Former European Tour winner Damien McGrane put the field to the sword with a scintillating six-under par 66 to take top honours at the €25,000 K Club Pro-Am at the Straffan venue’s stunning South course.
The Carlow professional took advantage of ideal scoring conditions on Tuesday, landing an eagle en route to a six-under tally that secured a two stroke victory over Kilkenny’s Jimmy Bolger.
“It’s always great to get back to the K Club,” says McGrane. “The course was playing firm which we haven’t really played very often. My memories of the K Club South is European Open, Irish Open, and they were were always wet so if you were lucky enough to hit the ball into the right positions yesterday, the course played generous – there were loads of birdie opportunities.
“I played great. I just turned up and out of nowhere; the very first shot of the day, I just hit a super shot and all of a sudden it gave me forward momentum. I birdied the first hole I played and after that I just played super the whole day. Gave myself loads of opportunities and polished off a few of them. And when I needed a bit of luck I got it, which ultimately, when you’re a part-time golfer, you need a bit of luck to keep a score alive.
“But overall, it was really satisfying, I’d no bogeys which was satisfying in itself. It was great company, we all got well fed last night. MCM Engineering, the sponsors were there. It was a very good event, very well run by Conor [Russell] and the lads, they do a great job. I’ve played the K Club for 25 years now, it’s been very good to me and it’s always been a place I love coming back to.”
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As McGrane points out, he considers himself a part-time golfer these days but that’s not to say his blemish-free score of 66 surprised him.
“I definitely wouldn’t be surprised,” he says, “but i’m sort of grinning behind the scenes saying to myself ‘how the Christ am I doing this considering I’m not putting in any effort’.
“You know, I’d probably shoot three times more of that score if I was playing full-time but I’m not, I’m at a different stage of my life and golf now is second, or third or fourth on my priority list.
“When I shoot a good score like that, it’s in me, and I know how to do it. It’s just that my golf game and my body possibly doesn’t allow me to do it like I used to.”
Even after shooting 66, it’s back to the day job at Carlow for McGrane. Such displays don’t reignite his fire for a game that saw him become a stalwart on the European Tour, however, he has some dates in the diary to look forward to nonetheless, not least next Monday’s Pro-Am at his home base of Carlow on June 5.
“Like all club pros, we’re all busy, the days are long,” he says. “I played five pro-ams last year I think, I’ll probably play five or six this year which will do me fine.
“Our own Pro-Am here at Carlow sponsored by Sheehy Motors is coming up next Monday so that’s the next big event on my calendar, and it’s very important for me and the club that all our energy goes into make that event as good as it can be.”
It was a star-studded leaderboard all-round on a perfect day for golf with the K Club’s own Liam Grehan sharing the last place on the podium alongside arguably the form man on the Region, Lucan’s Sunshine Tour pro Richard O’Donovan after the pair carded three-under 69s.
Spa’s Simon Thornton shared fifth alongside Glasson’s Colm Moriarty at two-under while another K Club man, Conor O’Rourke returned a one-under 71, the same score as Limerick’s Tim Rice and Old Head’s Enda Maguire as nine players broke par on the day.
In the team competition, Rice led his amateur partners Michael Meagher, Sean Fitzgerald and Paul Foley to a whopping 89 points, taking the top prize by an impressive three points.
Full scoring HERE