Golf: Paul O’Hara shows his talent is still there
HE was Scottish No 1 in 2009, the same year he was first reserve for the Walker Cup. Now, by his own admission, Paul O’Hara has seen his once-promising career come to a shuddering halt.
Due entirely to the cost involved, back in April, the Motherwell man had to stop playing on the third-tier EPD Tour, where he recorded a maiden professional victory two years ago in Germany. He hadn’t swung a club in anger since then until teeing it up here on Tuesday in the Paul Lawrie Invitational, a tournament that was inaugurated by the former Open champion last year precisely with players like O’Hara in mind.
“I was the No 1 in Scotland and a Walker Cup reserve three years ago and now nothing,” declared the 25-year-old after a second-round 66 left him just three shots behind the leader, Banchory’s Greig Hutcheon, going into today’s final round in the Granite City.
“After playing 11 events on the EPD Tour last winter I had to stop because I simply couldn’t afford it. It was so expensive that I’d have been better off going to the bookies and sticking my entry fee on a horse,” he said.
O’Hara’s sponsorship ran out in the summer and, having moved to Aberdeen to live with girlfriend Stephanie, a primary school teacher, he’s spent the last few months mainly hitting balls at the Kings Links Golf Centre.
“Where I am in my career is my own fault as I’ve not played well enough,” added the three-times Scottish Amateur Championship runner-up and younger brother of European Tour player Steven. “I am now pondering the possibility of doing my PGA training somewhere as that would enable me to play on the Tartan Tour.”
Hutcheon, the kingpin on that circuit three times in the last six years and close to securing the No 1 spot once again this season, put himself in pole position at Deeside after also signing for a four-under-par second-day score to sit on 134 for the tournament. He has outscored playing partner Lawrie on the opening two days and now the 39-year-old has his sights set on recording a rare victory over the man he’s known for nearly a quarter of a century. “When Paul was an assistant to Doug Smart at Banchory, I used to be the dogsbody in the shop and he’d often pick me up on his way to work,” recalled Hutcheon after an entertaining end to his round as he and Graham Fox, the third member of the group, played their third shots simultaneously at the last and almost holed them. “Paul had a handicap of four when he turned professional, but he was a pretty nifty four-handicapper and I remember him shooting a 57 at Banchory. One of the rare times I think I’ve beaten him was in the 1991 Northern Open at Lossiemouth, so it’s nice that I’ve given myself that chance here.”
Lawrie, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere as he finalises his preparations for next week’s Ryder Cup return in Chicago, is four shots behind after a second-round 68, the latter stages of which were watched by the Aberdeen management duo of Craig Brown and Archie Knox. They both support Lawrie’s Foundation through monthly donations and, although he is grateful for that, it doesn’t stop the avid Dons fan airing the odd view to them about his beloved team.
“Paul was saying to Archie and me recently about a player, I won’t say who, that if there’s one thing he can’t stand it’s a lazy sportsman,” said former Scotland manager Brown.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 10 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east