Sport Golf

Friday 15 December 2017

Global army of marshals make sure event runs smoothly

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

THEY also serve who only stand ... and stand ... and direct the spectator traffic. I'm talking about the crowd marshals, all 450 of them, who are on duty at Killeen Castle this week.

David O'Hora of The Curragh GC is the chief marshal and he has an international team working to keep the event moving smoothly.

"The majority are from Ireland, but we have around 120 volunteers from abroad. There are 55 from the United States, eight from Canada, two from Germany, one from France, one from Sweden, one from Spain and the rest from the UK," he said.

"The Americans would have done it before; some of the Europeans would have also done a Solheim, but very few of the 450 have ever done one."

O'Hora worked for 13 years at the European Open, most of them as chief marshal after Dave O'Neill of Killarney retired from the honorary position, and he was also chief marshal for the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club.

"I retired after the Ryder Cup, but was persuaded to come back for the Solheim," he said.

"Today there was a great atmosphere. There was a great crowd in during the day and a great atmosphere on the first tee."

They're an enthusiastic bunch, these marshals.

The oldest is 80- year-old Barbara Trulick and her husband Dick (76) from Arizona. Barbara has been on buggy-driving duty for the players, while Dick is a regular marshal working wherever he is assigned.

Those who sign on for the week receive two Ping polo-shirts, a waterproof jacket, a cap, souvenir programme and free lunch.

Work starts from 5.0am for the management team and continues with marshals' shifts staggered throughout the day to give continuous coverage until the end of play.


IT has to be Cristie Kerr's superb bunker shot on the par-four ninth hole.

Kerr, partnered by Michelle Wie in the opening foursomes match against Europe's Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist, looked to be in trouble when Wie's approach shot finished in a deep greenside bunker.

Undaunted, Kerr stunned her opponents by blasting out of the sand and rolling the ball into the hole for a birdie three.

Nordqvist didn't manage to hole her 15-yard chip for a half.

The Americans duly went one-up and eventually closed out the match for the USA's first point of the day.

No wonder Kerr dubbed the ninth the 'key hole' of that match.

"That was huge, unexpected I'm sure from the other team and ourselves, so to make that really was a shift in momentum," she said.


SPARE a thought for Cristel Boeljon.

She is the first Dutch player to get into a Solheim Cup side, but awaits her debut as she was the only player of the two teams who didn't get a game all day.

Boeljon was an automatic qualifier for Alison Nicholas' team. It can't have helped her nerves to be a bystander during an intense day of ultra-competitive golf, but those are the tough decisions a captain has to make.

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