Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell played his part for Ireland as they finished 10th at the World Amateur Team Championships at Carton House.
Denmark were the eventual champs, posting 13 under on the O’Meara Course to win gold ahead of the United States. Spain edged New Zealand for the bronze with Ireland tied for 10th on 27 under par alongside Germany.
For the hosts, it was a memorable championship even if their title dreams were dashed during Friday’s third round on the Montgomerie. Twelve shots off the lead at the close of day three, Ireland’s best hope was a top-10 finish. Thanks to a 68 from John Murphy and a 69 from Robin Dawson, Ireland improved by nine strokes as they signed off in style.
Asked for his highlight of the championship, Purcell returned to the scenes at the start of the second round on Thursday.
“I was so nervous,” said Purcell. “There was such a big crowd and I was kind of feeding off them. I was the most nervous I was all week and I still played well. I just didn’t feel confident in what I was doing and I still pulled off the shots so that was pretty cool.”
“It was a great week,” said Ireland captain John Carroll. “Unfortunately, Friday knocked us out completely. Three players didn’t play up to scratch and that happens in golf. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Unable to keep pace with the front-runners in the penultimate round, Ireland found themselves falling from second to 12th and such was the standard in this championship, a nine-under return on day four could only move them up two places.
“I’d have thought 27 under par around these two courses would have put us higher than we finished,” said Carroll. “I saw some guys playing out there and they certainly wouldn’t be lost on the tour.”
A bogey-free round of 68 from John Murphy proved the highlight for Ireland at the end of a memorable week. In true showman style, Murphy birdied his final hole, the 9th, to secure Ireland’s place in the top 10. The 20-year-old kept the galleries entertained throughout, sinking long putts at the 17th, his eighth hole, and the 7th, much to their delight.
For Purcell, he went under par in each round except for his last round on Sunday, marking a fine series for him.
Ultimately, golf was the real winner at Carton House. Kind weather certainly contributed to the occasion but the performances were simply phenomenal, the combatants redefining the nature of elite play.