Wednesday 22 November 2017

Power hits the wall in Mexico

Power is comfortable with the American golfing scene, having completed his studies at East Tennessee State University before turning professional in 2011. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Power is comfortable with the American golfing scene, having completed his studies at East Tennessee State University before turning professional in 2011. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Seamus Power has taken the road less travelled to earn his playing rights on the PGA Tour.

Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry all cut their teeth on the European circuit before opportunity knocked for them to challenge for the big bucks and the big titles in the USA.

Power is comfortable with the American golfing scene, having completed his studies at East Tennessee State University before turning professional in 2011.

The Waterford native could have chosen to return to Ireland and mount a challenge to find his way onto the European circuit, but he opted to grind his way into the Web.Com Tour via mini-tours and now he has a card for the main Tour.

Along the way, Power found himself in Brazil playing for Ireland in the Olympics with Padraig Harrington, following the withdrawal of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry.

That was an unexpected bonus, a new opportunity which he embraced with enthusiasm.

Power, 29, finished tied-15 in Rio. This was a very solid performance, but it added to a busy schedule which, to his credit, he has managed very well.

The OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico was his 25th tournament of the season - 21 on the Web.Com, and four PGA Tour events since his debut in the Safeway Open last month.

He has shown himself to be very level-headed and calm about the challenge of cementing his place at the highest level of the game.

A Web.Com graduation offers an invitation to walk through the hall door of the big mansion, but it guarantees a quick exit if you fail to show you belong.

So far Power's performances have shown encouraging signs of progress.

A missed cut in his first event, the Safeway Open, was followed by tied-29th in Sanderson Farms championship, then tied-57 in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last week.

He came into the OHL Classic encouraged by the example of former Web.Com players such as Cody Gribble who won the Sanderson Farms, Emiliano Grillo in the Safeway Open last year and Smylie Kaufman, winner in Las Vegas last year.

In fact, Gribble lost to Power by a shot in the Irish player's Web.Com win in the United Leasing & Finance Championship five months ago, a victory that was crucial to Power climbing up the rankings and reaching the PGA tower.

Power knows he has what it takes to win. He showed his mettle by shooting 64 in round three at the OHL Classic, leaving him only three shots behind the overnight leader Gary Woodland.

He looked poised for a shot at the title but a disastrous treble-bogey seven on his first hole rocked Power back on his heels.

Almost before he had started, he was three over-par for the day and struggling.

Power never recovered from there and went on to shoot 76, five-over par to register a -10, 274 total to leave him on tied-28th.

It's a hard lesson, but the Olympian can only take the positives and move forward from here.

Pat Perez shot 68 to claim the title on -21, beating Woodland by two shots.

Graeme McDowell, the 2015 champion, was tied-24th on eleven-under par.

McDowell closed with a 68 and now takes this week off before travelling to Australia to prepare for the World Cup with Irish team mate Shane Lowry.

Lowry, McIlroy and Padraig Harrington will play in this week's DP World Tour championship in Dubai.

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