Golf

Colm Campbell on brink of making history at Irish Open

Warrenpoint golfer Colm Campbell  
Tony McGee

COLM CAMPBELL is on the threshold of equalling history this week when he tees up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Championship at the K Club.

Shane Lowry is the only amateur to have won the tournament so far, but Campbell has landed the chance to walk in the same footsteps as the county Offaly man. The only other amateurs to have won on the European Tour are Pablo Martin Benavides and Danny Lee.

Warrrenpoint's Campbell earned the right to mix it with the world stars of the professional game by winning the Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal Dublin a few weeks ago. He knows matching Lowry's phenomenal deed at Co Louth in 2009 is an outside bet.

“I'm not thinking about matching Shane's history-making performance in any way,” Campbell insisted.

“My first expectation is to make the cut and be involved in the last two rounds. I'll be playing alongside some of the best players in the world and, for starters, my main aim is to survive the halfway mark. That would be superb for starters and, if I can be still in action over the weekend, Ill take it from there.

“This is huge for me. Playing in the Irish Profesional Open is a dream and I'm delighted to have got the chance. I don't mind who I am drawn to play with as everyone in the draw is a big name.

“Yes, I probably will have some nerves on Thursday morning before I go to the first tee and when hearing my name announced but, once I get the first tee-shot away, I imagine that I can settle down and just play as I do normally. The first tee-shot will certainly be the most difficult.”

Campbell (29) has had previous experience of playing in pro tournaments. He played twice in the Northern Ireland Challenge at Galgorm Castle and missed the cut both times.

“This is a big step up from the Challenge Tour event at Galgorm,” agreed the plus-four handicapper.

“I enjoyed the Galgorm event, even though I didn't do very well. I hope that I enjoy this week at the K Club, too,” he said.

The Warrenpoint man spent a couple of days spectating at the Irish Open at Royal County Down last year and he also travelled to Fota Island to support club colleague Paddy Gribben.

“Those are the only two occasions that I attended an Irish Open and I felt a bit jealous watching the amateurs play in the competition. I'm delighted that my turn has now arrived,” he added.

Campbell emerged as a major force last August in the men's Home International matches at Royal Portrush, when Ireland swept to victory. He collected 5.5 points out of a possible six and won the Player of the Tournament trophy.

Since then, he has been playing golf full-time as an amateur and prepared for this season with a fortnight in South Africa, where he finished in the top five in two events. He then moved to Spain and reached the matchplay stages of the Spanish Amateur Championship. He finished 14th in the Lytham Trophy as well.

“It has been a busy start to the year for me and things have gone reasonably well. Winning the Irish Amateur Open was a big thing for me and I will continue with the amateur game to the end of this season, anyhow," he said. 

"Then, I'll decide whether or not to got to the Tour School again. I missed getting to the final stage last year by four shots."

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