Four budding Irish professionals narrowly cheated death in a car smash as they prepared for a mini tour event in Austria.

Former Irish amateur internationals Dara Lernihan (Castle), Brendan McCarroll (Ballyliffin), Richard Kilpatrick (Banbridge) and Gareth Shaw (Lurgan) were driving to the golf course to practice for this week’s Alps Tour event when their hire car collided head on with a motorbike on a twisting mountain road.

Miraculously, they walked away from the crash with nothing more than cuts and bruises and while shaken by the experience, they hope to tee it up in the 54-hole Gosser Open at Golfclub Erzherzog Johann tomorrow.

“We were going around a corner when a motorbike overtook another motorbike on the far side of the road,” said 24-year old Dubliner Lernihan, who won last season’s irish Amateur Close title before turning professional late last year.

The hire car“We just ploughed straight into him. If we had veered to the right to avoid him, we would have gone off the edge of a pretty big drop.

“The guy on the bike was okay. I thought he was going to be dead.  It was a fair smack. He hit the front left of the car and the whole front of the motorbike came off.

“My left knee is bruised and I am a bit grazed from the airbags. Brendan McCarroll was driving and he has a cut on his arm but the others are okay, just feeling a bit stiff right now.”

All four were taken to hospital for a check up and x-rays before giving a statement to local police.

Lernihan added: “We were lucky enough. It could have been a lot worse. There won’t be much practice done today.”

The quartet flew to Milan last week and drove more than 400 miles to Slovenia for the Slovenian Golf Open before making the 60 mile drive from there to Austria.

‘We’re getting a new hire car and we’ll  drive back to Milan after the tournament and then fly home,” Lernihan added. “Our next tournament is in the West Indies.”