Ea­monn Darcy re­tires with a 67

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT -

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.

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