Eamonn Darcy retires with a 67
ONE of my favourite Irish players Eamonn Darcy, brought the curtain down on a fantastic professional career in Spain on Saturday last with a bogey-free final round of 67at the Costa Blanca Benidorm Senior Masters in what is to be his last-ever round as a professional.
I have followed the Delganey man’s career since my teens, when in 1978 he was signed to represent Ballybunion Golf Club as Touring Professional by WD O’Grady, my predecessor in this column, who was Captain of the club that year.
Darcy’s tournament clothing and golf bag bore the Ballybunion logo for several years on the European Tour and I got to know him quite well during that time and followed him on several occasions when he played in domestic events around the country.
Our paths last crossed at Ballybunion during the Irish Seniors Open in 2009 when we sat down for a long chat, reminiscing about my late father and others that he knew at the club back in the days when he was attached as Touring Professional.
His career was quite remarkable and had he not grown to his six foot plus frame, he would never have made a career in golf as he was fully intent on becoming a professional jockey.
However, as they say, racing’s loss was golf’s gain and having learnt the game as a boy in his native Delganey in Wicklow, he became assistant professional to Watty O’Sullivan at the Grange Golf Club in Dublin in 1968 at the age of 16 before joining the European Tour some four years later.
Darcy’s unique swing with the “flying right elbow” drew much comment throughout his career, with the most memorable coming from a television commentator who famously said: “He reminds me of a guy in a telephone booth trying to beat a snake to death”.
Funny swing or not, it worked, as Darcy played in over 800 events throughout his professional career, winning fifteen times and playing in four Ryder Cups, where he wrote his name into the history books by sinking the winning putt in the 1987 match at Muirfield Village to defeat Ben Crenshaw to give Europe their first-ever away win in the event.
Despite being one of the top ten professionals on the European tour for over a decade, he never managed to secure a spot in the US Open, the USPGA or the US Masters, while his best finish in the Open Championship came in 1991 at Royal Birkdale where he tied for fifth spot behind the winner Ian Baker-Finch.
After more than 90 top ten finishes and four wins in his 30 years on the European Tour, he joined the European Seniors Tour in 2002 at the age of fifty, but sadly, his best years were behind him and he never managed a win in his 16 years of competing.
He bowed out on Saturday last, closing with a 67, but he says he was “disappointed” as he was one birdie shy of shooting his age.