Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course
It’s a dream for the many and a reality for the few but Mark Power knows raising the Irish flag during the opening ceremony for the 49th Walker Cup is a moment that could be one of the greatest of his life.
There were a few ropey moments as he let the tricolour slide up the flagpole as Amhrán na bhFiann was sung on the first tee of the Old Course in front of the R&A Clubhouse on Friday but it was a few minutes filled with overriding pride and emotion. One of just two survivors from the 2021 Great Britain and Ireland side, this week’s Walker Cup will be his last action as an amateur golfer and a fitting way to bow out.
“Yeah, making that Walker Cup last time around was there, but this whole week has topped that,” smiled Power. “Regardless of how the rest of the week goes, raising that flag in front of the Old Course or in front of the clubhouse, it’s just an unbelievable feeling. Almost loss for words. I’m on such a buzz after that.”
Power was visibly raging after he and Barclay Brown lost 3&2 to Gordon Sargent and Dylan Menante in the opening foursomes match and he had to endure another frustrating eleven holes before he finally got something to go his way. The 23-year-old was under the cosh against David Ford at three down through eleven holes but he won four holes in a row to roar 1UP after 15 and turn the tie on its head.
“Do you know what, I just felt like I was giving myself some looks on the front nine. I just wasn’t getting the ball to the hole. I had a bunch of putts, but they were about 15- to 20-foot range, and I knew if I just gave myself something a little bit closer, got a little bit of momentum, I could put some pressure on him,” explained Power.
“I knew the way the wind was going on the back nine, it was going to be tough for a lefty, so I said just give myself a chance, and lucky I got a couple breaks, made a couple nice putts, and that tee shot on the last was nice.
“This place is special. Just these last few holes having a chance to win a match is just unbelievable.”
Power looked odds on to fall four down after he left a long range birdie effort on the par-3 11th 10 feet short. After 26 holes of frustration the putter finally heated up for him as he banged the par putt in for the half and birdied 12 to go 2 down which he saw as a momentum shifting two shot swing.
“I hit a poor first putt on 11, but it was up such a slope, and if you don’t quite strike your putts up those slopes, they just don’t roll at all. That’s I felt like what happened.
“But I holed a nice 12-footer just to keep letting him know that I’m still there; I’m not going to lie down. Just got a really nice run going, made a few nice birdies.
“There was a couple tough pins. I felt even a couple pars there coming in were big. Just really happy with that.”
Keen to make amends for a disappointing morning effort, Power was delighted to register a point on the board on a day where all four Irish players earned at least a win.
“Yeah, just going to try to let it sink, but obviously we have a job to do tomorrow, so focus will need to be kind of regained.
“We were in a decent position after 11 holes this morning, and I hit a poor tee shot on 12, cost us the hole, and I feel like the momentum flipped a little bit, and I felt like I had a little bit of responsibility. So I wanted to come out this afternoon and get a point and kind of just balance that out.”