Seamus Power would have had plenty of understanding from the Irish golfing community if he had decided to skip his national open to stay in the United States and continue the fight for his PGA Tour card.
When the 32-year-old from Co. Waterford accepted an invitation in May from the title sponsors through tournament host Paul McGinley to return home and play this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Power was on the crest of some great form, with a tie for sixth place at RBC Heritage, a tie for fifth in New Orleans and a tie for 13th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his adopted hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina picked up in successive starts.
It was the kind of form that has since eluded him, three missed cuts in his last four starts in the US sending back down to 124th in the all-important FedEx Cup standings with only the top 125 progressing to the play-offs and retaining their cards for next season.
Yesterday at Lahinch, having carded an opening-round level-par 70 in front of a supportive crowd in his native Munster, the West Waterford clubman was in doubt he had made the right decision to keep his commitment to play on home soil.
“Absolutely. I never had a doubt about coming here,” Power said. “I hadn’t had that many opportunities to do it and I’ve another four (PGA Tour) tournaments over there to do it so it’s still in my own hands. I go and play well next week and it all kind of goes away.
Power was nevertheless left frustrated with his day’s work on a day of what he felt was one of some missed opportunities in benign conditions.
“Yes it was a bit of a frustrating one. I was one under after eight and made a bad bogey at nine and then I had chances at 11, 12 and then a lob wedge into 14, wedge into 17, short iron into 16 and reachable at 18, so it was a bit disappointing. I’m not out of it, I guess, but it is just frustrating after getting no birdies on that back nine.
“This is about as calm as it’s going to get around here so those were probably opportunities which were left behind but hopefully I can make up for it.”
Having completed his education in America on a golf scholarship at East Tennessee State, Power has been away from home a long time now and this is his first Irish Open start since his days as a rookie on Satellite tours in 2013 at Carton House.
🇮🇪 -7 Harrington
🏴 -5 Pepperell
🇩🇰 -5 Olesen
🇫🇷 -5 Lorenzo-Vera
🇦🇺 -5 Ormsby
🇰🇷 -5 Park
“For me, the atmosphere is very different to when I played in 2013. I was probably the last man in the field and no-one knew I was playing so it was great to have support out there today with a lot of people wishing me luck which makes it been very enjoyable.”
As to the rest of his week, Power knows he will have to improve his scoring.
“Some of it’s going to depend on the wind. If it stays down you’re going to have to shoot some good scores but when we go out Friday, who knows, it could be blowing two or three times as much as this. So some of it is going to depend on conditions.
“You can only have so much aggression, so you have to pick your spots. There were those opportunities on the back nine and that’s the frustrating part. If you can get to the eighth tee box at even par or one under you have a good opportunity in these conditions and have chances coming in.
“So that’s going to be the strategy if it stays like this, play a little bit conservatively early and then really get after it once you get to eight and nine.
“You’ve got 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, all relatively good chances for the players in the field. So that’s going to be the strategy.”