Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish Open: Big-day nerves get to Kerry's Sugrue up the goods

DAN Sugrue has played hundreds of rounds on the Killeen Course but never one that meant more to him than yesterday's opening play in the '3' Irish Open.

Sugrue (32) won't quit on his dream of gaining a place on the main European Tour, but apart from two British Open qualifying events, he has played very little competitive golf.

He's in the Irish Open on a sponsor's invitation and, as a native of Killarney, he really felt the pressure, especially on the first hole.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't very nervous on the first tee this morning," he said yesterday.

"Normally the first shot there would be a driver hit over the corner, hit it up into the neck, that's what all the boys who are here every week are doing.

"Playing here normally, I'd expect to shoot a few under par. You could even go out there and shoot six or seven under par on a normal day, but once it's roped off and there's people around and it's the Irish Open, it's a different show altogether."

On that first tee, Sugrue chose a four-wood, got the ball safely down the fairway and started with a nice par four. From there, he had a few birdie chances, taking one on the fifth, but finished on 74, three over par.

And at the 18th, he got a great reception from friends and supporters.

"The galleries are great craic. It's just brilliant out there. The atmosphere around the greens, it's great. Incredible," he said.

Kerry's other player in the field, David Higgins from Waterville, finished one over par but wasn't happy.

"I had it going, and was two under, but let it slip. A bit disappointing. This course, I've played it a lot and on a day like that you should be a good few under par," he said.

McIlroys dish

up the goods

I call him the original 'G-Mc' -- that's Gerry McIlroy, dad of Rory and a single-figure handicap.

Gerry enjoyed playing the Dunhill Links Championship last year with Rory, when the younger McIlroy finished tied for second.

Rory and Gerry will team up together again in the Dunhill event to be played in October after the Ryder Cup. Expect Team McIlroy to be firing on all cylinders.

And if you wonder where Rory honed his competitiveness, it was in early head-to-head matches as a kid with his dad.

They'd play to see who would get to wash the dishes after dinner.

Now that's what I call an incentive to bring your 'A' game to the course!

Lawrie's sons putt things right for him

Paul Lawrie gave his sons Craig and Michael the credit for helping him shoot a five-under-par 66.

The 41-year-old Scot, British Open champion in 1999, revealed that his sons gave him help with his putting.

They showed their dad the device that you put on the ball and use the marker pen to trace a line. Playing with Paul recently, the lads urged him to give it a try.

It helps with aiming the ball for putts, and it worked a treat for Lawrie. "Today is the best putting round of the year by far. I rolled the ball superb, lining the ball up for the first time in my career. My children kind of talk-ed me into doing it," he said.

"I was out playing with them one day, and I missed a few putts, as usual, and they said, 'dad, why are you missing all these putts? Just line them up. It's easy'."

Tramore trio feeling for Rock

ROBERT Rock's new best friends from Tramore Golf Club were heartily disappointed for him after his Irish Open disqualification.

Tramore captain Michael Carey, secretary-manager Don Buckley and treasurer David Power played with last year's Irish Open runner-up in the Pro-Am. Prior to Rock's dismissal for a scorecard mix up, he spoke warmly of the trio. "Good guys. We got around in four hours, which never really happens in Pro-Ams," said the Englishman.

Tramore GC is attracting lots of interest now that their re-vamped course is open for play.

Irish Independent

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