Saturday 24 August 2019

No more 'Quiet Please' for Power as Waterford's finest returns as Open contender

Seamus Power (pictured) finished 63rd behind Paul Casey that week, but he’s got higher hopes this time. Photo: Getty
Seamus Power (pictured) finished 63rd behind Paul Casey that week, but he’s got higher hopes this time. Photo: Getty

Brian Keogh

Seamus Power can still remember the moment as if it were yesterday and not 18 years ago on the 13th hole at Fota Island.

He can also remember getting one of those "looks" from Colin Montgomerie when the Scot won in 2001. It was his first Irish Open experience, and he was thrilled to be in Cork with his West Waterford pals, marshalling on the 208-yard par three, his 'Quiet Please' paddle at the ready.

"Absolutely," said the Olympian, who will be jetting into Dublin from Detroit and driving straight to Lahinch. "I remember when I was getting into golf, it was fantastic, I got to go stewarding down in Fota Island, and that was my first experience of seeing professional golf. So to be going back to an Irish Open for the first time since 2013, with much more experience and feeling like I have a chance to really get into contention and maybe even win the tournament is a different feeling than the last couple of times.

"I played as an amateur at Carton House in 2005, and that experience was totally different. I remember I showed up there on the Monday or Tuesday for a practice round and I was so nervous even on the Monday, my first shot on the chipping green, hit a strong one out of the bunker and nearly hit someone on the other side, and just kind of walked away.

"Even the last time, when it was back at Carton House in 2013, it was a great experience to be in it. I was only playing mini tours in the US at the time so to get the spot was just unbelievable, but it was more a 'delighted to be there' kind of attitude rather than really feeling deep down like if things go my way, I could really make some noise on the Sunday."

Power finished 63rd behind Paul Casey that week, but he's got higher hopes this time.

"It's going to be a different experience, I'm going to have a few more people following me, and I haven't got to play much golf in front of friends and family, so they're all excited about it too."

Around 150 diehards will make the trip from West Waterford to cheer on their man, bringing back memories of 2001, when they headed for Cork to marshal in the Irish Open with a then 14-year old Power in tow.

"It was great," he recalls. "I was only getting into golf at that stage. But I wouldn't have known who people were and even that week I remember watching (Lee) Westwood and Montgomerie. It was my first exposure to top-level golf, and I always remember thinking it was something I'd love to do and go back and play myself."

His abiding memory is getting daggers from Montgomerie, who remains infamously sensitive to distractions.

"It was gas too," he said with a chuckle. "I was only 14 and Monty was walking into his shot, and I dropped something on the ground behind him, and I did not get the most friendly look from Monty.

"But it was a great memory. I don't know if you glamorise these things in your mind, but I just remember the weather was perfect and the course was in amazing condition. I was amazed the guys would use a brand new wooden tee and leave it in the ground after they hit. I'd think, jeez, that's very different. I'd have been using a plastic tee for four weeks in a row."

Power might be perilously close to falling out of the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings after following a hot run of form in April with some recent missed cuts.

But he's looking up rather than down and admits he has ambitions to move up the next level with his game and even dares to dream of the Ryder Cup.

He's close to fellow Olympian Pádraig Harrington, the current European Ryder Cup captain and should he win the Irish Open, he'd have a few weeks to join the European Tour and enter the qualifying race which begins in September.

"He's going to make a great captain," said the Tooraneena man, who was driving a tractor before he learned to drive a golf ball. "I've asked him some questions about it, and he's a guy I'd love to play for. There's no guarantee you're going to win, but there's going to be no stone left unturned. But I'd need to get some better results to even get into contention for it. I have a lot of steps to go before I am in those sort of talks."

Irish Independent

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