Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 13:14
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:01
ALL-IRELAND Gaelic football players Mick Galvin and Jason Sherlock have turned their hands to another sport with great success after conquering the fairways in Scotland this week and claiming a dramatic victory at the 2011 International Pairs World Final.
Galvin and Sherlock held their nerve under intense pressure to beat Chile pair Gabriel Morgan Searle and Rodrigo San Martin Ribera at the second hole of a sudden death play-off at The Carrick on Loch Lomond.
The duo, winners of the All-Ireland title with Dublin in 1995, became the first Irish players to be crowned world champions in the competition’s history but it was a close run thing as Searle and Ribera pushed them all the way after both teams had finished with 53 Stableford points after 27 holes, three clear of South Africans Melville Muir and Willie Stokes.
Having halved the first hole of sudden death in par-fours, Galvin and Sherlock looked to be in pole position to close out victory as they played The Carrick’s 407-yard 18th hole for a second time with their opponents in trouble off the tee.
Galvin, who is now manager of St Oliver Plunketts Gaelic football team with Sherlock one of his players, found the green in two but then proceeded to three-putt from 25 feet and their win was only confirmed when Searle’s three-foot putt for a bogey lipped out.
“That is the most nervous I have ever been on a golf course,” said 11-handicapper Sherlock, who also played for Shamrock Rovers and the Republic of Ireland’s under-21 football side.
“I have played in a lot of big sporting occasions but I preferred playing in front of 80,000 people at Croke Park than going through that.
“It’s a great honour to represent your country and to become the first Irish world champions is very special.”
Galvin and Sherlock were tied for the lead with Scotland’s Steven Hunter and Stephen Brown after the first round of the event - the world’s largest of its kind for club golfers - after scoring 17 points on a rain-affected first day that restricted the 21-team field to just nine holes.
The Dublin duo looked to be heading to victory as the Scots fell away in the final nine holes.
But in testing conditions, the Chileans, making their debut in the event, mounted a late charge to score an impressive 38 points in their second round and the final headed into overtime after Sherlock narrowly failed to birdie his last hole.
Galvin, who plays off six, added: “Jason and I have known each other for years and we played very well in the second round.
“We knew if we beat the Scottish guys we would stand a chance but the Chileans played some great golf and it was a bit of a struggle to finish things off at the end.
“It’s a humbling experience to play for your country on a world stage and it doesn’t get any bigger than this. It’s a great event and we’ve met some wonderful people from all over the world. We can’t celebrate too much, though, as we have a game at the weekend!”
The victory was extra sweet for Mark Creedon who only took over as Ireland’s International Pairs licensee less than two months ago. “I have not been involved in International Pairs for very long so were limited in what we could do and this is the best possible start we could have made,” said Creedon, Managing Director of Golf Master.
“The lads played some tremendous golf to win, it was amazing to be involved in such a global event and I’m looking forward to expanding International Pairs in Ireland over the next 12 months.”
Competitors from 16 countries including America, South Africa, Nigeria, Spain, Canada, Portugal, Antigua, Romania, Czech Republic and United Arab Emirates took part in the tournament with the field based for the second year running at the venue’s spectacular hotel Devere Cameron House.
Here are the top finishers from the tournament with Canada placing two teams in the top ten.
2011 INTERNATIONAL PAIRS WORLD FINAL RESULTS - TOP 10
The Provost of Argyll and Bute, Councillor Willie Petrie, was on hand to formally open and close proceedings. “International Pairs is a wonderful event and it’s a pleasure and privilege for our region to host so many people from all corners of the globe. It doesn’t get any better than this for amateur golfers and we look forward to welcoming everybody back very soon,” said Cllr Petrie.
Ross Honey, founder of International Pairs, added: “The weather tested everybody’s skills over the last few days and it never ceases to amaze me the standard of golf that is produced under such pressure.
“We’re delighted to welcome Mick and Jason as the first Irish world champions we’ve had and for Chile to do so well in their first year of competing was phenomenal.
“The Carrick on Loch Lomond provided an amazing location for some sensational golf, many new friendships have been forged during the course of the week and we are looking forward to attracting more countries and players to International Pairs in the future.
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