Christy O’Connor Jnr dies at age of 67
Two-time Ryder Cup player Christy O’Connor Jnr has died at the age of 67. It is believed he was on holiday in Tenerife when he passed away suddenly.
O’Connor lost both his matches as the visitors went down 21-11 to an American side led by Arnold Palmer, but his return to the event 14 years later proved a memorable occasion.
His stunning 2-iron to within a feet of the hole at the 18th at The Belfry for a victory over Fred Couples helped Europe retain the trophy in a 14-14 draw.
O’Connor Jnr - the nephew of another star of the Irish game, Christy O’Connor Snr - won four times on the European Tour, including the 1975 Irish Open by a shot from Harry Bannerman and British Masters 17 years later.
He also came close to winning the Scottish Open, losing in a play-off to fellow Irishman David Feherty in a play-off that also involved Australian Ian Baker-Finch at Haggs Castle in 1986.
His best performance in the Open Championship was finishing joint-third behind Sandy Lyle at Royal St George’s in 1985.
O’Connor also tasted success in the over-50s ranks, winning the Senior Open Championship back-to-back in 1999 and 2000 at Royal Portrush and Royal County Down respectively.
He also recorded two victories on the Senior PGA Tour in America in 1999.
The Golfing Union of Ireland paid tribute to O’Connor by posting a clip of that memorable shot from the 1989 Ryder Cup online, describing him as “a gentleman, an iconic figure of Irish golf and a true ambassador”.
“He was a pioneer for professional Irish golfers and inspired a generation of players,” the organisation said.
Shane Lowry paid tribute to his compatriot on Twitter, where the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational champion wrote: “Very sad news today about Christy O’Connor Jnr. An absolute legend of Irish golf. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.”
In his latter years, O’Connor Jnr was heavily involved in designing golf courses.