Shane enjoy’s front row seat for Walker Cup

Kinsale native Shane Fitzsimons is one of a handful of spectators from Ireland in Seminole this week, and the US based golfer is savouring every bit of the Walker Cup experience.  He followed John Murphy for 35 holes yesterday, watching his neighbour play some unbelievable golf as he won his foursomes match and narrowly lost his singles match.

“John and Mark’s comeback in the foursomes was incredible and John almost pulled it off again in the singles.  Even after having an insurmountable task he was sensational on the back 9.  Hammer was 4 under after 9, I’m not sure there was better golf that that yesterday.  There was some great shots, his tee shot on 13, trading birdies on 15, bunker shot on 16 and his putt had a 90 degree break on it.”

The course is being compared to Augusta, hard fairways, fast greens and tricky slopes are making the golf exciting:  “The course is magnificent, the greens are hard and fast, and you’re not seeing the elevations on the tee.  Pin placement as tough as you would see anywhere, the course was set up for par to be a good score.”

“There’s a small crowd, just 1,500 spectators but the Irish find each other.  Eoghan O’Connell is here, Paul Buckley, Gerry McIlroy a few Irish based in Florida.  John and Mark’s coaches from Louisville and Wake Forest also made the trip.  It’s like being at a match when golf started, no ropes, walking the fairways with the players.  The atmosphere is subdued with a little clapping for a good shot.  It’s unlike any golf event I have been at, and I can’t imagine there will be another one like is as we come out of Covid.”

Shane was back on the course today supporting the Irish pair as they clocked up another win, and he’s sure to be on the first tee again for the singles as John Murphy takes on Ricky Castillo.

Murphy & Power win GB&I’s first Walker Cup Point

John Murphy and Mark Power came from behind to win the first point for GB&I this afternoon in the opening session of the Walker Cup.  Playing at a windy Seminole Golf Club on the Atlantic coast in Florida, the pair only took the lead on the 17th, and a measured two putt on the final green saw the pair claim the point in the morning foursomes.  The two Irish players were paired together, while it was expected both teams were hit by illness earlier in the week and it was unclear who would be fit to play today.

Needless to day Murphy was still on a high when it came to his post round interview with the Golf Channel, and he explained how they dealt with the pressure of being three down on two occasions.  “I said to Mark both times we’re playing great, we’ve got to stick to what we’re doing.  We got a couple of bad breaks early on but lets not try and force anything, this is a golf course for mistakes and we’ll let them make the mistakes.  We stuck to our gameplan very well and stayed patient.”

Power too was delighted with the result and credited Murphy with some solid advice early in the round, “The old head here calmed me down today, he said just hit fairways and hit greens and we’ll wear these guys down.”  Playing a Walker Cup match with a fellow Irishman was a real treat for both Murphy & Power and the Kilkenny man did a great job of describing it.

John Murphy watches his putt during a practice round at the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Scott Halleran/USGA)

“It’s amazing.  We were talking about it this week, we played Home Internationals together, played together when we were 15 and 16.  On the first tee we said we were just going to just going to enjoy today and embrace it.”

It was a day of comebacks for GB&I.  At one stage they were 4-0 down on the course but when the last match finished it was 2-2 on the scoreboard.

Both Irish golfers are back in action this evening in the opening singles.  Power is out second against Davis Thompson while Murphy has the anchor spot on the team and will face world No 18 Cole Hammer.  They tee off at 8.47pm (Irish time) with coverage continuing on Sky Sports and the Golf Channel.

Afternoon Singles

2:30 p.m. – Alex Fitzpatrick, GB&I vs. Pierceson Coody, USA

2:41 p.m. – Mark Power, GB&I vs. Davis Thompson, USA

2:52 p.m. – Ben Schmidt, GB&I vs. Ricky Castillo, USA

3:03 p.m. – Ben Jones, GB&I vs. Tyler Strafaci, USA

3:14 p.m. – Joe Long, GB&I vs. Quade Cummins, USA

3:25 p.m. – Angus Flanagan, GB&I vs. Austin Eckroat, USA

3:36 p.m. – Barclay Brown, GB&I vs. John Pak, USA

3:47 p.m. – John Murphy, GB&I vs. Cole Hammer, USA

Kinsale Celebrate ahead of Walker Cup Weekend

Kinsale Golf Club celebrates John Murphy’s participation in the Walker Cup
Picture: Niall O’Shea

