IRISH OPEN SHORT CHIPS
Coach's full-time move
big boost for Rory
ONE of the most significant recent developments in Rory McIlroy's career is the decision by his coach Michael Bannon (right) to quit his job as head professional at Bangor Golf Club to work full-time with the 23-year-old.
"It's been something I've been trying to persuade Michael to do for a couple of years and he finally got around to it," McIlroy said yesterday. "Yeah, it's great.
"With the schedule I play now, it's very difficult for me to see him as much as I would like, so for him to be full-time now and be able to travel a lot more is something I think will be very beneficial for me."
Like his mentor Jack Nicklaus, who had just one coach -- Jack Grout -- throughout his career, McIlroy has worked with Bannon since aged eight. McIlroy will now be on a par with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in having his swing coach with him at tournaments.
Trust stance on Dunes
plan infuriates Clarke
DARREN CLARKE (right) took a brief time-out from the excitement of this week's Irish Open in his home town to lambaste the Northern Ireland arm of the UK National Trust for freezing a massive development proposed for two miles up the Causeway Coast.
"Bushmills Dunes has been in planning for 12 years," said Clarke, nailing his colours to the mast. "It's a £100m project and the National Trust have jumped in and blocked it again after everybody else had passed it.
"Hopefully, they will come to their senses and let the course be built -- the whole area would benefit so much," added the Open champion, pointing out that 300 jobs would be created by the David McLay Kidd-designed course and an accompanying hotel resort.
Bradley thrilled with
'special' Irish welcome
PGA champion Keegan Bradley (right) revealed yesterday he's been overwhelmed by the welcome he's received at his first Irish Open.
Of proud Boston-Irish stock, Bradley had been to the Emerald Isle just once before, at age seven, visiting Kenmare. His aunt, Pat Bradley, who is in golf's Hall of Fame, is an honorary member of Kenmare and Old Head.
Winning last August's US PGA gave Bradley the opportunity to compete on other Tours and he says it's been a lifelong ambition of his to play in the Irish Open.
"Hundreds of people have told me 'welcome home,' which gives me chills almost every time they say it," he said. "I wasn't sure how I was going to be accepted over here, so to hear people say 'welcome home' is a pretty special feeling."