Sport Golf

Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Connor lashes lack of Irish Ryder captain

Bernie McGuire , at Carnoustie

Golfing legend Christy O'Connor Jnr is delighted with the selection of Celtic Manor vice-captains Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, but he's also reiterated a long-held stance by declaring it's 'a holy shame' there still has been no Irish-born Ryder Cup Captain.

McGinley and Clarke, plus Dane Thomas Bjorn, were chosen earlier this week by Colin Montgomerie as his European Ryder Cup vice-captains.

It's only the third occasion in Ryder Cup history an Irish-born has been appointed as a Ryder Cup vice-captain.

Des Smyth acted as one of Ian Woosnam's deputies when Europe triumphed over the United States at the K Club in 2006. McGinley was then announced as a vice-captain to Nick Faldo for the 2008 Ryder Cup, but the Dubliner later resigned his position in favour of trying to automatically qualify for the Valhalla side.


"The selection of Paul and Darren finally gives an Irishman the chance of being appointed a Ryder Cup Captain," said O'Connor, before withdrawing through illness after just four holes on day two of the British Seniors Open at Carnoustie.

"It has been a holy disgrace that an Irishman has never been captain in the long history of the Ryder Cup. It's absolutely atrocious and maybe this will lead to Paul or Darren or both being made a European Captain.

"They have great credentials to lead Europe and we saw how well Paul handled the role of Vivendi captain last year, but it's just been extremely disappointing that after more than 80 years since the first Ryder Cup that we've never had an Irish born captain.

"I've campaigned for a long time for an Irish-born player to be made captain, but surely it must happen sooner rather than later."

O'Connor played in two Ryder Cups in 1975 and 1989, and will always be remembered for his magnificent two-iron into the final green in his match against Fred Couples in 1989 to set up a one-shot victory that helped Europe halve the tournament.

His uncle Christy O'Connor was a member of 10 straight Great Britain and Ireland sides from 1955 and up to and including 1973, but was then blanked for the captaincy in favour of the likes of former team-mates Bernard Hunt (1975), Brian Huggett (1977), Tony Jacklin (1983-89) and Bernard Gallacher (1991-95).

"It's just appalling given the number of Irish players who have played in the Ryder Cup, so hopefully the appointment of Paul and Darren is a step in the right direction," O'Connor added.

"Ireland has every right to having a Ryder Cup Captain given how well the Irish have performed in the competition and it just continues to surprise me that there has been so many English and Scottish captains."


Meanwhile, the Ryder Cup captains pair of Bernhard Langer (71) and Corey Pavin (69) head the British Senior Open field on four-under-par. But both were left with regrets having reached six-under-par in their rounds yesterday.

Langer, the victorious 2004 European captain, dropped shots at 13 and 16, while Pavin, who is looking to retain the Ryder Cup later this year at Celtic Manor, hit his second shot out-of-bounds at the last in taking a double bogey.

In contrast to last week's British Open, Stars and Stripes players dominate the leaderboard with former Masters winner Larry Mize (70) among a group at three-under and 1989 Royal Troon winner Mark Calcavecchia (70) a shot further back .

Five-times British Open winner Tom Watson birdied the last in a round of 71 for a three-over-par tally. Earlier in the day, Des Smyth carded a 74 for a six-over-par total, while Eamonn Darcy, competing in the group behind, had a 76 for a 10-over-par tally.

Leading Irshman after Day 1, Jimmy Heggarty, missed the cut after a disappointing second round 80, while Denis O'Sullivan just made it through on the 149 mark after a 76 yesterday.

The Senior Open Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 3.30

Irish Independent

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