Monday 19 March 2018

Playing with Rory shows I don't have polish to turn pro -- Diamond

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Nine of the last 11 Irish Amateur Close champions joined the paid ranks but don't expect Harry Diamond to take the plunge if he lifts the title at Royal Portrush on Sunday evening.

While Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy went on to make the fairytale come true -- with that Irish Open victory for the former and US Open wins for the two Ulstermen -- Diamond has seen enough to know he's simply not good enough to play for pay.

Not yet anyway.

When your best friend is world No 1 and reigning US Open champion McIlroy, whatever golfing talent you possess is put firmly in context, even if you are a plus-two handicapper and the reigning West of Ireland champion.

"I've got a good job and I know how good the pros have to be," said the 27-year old Belvoir Park man, who is one of four amateurs in today's field invited to play in next month's Irish Open at Portrush.

"I've spent a lot of time with Rory out on tour and I'm certainly not good enough at the minute. Unless things change massively over the next couple of years, I'll probably stay amateur.

"Whenever I play with Rory he gives me two shots a side, four in total, which is 16 per tournament and we'd have a good match, so there's a massive difference there."

Since losing to Royal Portrush's Patrick McCrudden, another Irish Open invitee, in last year's North of Ireland final, Diamond has continued to improve, claiming his maiden title at Rosses Point at Easter.

His goal is to make his senior Ireland debut in August's Home Internationals, but he faces stiff opposition for the 'Close', which became a 72-hole stroke play for the first time last year.

Reigning champion Paul Cutler has since turned professional but Rathmore's Walker Cup star Alan Dunbar should have the advantage of local knowledge, despite managing just one practice hole yesterday as he struggles with flu.

Dunbar is one of two GUI nominations for the Irish Open alongside Ballymena's Dermot McElroy, a player fancied to sparkle as brightly as Diamond when the top 45 do battle over Sunday's final 36 holes.


Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport