Des Morgan is determined to “live life” and chase his Mullingar Scratch Cup dream just 10 weeks after a four-hour operation to have a faulty heart defibrillator replaced.
The popular 32-year old Mullingar man, who has suffered from SADS or sudden arrhythmic death syndrome since 2004, feared he was having a massive heart attack when the defibrillator he had inserted suddenly kicked into action on a trip to Spain.
“The machine has a battery life and needs to be replaced after a certain time but the lead on mine fractured and the machine did what it was meant to do,” explained Morgan, who will tee it up with newly-crowned Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon and Newlands’ Andrew Hogan in the first two rounds today.
“Initially when you get the shocks you think you are getting a heart attack because there’s no other reason why it should go off. Luckily enough there was nurse with me at the time and she said I wasn’t having a heart attack.
“But with the sheer power of these jolts into your body you think, ‘Will this machine kill me?’ You go from ‘I am having a heart attack’ to is this machine going to kill me. You are in survival mode and a bit of blind panic.”
The former Leinster interprovincial had surgery to replace the defibrillator on March 4 and didn’t play his first round of golf until last Sunday.
But with a Mullingar man yet to win the famous Scratch Cup since it was first played 50 years ago this year, he’s determined to give it another shot having finished a shot behind winner Brian Casey last year as well as runner up to tour star Shane Lowry in 2008.
“I got the all clear from the surgeon and cardiologist three weeks ago and they said that all the tests were good and the body had healed quite quickly,” he said. “So if they are happy, I am happy.
“There was no reason not to get back so here we go, I’ll give it a rip even though I have no expectations.
“I wasn’t really planning to come back for the scratch cup. Physically I am fine but with the lack of golf I might be very tired. But it’s great to get back and just feel normal again.”
SADS has claimed dozens of young lives but Morgan, who runs a golf equipment retail business in Mullingar, is determined not to let it stop him.
“There are a lot of people who didn’t get the opportunities I have had,” he said. “When your mortality is tested, your whole mindset changes.
“You can either get back to life and live it or watch life and let it pass you by. Some people after an episode like that would be terrified to do anything but the doctors tell me to get back or I’ll just go crazy.”
A clash with the Welsh Amateur Open has denied Mullingar some big names with reigning champion Brian Casey of Headfort joined at Royal Portcawl by Richie O’Donovan, Harry Diamond, Rory McNamara and Jack Hume.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, who was the favourite with the bookies ahead of Morgan and 2011 winner Nicky Grant, also pulled out at the last minute due to a stomach bug.
Officials plan to return to the traditional August Bank Holiday weekend date next season and Cannon can’t wait to get going today despite his Irish Amateur Open ‘hangover’.
“It’s been a great week,” Cannon said. “Sure I’m a little tired but Mullingar is a prestigious title to win and fantastically run by Albert Lee and everyone at the club. I know every one of the players, past and present, appreciate everything he has done for Irish golf.”
Mullingar Scratch Trophy 2013 (Sponsored by Barber Pole Putters and Copper Face Jacks)
Saturday tee-times (updated Friday pm)
6.22/11.22 C Dunphy (Killeen Castle) M Murphy (Co Longford) M Kelly (Mullingar)
6.30/11.30 C Stone (Carton House) B.McCormack (Castlebearna) S Maloney (Dunmurry Springs)
6.38/11.38 P O’Leary (Lucan) M O’Rourke (Royal Tara) D Murray (Co Louth)
6.46/11.46 D Reidy (Co Sligo) N Worth (The Island) L Grehan (Mullingar)
6.54/11.54 S Cullen (Slieve Russell) P Neville (Athenry) B Mungovan (Headfort)
7.02/12.02 P Coughlan (Moate) C Tormey (Mullingar) D McDonough (Galway)
7.10/12.10 T McLarnon (Massereene) L McMillan (Carton House) P Burke (Mullingar)
7.18/12.18 P Connolly (Clontarf) D Carey (Carton House) J Conroy (Bray)
7.26/12.26 N McGlynn (Carton House) C Dullaghan (Greenore) E Farrell (Ardee)
7.34/12.34 W Hanna (Warrenpoint) M Richards (Roganstown) D Coughlan (Portmarnock)
7.42/12.42 J Rackard (Bunclody) J Walsh (Castle) J Timlin (Dungannon)
7.50/12.50 S Moran (Carton House) M McCusker (Hollywood) B McGarry (Birr)
7.58/12.58 S O’Connor (Luttrellstown) J Whelan (Newlands) J Gourley (Hollywood)
8.06/1.06 C Rafferty (Greenore) A Hanley (Royal Dublin) T O’Connor (Athlone)
8.14/1.14 S Bryan (Delgany) S Brady (Co Sligo) H Coyne (Carton House)
8.22/1.22 R Symington (Lisburn) D Shaw (Belvoir Park) C Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown)
8.30/1.30 S McGlynn (Carton House) A Thomas (Dungarvan) S Carter (Stackstown)
8.38/1.38 J Fox (Portmarnock) A Kearney (Castlerock) C Fairweather (Knock)
8.46/1.46 B McSweeney (Royal Dublin) S Ward (Co Louth) C Doran (Banbridge)
8.54/1.54 D Morgan (Mullingar) A Hogan (Newlands) R Cannon (Balbriggan)
9.02/2.02 M McCusker (Holywood) N Grant (Knock) S Grehan (Tullamore)
9.10/2.10 J Lyons (Galway) A Purdy (Ballyclare) J Monaghan (Royal Dublin)
9.18/2.18 G Lenehan (Portmarnock) C McKenna (Mallow) M Shanahan (Castlemartyr)
9.26/2.26 A Doran (Ardee) R Walsh (Kilkenny) B Fennelly (Royal Dublin)
9.34/2.34 C Purcell (Portmarnock) J.R Galbraith (Whitehead) S Ryan (Royal Dublin)
9.42/2.42 G Bohill (Co Louth) R Bridges (Stackstown) R Knightly (Royal Dublin)
9.50/2.50 G O’Connor (Malahide) S Healy (Claremorris) A Kiernan (Forest Little)
9.58/2.58 S Hogan (Nenagh) K Purcell (Dun Laoghaire) A Grant (Dundalk)
10.06/3.06 G Lawlor (Newbridge) L Hutchinson (Royal Dublin) B Lupo (Sutton)
10.14/3.14 D Holland (Castle) C Kennedy (Forest Little) C McGrogan (Newbridge)