Dawson lands stunning albatross in a hopeful sign of things to come

John Craven
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Dawson lands stunning albatross in a hopeful sign of things to come

Robin Dawson (Photo by Neil Baynes/Getty Images)

Robin Dawson landed the rarest of all birds in a final round four-under par 66 as part of a hugely encouraging display at the $75,000 Laguna Phuket Cup on the MENA Tour.

The Tramore talent holed his stunning two-iron approach from 246 yards on the par-5 11th and hopes the feat could set the tone for a successful season after a difficult spell in golf’s paid ranks since turning pro in 2018.

“I was absolutely in foul humour because I’d bogeyed a par-5 and only made par at a drivable par-4 so I was two shots behind the field after the two holes going to 11,” Dawson told me from his hotel room in Thailand where he had the air-con blowing full blast after a steamy day on the golf course.

“I hit a lovely drive down the middle on 11 and I was on a huge upslope. I’d 220 front and I’d 246 to a back pin. It’s a bit of a dog-leg and there were a couple of trees in front of me and I just knew if I hit it over one particular tree it would be pretty close.

“I managed to hit the most beautiful 2-iron I’ve hit all week right out over the middle of the tree and my playing partner, David Langley said ‘that looks really good’. I walked up and I couldn’t see it so I had a look around the back of the green and there was no sign. I went up and had a look and there it was in the middle of the hole which was good [laughing].

“I’ve never had an albatross. I’ve had one hole-in-one and it was in competition so it was nice to have the albatross in competition too. Hopefully it’s a sign of more good things to come.”

One of the most exciting Irish amateur prospects of recent years, Robin Dawson has been searching for a swing that propelled him to sixth in the world’s unpaid charts before turning pro in 2018. I interviewed him at the beginning of 2019 for a feature entitled ‘Dawson lining-up long career at golf’s top table’ and for a time during that rookie season, everything was going swell.

Stellar finishes on the Challenge Tour in Prague (T12), Finland (T11) and Denmark (T18) lay dotted around a stand-out week at the Irish Open at Lahinch where he collected by far the biggest cheque of his fledgling career – €58,034.52 – for his T27 showing.

Truth be told, we’ve talked very little since 2019. Dawson’s form, plus a poxy pandemic putting paid to his playing opportunities saw stories in golf falling elsewhere. And when I reached out to him after seeing that magical ‘2’ flash up on my screen from his scorecard in Phuket, I apologised out the gate for being a fickle journalist piping up to say hello only when there was something in it for me.

“John, any time you’re talking to a journalist you haven’t done too badly,” he laughed, no hard feelings.

Many of us have been trying to forget the last couple of years as we tentatively try to trust that Covid is a thing of the past. Dawson’s no different and after coming through the longest winter of his career to date, off the back of a Challenge Tour season that saw him make just three cuts from 15 starts, I asked him how he found himself on a hotel bed in Thailand talking to me on WhatsApp, and if his optimism for the future has teetered at all given the rocky road that got him there.

“I saw it was a chance to get some competitive golf in,” Dawson said.

“Four events back-to-back on a nice golf course and in some good weather. It’s a great chance to get the game sharpened up for what’s a long summer ahead.

“I’d rather come out here and play some events than sit at home and just practice. It’s been a long winter, and a long off-season, but I’m very optimistic this year.

“I was just practicing and playing away over the winter-time. I’ve kept busy as well so I’m very optimistic and I’m just looking forward to getting going. The last two weeks have been a nice confidence boost in that I’m working on the right things and heading in the right direction.”

Dawson is certainly starting to trend upward. He broke 70 all three rounds in Phuket with his six-under tally good enough for a share of 26th. He fired a final round 63 at the previous week’s Laguna Phuket Challenge to post a top-10, while in his last 11 rounds on the Challenge Tour, Dawson has broken par 7 times. Sure, those scores haven’t always translated into cuts made and points accumulated but it’s evidence enough that alongside new coach Zane Scotland, a player once heralded as one of Ireland’s brightest fairway talents is on the right track to rediscovering his spark.

“Definitely,” Dawson agreed. “Since I started working with Zane Scotland last September, he’s been a huge help. It’s nice to see results coming through. Everything good takes time, you know. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“I suppose with the pro game the way it is now, just breaking par isn’t good enough. It’s par-68, par-69 every round you play now to finish high up there because the fields are just so deep.

“I’ve noticed, especially out here in Thailand, there hasn’t been any Q-Schools or things like that over the last couple of years so none of the good players have had a chance to progress. As a result, there are a lot of really good players stuck on the mini-tours for the last couple of years so it’s very competitive out here so far. It’s nice to test my game against that and see where it’s at.”

Still only 26, Dawson has more than enough time on his side to succeed in the game of golf. You only have to look at the persistence of the likes of Jonathan Caldwell and Seamus Power, 10-odd years his senior to realise the scope to success within the ropes of professional golf. And if further perspective was needed, Dawson’s trip to South East Asia has provided it.

Playing alongside some incredible talents in Asia who’ve been starved of competitive golf to a much greater extent than those in Europe, Dawson accepts that time’s on his side and that one good season can change it all, though one good shot might too!

“Golf is a funny game, one good season can really do a lot for you,” he said.

“I suppose in today’s world, everyone expects results now. You’ve a couple of bad tournaments in a row and everyone thinks you’re the worst player. You’ve a good couple of tournaments and everyone thinks you’re a great player. I see the golf journey over a long period of time and that’s the way you’ve got to look at it.”

Dawson tees up again this week in Thailand at Thursday’s starting Blue Canyon Classic.

K Club pro Conor O’Rourke signed off with a three-over 73 to tie 50th in Phuket at minus-one.

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