IT IS a testament to the greatness of Christy O’Connor Jnr — not just as a sportsman but as a human being — that he dealt with triumph and disaster with equal grace and dignity.
One of Ireland’s most celebrated golfers, he was a member of the winning Ryder Cup team in 1989 at the Belfry, where he helped secure the trophy for Europe.
While hugely successful before this, it was his contribution to that victory — a two-iron shot to the 18th hole — that secured his enduring legacy as a great golfer.
His personal life took a tragic turn when his son, Darren, died in a car crash at the age of 17 in 1998.
He and his wife Ann bore their grief with great courage, while Christy went on to exhibit a world-class talent for designing golf courses.
But what friends, family and sportspeople alike will remember most is his gregarious and engaging personality, his warmth, hospitality and love of life, even more than his sporting achievements.
‘Junior’ as he was known, being the nephew of another golfing great, exuded good humour wherever he went, loved the company of people from all walks of life and was the life and soul of any party, often singing to the early hours with equal talent and enthusiasm.
While dying at the relatively young age of 67, Christy O’Connor Jnr lived every moment of it to the full.
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