Monday 26 February 2018

Irish Open short chips

Dunbar warned not to let Masters pass him by

Reigning US PGA champion Keegan Bradley, left, and Padraig Harrington on the fifth green during their practice round of the 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush yesterday
Reigning US PGA champion Keegan Bradley, left, and Padraig Harrington on the fifth green during their practice round of the 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush yesterday

PLAY the Masters when you have the chance! That's Michael Hoey's advice to Alan Dunbar after his fellow Ulsterman's victory at the British Amateur Championship.

Winning at Royal Troon brought invites to next month's British Open, April's Masters and the 2013 US Open, but Dunbar is planning to enroll as an amateur at European Q-School in the autumn.

Should Dunbar win his card and turn pro, he'll lose those amateur exemptions.

Still, should he earn a Tour credential in December, he'll have until next May to take up the professional option.

Hoey advised him to be patient. "I'm not being negative but you don't know that you're going to get top 50 in the world as a pro to get into the Masters," he explained.

"So I'd say you have to wait for Augusta and the US Open, then turn pro. It's a long career, so there's plenty of time," added 10-year pro Hoey, who won the Amateur Championship in 2001 and made his solitary appearance at the Masters the following April.

It's a family affair for Major champions

IT'S Father's Day at Portrush -- Northern's Ireland's Major champions Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke all tee it up with dad in today's star-studded Irish Open Pro-Am.

Three generations of the Clarke family -- Darren's father Godfrey and eldest son Tyrone -- play with former Westlife star Shane Filan.

Graeme and Kenny McDowell team up with Hollywood legend Bill Murray and his brother Joel. And Gerry (above) and Rory McIlroy will be accompanied by banker Ana Botin and magnate Michel de Carvalho.

Kelly finds himself in illustrious company

JOHN KELLY is used to playing golf with his good friend Padraig Harrington, but yesterday at Portrush, the St Margaret's teaching pro found himself in the company of two Major champions.

As Kelly and Harrington prepared to depart the practice range for the first tee, PGA champion Keegan Bradley loped up and asked Harrington if he could play with them.

Then there was a priceless moment on the tee when Bradley invited Kelly to hit before him. "You'd better go first," the chirpy Dub replied, adding with a grin: "I haven't won a Major yet!"

Kelly, who made the cut at last year's Irish Open in Killarney, is one of eight pros from the PGA Irish Region who qualified for Royal Portrush.

KARL MacGINTY

Irish Independent

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