When Bernhard Langer lapped the field in the 1987 Irish Open at Portmarnock, the 29 year old German declared that his 19 under par performance was the best of his life. It was better, he insisted, than the 10 under par total that gave him the 1985 Masters.
Langer won by ten from Sandy Lyle that day and the youngest Irish professional to make the cut was 25 year old Philip Walton, who finished 24 strokes behind the winner. None of the six Irish amateurs in the field came close to making the cut.
Shane Lowry was just three months old at the time.
Flash forward 22 years and Lowry is not just the reigning Irish Open champion, he is in position to challenge for his second European Tour victory in the space of eight months. If this is not a golden age for Irish golf, I don’t know what it is.
Having penned the greatest sporting fairytale in living memory by winning his national open as amateur, Lowry goes into the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship just three strokes behind leader Martin Kaymer on 12 under par.
Amazingly, he isn’t even the leading Irish player with 20 year old Rory McIlroy just a stroke off the pace after a five under par 67.
In a scenario that few would have thought possible just a few months ago, Lowry could have more tour wins than McIlroy on Sunday night and why should we be surprised.
“You don’t win a tournament as big as the Irish Open and not have huge ability,” Des Smyth said of Lowry last year.
Langer, no doubt, would heartily agree.