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  Seapoint looks forward to Irish Open - Pat Greene

Fippa.org was delighted to speak to Irish international Pat Greene regarding how preparations are progressing for the Irish Open at Seapoint. “We’re full – 162 entries,” says Pat, who is Juvenile Officer and long standing greenkeeper at one of Ireland’s leading links courses, “and there are six on the waiting list. We’re working hard on the course. The greens are lovely and green; the fairways are burnt out of it.” We were speaking to Pat during Ireland’s hottest summer since 1976.

Seapoint’s membership is pretty excited about hosting an Irish Open. “There’s a great buzz around the (Drogheda) area,” confirms Pat Greene. I’ve been promoting it at a few Opens round the country, trying to get the top players playing and there’s a great buzz around the Irish circuit. There are 32 European continentals coming. Gary Murphy (former European tour pro, turned Sky Sports commentator and journalist, who now lives in Drogheda) is writing a featuire article in the 'Mirror' (high circulation Irish daily national newspaper).”

Pat Greene is renowned for his course design initiatives but no changes to the classic links are planned for the Irish Open. “We’re going to leave the layout as it is. It’s hard enough, particularly with the wind.” Capricious breezes are a constant around Seapoint.  Pat identifies the vital holes for scoring at Seapoint. “It’ll be the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 6th and 11th depending on the way the wind is blowing. For the last five or six weeks the wind has been helping on the back nine.” That makes for the most difficult conditions as the greens on most of the inward nine slope from front to back.  “I intend watering short of the 11th, 10th 12th,” is Pat’s benign approach to course set-up. “That’s to avoid massive bounces and to make it fairer for everybody. If you carry the ball too far into any of the greens, you won’t hold them. You can hop it halfway down or pitch the green. There are one or two holes here where you would take three and walk to the next one. With the wind into, going out right to left, you need to build your score on the front nine."

The Seapoint club has generated some exciting sponsorship for the Open, including Pat himself. “We’ve about 70 sponsors. Irish Life was the big one.  We’re not skimping on prizes. We’re presenting over age 55 prizes in ladies and gents grades and we’re also offering an under 55s prize. There’s also a best continental (non-Irish) lady and gent player prize.”

Fippa.org was pleased to see Pat’s own name on the entry list. This will be this seasoned  player’s first international open but he likes his odds at Seapoint 2018. “If I can get a bit of practice in and I’m not overtired, I’d fancy my chances. But my favourite would be John Walsh – he always plays well here.”

Seapoint will also host the Ireland v. Catalonia international. Of course, Pat played for Ireland in the historic match against Australia at Queanbeyan in 1996. How does reflect on that experience 22 years on? “I think it was the best trip. I don’t think that will ever come back again. I’d like to see a few Australians playing in an Irish Open.”

Pat is still in touch with the team members from that trip. “We’d meet on the circuit. I met Courtney (World Cup and European championship winner Derek) in Lough Owel last year. He said to me, “You’re some boy. You won that senior thing (Irish Over 55s Strokeplay championship) again! I’ll be 55 next year (2018) and I’ll be challenging you.”  I said to him, “You can have it next year and the year after and I’ll come back the following year.” “Why?” says Derek. “I won it when I was 50, I won 60, and I’m going to win it when I’m 70!”

As he nears a milestone birthday, Pat Greene has a phenomenal record in the Irish Seniors (Over 55s) championships, having already taken the title three times. And in reality, he has intention of relinquishing his crown at McDonagh this month. “Every year you play in the seniors, if you don’t have a great score you’re not going to win.” Pat Greene has produced that great score more often than most.