What a drive: No calamity
PORTRUSH DIARY AN IRISH OPEN MISCELLANY:THERE was nothing catastrophic about James Morrison’s visit to “Calamity Corner”, the notorious par-three 14th hole – measuring 210 yards – which usually dispenses misery rather than ecstacy.
Morrison, however, was left jumping like an Olympic high-jumper after holing out with a five-iron for an ace which brought a reward of a BMW X6.
“It’s funny, I walked to the tee and by the car and said to myself, ‘why can’t it be me?’ . . . . it was an amazing feeling, and my first hole-in-one as a pro.”
Lucky omen? Trophy hunt
Apart from the €330,00 first prize cheque, the winner come Sunday evening will also get his hands on a specially-commissioned Waterford Crystal trophy.
Created at the company’s new factory in Waterford, the trophy was first unveiled for the 2011 Irish Open – won by Simon Dyson – and continues a long-standing tradition with the Irish Open.
Waterford trophies are associated with some of the top events around the world.
Apart from the Irish Open, the company also supplies its crystal to the winners of the Solheim Cup, the Players championship and the Honda Classic.
And who won the Honda this year?
Could he need more space in the trophy cabinet?
On a roll: Murphy taking full advantage of his Big Break
WATERVILLE native Mark Murphy – who resides in New Orleans and mainly features on the mini-tours in the United States – has made the most of his invitation to play in the Irish Open, which came after he won the Big Break Ireland TV reality show hosted at The K Club last year.
One of the perks was a ticket to play here at Royal Portrush and the 34-year-old Kerryman took it with both hands, shooting a 69.
“I was nervous, I won’t lie about it,” said Murphy of his first tee shot. “It’s tough for me to come in for one week and shoot for your dreams. But that’s the game. I knew starting out that it was going to be tough.”
Murphy, who had friend and fellow-pro Peter O’Keeffe on his bag, is aiming for a top-10 finish that would get him into next week’s French Open. And he has even allowed himself to dream of winning.
As Murphy, making the point he was playing reality golf so two pros could chase the dream, said: “That’s the beauty of the game. If I could win, Peter (his caddie), could be back playing full-time himself.”
Once he’s finished here, Murphy will head on to the British Open final qualifying at Southport next Tuesday. He came through the regional qualifying at Royal Dublin last Monday, suggesting his working trip home could yet be prolonged.
Name in lights: O’Sullivan enjoys briefly heading field
IN his first ever appearance in the Irish Open and his first ever outing on the European Tour, Galway man Mark O’Sullivan – an assistant pro at Ashbourne – got “flutters” in his belly when his name appeared on the leaderboard.
He’d just holed a 25-footer for birdie on the 11th, to loud acclaim from those gathered on the sand hills, and his name was placed in big letters – just below a certain Pádraig Harrington – on the boards dotted around the course.
There are some players who assiduously avoid any glance at those purveyors of information.
He soaked it in.
In the field by virtue of his position on last year’s Irish PGA Region order of merit, O’Sullivan has had to combine playing tournaments with taking his PGA club exams.
“Golf has been a little bit on the back burner, but we still have a lot of tournaments to play in our region which keeps us good and sharp,” said O’Sullivan, after an opening 68 that puts him on target to survive the cut.