Thursday 23 February 2017

Obituary: Christy O'Connor Jnr

Born: August 19, 1948; died: January 6, 2016

Wildcard: Christy O'Connor Jnr during the first round of the Handa Senior Masters at Stapleford Park in 2010.
Wildcard: Christy O'Connor Jnr during the first round of the Handa Senior Masters at Stapleford Park in 2010.

Even for those agnostic about golf, Christy O'Connor Jnr's legendary shot in the 1989 Ryder Cup is indelibly burned into the mind.

The genial Galway man, who died on holiday in Tenerife this week aged just 67, fired an incredible long-distance stroke, which drew gasps from the Belfry crowd and landed just four feet from the 18th hole. This ensured a draw between the teams overall, and thus (because they were reigning champions) Europe retained the title. A plaque now stands there to commemorate this shot-of-a-lifetime.

His heroics came to form part of the sporting memory gallery from that decade, alongside Eamonn Coghlan raising his fist en route to World gold, or Séamus Darby's jig of delight after sinking Kerry's five-in-a-row ambitions. And Christy's victory in his match was even more remarkable in that it came over Fred Couples, a soon-to-be World No 1 and multiple major winner.

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