Manchip says Keith Egan’s short game was key to success at the West of Ireland

Mark McGowan

Neil Manchip at the 2021 Ryder Cup (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Golf Ireland High Performance Director Neil Manchip was on the grounds at County Sligo Golf Club and saw first hand how former international player and pupil Keith Egan captured his first men’s championship in style at the West of Ireland Championship.

Manchip was on hand, partly to watch the West of Ireland Championship and partly to watch the ISPS HANDA G4D @ The West – the first ever event for golfers with a disability to be held in conjunction with one of the premier amateur championships in Ireland – and what he saw from Egan was a player in control of all facets of his game.

“He was very good tee-to-green, some great short game again today and holed some really good putts,” Manchip said shortly after watching Egan presented with a trophy that has some of the biggest names in Irish golfing history inscribed on its base, including major winning trio of Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington and another of Manchip’s disciples, Shane Lowry.

“So like anyone that wins a championship, there’s a lot of everything,” he added. “Some very tight matches. He had a good game with his club mate Paul O’Hanlon in the last 16. That was probably a big match there and yeah, all around game has been great. Keith has played U-16s for Ireland, U-18s for Ireland and men’s golf for Ireland as well, so he’s a very experienced player and great see him get over the line.”

Egan had indeed been superb in all skill subsets throughout the week, perhaps best evidenced when he shot a bogey-free, one-under 70 on the second and final day of strokeplay qualifying, one of only two rounds in red figures on the day, and the only one without a blemish on the card. But when it came to matchplay and particularly the latter stages of it, there was one area where Egan stood head and shoulders above the rest.

“I thought the short game was particularly impressive,” Manchip said. “The amount of extremely clinical up and downs he got… and in matchplay that’s always very important. His fitness is very good as well, you know, he runs some fitness classes and yeah, so that that side of his game is very good as well as you say, but a sharp short game this afternoon. [He made] a really key up and down on 15 to save par this afternoon after getting a bit snookered with his tee shot, so that was big for him there. So well done to him, great to win a historic championship like the West.”

Winning the West of Ireland Championship sees Egan take an early lead in the Bridgestone Order of Merit rankings for 2024, and though Manchip preaches caution, the elite amateurs from the Irish circuit will return to County Sligo Golf Club again in just over five weeks’ time when the Rosses Point links plays host to the Irish Amateur Open.

“Anyone who wins the first championship is obviously ahead of everybody else and is looking forward to the rest of them,” Manchip said when asked about just how big a season Egan could have, ” but we’ve got our Irish Amateur here in six weeks time. So he’ll be coming back to a favourite venue and we’ll see how he gets on there. He’s got obviously got family connections to here as well. But, I mean, you can’t help but love the place. It’s right in the middle of the village, accessible to everybody. Fantastic links course.”

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