Wednesday 13 December 2017

Where are they now

Jody Fanagan


Beating Tiger Woods is a dream for many golfers, but for former amateur international Jody Fanagan, it's a reality.

In 1995, the young Dubliner had a year of great achievement. He started off by defeating Pádraig Harrington in the final of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch in a match that went all the way to the 18th.

That victory secured his place in the Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl in Wales where he teamed up with Harrington for a foursomes match against John Harris and a 19-year-old Tiger Woods.

"Tiger was just a young college kid then with a baseball cap on backwards, I had a chat with him and he bought me a coke. We won 2&1 and he wasn't happy. You could see how competitive he was. He had already won two US Amateurs and it was obvious that he was better than the rest. But he hadn't played links golf before and he didn't play as well as he would have liked."

For Fanagan, turning pro was never on the agenda. In his seven years as a competitive amateur, only three people made the switch. He went on to win the West of Ireland in 1997 in Enniscrone and has the honour of being one of only three winners at that club.

The talented sportsman has no regrets about his choice; he had a life outside the game and a different set of priorities. But he concedes he often wonders 'what if'.

"It does cross my mind how I would have done if I had turned pro. One day I decided to ask Pádraig (Harrington) if he thought my game would have been good enough, his reply was straight like it always is with Pádraig. He said 'no'."

However, it was in rugby that Fanagan first showed a sporting talent, playing out-half for Castleknock in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup. He flinches as he recalls losing the final to De La Salle Churchtown, insisting it still hurts today as much as it did back then.

And it's not surprising that Fanagan commanded in every game he played as sporting ability is in his genes. His grandfather, Paul Murray, was scrum-half for Ireland and the Lions and was also a South of Ireland winner. Both his grandmother and sister also played golf for Ireland.

Jody is now a director of Fanagans Funeral Home and when he is not shouting for Leinster in the Heineken Cup and Magners League, he still enjoys a casual game of golf at Milltown, where he was the club's centenary captain in 2007.

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