Mark Power birdied the first and eagled the last to cap a fabulous start to his professional career with a bogey-free 68 at the Horizon Irish Open at the K Club.
Having gone slightly long with a sawn off 2-iron for his second from 226 yards, Power’s chip trickled down the green and just as it looked like it would stop on the edge of the hole it died of exhaustion and disappeared as he turned to celebrate with the crowd after a dream maiden round as a pro and what could be the first of many grandstand finishes in his career.
“First round as a pro started with birdie and finished with an eagle, doesn’t get much better and nice way to finish there and felt really comfortable all day,” smiled Power who shares twelfth place with Shane Lowry, three shots off the lead held by Shubhankar Sharma.
Power bowed out of amateur golf as top scorer for Great Britain and Ireland at the Walker Cup last weekend including birdies on 17 and 18 at the Old Course to beat Dylan Menante 1UP. Thursday evening’s finish might not match that but it was a glimpse of what he is capable of.
“It was a terrible number on the second shot in and I could have tried to get a hard four, but you’re obviously bringing in the water then. So I just tried to choke up a two and it just came in a bit too flat, but I knew long wasn’t too bad all I had to do was get that thing running down so yeah, it was a nice way to finish.
“Maybe having a good pal of mine, Alex Fitz alongside helped and Nicolas Colsaerts I grew up watching him on TV, playing Ryder Cups and he was an absolute gent just a great day.”
The Kilkenny man rolled in a birdie from eleven feet to set the tone for the day and he really did look in the groove in the glorious sunshine when he walked in a seventeen-footer on the 7th for a second birdie of the day.
Power looked the part and walked the fairways with a swagger but he also showed he is able to knuckle down and fight for his score. First, a very good par on the par-5 10th after driving way right maintained his momentum but he also felt it was important to save par on the par-5 16th having come up short in the water with his second shot – not quite the fireworks of David Clifford in the pro-am.
“I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to play in the Irish Open so I felt somewhat at ease. I didn’t feel like it was unfamiliar territory. I was obviously very grateful to have those opportunities before and definitely stood to me today at the last.
“Yeah, it was a little scrappy at times and I grinded it pretty well and I will say that’s the one of the strength of my game. I’m not too flashy. I just like to get in, get involved, get stuck in and don’t really mind how I do it just as long as I managed to. Hit it in the water on 16, disappointed with that but to hit the shot in was a big relief and gave me a little kind breathing space the last couple that was a big save,” explained Power who will head to the first stage of Q-School next week.
The 23-year-old played in his first Irish Open in 2020 in Galgorm where he made the cut with experienced bagsman Dermot Byrne. The pair have linked up again this week after Byrne had a week off from caddying for Leona Maguire and it has worked a treat again, in what is a real coup for Power.
“I know he’s busy man with Leona, but thankfully she was kind enough to let him free this week. It just worked out well, the schedule, it worked out great that he happened to be free in my first pro event, because last time I was with him, I made my first as an amateur.”