Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course
Mark Power is just one of two Great Britain and Ireland players with Walker Cup experience heading into Saturday’s contest with the USA but he brings an outstanding record in team golf.
Power might not have the individual titles his amateur career might have warranted ahead of his final puck before turning professional but he has more than made up for that in team golf. The Kilkenny man went unbeaten for GB&I in last year’s St Andrews Trophy, winning 3.5 points from 4 while he won three of four matches at the 2021 Walker Cup in Seminole. He also played a key role in helping Ireland to a bronze medal at this year’s European Team Championships, winning two points from four.
Great Britain and Ireland are rank outsiders against a stellar American outfit and while the weather won’t act as a leveller this weekend, anything can happen over 18 holes of matchplay. Whether the hosts can maintain a challenge across four sessions remains to be seen but Power looks best placed to carry the fight at St Andrews.
“I will say I love team golf, so I think that’s going to definitely help for me. I feel like I excel a lot in team golf. Individually I’m obviously a competitor, but there’s something about team golf that just lifts me to a different level,” explained Power who won a foursomes point alongside Walker Cup teammate Liam Nolan in the European Championships and played a practice round with the Galway man on Friday morning which could see GB&I captain Stuart Wilson give them the nod in the Saturday foursomes session.
“I found that the last time around at Seminole, even St Andrews Trophy last year with John and Stuart against Europe, I felt like it just elevated my game to another level.
“Trying to find a way to bring that every single week would be nice, but this will be my last amateur event, so trying to take a lot from this week and hopefully finish on a high before turning pro. But all focus will be on this week the next couple days.”
The Great Britain and Ireland team are well acquainted with the Old Course having played practice rounds as a squad over the course of the year as well as having the luxury of playing the St Andrews Links Trophy every year. Power (23) feels course knowledge and familiarity could be a key factor as the hosts look to upset the odds and win for the first time since 2015.
“I think the beauty of St Andrews is the more times you play it, the more trouble or the more you learn about the course. You see a different bit of undulations you probably haven’t seen the last time, and the first time you play it you might think, this isn’t too bad, you can hit it fairly wide off the tee, but when you look at where you want to position the ball for your second shot, it’s actually a lot more strategic.
“I think that’s helped playing it before, and every time, as I say, I’ve played it, I’ve learned different bits and pieces. It’s definitely helped.”