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  Frank Dineen - Six successive twos and a second Irish Irish Open title

fippa.org (FIPPA): What were your hopes and aspirations heading into the Rocklodge event?

Frank Dineen (FD): Over the last number of years work commitments have kept me away from the course but that all changed this year with a new job. This year I had some time that allowed me to compete in more events and even get in a bit of practice and that has turned my form around. I was delighted to make the Cork team this year and also qualify for a few events. I felt I was playing well and having won the Rocklodge Scratch Cup earlier in the season I was hopeful of playing well and possibly being in the mix. Before a tournament that’s all you can hope for. I knew I was striking the ball well and putting like I can.

FIPPA: Did you contest the Matchplay opener?

FD: Unfortunately, I was unable to contest the Matchplay due to work, but I was delighted to hear Ian Leech and done well in it and also delighted for Niall Winters – who is a super player. The Matchplay event is excellent and can be a lot of fun and give players a competitive taster of the course before a big event, so it is a brilliant idea.

FIPPA: Did the rain delay obstruct your challenge?

FD: I was at the course for the opening before I heard it had been delayed and it was handled extremely well by the organising committee, For me it was not a problem I met and spoke to some players and people on the course and I was enjoying the event. I met and spoke to John Frederick Evans from Catalonia and he asked me about putting – of course I was delighted to tell him everything!

FIPPA: What was the plan heading into Sunday?

FD: Arriving on Sunday, I was four shots behind Bryan Delaney and knew that I would have to shoot a great score to catch him and Damien Fleming. In my mind I had -10 as a target. I thought with that and a bit of luck I could go close. It suited me to be out in the 3 ball before them and I hoped for a good start and then hopefully enjoy being in the mix on the way home. I sank a good putt on 8 from about 10 feet and then pitched close on 9 so turning -5, I felt I was right in it – but equally knew that I had work to do.

FIPPA: What went well for you over the weekend?  Did anything go not so well?

FD: I always think of two things before I play.  If I do not get any fours and if I miss no short putts I will go very very close to winning.That’s easier said than done but over the weekend I had no 4’s and I only missed 2 close putts – both on the 12th hole as it happens. Other than that I was delighted with how it went and the occasional lucky shot in the end made the difference.

From a not so well perspective, I felt for Rocklodge – they put on a magnificent event and I feel it could have been supported a little better by the players. I know there is the fear factor around Rocklodge and the scores shot there by the Cork players but the course was perfectly set up and any player travelling would have enjoyed the event. The field was a magnificent collection of players but a few more could have made it even better.

FIPPA: Do you like Rocklodge course?

FD: I love Rocklodge.  As a course it has it all a mixture of risk and reward – spectacular setting and views and a wonderful club. Fantastic pitches and brilliant greens. It certainly is one of the best courses in Ireland if not the world.

FIPPA: You are renowned for your detailed analysis.  How many greens did you find in regulation over the course of the weekend?

FD: I am very analytical of my game always.This time was no different.  Over the 54 holes I hit 37 greens – putting a good few of those greens I missed - I only chipped six times all weekend. I had no fours at all. Putting from inside 10 feet I had an excellent return, getting 46 out of 49.

FIPPA: We see a lot of disparaging commentary about your chipping.  There wasn’t much wrong with your chip on the 53rd hole?

FD: My chipping is a book in its own right – this year when chipping the ball I had an awful time. Technically on my swing, I was decelerating into the chips and many times this year catching the ball on my follow though. When that happens the ball literally can go anywhere when it catches the club on the follow through. I double tapped a lot of chips (some in some very important situations) and sometime the ball has even ended up behind where I started from. I just couldn’t stop myself. But I tried hard to practise my way out of the problem. The further problem then is that it kills your confidence – it’s a bit like putting yips but in my case with chipping. When off the green on the 53rd hole I just tried to accelerate through the ball. I was lucky it went in the hole - that was a huge bonus.

FIPPA: When did you think you had a chance?

FD: Entering the back 9 within striking distance I felt I had a right good chance – I hit good putts on 10 and 11 that could have fallen but didn’t. I was disappointed with my putt on 12 that I pulled so thought my chance had gone then. A good pitch on the drop shot (No. 13) and a very good putt on 14 gave me a bit of confidence and then following Shane on 15 I sank a monster putt – having watched his ball I was confident of the line. But for me the big moment was the putt on 16 a 7 foot downhill right to left slider. When that went in the middle of the hole, I thought it could be my day.

FIPPA: Will you contest the World Strokeplay in Norway?

FD: I will definitely be in Norway – for me the chance to compete as a possible World Champion could never be missed.  How many of us can say that in our lifetime? That should be the pinnacle for anyone playing our sport. I also intend to play one other international open next year. I haven’t played in Catalonia yet so maybe there or Holland.

FIPPA: You have been very successful in Irish international opens.  What is it about the event that inspires you? Do you plan to contest more international opens abroad?

FD: The Irish Open for me is the 3rd Major in the game. I play the game to compete at the top and try to match the players who are in most part much better or naturally talented than I am. I know I play a different game to the best players. I could never compete with them on the basis of pure skill. All I can do is prepare as best I can and bring a professional approach to everything I do. Even when playing I stand in awe looking at the skill of the players around me. Even when watching golf on TV, some of the ability and standard of players in our game is far better and more inspiring than professional golf. I missed out this year on playing in the inspirational Tullamore course for the Irish Strokeplay, so for me this was my major. I was delighted for Liam O Donovan and his performance in Tullamore and I was delighted when he was in the mix as well in Rocklodge. I love the International opens and hope to compete in more.

FIPPA: Damien Fleming and Bryan Delaney were worthy opponents?

FD: Damien Fleming is Mr. Irish Open – both he and I seem to love the event – he is a super player and gives so much to the game.  Maybe there is a bit of karma with me chipping in to win the event and take the title from him.  That will teach him to 'dare' me to chip from now on. Ha ha.

Bryan Delaney is the most consistent player this year in the game and has been very unlucky to not win some titles this year. He is a super player and for my money player of the year.

Also I have to mention John Walsh, Ray Murphy and Shane Murphy – all super players who make me improve so that I can compete with them.

FIPPA: What about Breda and Pacelli?

FD: Pacelli Darcy is a super player and a brilliant supporter of the game at all levels especially the international game.  There is no one more deserving.  And Breda Lonergan – the most positive player approach to the game – I am delighted with her success this year the game needs her.

FIPPA: What’s next for Frank Dineen in Pitch and Putt?

FD: I love the game and the competitiveness of the sport. I am delighted to be competitive on occasion and I hope that I have shown that with a bit of practice anyone can compete at the top of our game. My personal ambition is to enjoy playing, be competitive and learn how to chip and maybe just maybe if the gods shine on me some day to win a National Matchplay or possibly a World title, wouldn’t that be the ultimate?