Here's how a Kerryman caused a stir with his county colours at the Masters

Here's how a Kerryman caused a stir with his county colours at the Masters
John and Tim Leahy at the Masters.

By Colm O'Connor

Listowel's Tim Leahy was the man adding a bit of gold to the green of Augusta on Masters Sunday.

Leahy was the jersey-wearing Kerry fan who popped up on television screens in the final dramatic hours of the 2018 edition last night.

So how does a North Kerry man end up wearing his county colours at one of the world’s most iconic golf tournaments?

“My cousin John is friends with a guy from Chicago who invited him to Augusta for the Masters, and when extra tickets became available I got the call to come down and join them,” Leahy explained.

“I headed off on Sunday for the final day of the tournament. My son Pádraig (13) plays golf over here and he was very disappointed that he wasn’t able to go.

“So I said that I’d put on the Kerry jersey and he could look out for me on television.

“We were there rooting for Rory McIlroy but sadly it didn’t work out for him. Our main focus was on Rory and Patrick Reed but thousands of others were following them.

"What we did was go ahead of them and then find a good spot close to a tee-box or a hole and stay there until they came along.

“That is why a lot of people saw me on television when Charley Hoffman had his hole in one at the 16th. The crowds were incredible so it was just a case of being at the right place at the right time in terms of being caught by the cameras.

“We had to abandon any plans to get near the 18th green as the crowds were just too big but we managed to get a spot close to the tee-box.”

Leahy, who moved to the United States in 2000 and lives in New Jersey, was impressed by the GAA knowledge on show in this corner of Georgia last weekend.

“We met a few Irish people and had a bit of craic. They’d be shouting ‘Up the Rebels or Up the Dubs’ so it was a good laugh.

“But a lot of people from around the world were really interested in the jersey because of the colours. They’d just walk up to you and ask what team it was.

“I was telling them all about gaelic football and why Kerry is the Kingdom!”

Leahy appeared in a number of shots Sunday night on the BBC and Sky Sports’ but was blissfully unaware of the curiosity it caused on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

He explained: “One of the big rules is that no cellphones are allowed on the course at the Masters so I didn’t check my phone until we got home late on Sunday night. I got some land. I don’t think I’ve ever had as many messages and text in my life.”

But not all of Leahy’s adventures were on the course. He also managed to have a chat with legendary big hitter John Daly earlier on Sunday.

Here's how a Kerryman caused a stir with his county colours at the Masters

“One of his sponsors is Hooters, and every year at the Masters he sets up this huge mobile home and sets up a stall where he is selling memorabilia and stuff. We asked if we could have a picture with him (for a fee) and off we went onto his bus.

"Anyway, my brother Brian drinks in Mike the Pies, a pub in Listowel. They have this thing on social media where people post pictures from around the world, or with a famous person, holding a sign saying “I’d rather be in Mike the Pies”.

"Anyway, I asked Daly to hold up the sign with the message and he was more than happy to do so.

“He asked me where I was from and when I told him Kerry in Ireland, he wanted to know if I had played gaelic football. He couldn’t have been nicer.”

When the green jacket ceremony was done, Leahy lingered a while before heading for the exits.

“We just walked the course one last time, had a cigar and soaked it all in. It was amazing. The crowds had gone and the staff were out cutting the grass. It was heaven on earth.”

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