Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course
Tears of joy, anger, disappointment and mostly pride, just some of the emotions coursing through the veins of Mark Power after he bowed out of amateur golf in a blaze of individual glory even if it was overshadowed by defeat for Great Britain and Ireland in the 49th Walker Cup.
Power put together a string of special back nine performances at St Andrews over the weekend on his way to three points but to birdie 17 and 18 to beat Ben James 1UP as a final act on his amateur career at the Old Course, The Home of Golf was a fitting end for the 23-year-old who was overcome with emotion and reduced to tears when the realisation that this chapter of his life had come to an end.
“It was a complete release of emotion, I’ve had a really good amateur career and to finish it off here is special,” said a tearful Power who sits joint second in highest winning percentage for GB&I in foursomes and joint third in singles. He was also the top scorer for his team in both Walker Cup appearances.
“I’m not much of a crier! I don’t think I’ve cried on a golf course apart from when I was ten or eleven so that was a release of emotion I didn’t think I had inside of me. My family and friends are here, everyone gave me such great support so just try soak it in,” added the two-time Walker Cupper who raised the Irish flag in Friday’s opening ceremony.
“I really wanted to get it done for the lads. I have mixed emotions, happy to finish with a win and three points but sad because I wanted to win this so much. Tough to take but really excited for what’s ahead and a really special way to finish my amateur career. Finishing my amateur career on the 18th green at St Andrews is a close second to raising the flag for my country, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
The Kilkenny man admitted to having ‘a shocker’ on Friday morning as he and fellow 2021 survivor Barclay Brown fell to a 3&2 defeat in the opening foursomes match on Saturday. From there the back nine really did belong to him. He launched a sensational comeback in the Saturday singles to beat David Ford before reeling off four birdies in a row alongside Liam Nolan in the Sunday morning foursomes to overcome Austin Greaser and Dylan Menante 4&3 on a special morning for Irish golf.
He showed his powers of recovery again to pip James at the last with a five-foot birdie to win his third point of the weekend and he was proud of how he responded to his opening morning defeat.
“Absolutely yeah, I didn’t have my very best stuff in the morning of the first day. I felt OK but didn’t quite feel right there, on the back nine coming in there I felt great and loved every minute of it, to finish birdie, birdie like that. I’m really proud of my game, I know I can do it under the biggest pressure, I felt so much pressure coming in there and I just wanted to give us a chance, unfortunately we came up short but I am really proud of myself for how I performed.”
Power was one of four Irish players on Stuart Wilson’s Great Britain and Ireland team with each player earning at least a point over the four sessions. GB&I won the first two sessions of the weekend, spearheaded by the Irish, particularly on Saturday afternoon but ultimately they came up shy as the USA launched a Sunday surge to steamroll their hosts.
“We all clicked really well, the whole team clicked great but us Irish lads are really close, we all wanted to have a great week ourselves but we all wanted to do it for each other as well,” said Power. “Hard to sum it up, three Irish at the back there we were hoping one of us could have the chance to hole the winning putt but unfortunately we came up short but we gave it everything. That USA side is special so we have to tip our hats to them.
Power turned professional immediately after his final putt as an amateur disappeared into the hole and he will make a dream debut at the Horizon Irish Open on Thursday at the K Club. England’s John Gough whose parents hail from Meath and Down will also turn pro and make his debut at the Irish Open on Thursday in what will be his third appearance on Irish soil having won the Irish Amateur Open before playing in the Irish Challenge in Headfort.
“Again, similar to Mark, it was my final round of golf as an amateur today, so I’m going to take more than you can imagine away from the week, the players, the spectators, playing in front of crowds like that was crazy. There was oftentimes where I just looked back down from a green and just couldn’t even see grass at some points. You just see people everywhere,” explained Gough.
“I don’t think you can understand the feeling until you’re there, and I’m sure half of the people watching would agree it was just so electric out there.”