Sarah O'Neill - Ladies Open Glory on the shores of Lough Owel

Renewed enthusiasm and assiduous preparation stood Sarah O'Neill in good stead when she made her way to Lough Owel, accompanied by her coterie of Cork fellow competitors, on the weekend of August 15th/16th. The ultimate reward was an exciting two stroke victory over international ladies open specialist Liz Quinn. Sarah was kind enough to share some of her reflections on the Irish Open win with (Q.) How does it feel to be Irish Open Champion?

Sarah O'Neill (A.) I find it hard to believe to be honest, but I am just so thrilled.   

Q. Tell us the secrets of how you tamed ‘the Monster’?

A. I was fortunate enough to play the Lough Owel course a few weeks before the championship and what a treat it was.   When you walk from the 1st green and find the 2nd tee box hidden in the woods, you just feel there is going to be a great challenge ahead and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.  Tree lined pitch shots to greens 70 metres away, blind shots over more trees, to the massive mound positioned right in front of the 18th green, it really is such a challenging course and anything can happen out there!  I have always loved courses that play long and I knew I had to be confident with my pitching to stand any chance in Lough Owel and thankfully it didn’t let me down.

Q. One shot behind overnight, what was the plan for Sunday?

A. My hope going out on Sunday was to play as best I could and to try and avoid making any silly mistakes.   I got off to a great start being -3 for the first 4 holes and I just tried to keep my game as steady as possible for the reminder of the round. Luckily for me, it was enough on the day.   

Q. Is it a friendship or a rivalry with Mairead Manning, Ailish Sexton and Sarah McGrath?

A. Oh I would say a friendship with a healthy dose of rivalry between all of us Cork ladies.  We all have a good competitive streak and we have played a lot together over the last few years. It is always great fun.  

Q. You’re obviously in the Pitch and Putt form of your life despite the strange circumstances of the season.  To what do you attribute that?

A. Yes it certainly has been a difficult year.   Lockdown made me realise how much I missed playing the game and when restrictions were lifted, I was out on the course straight away.  I have practiced that little bit more these last few months compared to what I have done previously and that has helped my game. 

Q. What's next on the Pitch and Putt course for Sarah O’Neill?

A. I’d love it if the remaining fixtures for the 2020 season can proceed as scheduled as I do plan to play in as many of those events as possible.  I’m looking forward to playing the great game for, hopefully, many years to come.