"Flipper" Finch keen to test elite waters

Defending champion Richard "Flipper" Finch is threatening to take a dip in the Irish Sea if he wins again this week.

But what he really wants is more chances to test himself at the deep end of world golf by performing in the majors and World Golf Championships.

County Louth has no water hazardsThe Hull ace, 31, made a splash at Adare last year when he tumbled into the River Maigue en route to Irish Open glory.

Caddies and players have been ribbing him ever since but Finch is just delighted that he managed to win and doesn't rule out taking another dip if he pockets the €500,000 top prize on offer this week.

He said: "A lot of the lads, especially the caddies, have given me nicknames connected with the incident.

"Splash is one but there have been various other ones. There's Aquaman and Flipper and all the rest of it but I never think about it in a bad way.

"I would have been given a lot of stick had I lost the tournament by one and anytime it was mentioned I would probably not have felt as good about it.

"But as it was a good ultimate result, anytime anyone mentions it I am always thinking at the back of my mind, 'I won'. So for me it has not been a problem at all.

"My brother's a deep sea diver and he's obviously given me a few lessons. But hopefully I won't need those this week."

There are no water hazards at links gem Baltray but when asked if he'd be prepared to jump into the Irish Sea if he won again, Finch didn't rule it out.

He said: "I wouldn't mind doing it, if it meant winning. It would be worth it."

Getting in at the deep end is the next step for Finch, who knows what it's like to win on links terrain having captured the 2003 St Andrews Links Trophy in his amateur days.

Winning the Irish Open has made him hungry to improve so that he can compete in the majors and World Golf Championships on a regular basis.

Thanks mainly to his victory at Adare, he clinched his place last year's Open at Royal Birkdale as well as two World Golf Championships.

He said: "Playing in those events suddenly makes you realise where you are in the scheme of things. And it made me realise that there are certain areas I have to work on and try and improve in order to compete in those tournaments in the future.

"They have been good eye-openers. Once you get a taste of playing in those events, you want to do it more and more and that's what I'm hoping to do."

All he wants now is good result for his native Hull City at Bolton on Saturday so they can avoid the drop in the Premiership.

A former midfielder, Finch said: "It would be great for the city but it's not looking too good at the moment."