It was a case of Juan for the road in the Irish Seniors Open at friendly Ballyliffin.
Champion Juan Quiros was left stranded by his tour pals after they hit the road for Dublin airport without him follow Sunday’s dramatic win over Des Smyth at the Donegal links.
But the local members came to the rescue with Ballyliffin one-handicapper Sean óg Doherty whisking the Spaniard nearly 200 miles to Dublin, where he works as a plasterer.
Quiros loaded his clubs and the Waterford Crystal trophy into the back of Doherty’s white van alongside the trowels and buckets for the three and a half hour trek to the captial
And the beaming champion arrived at the airport in time in time to see Spain beat Italy on penalties in the quarterfinals of Euro 2008.
He then spent the night joking with his tour colleagues before jetting home with the trophy early yesterday morning.
Recalling his unforgettable Irish odyssey, Quiros hopes Ballyliffin secures the tournament again next year so he can pay back his hosts with a solid title defence
Speaking from Spain, Quiros said: “I would love to go back there again and defend in Donegal where we were treated so well by everyone.
“I am so happy after what was a very big win for me because I was a little low on morale going into the tournament. It’s fantastic for me.
“I was really lucky to get a lift from a boy from the club. I wanted to give him a tip for his trouble but he wouldn’t accept anything. They were lovely people in Ballyliffin.
“We arrived at the airport at 10.30 in time to see the extra time and penalites in the football.
“I was supposed to go with Emilio Rodriguez and Guiseppe Cali because we were flying out of Dublin the next morning. But they went before me because their hire car was too small to take the three of us.
“As it turned out, I had a great driver and Guiseppe and Emilio arrived at the airport later that I did.
“We watched the football and just stayed in the airport all night celebrating. We would have had to get up at 4 am for a 7.30 flight to Malaga but it wasn’t worth checking into a hotel for a few hours so we just stayed in the airport having a laugh.”
The Spanish players had a whip round for the waiters at the popular Donegal club after a memorable week that was only marred by horrific final day weather.
The most northerly links in the Republic has high hopes of staging the Irish Open in two or three years in a joint venture with near neighbours Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
But the club’s future as a tour stop will depend on sponsorship and the political decisions taken at Wentworth and Government Buildings.
Club captain Dr Ken Devlin said: “We will take a week off to digest all of this and see what the tour is interested in.
“We would love a major golf event to come up here and we really could put something special together.”
Informal talks a possible crossborder Irish Open staging were held at Ballyliffin with European Tour chief Richard Hills sitting down with Failte Ireland boss Sean Quinn, AIB General Manager Billy Andrews and Con Hough, a senior official at the Department of Art, Sport and Tourism.