Tributes to the late Christy O’Connor Jnr have gushed from the great and the good in the wake of his untimely death on Wednesday.
But few are as revealing about his genial personality than that from the Irish developer and his business partner who commissioned O’Connor to design a golf course bearing his name at the Amendoeira Golf Resort in the Algarve.
Golfers can be guilty of putting their name and little else into a course development. Not so Christy O’Connor Jnr, as Drogheda man, Gerry Fagan — the co-founder of Oceanico Developments in Portugal with partner Simon Burgess — revealed yesterday.
“As in every task he undertook, Christy was not content with managing from afar. He worked tirelessly with the construction team during all phases of the project and was never happier than when sat on a bulldozer working with the operators to ensure his design vision was translated into reality,” Fagan said.
“Christy had that rare touch and warmth to befriend prince and pauper alike. He unfailingly took time to speak with everyone, no matter their background, nationality, colour, wealth, age, and in the case of golfers, their handicap. It mattered not to him their golfing ability, or even if they had never picked up a club, he just wanted everyone to experience a little of the fun that life and his chosen game had brought to him.”
Very sad news to hear of the passing of Christy O'Connor Jnr, a legend of Irish golf and Ryder Cup hero. RIP Christy— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) January 6, 2016
Fagan added: “Long after his O’Connor Jnr course was opened in Portugal, Christy would often arrive, typically unannounced and bearing a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine for the office staff who he had worked with in years gone by. After a round of golf with a friend or two he would sit himself in the clubhouse with a bottle of his beloved Portuguese red wine, telling stories and recalling happy days he’d enjoyed in many corners of the world.
“Not a man to announce himself with any expectation of recognition, he would often wander up to a group of players and quietly ask them if they’d enjoyed their game without even mentioning that he was the artist who had created the masterpiece upon which they had spent the last few hours.
Very sad news today about Christy O'Connor Jnr. An absolute legend of Irish golf. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.— Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) January 6, 2016
“Christy was a man for whom his family meant everything. He set enormous store in the support of his wife, Ann, and their son Nigel and their daughter Ann. Whilst his profession took him to all corners of the world, he was never happier than when returning to his homeland and the warmth that its people rightly bestowed upon him. Christy, you were unique. God bless you and thank you.”
Added ex-Champions Tour caddie Frank Robertson: “Golf lost a truly great man. I was lucky enough to caddy for him when he came over to play the Champions Tour. We had great success on the course with a couple wins. He taught me how to go antiquing and how to drink Guinness on an epic road trip across the southern states. He never let my glass get half empty.”
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