Power continues relentless pursuit of that winning feeling

Power continues relentless pursuit of that winning feeling
Seamus Power

Seamus Power

Tiger Woods was the cool, calm, golfing assassin of old when he closed out his 15th major win and his fifth green jacket at the Masters.

West Waterford’s Seamus Power was one of the millions enraptured by the images beamed worldwide from Augusta National just eight days ago, and they were a timely reminder for him that winning is never easy, even for the game’s ultimate warrior.

He still remembers the feeling he had when he knocked in his putt to win his first of three Irish Youths titles at Portumna in 2005.

It was the same year Woods won that fourth green jacket after a playoff with Chris DiMarco, and after coming close to winning the plaid version in the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Sunday, finishing just three shots behind CT Pan, Power knows that his dream of a PGA Tour win is no fantasy.

“I knew it was coming,” said Power, less than 24 hours after Sunday’s final round 67 gave him a share of sixth and a precious haul of FedExCup points.

“And it feels great to actually put a result on the board. It's a bit of a relief as well; I needed the aul' points badly. So it’s a bit of a boost.

“When it is going poorly, everything seems so hard. But when you get into contention and look at the leaderboard, you think, 'Jeez, I could have won that tournament.'

“It just kind of confirms what you know deep down, that winning a tournament is very do-able.”

After a wretched start to the season, the 32-year old from Tooraneena jumped to 141st in the FedExCup standings, leaving him just 29 points outside the top-125 who keep their cards.

But buoyed by his new coaching relationship with Co Down native Justin Parsons, who has moved from Dubai to Sea Island in Georgia, he’ll be gunning for that maiden PGA Tour win when he partners Canadian David Hearn in this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans just 12 months after they finished fifth there.

He will face some stiff competition from the likes of Pádraig Harrington and Shane Lowry, who put a fraught run behind him by finishing tied for third in Hilton Head, just two shots behind Pan.

“I personally feel like it almost got away,” a disappointed Lowry said afterwards before conceding that it was a great week and a sign that he’s regained the form that ebbed away shortly after he ended a three-year winning drought in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January.

"I'm a little bit disappointed right now, but this was my best week in quite a while. I've already won this year, so this is my ninth tournament, and I’ve had another great chance to win, so I suppose I'm doing things right.”

Power has come through an even rougher patch than Lowry, missing 11 of 15 cuts before Sunday’s tie for sixth.

And while he knows a win is “do-able”, he also knows from that closing 77 by world number one Dustin Johnson on Sunday or Francesco Molinari’s final round struggles at the Masters, that even the very best find it tough to get over the line.

“It's not easy to win,” said Power, who is determined to be in Lahinch for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and only waiting now for the invitation. “When Tiger Woods was at his best — and he showed it again in the Masters — he just never seemed to make a mistake when he was under the gun.

“It almost gave you a false sense of how easy or how difficult it actually is, even for some of the best players in the world, as we saw with Molinari at the Masters and Dustin Johnson at the weekend.

“You need a lot of things to go your way. But I was only three shots behind the winner, and you can find three shots somewhere over 72 holes by scraping away those little mistakes here and there.”

The addition of Co Down native Parsons as coach following the departure of Nick Bradley in January has been crucial for Power, who is now getting the ball in play and putting for birdies rather than pars.

Seamus Power celebrates his third win in the Irish Youths at Lisburn in 2008

Seamus Power celebrates his third win in the Irish Youths at Lisburn in 2008

“I knew Justin's game, and I'd seen some of the guys he'd worked with. And with the Irish connection, I was always intrigued,” Power said. “So when I heard he was moving the States, my ears pricked up again, and I happened to run into him at Riviera.

“We got chatting, and I told him I'd been struggling, and so I sent him on a swing, and he had a look at it and had some good ideas. So I went down to Sea Island, where he is now the head pro, and we've been working together since just before the Players.

Power had his best result soon after teaming up with Parsons, finishing 35th at TPC Sawgrass and he hasn’t looked back.

“It was a bit of everything. I wasn't hitting it close enough, I wasn't hitting the driver in play, and then you don't have opportunities, and it's hard, especially on the west coast, where guys are making birdies,” he said.

“It's funny that my two best events this year, The Players and Harbour Town, were two I wouldn't have been in if that 125 hadn't worked out last year and who knows where I'd be. I am not where I want to be, but as I say, it's a step in the right direction..

“My long game was so poor that it was really affecting the rest of my game especially putting and, but when I got some clarity in my long game, my putting and chipping were fun to go and practice.”

He still craves that winning feeling but he’s positive about what lies ahead and not content with merely keeping his card.

“There are a lot of perks to playing professional golf, but you do it for that feeling of winning tournaments,” he said. “I will always remember winning the Irish Youths, the first major tournament I won at home.”

Like many in golf, he’s somewhat inspired by the way Woods made it all look so easy at Augusta National.

“In my lifetime, he’s been at the centre of pretty much every iconic scene in golf outside a few Ryder Cup moments,” he said. "It’s just amazing.

“He looked calmer than in his hey-day when he had that fire in his eyes and was like a brick wall. This time he looked very chilled out. But it’s as Nicklaus always said, it's not like these guys do anything different under pressure, they just don't make mistakes.”

Getting over the line when the pressure is on is Power’s next task, but he’s more optimistic than ever now that the ball is doing what it’s told again.

“Sunday,” he said, “was just one week. So we go again.”