Former Walker Cup star and European Amateur champion Paddy Gribben showed the young guns he can still play a bit when he fired a pair of three-under 68s to win the Warrenpoint Senior Scratch Cup by three shots.
While international Colm Campbell did not feel ready to tee it up as he battles back to full fitness following a wrist injury, Gribben added more than enough star power.
Set to turn 50 later this year and now playing off one, Gribben (49) was tied for the first lead with Ryan Gribben, one stroke ahead of Stephen Coulter, Ross Dutton after the morning round with Matt McClean three shots further back.
But he did not ease off in the afternoon, firing another 68 to win by three strokes from Ryan on six-under-par 136 with former West of Ireland champion Rory Leonard claiming third place on one-over after rounds of 72 and 71.
After a solid but unspectacular amateur career, Gribben decided to try his hand at the professional game (for the first time) at the tender age of 20, back in 1989.
“I hadn’t even won an amateur international cap for Ireland and looking back now it was immaturity," he said more than a decade later.
"I went all over the place to play; to South America and Asia and even had a few good results – I finished third in the Chilean Open one year – but in general it was a bit of a disaster, and I just got disillusioned.”
Broken-hearted, financially struggling and with a wife and baby daughter, Gribben went to work on his parents' farm, looking after cattle and sheep and doing other odd jobs on the side.
He didn’t touch a golf club for two and a half years.
“I eventually applied to be reinstated as an amateur and started to play again,” he recalled later.
He won the North of Ireland championship and European Amateur championship in 1998 (and the North again in 1999) leading to his call-up for Eisenhower Trophy and Walker Cup duty.
He played a vital role in Britain and Ireland’s historic Walker Cup victory at Nairn in 1999, halving with Bryce Molder and beating Hunter Haas in his singles as a GB&I team featuring Luke Donald, Simon Dyson, Paul Casey and Graeme Storm beat a US squad, powered by the likes of Matt Kuchar, Steve Scott and Jonathan Byrd, 15-9.
His return to the professional game did not work out, but he's still clearly got plenty of game, as they found out at Warrenpoint on Sunday.
Perhaps his win will serve to inspire the Warrenpoint squad to AIG Senior Cup glory this year.
Warrenpoint Senior Scratch Cup, Warrenpoint GC (Par 71)
- 136 Paddy Gribben 68 68
- 139 Ryan Gribben 68 71
- 143 Rory Leonard 72 71
- 144 Hugh O’Hare 76 68
- 145 Jamie Fletcher 75 70