John Walsh - 2013 World Strokeplay Triumph Revisited
"Unreal! Words couldn’t describe it!" That was John Walsh's initial reflection on Tambre 2013 when we contacted him to discuss one of the greatest victories of his enduringly memorable Pitch and Putt career.
"It wasn’t over till the final shot," remembers John of that World Strokeplay championship win, achieved in the searing heat of a Spanish summer.
Walsh's final round was conducted in the company of Irish players Frank Dineen and Chrissie Byrne and he remembers, "Weather was so hot. We had drinks on nearly every tee box and we also had a damp cloth."
A familiar friendly foe loomed on the Galician horizon. "John-John" had first encountered James Rogerson at the previous year's World Cup. Now the Australian formed a formidable obstacle to World Strokeplay glory. "James played extremely well," recalls Walsh. "But the 17th hole caught him, as it was a long 80 metre shot, with a big bunker in front and one behind, with out of bounds long. James got a five, which can easily happen on that hole."
Walsh wasn't overly familiar with Tambre prior to his 2013 tour de force. The temperatures were a challenge right through the trip. "Practice for me was just two days before the competition. The weather was unreal - warm - we had to stand in a lot."
Our 2013 World Strokeplay champion hasn't yet returned to the scene of his big win but it is a pleasure postponed. "I haven’t been to Tambre since but it’s on my bucket list, because the course was presented in excellent condition and we were all welcomed with open arms. Great place to visit."
When the current pandemic restrictions are lifted, John plans to rejoin the international Pitch and Putt circuit. "I love travelling to play in various competitions, meeting new friends and enjoying the fabulous courses."
As one of the most successful Pitch and Putt players in history (domestically and internationally), Walsh feels he owes a lot to the sport and now wants to give something back. "I help out a lot in Collins (his local club in Cork city)," says John. "I'm involved in committee and the course maintenance. It’s easy with a lot of help from a great crew and hopefully the All Ireland (the National Gent's Strokeplay was originally scheduled for Collins in July) will be on this year when all this Covid-19 is over."
The five-time Irish individual champion is credited with delivering top-class greens and surrounds at Collins and at other Cork courses, including St. Stephen's. What is his secret? "A lot of dedication and willpower along with a planned program on what to do on the course."
Nobody can match John Walsh's record of three top three finishes in the trio of World Pitch and Putt Strokeplay championships played to date. What remains for this outstanding champion to achieve? "Just to enjoy playing and if I win something, it’s a bonus." A simple yet inspiring maxim from one of Pitch and Putt's true greats.