Robin Dawson picked up the biggest prize in his professional career to date and with it the motivation to make his appearances on the European Tour a lot more regular.
The Waterford golfer, a rookie on the Challenge Tour having turned professional nine months ago, made the most of his invitation from Team Ireland to play the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open by claiming a top-30 finish at Lahinch yesterday.
A closing 71, one over par, sent the 23-year-old back to six-under for his 72 holes and left something of a bitter taste following his third-round 64 on Saturday. But his tie for 27th finish and the accompanying cheque expected to be in excess of €55,000, easily eclipsing his previous best return of €8,879 at last October’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, will have softened that blow.
Though he declared “pretty mixed emotions” following his final round, the Tramore golfer, attached to Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links, did emphasise the positives.
“To be fair, it has been a good week. My first European Tour cut, so close, top 10 would have been nice to get that, but it’s still been a good week.
“I played nicely which is the most important thing, lots of positives to take.I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the Challenge Tour and the main tour, it is just such fine lines in golf.
“I loved playing in front of the crowds. You don’t get that opportunity too often, it’s good fun and I really enjoyed it and having family and friends.
“It kind of confirmed stuff I already knew and stuff I’m working on, whether it’s Noel (Fox, his coach)... We’re moving in the right direction.”
Dawson also credited his caddie, Corkman and former Home Internationals team-mate, Peter O’Keeffe, for contributing his extensive knowledge of Lahinch to the cause.
There was no rest for Douglas golfer O’Keeffe, however. He finished his one-off week on Dawson’s bag and headed straight to Castlerock for this week’s North of Ireland Championship, where he has a 3:04pm tee time today in the first round of strokeplay. Hosting duties for the strokeplay are being split between Portstewart and Castlerock this week as the North’s traditional home Royal Portrush prepares to stage The Open Championship the following week. The 64-player matchplay phase will be played at Portstewart.
Seamus Power’s week back home in Ireland ended disappointingly, shooting 73-72 to finish one over par but the West Waterford man insisted he will resume his fight to
retain his PGA Tour card next weekend buoyed by his Lahinch experience.
Power, 32, is balancing on a fine line between success and failure in the United States, ranked 124th in the FedEx Cup rankings with four tournaments remaining and needing to stay inside the top 125 to retain his card for next season.
En route to Moline, Illinois, for most of today for this week’s John Deere Classic, he will be travelling in good spirits after his rare chance to play competitively at home.
“It was a brilliant week. I didn’t play my best but sure, that’s golf; but it was a great week and I really enjoyed it,” Power said. “I never get to play in front of friends and family so I’m over the moon to get the invite and I was delighted to be able to play.”
Playing in Ireland has very much adhered to the old adage that change is as good as a rest, Power confirmed.
“It’s definitely been a different feel. The week flew by and in the evenings you’re hanging out with family and friends, so it’s different to the same old routine. So that part was enjoyable but it does make it go by fast and it does make it seem a little more relaxing.
Power intends to rest for a couple of days to get over his transatlantic travel but will be ready to go for Thursday’s opening round at TPC Deere Run.
“I’ve got four tournaments left so if I go and play well next week I can take care of it very quickly. So, we’ll see. That’s the plan.
“And John Deere has a slot, maybe two, for The Open so hopefully I’ll be back for Portrush in eight days’ time.”