Early bird O'Briain hoping practice pays off

Neil O'Briain (Old Conna G.C) during the Cassidy Golf 103rd Irish PGA Championship in Roganstown Golf Club on Saturday 12th October 2013. Picture: Thos Caffrey / www.golffile.ie

Old Conna assistant PGA Professional Neil O’Briain aims to make up for months of annoying the club’s ground staff with early morning practice sessions by qualifying for his first major event of the summer.

The 28-year-old will be among a talented field of young golf pros trying to make a name for themselves in the Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship Irish regional qualifier at Co. Meath on May 20.

And Dublin-born O’Briain hopes the extra work he has put in to developing his game at his home club will prove beneficial in seeking a qualifying spot for the £32,500 FootJoy-supported Coventry showpiece on June 11-13.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to play in this event,” he said. “It’s a big championship, the biggest one there is for us assistants and I want to qualify and do well.

“I’ve been turning up early, annoying the groundstaff because I want to do well, not only in my playing but also in the club side of my work too.

“The club have been incredibly supportive of me in all of my work and that is something I’m really grateful for.”

As a PGA Assistant Professional O’Briain must work regular hours at a golf club and complete an industry-recognised degree programme, as well as playing golf to a high standard.

But he feels he has coped with the demands well, using the programme to help him bring some balance back into his life after spells away playing on tour.

“I’ve really been enjoying everything” he enthused. “Like most young golfers I would love to develop a successful playing career, but I have also found that I really enjoy the club side of my work too.

“I have some really good role models who run a really professional business at Old Conna and have been very supportive of my studies.

“So far the degree’s been going well, I’ve had a few distinctions but I have to admit I am dreading July 4th when the exam results are due in!”

Ahead of the event Luke Young, national and key account manager for Coca-Cola Enterprises, whose products include Powerade, said: “We are delighted to once again support this prestigious tournament which will culminate with a final at Coventry Golf Club in June.

“It is an event which has a long history of showcasing outstanding golf from some of the country’s best young players, and I look forward to watching what will undoubtedly be another exciting Championship this year.”

Other players competing in the Scottish regional qualifier include Ewen MacPherson (Auchterarder), Keir McNicoll (Gullane), Ciar Porciani (Turnberry), Paul Robinson (Largs), Kirstin Scott (Gleneagles), Stewart Watters (Balbirnie Park) and Alan Welsh (Cathkin Braes).