A productive week in the life of Denis O'Sullivan
A corner of north western Spain will always hold a special place in the heart of Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan after the Douglas member won the 2023 International Pairs at Sant Cebria alongside his boyhood hero, World Strokeplay champion, European Team championship winner and World Cup kingpin John Walsh. That victory came just seven days after O'Sullivan claimed second place in the Ringcommons WPPT Ireland Masters after shooting three successive 48s.
Denis is obviously very proud of his performances at Ringcommons and Sant Cebria. We wondered which one gave him the most satisfaction? "Tough one", admits Denis. "Ring Commons was a great weekend for me, but you can’t beat winning, so I’ll have to say Sant Cebria."
After a Mixed win with Marilyn Holmes in the International Pairs last year in advance of his 2023 success partnering Walsh, Denis must really like Sant Cebria? "Yeah. I absolutely love the place. The people are very friendly there. The set-up is brilliant and so is the course. The two years I have played there I played very well. Especially on the greens."
Why did Denis switch from the Mixed with Marilyn? "I think John normally plays with Eamon Gibney but Eamonn was away on holidays this year so when the opportunity arose to play with John I said yes immediately." Marilyn teamed-up with another Irishman, William McNally.
Denis and John have known each other for many years and regularly link up on the course. "Yeah, I play a lot with John between practice and scratch cups. I also played with him the year (2017) I was on the Cork inter-county team. It’s great getting to play so much with him because it has undoubtedly improved my game."
O'Sullivan and Walsh must both have played brilliantly in the Sant Cebria Scotch Foursomes to shoot a 43? "Absolutely", confirms Denis. "We were three under after nine and did eight under for the back nine. We both played brilliantly. I got a few nice putts and John put on an exhibition of pitching. I think he pitched five of the back nine holes inside two feet."
Was there any stage on Sunday when he felt it might be slipping away? "I hate to admit it but after the 15th hole it came into my head that maybe it wasn’t going to be our day," muses Denis of the fourball final round on 22nd October. "John had just missed a good birdie chance on 14. My tee shot on 15 hit the base of the pin and ricocheted off the green, I then lipped out the putt from 20 feet. To make matters worse Dani holed a great birdie putt to put them (Gimenez and partner Xavi Ponsdemenech) one ahead with three holes to play."
It must be very comforting to have a World Cup winner (2008 and 2012) and World Strokeplay champion (2013) by your side? "100%!" laughs Denis. "As I said, I thought we were in trouble after the 15th hole on Sunday but John produced a remarkable pitch to the 16th, which led to a birdie that tied us again with Xavi and Dani.
Denis clearly enjoys international Pitch and Putt? "Yeah! I don’t know what it is about international Pitch and Putt. I think I’ve played in four events and I’ve managed two wins, a second and a fifth place in the European Strokeplay that was played in Dagenham."
Runners-up Xavi Ponsdemenech and Dani Gimenez (the 2022 wnners) are commended both for the quality of their play and their convivial attitude. "Two very nice guys and two good players. Xavi especially was awesome on the Sunday. Even in the heat of battle the game was played in a very sporting manner which was great."
What's next for Denis O'Sullivan in Pitch and Putt? "No idea, to be honest. It’s been a long year so a well deserved break for a couple of weeks before getting back to practicing for next year. Hopefully improve another bit and start competing more regularly."