By John Manley
Both Eddie Polland and Richard Coughlan had every reason to look forward to their respective golf rounds last Sunday. Neither man was in position to contend for top honors, but a spirited 18 holes could have propelled either one to a top 10 finish. Both men ended up having rounds that could be called spirited, but they were haunted by the kind of spirits that have been known to visit Greg Norman on Sundays at Augusta National.
Polland, along with Christy O’Connor, Jr., comprised the Irish threat in the PGA Seniors Championship at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. After completing 36 holes one over par (72-73), Polland broke through with a 69 on Saturday. Polland was tied for 15th, although leader Vicente Fernandez had a 10-shot lead. Then "Big Mo" did a 180-degree turn on Polland, who came in on Sunday with the second-highest round of the day, an 81. That left Polland tied for 46th place at seven-over 295, which was 21 strokes behind Allen Doyle’s winning number. Polland raked in $4,675.
As for O’Connor, a first round 76 kept him in the back of the pack throughout. He posted more respectable scores of 71 and 73 his next two outings, but fell back to 76 again on Sunday. He finished one shot behind Polland in a group that was tied for 50th place. O’Connor earned $3,910.
One missed putt last fall and Richard Coughlan lost status on both the PGA and Nike Tours. So, the Offaly man is now teeing it up in the Far East. Through 54 holes of the Macau Open, Coughlan looked as if he might be ready to shake things up out there. He recovered from an opening round 74, shooting 69 and 72 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. That had him tied for 26th as the morning dew appeared on Sunday.
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When the sun was done burning that dew off the grass, you could count the number of golfers finishing behind Coughlan on two hands. He skied to a 79, leaving him tied for 56th place, at 10-over 294. Coughlan pocketed $680.
Among those behind Coughlan was Dubliner Bryan Omelia. The lanky redhead played well enough to make the cut, with rounds of 71 and 73, but the weekend was a disaster. He signed off on scores of 81 and 80, adding up to a 21-over 305 for 72 holes. He finished 67 and last, earning $400.
Darren Clarke was on the scene as well. Small victories are the order of the day for Clarke and there was one to be had in Macau. He made the cut for only the second time this year. He finished tied for 39th at six-over 290 (72-70-75-73) with the likes of Chung Chun-hsing, Hideki Sugimoto and Park No-seok. Clarke’s take was $1,340, although it’s likely that he pocketed a handsome appearance fee. Lee Westwood and Andrew Pitts led the pack at 275, with Westwood taking the playoff.
Somewhat closer to Ireland (Sintra, Portugal to be exact), Paul McGinley had his own bubble burst. McGinley was just a stroke off the first round lead in the Estoril Open after completing business at the scorer’s table with a 70.
McGinley shot 75 on Friday, then barely improved on that with 74s each of the next two days. He finished tied for 34th place at five-over 293.
Des Smyth closed well to tie for 24th place. He shot 68 on Sunday after rounds of 76, 73 and 75, leaving him four-over at 292. Philip Walton and Eamonn Darcy both made the cut, but did nothing to distinguish themselves thereafter. Walton, at 15-over 303 (77-72-77-77), was all alone in 71st place. Darcy brought up the rear with Ricardo Gonzalez at 306 (73-76-79-78).
John McHenry has been unable to find the touch that enabled him to finish second at last summer’s Murphy’s Irish Open, thus regaining his tour card. He missed the cut by 10 strokes, shooting rounds of 78 and 81.
Jeff Remesy was the medalist at two-under 286. He was the only golfer to break par over 72 holes. Heavy winds were responsible for the high scores.