Despite an opening round of 70 at the 112th Irish PGA Championship in Carne Golf Links, Damien McGrane has dismissed any notions that he might be the last man standing and lift a third national title on Saturday evening.
The 2016 and 2019 champion is three shots adrift of first round leader Cian Geraghty (-5) but the DP World Tour winner was quick to quash his own hopes, citing a lack of sharpness.
“I’m not going there to be honest, I just want to play well as best I can. I’m not competitive so it’s beyond my capabilities in my opinion but if I finish top-5 I will be delighted with that, that’s probably the best I can do,” explained the Carlow Golf Club pro who had a tale of two nines with four birdies on the front nine before bogeys on 10, 12 and 17 dropped him back to one-under but he finished with a closing birdie.
“I was happy enough with my golf, I came in with small expectations,” explained the Kells native. “Birdied the first hole which is a good start, birdied the last which is a good finish. A few bogeys in between but I was always going to have that. I play so little golf now that I’m very rusty so if an opportunity comes to throw one away I will.
“It’s a good start I’m delighted to have it and it’s nice to be here in Carne Links.”
Despite citing a lack of playing time as his reason for not being a serious contender over the course of the next 36-holes, the 51-year-old has been quietly playing his way into form with two top-10s in his last three starts including last week in Kilkea Castle after finishing 10th and 12th in the K Club and Newlands respectively.
“Yeah I have associations with all those clubs so it was worth my while to play. I am sharing with friends this week so that was a good reason to come to Carne this week.
“I haven’t played too much this year and I probably won’t play too much more after this but I am enjoying this and enjoying the difficulty of the course. It is extremely difficult but I seem to enjoy that in some weird way.”
Whether McGrane can lift a third Irish PGA title remains to be seen, but it will still be a special week for the family with his son Ethon making his debut.
“As a parent it’s good to see him play I would love to see him do reasonably well,” McGrane said of his son who carded a ten-over 82. “He’s still learning and he’s on that learning curve.
“I’m here to support him and support all the young players I would love to see somebody new like Liam Grehan come along and shine this week it would be a good continuation of the PGA story.”