Classy Keelan takes the spotlight ahead of Power’s top-50 battle

John Craven
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Classy Keelan takes the spotlight ahead of Power’s top-50 battle

Simon Keelan hits a tee shot on the 17th hole filmed by Seamus Power with Tyrrell Hatton among those looking on (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Simon Keelan produced a remarkable moment at the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass as he and Seamus Power put the finishing touches on their preparation ahead of a massive week at The Players.

A lefty, Keelan fancied his chances of hitting the 17th green during Wednesday’s practice round, but in the company of 2019 Open Champion Shane Lowry, England’s Tyrrell Hatton, and his own boss Power, he was stuck solely with right-handed bats.

Not put off in the slightest by that minor hurdle, not to mention the healthy crowd gathered around Pete Dye’s signature hole, Keelan put his skills to the test, taking Hatton’s right-handed 8-iron and flipping it to suit his left-handed requirements. The result… well, check it out for yourself, with Shane Lowry on commentary:

No ordinary caddie, Keelan is a plus-handicap golfer who has taken Power’s game to new heights, not least inside the world’s top-50 where Power sits in that all important last spot as the Masters cut-off date nears.

Since his tied-ninth finish at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, Power has struggled for form, missing cuts at the WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis before returning from a week at home in Ireland only to miss the cut at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational where he opened with an 80.

Still, there’s opportunity aplenty, and this week it really knocks – a $20million prize fund and a bundle of world ranking points providing Power with a huge chance to join Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry on that famous drive down Magnolia Lane. Asked if he allows himself to think of the top-50, Power said:

“Not really. Obviously I get asked about it a lot and it would be brilliant if it happened but one of my biggest goals, or two of my goals for this year; one is to win and the other is to get to the Tour Championship, both of which would take care of (the 2023 Masters) by itself,” Power explained.

“But obviously the Masters is the one that everyone wants to be a part of. I have been to the Masters and watched it and all that kind of stuff and it would be unbelievable.

“It’s funny with the world rankings, I get more texts now on a Monday morning about them, telling me I’ve moved up to 45th or moved down one because everyone is looking at the same thing.

“A lot of my friends don’t even want to ask because they know when the cut off is for the Masters and they don’t want to ask about it until then but I’d love to be there.”

Power has yet to commit to next week’s Valspar Championship in Tampa, no doubt waiting to see how this week unfolds, and although his trip to Ponte Vedra is a big one, it’s not do or die in terms of Masters qualification, with the bumper WGC-Dell Match Play also on the cards this month ahead of the March 28th deadline.

Power gets underway at 18.18pm Irish time later today from the 10th tee in the company of Luke List and Taylor Moore.

Shane Lowry plays alongside Matthew Wolff and Lucas Glover from the 10th tee at 13.24 while Rory McIlroy plays in the marquee group with Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas at 17.56.

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