Irish Amateur champion Colm Campbell saw both sides of tour life this week. While he could look back on his Irish Open debut and lament missing the cut after being put on the clock completely destroyed his rhythm, he will remember it fondly instead thanks to Martin Kaymer.
The former world No 1 played nine holes with him in practice and then invited him to dinner at one of Ireland’s best restaurants to turn what could have been bittersweet experience into an unforgettable one.
The 29-year old from Warrenpoint made the field on merit by winning the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin earlier this month.
And while he followed his opening 75 with a 79 — the damage done when his group was put on the clock and he dropped shots like confetti — he had a memorable week in the company of a Ryder Cup hero who is also a former US Open, US PGA and Players Championship winner.
“It was a brilliant week and I really really enjoyed it,” said Campbell, who gave up his job working as a store manager for O2 in Newry to chase his dream full time.
“It was tough today. I knew I had to shoot level par to make the cut and I was going along nicely until we got put on the clock on the 14th — my fifth — for slow play.
“They nailed me for it for taking a wee bit longer on the 14th and I got out of rhythm and bogeyed 15, 16, 17 and 18 by solely rushing and I was playing catch up from there.
“I’d started so well and then that happened. But I enjoyed every moment of it too.”
Campbell was lucky to play nine holes with Kaymer on Tuesday and the German thoughtfully invited the 29-year old amateur to dinner on Wednesday night in one of Dublin’s best restaurants — Shanahan’s On The Green.
“He was really, really nice and he gave me a few nice words,” Campbell said. “Then yesterday morning for him to ask us out to dinner, he didn’t have to do it after playing nine holes with us. That shows the class that the man is.
“He said some things to me quietly and he was just encouraging.
”He was just a great guy and he didn’t have to take the time out of his own schedule. He could have just done his own thing.
“It was a good week bit it was a pity for it to end the way it did.”
None of the three amateurs made the cut, with Jack Hume (77-76) finishing on nine over with Campbell (75-79) and Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith (78-76) a shot further back.
North of Ireland winner Galbraith, 22, was disappointed with his score but pleased to learn where he has to improve after teeing it up alongside six-time European Tour winner Richard Sterne, who is tied for fifth after a 68.
“It’s good to learn from the top guys,” Galbraith said. “I picked up some things along the way and have a new things to work on. I just didn’t have my game at all this week.
“I know I am not far away bit I need to get more consistent with by ball- striking with my irons.
“It was a great week for me playing with Richard. His ball-striking is the standard - he’s a class player.”
All six Irish PGA players also missed out with Waterville’s David Higgins coming close until he dropped eight shots in his last seven holes in the worst of the weather to miss out by eight stokes after a 78.
Old Conna assistant professional Neil O’Briain was the best of the bunch, shooting a second successive 74 alongside Australian left hander Richard Green to finish two outside the cut on four over.
“I struggled a lot with the driver which is usually one of my strong points,” O’Briain said. “But I got some good feedback from Richard Green and that’s encouraging. I definitely think I could get out here.”
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