Excitement is building in Kinsale as the golf club and the community look forward to watching John Murphy compete in the Walker Cup this weekend.  Murphy will become just the fifth Cork golfer to take part in the Walker Cup after the Kentucky based golfer was selected on the team last month.  Although many would have liked to travel to Seminole in Florida, not even his family or his coach were able to travel.  That didn’t stop the Officers of Kinsale Golf Club from celebrating closer to home.  The club unveiled a Walker Cup flag last Sunday, a nice gesture to connect the members with their star player in Florida.  Watch by John’s parents Owen and Carmel, his sister Faye raised the flag in front of the clubhouse, and next week the Walker Cup pin flags will feature on Continue reading

Kinsale Celebrates Murphy’s Selection

John Murphy

There were lots of celebrations in Kinsale last week when news emerged that John Murphy had been selected for the Walker Cup next month.  Murphy becomes just the fifth Cork golfer to make it to the Walker Cup.  Friends and family bombarded the 22 year old with messages of congratulations, he was one of just two Irish golfers to make the GB&I team which plays the US team in Florida next month.

Among those who were delighted with the news was Ian Stafford who has coached John since he started the game.  “I’m absolutely delighted for John, the run of form John has been on lately in a pressurised situation has shown how he has matured as a golfer and there is a great feeling of redemption in getting selected for the team in Seminole” said Stafford who has coached John for close to a decade.  “Although this is not the first time John will have represented GB&I it is the final and biggest box ticked in terms of amateur achievements and a testament to the hard and smart work John has put in.  The emotions we are feeling now are a million miles from what we felt two years ago driving away from Portmarnock after Continue reading

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Monday

Another early start yesterday, we were first out on the course at 7.01.  We played nine holes and then hit the range for an hour or so.  The place is getting a lot busier now and practice rounds for the full 18 holes look like they are taking up to six hours which is mad.  It’s not the rough that causing the long rounds, it’s the slopes and the undulations on the greens.  The greens are running pretty fast now and everyone is trying to work out the angles, the slopes and the backstops.

After lunch myself and Mike went out to the back nine.  We had a good walk around and took plenty of notes.  The yardage book is fine but it doesn’t help in term of lines off the tee or slopes so we’ll have all that planned out by Thursday.  We still don’t know when we’re out in the first round.  The draw should be out in the morning, I think it might have been delayed due to the changes to the start list.

 

I think the week is going to be all about driving and putting.  The fairways are narrow, very narrow in places so James has been spending most of his time on the range working on his driving.  He’ll probably start working on his short game today and Wednesday.  It’s all aimed towards sharpening up, and his game should be in nice shape for Thursday.

Off the course very little is happening, there are very few people around and none of our friends and family from Mallow.  We’re in the bubble that the US sports have spoken about so it’s literally moving from the hotel to course, and from the course to the hotel.  The weather is nice, it’s around 23/24 degrees at the moment so it’s really nice.  It should be around the same on Thursday and Friday with a bit of cloud so that should suit us perfectly.

Conor Dowling’s US Open Report – Sunday

The rough is still the talking point for many people, we took the video below on the right of the 11th when walking the course.  That’s it for Monday, we’re heading down for a bite to eat now and we’re planning another early start in the morning.

 

Sugrue through to US Amateur Matchplay

James Sugrue

James Sugrue

James Sugrue is through to the final 64 in the US Amateur in Pinehurst, North Carolina.  The Mallow man was on the cut line of +4 when play was suspended last night, and had two holes to play to complete his round.  Needing two pars to get rthrough, Sugrue made quick work of the par three 17th, birdieing the hole to put himself in a great position.  He finished off the round with a regulation par on the difficult closing hole to qualify in the top half of the draw on +3.

Speaking after the strokeplay was completed, Sugrue was delighted to progress.  “I was just thinking par-par to be honest as they are two tough holes.  There was a lot of rain overnight and the course softened up a bit, so I was delighted to make the putt on 17.  The greens had been running at 13.5 so I had been very tentative earlier in the week.”  Pinehurst No 2, famous from the 2014 US Open among other majors is proving to be one of the toughest US Amateur courses, the 7,400 yard Donald Ross designed course is playing to a stroke average of 77, proving to be a worthy challenge for the world’s top amateurs.

The Amateur Champion is up against England’s Alex Fitzpatrick in the round of 64 and he’s looking forward to the matchplay format, despite the challenge of the course.    “It’s the hardest course I’ve played and you have to be really cute about where you put the ball.  At least now I can give a few putts a go after the rain.”