Saturday 1 October 2016

Undaunted Igoe takes on top stars for US Open spot

Published 05/06/2015 | 02:30

John Igoe could soon be joining predecessors like Graeme McDowell and taking part in the US Open
John Igoe could soon be joining predecessors like Graeme McDowell and taking part in the US Open

The US Open is the great equaliser. Just ask Luke Donald, former World No 1 and leading money winner on both sides of the Atlantic in 2011, or Chris di Marco, three times a winner on the PGA Tour.

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They know all about it. Brett Wetterich, who played for the USA in the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club, is another who could agree with that proposition, as could John Igoe, of Longford.

Sorry, roll that back. . . John Igoe, from Longford, being spoken of in the same breath as Luke Donald, Chris Di Marco and Brett Wetterich?

Yes, indeed. Igoe (19) will take his place on the first tee at The Bear's Club in Jupiter, Florida next Monday in the final stage of US Open qualifying.

Donald, Di Marco and Wetterich are there too in a field of 70 competing over 36 holes for a place in the Open proper at Chamber's Bay, near Seattle, which starts on Thursday, June 18.

Last month Igoe, a three-handicap member of Longford GC, came through local qualifying at Bethpage Red in New York, and is now 36 holes away from joining Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry in the field at Chamber's Bay.

A former Connacht Boys representative, he has no great track record on the GUI amateur scene, but his coach Mel Flanagan says he is a fine ball-striker with a great temperament.

"If John can just play his own game, he will do well," said Flanagan.

Igoe travels to the USA today with his father, Brendan. The members of Longford GC and the local community have been supportive.

"A lot of people in Longford have wished me the best of luck, and I'm going to go out there and enjoy myself. You never know on the day how it will work out," he said.

"I'm a little bit nervous. It's a weird feeling to have people talking about me, but it's a good feeling as well."

What did he think about Donald playing in the same tournament?

"He's playing four groups behind me. That's amazing, but I'll just try and enjoy myself," said Igoe.

Meanwhile, Dubliner Peter Lawrie opened the Nordea Masters in Sweden with a bogey-free 69, three under par.

He was in joint tenth place, but only two shots adrift of pace-setters Jens Dantorp and amateur Marcus Kinhult, both of Sweden, and England's Chris Paisley.

Michael Hoey was on 74, two over, while Kevin Phelan shot 76 and Damien McGrane had a 78.

On the Challenge Tour, England's Jack Senior and Gary Boyd were joint leaders of the Swiss Challenge in Lucerne on five-under-par 66.

Other Irish scores were: Ruaidhri McGee (70), Chris Selfridge (71), Gareth Shaw (71), Stephen Grant (72) and Michael McGeady (72).

The Senior Tour's Jersey Open at La Moye also started yesterday. Des Smyth, Denis O'Sullivan and Philip Walton all scored 73.

Ronan Rafferty finished on 76. Juan Quiros and Andre Bossert had the joint lead on 68.

Nordea Masters,

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