Pat Malone - an international Open win at his first attempt
"It's an extreme honour. I'm still on a high," beamed Pat Malone when we spoke to him barely 48 hours after he was crowned Irish Open champion for 2020.
"I didn't have any bogeys," reflected Pat proudly, on two of the most memorable rounds of his life. That was undoubtedly a key contributor to his victory against such a high-quality field.
Given its aspect and character, Lough Owel would have been hugely popular with the international visitors, had they been in a position to play. It would have been a new course for many, in contrast to Pat Malone. "I know the course well and have won two Scratch Cups there."
"The last one (birdie) he got was the 11th," said a gratified Pat as he recalled with relish his battle with one of the all-time international Pitch and Putt greats, John Walsh.
Malone was under illusions about the challenge presented by Walsh "I played with him before at R.G.S.C. in the National Strokeplay." That was in 2012 when Walsh outscored him by four shots. This time, John-John led by one after that 11th hole birdie on Sunday but Pat fired three twos of his own, coming in, to prevail by two strokes.
"He was an absolute gentleman at the end," was Pat's tribute to the 2013 World Strokeplay champion. "Peter (Reilly), too."
Pat ultimately had the best of his threeball but two other players in two separate earlier groups jumped right up into contention. "I knew Dean Dinnegan was going well but I had no idea how well Dean Grannell was playing." Few did. The talented St. Patrick's, Enniscorthy man jumped up into second place on the tiebreaker after birdieing five of Lough Owel's challenging last six holes.
Pat stressed how important the mental aspect of his game was in the Irish Open. "When he managed us (Westmeath) to great success in the Inter-County championships, Martin Carter introduced people from other sports and how they dealt with pressure. That helped me on the back nine on Sunday."
Pat Malone has played one international open and his record is 100%. "Up to now I haven't travelled much, but having got a taste for it (international Pitch and Putt), I might, next year."
A consistent and successful campaigner at Scratch Cups and championship in the Irish midlands, Pat was not going to pass up the chance to aim somewhat higher in 2020. "When the Irish Open was in Westmeath, I was always going to play in it."
As Club Chairman at Custume, Pat very competently mixes administrative responsibilties with playing at the very top level."I have good support from many people in the club, explained Pat, "like Anthony Browne and Davy Reddin. They know what needs to be done."
Pat Malone certainly knows what needs to be done. Off course and on!