Tributes pour in for 'golfing great' Christy O'Connor Jnr

By Daniel McConnell

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today led tributes to the "golfing great" Christy O'Connor Junior, who has passed away.

In a statement released a short time ago, Mr Kenny extended his condolences to the late golfing legend's family.

"No one will ever forget Christy O'Connor's two iron from the middle of the 18th fairway at the Belfry which retained the 1989 Ryder Cup for Team Europe. It is an image that will remain fixed forever in the minds of all Irish golf and sporting fans," Mr Kenny said.

Sam Torence and Christy O'Connor Jnr pictured at the Ryder Cup in 1989. Picture: INPHO/Getty Images

The Taoiseach spoke warmly of his personal interactions with O'Connor and said his premature passing will be a source of great sadness to many Irish people and all golfing fans in Ireland and across Europe.

O'Connor was a multiple winner on the European, Senior and Champions Tours and he shot a then record first round of 64 during the British Open in 1985.

"There's no doubt however that his crowning glory was that famous Ryder Cup moment and a raft of other Irish golfers then followed in his footsteps to Ryder Cup greatness. Like his uncle, he was a trailblazer on the European Tour and an example to many aspiring golfers around the country," he said.

Mr Kenny also referenced the golfer's late son Darren, who died in tragic circumstances in 1998.

"I want to convey to his wife Ann, son Nigel and daughter Ann my sincere condolences. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis," Mr Kenny said.

Mr Kenny's Mayo colleague and Minister for Sport Michael Ring added his voice to the tributes paid to Christy junior.

“Christy O’Connor Jnr was one of Ireland’s finest golfers and sportsmen. He contributed so much to sport in Ireland and was a role model for many Irish golfers," he said.

Pictured in May 2015at the unveiling of Team Ireland’s golfing squad are Christy O’Connor Jr, Gary Desmond, CEO of Gala, Matt English, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland, Senator Eamonn Coghlan and Paul Kirrane, Ennis, Co. Clare, who is one of the Special Olympics golfers who will represent Ireland at the World Games. Carton House, Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

"He will be fondly remembered for his wonderful contribution to Europe’s victory in the 1989 Ryder Cup at the Belfry and in particular his stunning approach shot to the 18th which sealed the win for Europe. Christy was a very talented golfer and everyone involved in Irish sport will be saddened at the news of his passing today.”

Tributes were also paid from fans around the golfer and beyond.

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