Wednesday 26 October 2016

Igoe shrugs off 'West' woe to close in on US Open spot

Published 16/05/2015 | 02:30

"Yes, it’s that US Open, the big one, the Major that has been won by some of the world’s superstars, including Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell"

John Igoe, a two-handicap member of Longford and Roscommon golf clubs who could not gain automatic entry into the West of Ireland championship, has reached the final stage of the US Open qualifying series.

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Yes, it's that US Open, the big one, the Major that has been won by some of the world's superstars, including Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, and which takes place at Chambers Bay near Seattle, Washington from June 18-21.

The 19-year-old's handicap fell outside the cut-off limit of 0.2 for the recent West of Ireland championship, and while he has played for Connacht in the Boys Inter-provincial series, Igoe is not yet to the fore as an amateur on the GUI circuit.

However, his exploits on the Red Course at Bethpage State Park in New York State shows he has talent and courage, as he went out on his own to have a go at the US Open qualifying.

He shot a two-under-par 65 - on a course that was reduced to 17 holes due to agronomic issues - to reach the next stage.

That was good enough to earn the sixth qualifying slot of the seven available from the field of 112 competitors.

The leading qualifier was Kevin Ausserlechner of West Harrison, New York with a 62.

Igoe has been tutored since he took up the game at the age of 12 by Longford-based coach Mel Flanagan, who said: "This was some achievement by John.

"The two things about John are, first, he's a great ball-striker, and second, he has a very good temperament.

"He rang me to tell me the news that he had made it through at Bethpage, and he said he had no nerves at all from start to finish.

"It's a fantastic achievement to get this far, and there's more to come."

Igoe will have one further hurdle to cross - a 36 hole, one-day, sectional qualifying event on June 8 at The Bears Club in Florida.

Kevin Phelan, now a Tour professional, was the last Irish amateur - back in 2010 - to come through the gruelling US Open qualifying, which each year attracts 10,000 entrants.

At home, representatives of the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union have agreed to exploratory talks with a view to forming one governing body for golf on the island of Ireland.

A further statement will be issued at the end of the golfing season.

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