Fast Eddie shows no sign of slowing down
 Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay) holes his birdie putt on the 10th green in the second round of the 2016 Irish Over-30s Amateur Open Championship at Limerick, (18/06/2016) . Picture by  Pat Cashman

Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay) holes his birdie putt on the 10th green in the second round of the 2016 Irish Over-30s Amateur Open Championship at Limerick, (18/06/2016) . Picture by Pat Cashman

It was two years after he lost to the "kid" in the Irish Close final at Westport and Eddie McCormack was gunning for revenge.

Sadly for the colourful Cavan man, Rory McIlroy was in no mood for charity, even if he looked like he wanted to be anywhere but Rosses Point that Easter Sunday morning.

Nearly two years had passed since the Holywood star had beaten him 3 and 2 in the final of the 2005 Irish Close at Westport as a mere 16-year old to become the youngest winner in the event's long history.

McCormack wishes he had a euro for every time he's asked about it.

"I remember I was playing rubbish going in and the greens were slow," McCormack recalled as he drove back from Charlesland following his 14-shot win in the Leinster Mid-Amateur Championship. 

 Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay) holes his final putt on the 18th green to win the 2017 Leinster Mid Amateur Open Championship at Charlesland Golf Club (17/08/2017). Picture by  Pat Cashman

Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay) holes his final putt on the 18th green to win the 2017 Leinster Mid Amateur Open Championship at Charlesland Golf Club (17/08/2017). Picture by Pat Cashman

"But then I started to hole a few putts and all of a sudden, I met yer man in the final.

"To be honest, I probably never felt I was good enough to win. The confidence wasn't there at the time. Now I don't give a damn, I just turn up and give it everything.

"Anyway, I was doing okay — one up after five or six — and on the eighth, we both had to lay up. 

"I hit a lovely pitch to eight feet, and Rory was 12 feet away and the next thing he rattled this putt in with no fear. And then he did the same thing on the next and then the same of the next as well. 

"He was never letting me back in. He just had it when he wanted it. 

"I played him the two years later in the second round of the West, and he missed an eagle putt on the fifth, and he got so annoyed he gave me a six footer for a half in four.  I don't think he wanted to be there. 

"And then he gave me a six-footer for another half on the 11th and said 'Pick it up'. 'No better man,' I said.

"Anyway, it went on like this until we came to the 12th, the par-five and bang, he eagled the 12th. A friend of mine was caddying for me, and he said, 'Holy mother of divine, this guy is scary. And he was. He was scary good. 

"It would have been nice to beat him. But it was still nice to be there, and you look back now, and you realise that your best wasn't going to be good enough no matter how well you played.

 Eddie and his proud daughter Aoife show off the Connacht Mid-Amateur trophy

Eddie and his proud daughter Aoife show off the Connacht Mid-Amateur trophy

"People ask me how good he hit it and tell that that if we were chatting and he was in a group behind our backs, hitting balls on the practice ground, you'd know every time he hit the ball. It had a different sound. It was serious."

McIlroy beat McCormack 3 and 2 that day, going on to win the Silver Medal awarded to the low amateur in The Open at Carnoustie three months later but was surprisingly beaten by Paul Cutler on the 18th in the quarter-finals of the West that year, ending his dream of a three-in-a-row. 

He's gone on to win four majors and hundreds of millions of dollars but McCormack, who raises beef cattle on a small farm between Oranmore and Claregalway when he's not busy roving the West for BWG Foodservices, is still seeking "the big one" at the age of 44.

When it comes to the Mid-Amateur circuit for the over 30s, he's clearly the man of the moment after he crushed the field at Charlesland to win add the Leinster title to last month's Connacht Mid-Amateur victory at Athenry.

Now playing out of Galway Bay, he carded rounds of 71, 69 and 71 to win by 14 strokes on five-under par from Carnalea’s Andrew Adair and former East and South of Ireland champion Jim Carvill in Co Wicklow.

With three Connacht, two Ulster titles and one Leinster Mid-Amateur crown since 2009, he is now a six-time Mid-Amateur champion.

But having played for Ireland in the 2010 and 2011 Home Internationals, losing just four of his 12 matches, his goal is to win a "major" before he hangs up his spikes.

"I have nothing to prove to anybody," he said. "I have played for Ireland a couple of times in two Home Internationals. I have nothing to prove apart from winning a championship. And I still could.

"I am working hard at it. I still enjoy practising and the build up to a tournament. I enjoy trying to get my game right. 

 Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay) winner of the 2017 Leinster Mid Amateur Open Championship at Charlesland Golf Club (17/08/2017. Picture by  Pat Cashman

Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay) winner of the 2017 Leinster Mid Amateur Open Championship at Charlesland Golf Club (17/08/2017. Picture by Pat Cashman

"As long as I keep enjoying it, I will keep at it, and if I get a course that suits, I will have my chance.

"It's not easy with a full-time job and a bit of a farm going. It's hard to look after everything.

"But a lot of the young fellas wouldn't enjoy playing me now. That's what keeps me going. I know they'd fear me and once my game is alright, I have nothing to fear."

McCormack couldn't play the East of Ireland because of work commitments, and the same will apply to the North and the South, which falls the same week as Galway Races.

But he's free for the AIG Irish Amateur Close at Galway Golf Club from August 22-26, and if you're a betting man, he could be a dark horse.

"I was a member there for ten years, and I'd fancy my chances there all going well," Eddie said. 

Despite the passing of the years, his game is better than ever, and he's now down to a career low of plus three and more in control of his swing that ever thanks to PGA professional Seamus McMonagle, who works out of Letterkenny and Dunfanaghy.

"I wasn't hitting the ball great last weekend," Eddie said. "I wasn't comfortable after the first round, so Seamus asked me to send a video of myself hitting a pitching wedge, a nine, eight, seven and six iron. 

"It was a 37-second video and got back straight away with the solution. My hands were too high, so I made the adjustment and started to hit the ball just lovely with a nice cut. 

"It was very windy at Charlesland, and I had to hit that shot on a 150-yard par three. And once I pulled it off, I knew I was on."

Age has its benefits and McCormack now has a low-maintenance swing, which could make him a threat in the Close in August.

"It's only a matter of small adjustments for me now," he said. "Years ago, when it was bad, it was very bad. Now, when it is bad, it is not too bad at all."

Leinster Mid Amateur Open Championship, Charlesland Golf Club (Par 72)
Final: 211 E McCormack (Galway Bay), 71, 69, 71; 225 J Carvill (Banbridge), 72, 76, 77; A Adair (Carnalea), 70, 81, 74; 226 A Condren (Greystones), 77, 77, 72; 227 F Kennedy (The Island), 77, 75, 75; J Fox (Portmarnock), 72, 79, 76; 229 S Miskelly (Knock), 75, 78, 76;  230 P McNeill (Woodbrook), 79, 75, 76; 231 M O'Brien (Charlesland), 77, 78, 76
232 K Murray (Charlesland), 82, 78, 72.

This piece first appeared in the Irish Independent's Tee to Green golf supplement on June 22.