Mangan searching for high performances

Congratulations to Tricia Mangan on her appointment as the next high performance director of the Irish Ladies Golf Union (ILGU).

Mangan searching for high performances

The former Curtis Cup player from Ennis will assume the role in January, following the completion of incumbent Ada O’Sullivan’s four-year term.

Mangan, in addition to a glittering amateur career that also saw her represent Ireland in the Ladies Home Internationals and win the Irish Ladies Close in 2005, is highly qualified for the role with an honours degree in physical education and recreation/business management and administration.

She will take charge of a high performance programme already in rude health but with much more to do to ensure the wealth of young female golfing talent within the Irish set-up realises its full potential.

With a Curtis Cup on home soil at Dun Laoghaire in 2016 and a joint ILGU-GUI bid in to host the 2018 World Amateur Team Championships, the spotlight has never shone brighter on this island’s up and coming golfing stars. And the likes of Stephanie Meadow, Lisa and Leona Maguire and Olivia Mehaffey are proving they can survive in the glare.

The outgoing O’Sullivan leaves women’s golf in Ireland in a strong position.

But the former Curtis Cup captain believes getting Irish women onto the professional Ladies European Tour has to be a priority also for these ultra-competitive girls.

“I think the big plus that’s there currently is with the way the girls are being coached now,” O’Sullivan told the Irish Examiner recently.

“Before, the Maguires were up on a pedestal, and rightly so because of what they have achieved. But now you have players being coached at this level who are not afraid to play the likes of the Maguires.

“The Maguires have set such a high standard and others now want to reach that or surpass it. Now we have a situation where Lisa and Leona have gone back to school, they’re clearly not playing as much golf as they were before and that gives others the opportunity to say, ‘I’m putting in the work and I can compete with or better them’. That’s very, very good for us.

“How good can they get? Our main objective, we’ve never really had a successful professional Irish golfer, somebody making the cut week in, week out, and challenging for a Solheim Cup place. If the Maguires continue on pace I would say you’re definitely looking at Solheim Cup players of the future. I would say you’re going to see that in Stephanie Meadow, who will turn pro, and would certainly make it. She finished 47th in the Kraft Nabisco Championship [LPGA major] in the US and told me she learned so much from the experience.

“We haven’t discussed the professional pathway with Olivia but if that’s the way she goes I think she can go to the very top as well. And you would also have players like Chloe Ryan from Castletroy, the first female to get a golf scholarship in Dublin University, who is studying veterinary medicine and wants to stay amateur at the moment.

“So another target for us is that the Curtis Cup is coming to Ireland at Dun Laoghaire in 2016 and we would certainly hope to have one if not two on that GB&I team, and who knows we might even have more.

“There’s a good, good pool of young golfers there and you just don’t know who’s going to jump out and do something special.

“There’s a few of them there and you can definitely see the potential, if that’s what they want, absolutely no doubt about it.”

And Tricia Mangan has been given the task of giving that potential the best opportunity to be fulfilled. We wish her well.

Irish stars set to shine in US

Good luck to the Irish contingent of young golfers teeing it up from today at The Greenbrier, West Virginia, USA, as they attempt to emulate Rory McIlroy and win the prestigious Faldo Series Grand final.

Royal County Down’s Olivia Mehaffey is among the group, along with Heath’s Mary Doyle, while the men flying the flag will be Abu Dhabi-based Eoin Cunniffe, Portarlington’s Karl McCormack, Castle’s Ross McKeever and Skibbereen’s Kieran Lynch. The Faldo Series, founded by six-time major winner Nick Faldo, is recognised for producing future stars and in addition to McIlroy, who was U15 champion in 2004, provided a springboard for LPGA major winner Yani Tseng.

Olympic golfers in for snappy time

Golf’s re-entry into the Olympics gets closer with the sport on the programme for the 2016 Games in Rio.

Apparently, though, there are a couple of new hazards being encountered as work continues on Gil Hanse’s design for the Olympic course.

Hanse’s inclusion of ponds and water hazards in his design for the championship course have attracted the attention of a breed of alligator native to Brazil. According to reports, many of the 6,000 caimans living in lagoons around Rio have started to migrate to the Olympic golf course, driven there by pollution in their natural habitats.

Caimans are smaller and allegedly more docile members of the alligator family and Games officials are understandably keen to play down the potential threats to golfers and spectators during the 2016 Olympics.

More of a concern are capybaras, which live in Brazil, just happen to be the largest rodents in the world and can plough up immaculate areas of fairway as quickly as you can say ‘Caddyshack’.

In fact, it sounds like a job for Carl Spackler.

Glad to see Rory back for weekend

I don’t know if I was the only one who spotted it but there was a strange sighting over the weekend of Rory McIlroy playing competitive golf.

That’s right: McIlroy, tournament, on a weekend.

It’s a heady mix and much more preferable than the diet of Wozilroy, tabloids and lawyers we’ve been fed these past few months.

Let’s hope, as we head towards the European Tour finale next month, we see a lot more of McIlroy on the course, competing for titles.

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