Exclusive by Bernie McGuire.
Seamus Power heads into Thursday’s starting Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii carrying the admiration of two Irish-born Major champions – Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry.
Power is among just 39 players, including 38 fellow PGA Tour winners from 2021 and also Olympic Gold Medal-winning Xander Schauffele, contesting the first event of the New Year on the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui.
The West Waterford golfer earned his place in the €7.3m event on the back of last July’s stunning breakthrough Barbasol Championship success in Kentucky.
Power’s maiden victory toast earned him a two-year PGA Tour exemption to the end of the 2022/23 season, a place in this week’s Hawaiian event, a start in March’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, and also a debut major championship tee-time at May’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
And despite being the only Irish-born player in Hawaii, Power has the support of his fellow countrymen and major champions in Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry.
Harrington contested the Hawaiian event just once in 2016 and eight months later had Power by his side in the Rio Olympics.
“It was great seeing Seamus get across the line with a first PGA Tour win and I have always admired him for having a good, solid game,” said Harrington.
“I felt that back in 2016 when he and I represented Ireland in the Olympic Games that it would be just a matter of him believing in himself. It did take a few years but then last year he was knocking on the door for a long while before his win, so it’s great now he’s getting the rewards and looking very comfortable now on the Tour.
“I think it was a week or two before his win that he had done enough to secure his card for season 2021/22 exemption and it’s amazing that when you are relaxed in attaining those types of goals, that’s when you start playing good golf.
“And now Seamus has that first win under his belt and feels comfortable as he does, there’s no reason why he cannot go on now and carve out a good PGA Tour career for himself.”
Lowry has qualified twice for this week’s Hawaiian event and while he’s yet to take up the option, he’s also delighted for Power, though the 2019 Royal Portrush winning hero believes golfers like Power are deserving of more ‘home’ attention.
“It’s been great what Seamus has achieved in getting a first win on the Tour, as he’s become your modern PGA Tour player who hits it a long way, and is pretty solid at everything he does,” said Lowry.
“I think now he’s got that maiden victory, he’ll go on to really establish himself but then it’s a bit of a shame as what he’s been doing kind of goes unnoticed in Ireland.
“There are players like Seamus and Jonny (Caldwell) doing so well but they just don’t get the credit for what they are achieving.
“It seems that the benchmark in Ireland golf now is majors, as people think if you’re not winning majors, you are not successful and I felt that way for years before winning The Open.
“So, what he did last year and getting into this week’s event is great. It’s great for Irish golf and it’s great for Seamus. He’s a good lad. He’s Irish to the core. Comes from Waterford and he’s grounded it out and he’s there now.
“What Jonny has done has somewhat also gone unnoticed as he won that Scandinavian Mixed and where he came from the past 10-15 years to get that first win is a great story.
“It’s why I point out stories like that go unnoticed in Ireland because the benchmark is majors because Padraig’s won majors, Rory’s won, Darren’s won, GMac won a US Open and I’m now a major winner.”
A third-place finish in Hawaii will see the current World No. 73 ranked Power into the world’s top-50 and should he stay inside the top-50 at the end of March, it will mean a guaranteed Masters tee time in the second week of April.
Power will tee-up in Hawaii at 8.20pm Irish time Thursday.
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