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  Noel Shannon - Dual Nationality to the fore in Koekange

Noel Shannon, the Irishman who has made The Netherlands his home since the 1990s, won the Over 55s tournament at the Dutch Open. Noel gave this delighted reaction to fippa.org.

fippa.org (Q.) Did you specifically target this tournament at the beginning of the season?
Noel Shannon (A.) The whole season has shifted here to August and the autumn so this was actually the 2nd tournament of the year. I was disappointed to throw away a top-three in the Dutch national championships in 2019, so yes, I was intending to do well in this one at Koekange.

Q. Were weather conditions difficult over the course of the weekend?
A. It was very windy and rainy during the whole tournament. This is reflected in the early scores from everyone. On the Koekange course the 9 holes going out were into the wind, coming back, holes 10-18 were with the wind. You had to assess and sum up the weather conditions with every ball.

Q. How enjoyable was it to play the Dutch Open at the birthplace of Dutch Pitch and Putt?
A. Koekange is a magnificent course, Peter Kats had the course in prime condition. I think it's the closest to an Irish course, although Strand Horst would give it a good run for its money. The Irish influence on the design of the Koekange course is very evident. Winning that weekend made it even more pleasurable.

Q. You led from start to finish at Koekange. Did that bring added pressure?
A. Personally I never look at my score during a round. There’s time enough for that when the round is over. With two rounds on Saturday, I was just trying to play steadily and let the birdies come. I made one or two mistakes in round one, which cost me a couple of 4’s, ending up with two over. In the second round, I was just trying to get myself back to par or perhaps a couple under on my overall score. I was very pleased with the 53, but I did leave shots out on the course. Some putts and chips were just too short resulting in a collection of "tap-in threes". I didn’t even realize I was in the lead until I looked at the scoreboard at the end of the day! I saw that some of my old reliable rivals didn’t go well. Only at that moment I thought to myself ‘I might just pull this one off’.

Starting the final round, I had a two shot lead. There was more wind than on Saturday. Shortly after the start the heavens opened. I made two mistakes in the first three holes and collected two bogeys.  After giving myself the proverbial "kick in the backside", I settled down. To be honest, I was more concerned with just keeping it steady rather than feeling the pressure. I felt more pressure with four holes to go and a five shot lead. I just said to myself,  “just play into the clubhouse now and it’s yours.” Luckily, I held it together.

Q. The Irish players weren’t able to travel this year but you kept the Irish connection alive with a fetching Tullamore club top?
A. I became great friends with Gary Pyke when he was studying here in the Netherlands. Through Gary, I became an overseas member of the Tullamore club. It was a moment of great pride to don my Irish club shirt with PPUI insignia to take the winner’s prize in the over 55’s. Of course I was equally as proud to take the win for my Dutch Club, PP Lemele.