6.5 C
Dublin
Monday, March 30, 2020
- Advertisement -

Ryder Cup captains lead tributes to the late John O’Leary

Must read

Confessions of a weary pro shop assistant – Coronavirus edition

You thought you were confused waking up this morning? Spare a thought for pro shop assistants around the country whose worlds have been turned upside down by COVID-19 #covidireland

The confusing science of golf

The science behind golf can be so convoluted that many refuse to acknowledge it, but get your head around technology and you can use it to your advantage and achieve astonishing results

Difficult Times

Have you found a fence to sit on? Asks Kevin Markham #covidireland #staysafe

Ryder Cup legends: Ian Poulter

The fifth to feature in our series of Ryder Cup legends in the lead up to Whistling Straits has been the chest pumping heartbeat of Team Europe who'll be striving to don his Postman blue once more

The Ryder Cup Captaincy foursome of Padraig Harrington, Sam Torrance, Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn have led the tributes at the passing of Irish golfing legend, John O’Leary who passed away earlier today after a long illness.

The Dubliner turned professional in 1970 and a year later, in his first full season, he made the cut in The Open at Royal Birkdale. O’Leary won four times in his pro career including two victories on the European Tour highlighted with his triumph in the 1982 Irish Open at Portmarnock.

There to congratulate O’Leary was Scotland’s Sam Torrance who was not only the defending champion but was residing that week with O’Leary. Torrance posted a tribute Tweet saying: “So sad to hear of the passing of one my dearest friends and roommate for 10 years on tour RTIP my old pal John O’Leary.”

Fellow good friend, Paul McGinley, still getting over the loss earlier this year of his long-time caddy, James ‘Edinburgh Jimmy’ Rae, also tweeted his sadness.

“More sad news in the passing of my friend and fellow Irishman ‘Jonno‘ O’Leary – always a dedicated follower of fashion and all round great guy – what a year 2020 has been so far starting on Jan 2 with Edinburgh Jimmy’s passing – be lucky everybody in these uncertain times,” said McGinley.

In winning the 1982 Irish Open, O’Leary became the first ‘home’ player since Christy O’Connor won the event in 1975 and when Padraig Harrington captured the 2007 Irish Open at Adare Manor, there’s a wonderful photograph of O’Leary being among the first to congratulate Harrington and later being also photographed with Harrington at the presentation ceremony.

- Advertisement -

Harrington paid tribute to O’Leary saying via his Twitter account: “So sorry to hear of the passing of a legend of Irish golf John O’Leary. He always had a kind word to say and gave you advice without preaching. He was a larger than life character whose stories will live on. May he Rest In Peace. “

Also paying tribute was Bjorn, who steered Europe to a stunning Versailles victory in 2018.

Bjorn said: “Very sad! John was always fantastic company. RIP”

O’Leary capped his very colourful professional career in 1975 in representing GB&I in the biennial Ryder Cup in Arnold Palmer’s backyard at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania though O’Leary’s selection in a Bernard Hunt led side to take on the might of Palmer’s Americans was not as simple as one would expect.

In the weeks prior to selection, O’Leary finished runner-up in the French Open and then in teaming with Aussie Jack Newton, he won the Sumrie-Bournemouth Better-Ball.

However, in February 1975, and while he was in South Africa, O’Leary received a £500 fine and a one-year ban from representing any PGA team, a ban that ruled him out of the 1975 Ryder Cup.

The ban followed complaints about his conduct in an event in Jamaica in late 1974.

O’Leary appealed and the one-year ban was lifted, although the £500 fine stood. In the 1975 qualifying process, the leading eight GB & I team members on the Tour money-list were automatic picks while the remaining four were ‘wildcard’ picks.

O’Leary finished sixth on the money list but the joy of being selected would be short-lived with Hunt’s team getting smacked by 21 to 11 points, and O’Leary losing all four matches including his Sunday Singles against Hale Irwin.

O’Leary put that disappointment aside to capture his first Tour win a year later by four shots at the Greater Manchester Open.

He retired from full-time competition in 1989 but continued playing a handful of events and with the last of O’Leary’s 392 European Tour events being appropriately the 1992 Irish Open at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club.

In those near 400-events, O’Leary won twice, recorded four seconds, three third-place results along with 32 other top-10s while he made the halfway cut in 237 events.

He contested just the one Major in his career and that was The Open teeing-up, as mentioned earlier, for a first time in 1971 and then playing the last of a dozen Opens in 1987.

In team competition he very proudly not only represented Ireland at the 1975 Ryder Cup but also represented Ireland in each of the following events:

* World Cup -1972, 1980, 1982

* Double Diamond International – 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977

* Marlboro Nations’ Cup/Philip Morris International – 1972, 1973, 1975

* Hennessy Cognac Cup – 1976 (winners), 1978 (winners), 1982 (winners)

However, O’Leary was not about to sit idle in retirement as he joined his former mentor John Jacobs – regarded as the founding father of the European Tour – on the Board of Directors in 1985, having previously chaired the Tournament Players Committee during his playing career.

He sat in his last Board meeting in March 2019.

And O’Leary, known for his friendly demeanor and storytelling, felt rightfully proud of his contribution when it was announced the 2006 Ryder Cup would be heading to Ireland for a first time, when The K Club hosted a European triumph under the captaincy of Ian Woosnam.

Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, said: “John made a huge contribution to the evolution of the European Tour, firstly as a successful player and then as a long-serving member of the Tour’s Board of Directors.

“Above all he loved our game. That’s the one thing I always remember about John – how much he loved golf and what it gave him and his family. He was always telling stories and he was a true ambassador for our sport. We will sorely miss him, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

- Advertisement -

New Gear

Footjoy delivers comprehensive spikeless line-up for 2020

Footjoy's latest offering boasts more comfort, versatility and durability with a range of models to suit all golfers

Spring is in the air with Footjoy’s colourful SS20 collection

FootJoy has launched a brand-new Spring/Summer apparel line to kickstart the golfer’s season in 2020. You'll feel warm just browsing the attire!

Adidas’ journey to End Plastic Waste hits the golf course

Adidas athletes who teed it up in last week's Players Championship walked a mile in David Attenborough's shoes, wearing select apparel and footwear made from upcycled plastic waste

PowaKaddy lifts curtain on exciting CT range

PowaKaddy is continuing to push the boundaries of ultra-compact, lightweight design with the introduction of the completely remodelled 2020 Compact range

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

GCSAI recommend Irish greenkeepers not to attend work

In what could prove a major blow to golf courses around Ireland, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Ireland has recommended that Irish Greenkeepers do not attend work #covidireland

Postponement of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

The European Tour today confirmed the postponement of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open due to the continuing threat posed by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

New gym, same Lowry as Shane resists the McIlroy model

Open Champion Shane Lowry insists all the home gym equipment in the world won’t see him emerging from self-isolation sporting a rig like world number one Rory McIlroy

Masters waiting game continues for McDowell

Augusta National will not commit to advising if it will honour a 2020 Masters invitation to those players currently inside the top-50 on the World Rankings, with Graeme McDowell at 49

McGinley predicting long & winding road back for golf

"It is commonly agreed that the economic fallout will be colossal and there is no doubt that sport will have suffered as a consequence. This in itself will filter right down the golf food chain"