Mark Power is to this professional lark. His slick Under Armour clothing is devoid of any sponsor’s log. Nada. Zilch. But for the 23-year-old Kilkenny golfer – just days into his new life as a professional golfer – it will surely only be a matter of time before one design after another is added to shirt sleeves and wherever space allows it.

Power, for sure, has made a seamless transition into the part of the game where every shot counts towards a payday.

In his play, there is a purity of ball-striking, especially with his irons, honed in his time as one of the mainstays of the Wake Forest team on the collegiate circuit and showcased again at St Andrews last week in his second Walker Cup appearance.

Off the course, there is a wonderfully natural way about him. Feet firmly grounded, but also a sense of reaching for the stars.


Where he had finished his first round late on Thursday evening as the sun dipped and the shadows lengthened, Power was in the full spotlight for his second round come Friday with a hot sun and huge galleries.

Of feeling the energy from the crowds, Power – who added a second-round 71 to his opening 68 to reach the midpoint on five-under-par 139 – remarked: “Everyone’s behind me, willing me and living and dying with each shot. It’s great to know that I have that support.”

Power’s only misstep in the opening 36 holes of his new professional life came on the seventh hole of his second round, where his approach to the 17th green was pushed slightly to finish on the top tier. It left a fast, downhill putt towards the hole down by the Liffey. He left it short, and missed the five-footer, for what would be his only bogey.

A hole later, he was punching the air after sinking a 12-footer for birdie on the par-five 18th where those in the corporate hospitality units had moved out to the balcony to see the new kid on the block. It was one of two birdies in his round, the other having come on the 13th (his fourth of the day), and Power came back in nine straight pars and with the memory of a number of putts burning the hole.

“It has been pretty stress-free,” said Power of the transition from amateur life to the paid ranks, attributing his time in the United States (where, coincidentally, Alex Fitzpatrick, one of this playing partners for the opening two rounds also studied) as a reason for the easy move.

“College golf in America is the real deal and Wake Forest is definitely one of the top colleges. To play under Jerry Haas, he is a very experienced coach, definitely taught me a lot and I feel comfortable out here ... it has definitely prepared me to compete at this level.”

The invite only came after his Walker Cup ended. “I’m very grateful to get the start this week. I had no idea it was coming. I was just planning on starting my pro career at Q-School next week. This is obviously an elevated event (on the DP World Tour) so it’s extra at stake as well and I’m just hoping to play as well as I can the next few days and if that opens more doors, great. Hopefully I get more opportunities.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to be here and I do have goals to get my tour card and, in the long run, try and play at the very top level. But to take it one step at a time and play whatever opportunities I get right now and just try and play to give myself the best opportunity to get that tour card.”

His first steps have been sure-footed. The weekend continues the journey. Keep an eye out for him.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times