By Brian Keogh
Eamonn Darcy was just a phone call away from one of the toughest decisions of his career late last night.
The former Ryder cup ace was waiting anxiously to see if he would get a Aplace in the field at the $1.6 million Bayer Advantage Celebrity Pro-Am in Kansas City.
It would only be Darcy's his third appearance on the US Champions Tour this season but it would also mean disappointment for the organisers of the AIB Irish Seniors Open which begins at luxurious Adare Manor on Friday.
"If I get a chance of playing in America I have to go," Darcy said. "I've only played two tournaments in the States and the pressure is one me big time. I've won $160,000 for just two tournaments and that's huge money.
"Obviously I'd love to play in Adare Manor and try and win the Irish Seniors title but the European Seniors Tour said they would understand my decision if I got into the Kansas event."
Organisers of the €333,000 Adare event have been keen to reunite former Ryder Cup legends Christy O'Connor Jnr, Des Smyth and Darcy on home soil.
But with Smyth deciding to stay on in America to continue his battle to finish in the top 31 on the money list, the chances of an old boys reunion have been drastically reduced.
It's certainly easy to understand Darcy's desire to make a niche for himself in the United States where a cheque for a cool $240,000 awaits the winner in Kansas City next weekend.
After his farewell European Tour appearance at the Smurfit European Open last season, the Delgany legend spoke of the obvious attractions of the US Seniors scene.
"It's serious money out there. Maybe I'll do a couple of years in the States and then I'll put the feet up," he said at the time.
And who can blame him.
A classic ball striker, Darcy could set himself up for a cosy retirement in the space of three or four years.
A four-time winner on the European Tour, Darcy has ten other wins to his name worldwide and has earned almost £2 million strerling in a career that stretches back to 1971.
As well as recording an amazing 95 top ten finishes on tour he also won the Irish Professional title twice and captained Ireland to Dunhill Cup glory with Smyth and Ronan Rafferty in 1988.
But he is best remembered for the four foot downhill putt he holed to defeat Ben Crenshaw in the 1987 Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village where Europe beat the Americans on their home patch for the first time.
Whatever his final decision, the seventh edition of the AIB Irish Seniors open promises to be another quality events and prize money has increased this season by ¤20,000 to ¤333,000.
But it's still only a fraction of the cash available to the pros on the lucrative seniors circuit in the United States.
Darcy explained: "Even if I don't make the top 31 in the States to secure my card, I'll get a lot of starts next year if I'm in the top 40 or even the top 50.
"I'm playing okay and I don't think about putting now that I've got a three quarter length putter that I hold just above the belly," he explained.
With a re-rank due on the Champions Tour in August, Darcy is hoping to improve his status between now and then having failed to earn a full card by just one shot last December
He said: "They have a re-ranking in the middle of August. If I can get $230,000 up by then I can get in the re-ranking and play the last eight tournaments of the year.
"Obviously it would be lovely to be able to go out and win one but I have to be able to play to win. There were only eight cards at the School and I was ninth. You make one mistake and you are gone."
Second on his Champions Tour debut in early March, Darcy pocketed a healthy $133,500 for that event but didn't get another chance to play for another six weeks.
He explained: "I thought I was going to get more tournaments but there is a chance I might get into some more now, as well the US Senior PGA and the British Senior Open at Turnberry, which is a Major now.
"If I got in the re-ranking I'd get another eight, which brings me up to 14 and gives me a chance of getting my card. But it won't be easy."
With Darcy's determination, I wouldn't bet against him pulling it off.