Suzie O'Brien retires

By Brian Keogh

Super Mum Suzie O'Brien has called time on her pro golf career to help the kids - and she doesn't mean her own.

O'Brien, 39, won't just be spending more time with her daughter Clodagh or baby son JP.

She's also decided to give up her time to teach golf to youngsters through The First Tee of Ireland - a youth character development programme.

O'Brien explained: "It is about teaching life skills to young kids through golf. We try to give them the ability to communicate, have patience and control their emotions."

The First Tee was launched in Ireland in 2005 and some 450 children are expected to try their hand at the game with backing from partners One 51 and Ulster Bank.

O'Brien is one of 14 teachers who will give their time this season after deciding to call a halt to life on tour.

The former Curtis Cup player, who is a sister of Walker Cup ace Jody Fanagan and grand-daughter to former British Lions international Dr Paul Murray, played on the Ladies European Tour between 2002 and 2004.

But the serious illness of her husband Andre - happily resolved now after a kidney transplant - and the birth of her two children put golf on the back burner.

As she approaches her 40th birthday next month, O'Brien has decided that the time has come to stay nearer to home and leave tour life to the younger girls.

Based in Tramore, Suzie said: "The First Tee programme is really rewarding and I am also giving lessons in the district and really enjoying life in the country.

"My husband Andre got a kidney three years ago and is back to a normal life now, we're even playing tennis and things are just brilliant.

"It is great not be going up to Beaumont Hospital for dialysis and we are loving it here in the country."

O'Brien turned professional on the back of a distinguished career in the amateur ranks, representing Great Britain and Ireland in the 2000 Curtis Cup where she won three and a half points out of four at Ganton.

Her professional career was coloured by her husband's battle with serious illness but she still managed to play ten events after the birth of her first child, post four top 20 finishes in 2004 to retain her card with ease.

She played just three times in 2005 and while she earned nearly €28,000 from 38 tour events in her career, she realised that the time had come to call it a day.

She said: "I had a tour card last year and didn't play at all. With two kids it is really a life for younger girls. I loved the experience but the time now is to be with my family.

"In fairness to the LET, the money has improved a lot in the last two or three years and it seems to be going in the right direction again.

"My experience was a little bit odd with my husband being sick a lot of the time but I think it will be a lot easier for Martina Gillen and Claire Coughlan when they come out on tour this year.

"I don't see why they can't do well. I would expect them to contend in events and win events in the short term rather than the long term."