Former Ryder Cup captains Sam Torrance and Paul McGinley paid their last respects to Christy O’Connor jr as they joined thousands of mourners at the Irishman’s funeral at Galway Cathedral.
The 67-year-old, best remembered for the shot he hit to the last hole at The Belfry in Europe’s Ryder Cup win in 1989, had been on holiday in Tenerife when he died in his sleep last Wednesday.
“I think it’s a sad day for Ireland,” said McGinley, who had spent some time in his compatriot’s company just before Christmas. “He was a character, much loved, and I’ll miss the fun.”
Fellow Irish golfer Eamonn Darcy offered his personal reflections while the Ryder Cup was present to mark O’Connor jr’s victory over Fred Couples.
“He was a big part of Ryder Cup history and folklore and it’s nice to be able to bring the trophy here,” added McGinley. “Christy showed me how to have fun, that’s the thing I’ll remember most about him.”
Scotland’s four representatives were all on course to qualify for the knock-out stage of the Australian Amateur Championship after the first of two qualifying rounds in Melbourne.
All playing at Peninsula Kingswood, Grant Forrest (Craigielaw) and Ewen Ferguson (Bearsden) fired matching one-under 71s while Jack McDonald (Barassie) and Connor Syme (Drumoig) both signed for 73s.
The efforts left the quartet sitting inside the top 64, where they need to be after switching to The Metropolitan today for the second circuit to be in the match-play battle for the prestigious title.
Home player Kevin Yuan, a semi-finalist in the same event 12 months ago, set the pace with a 64 at The Metropolitan, where his flawless card was illuminated by an eagle and six birdies.
Local lad Michael Stewart shared top spot with Cameron Farrell as the pair shot matching three-under 68s in a CT Sports Academy Pro Winter Series event at Troon Darley.
They finished two shots ahead of Kirkhill amateur Craig Ross in a field that also included new Challenge Tour card holder Paul Shields (75).
“Michael Stewart is now off to join Ross Kellett in Spain to start preparing for the new season, but he will be back in time to play in our last two events,” said organiser Kevin Cademy Taylor.
“Today also provideed Craig Ross with a good competitive outing before he heads off to South Africa with Scottish Golf.”
The circuit’s next event is at Murcar Links on Thursday, 18 February.
Craig Lawie, Paul’s oldest son, is sitting joint-fifth after the opening round of an Algarve Pro Golf Tour event at Penina.
The Paul Lawrie Golf Centre player started with a birdie then eagled the par-5 fifth as he carded a flawless three-under-par 70.
He is lying three shots off the lead, held by Swede Jarmo Sandelin, who was on the same Ryder Cup team as Lawrie’s dad at Brookline in 1999.
Jay Taylor, who played at Marriott Dalmahoy as an amateur but is now attached to PGA Portugal, is also in the top 10 after a 71.