seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Death of Professional Golfer Christy O’Connor Jnr

christy-o-connor-jnrChristy O’Connor Jnr, professional golfer, dies on January 6, 2016 in Tenerife, Canary Islands. He is known as “Junior” as he is a nephew of golfer Christy O’Connor Snr.

O’Connor is born in Knocknacarra, County Galway, near Salthill, on August 19, 1948, the son of Elizabeth (née Noone) and John O’Connor. The family farms cattle and pigs near a golf club.

O’Connor turns professional in 1967. The PGA European Tour officially begins in 1972, and O’Connor makes the top hundred on the Order of Merit in each of its first twenty-one seasons, with a best ranking of seventh in 1975. He wins four European Tour events. As a senior he competes on both the European Senior Tour and the United States based Champions Tour, and wins two Senior British Open titles (before it becomes one of the senior majors) and two Champions Tour events.

In 1992 O’Connor wins the Dunhill British Masters at the Woburn Golf Club, his fourth and final European Tour victory, with scores of 71, 67, 66, 66. A weather-interrupted tournament means that 36 holes have to be played on Sunday. At 44 years, O’Connor is the oldest player in the field.

O’Connor plays in the Ryder Cup twice. In 1975 he is a member of a losing Great Britain & Ireland team and in 1989 he is part of a European team which ties the match to retain the trophy. His personal record is one win, three losses and no ties. His win over Fred Couples is best remembered for a stunning 2 iron shot on the last hole at The Belfry which he leaves just 4 feet from the hole.

O’Connor is also active in golf course design, being involved in the design of at least 18 courses in Ireland, and many more abroad.

Christy O’Connor Jnr dies while on holiday with his wife Ann on January 6, 2016 in Tenerife, Canary Islands.

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Death of Open Champion Fred Daly

fred-dalyFrederick J. Daly, Northern Irish professional golfer best known for winning The Open Championship in 1947 at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, dies on November 18, 1990.

Born in Portrush, County Antrim, Daly is the only Irishman from either side of the border to have won The Open until Pádraig Harrington wins it in 2007 and the only Northern Irish major winner until Graeme McDowell wins the U.S. Open in 2010. Daly wins the Open in 1947 while professional to the Balmoral Club in Belfast. He wins with a score of 293, a single stroke ahead of runners-up Reg Horne and amateur Frank Stranahan.

During his acceptance speech at Royal Liverpool, Daly says he is very honoured to receive the Claret Jug and take it back to Northern Ireland. He goes on to say that the trophy has never been to Ireland and that he is hoping that the change of air will help it. There is much applause and laughter at his humorous comments.

In addition, he adds the News of the World Match Play tournament which is the main British Match Play Championship, becoming the first since James Braid (1905) to win both the Open and the Match Play title in the same year.

Daly is the only Ulsterman to win the Irish Open until 2016, when Rory McIlroy wins at The K Club. Daly wins in 1946 at Portmarnock, and plays on four Ryder Cup teams, in 1947, 1949, 1951, and 1953. Daly is awarded the MBE in the 1984 New Year Honours “for services to golf.”

Fred Daly, age 79, dies in Belfast on November 18, 1990, of a heart attack.


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Padraig Harrington Wins the 2007 Open Championship

padraig-harringtonPadraig Harrington of Dublin becomes the first Irish golfer to win the British Open in 60 years on July 22, 2007, when he snatches victory from the jaws of defeat at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.

At the 2007 Open Championship, Harrington defeats Sergio García in a four-hole playoff at Carnoustie, becoming the first Irishman to win The Open Championship in 60 years, and the first ever from the Republic of Ireland. Both players go into the playoff having shot a 7-under 277 for the championship. Harrington subsequently wins by one stroke in the playoff.

Harrington is the first European golfer to secure a major victory since Paul Lawrie on the same course in 1999 and Ireland’s first since Fred Daly in 1947. President Mary McAleese is the first to convey her congratulations to Harrington, while Labour sports spokesman Jack Wall says, “Padraig Harrington’s magnificent victory in the Open without doubt represents one of the greatest days in the history of Irish sport.”

A year later at the 2008 Open Championship, it is unclear if he would get a chance to defend his Open title at Royal Birkdale Golf Club as eight days prior to the event he injures his wrist. However, Harrington successfully defends his title, overcoming a 2-shot deficit to Greg Norman with a final round 69. He shoots a four-under-par 32 on the back nine, which enables him to pull away from Norman and Ian Poulter. His eagle on the par-5 17th all but seals the tournament. He is the first European golfer since James Braid in 1906 to retain the Claret Jug. The win moves him from fourteenth to third in the world rankings, behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Just three weeks after winning the 2008 Open Championship, Harrington wins the PGA Championship over the South Course of the Oakland Hills Country Club, for his third major. Although at five over par after two rounds, he shoots eight under par for the weekend, carding successive scores of 66 in both the third and fourth rounds. His three under par 277 is two shots ahead of Sergio García and Ben Curtis. Harrington becomes the first European to win the PGA Championship since Tommy Armour in 1930, and is the first winner from Ireland.

Harrington’s victory in the PGA Championship secures his position as the number one player in Europe, earning him a spot in the 2008 European Ryder Cup team under captain Nick Faldo.