Seamus Power (file pic). Alamy Stock Photo
seamus power

From watching idols as a steward to playing alongside them - Irish Open memories

‘This is something that’s been special for a long time, and it will be forever, for the rest of my career.’

SÉAMUS POWER STILL remembers his days stewarding at the Irish Open at Fota Island as some of his most treasured golfing memories.

As is Irish Open tradition, his West Waterford clubmates would be given one hole at the Cork course — in their case the par-three 13th — and would stay there all day, cleaning up all the abandoned tees left behind by the professionals and cherishing them as if they were made of gold.

“We were just gathering hundreds and hundreds of tees,” he laughs.

Between tee collecting, Power would marvel at Colin Montgomerie’s dazzling iron shots into the green and count down the groups until his golfing idol Padraig Harrington passed by. When the WGC-American Express came to Mount Juliet in 2002 he recalls standing in awe watching Fred Couples, Davis Love and, most memorably, Tiger Woods do what they do best.

Already a good amateur golfer in his own right, it was those weeks that drove the 35-year-old on in his bid to not just watch those players but to be playing alongside them.

“Seeing all the top guys, and seeing them from three yards away, was incredible. We thought it was the coolest thing in the world. It really was,” adds Power.

“I was getting into golf, and it was a huge thing that made me want to get back there, and other guys, young guys, to play with the club, we can’t wait to be playing there in the future. I remember little things like that. Long time ago.”

He achieved his goal when he teed it up at Carton House in 2005 and then again at the same venue in 2013, both times as an amateur, and those were special occasions. But it was only when he made his professional debut at the event at Lahinch in 2019 that how much the event meant hit home.

“To have that opportunity (in 2019), and especially being in something so special like that, I didn’t think I could turn it down. I’m glad I didn’t. That was an incredible week. Everyone was there, enjoyed it, like the weather, everything with the town. That was an incredible week, and one I have great memories of,” he smiles.

“And I think that’s what makes the Irish Open so special. I don’t know how many events we would have played that year, but I hardly would remember a lot of them, but I remember almost everything about that week. I feel like this week is going to be the same.”

As special as Lahinch was, this year’s tournament at Mount Juliet still feels just that little bit different given the newfound celebrity status Power has cultivated while playing predominantly on the PGA Tour over the past couple of seasons.

Before, he was just another Irish face in the field. Now he is the World No.36, the second-best ranked player in attendance, a PGA Tour winner and a Major competitor – he arrives in Co Kilkenny not just with the hopes of a nation behind him, but also the expectation.

“To be honest, most guys here, your inner expectations would be higher than anything that comes from the outside,” he counters.

“It’s tough. It’s a completely different experience for me. I’ve played in the States for a long time. Haven’t played that many Irish Opens, and obviously none really as someone near a featured group, so it’s going to be a different experience.

“I feel like I have a good plan set up for it. At the end of the day, I’m going to start a golf tournament tomorrow morning. No matter where it is, I still have to be prepared, do proper warmups, having everything taken care of preparation-wise and see where my game stands.”

Whatever Power has been doing recently has certainly been working, the Tooraneena man having found that magic elixir since his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Barbasol Championship just under a year ago and becoming one of the world’s leading players.

Claiming the trophy in Kentucky earned him PGA Tour status for a couple of years and a bit of added publicity, but it is what he has done since which has turned heads, particularly since the turn of the year, Power finishing in the top-20 in half of his 16 starts, with four of those being top-10s.

He’s had a third-place at the Sony Open, a fourth at the RSM Classic and, most impressively, a fifth at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, while his performances in Majors have been nothing short of superb, 27th on his debut at The Masters backed up by ninth at the US PGA and 12th at the US Open.

Power insists he’s not surprised by how he’s played at the big events given how long he has been around in the game, but does pause to think when asked where he needs to go to reach the next level.

“This is always a tricky thing with golf. Sometimes that search for constant improvement can really lead you down a bad path. That’s where it’s difficult. I think we have enough stats to know where your little tweaks can come, but it’s only going to be little tweaks,” he explains.

golf-the-masters-augusta-national-golf-club-augusta-georgia-u-s-april-4-2022-northern-irelands-rory-mcilroy-irelands-padraig-harrington-and-seamus-power-on-the-3rd-fairway-during-a-prac Power with Harrington and Rory McIlroy. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

“But besides that, it’s just little mental things here and there, where so much is getting used to being in situations which are obviously newer to me, and some of it is going to be handling those situations better.

“The goals have definitely changed, yeah. I do believe I think I can continue to climb, and I still feel like this is my first season getting into the big events, there’s like bigger points available in some of these events. But it still comes back to your own game. And that’s all well and that.

“It’s setting the goals in between that are the most important ones to me, how am I going to get there rather than where you want to get to. I know where I want to get. I believe I can be one of the top players in the world.

“For me, it’s going to be about doing all those little things just a bit better and then see how close to those goals I can get.”

His immediate goal is to win his national championship in a venue that is, along with Fota, one of the closest it could be to being a home Irish Open for Power. He’s grown up going to Irish Opens, watching on TV, idolising players as they compete in them. Now he gets to be one of them.

His hero Harrington has already set out his stall towards the event by saying that, as long as he is fit and able, he will always play in the Irish Open. And after waxing lyrical about his experience playing at Lahinch in 2019, would Power commit to the same?

“For me, I would love to say it, but they have extended exemptions. But if I continue to play well, I’m in this sort of spot, there’s no way I’d miss it,” says the 35-year-old, who plays alongside Shane Lowry in the opening two rounds.

“If I’m 124th in the (PGA Tour) money list going into (the Irish Open) in a couple of seasons’ time, it becomes difficult. But even for just the first couple days, it’s so special being able to share, seeing my family out watching, all coming up.

“Any chance I get, I’ll be here, 100 percent. It’s different, it’s special. This is something that’s been special for a long time, and it will be forever, for the rest of my career.”


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