There’s nothing like the excitement of a major championship to focus the mind and Robbie Cannon is as inspired by Henrik Stenson’s Open win as he is by thoughts of another victory in this week’s Pierse Motors sponsored South of Ireland Amateur Open at Lahinch.
The 37-year old strength and conditioning coach— winner of the South in 2009 and the 2013 IrishAmateur Open—tees it up in the 36-hole strokeplay qualifier for the 115th staging of the famous event today with his late coach Bobby Browne in his thoughts.
The great Laytown and Bettystown professional, who passed away on Christmas Day last, was a mentor for Cannon and many others.
But it was only when he heard Stenson dedicate his Open Championship win to a late friend that the Balbriggan international remembered why he took the fairways with such relish in January and February.
“When you lose someone close to you, it seems to focus the mind and I remember when Bobby died in December, it really gave me the push to go out and start working on my game,” Cannon said. “I didn’t work hard last year and remembering all Bobby did for me just made me want to go out and work hard for it again.”
A few weeks before he passed away, Browne told Cannon he was proud of what he had achieved, then chastised him for not winning more.
“That was typical of Bobby,” Cannon recalled. “He would give you confidence and then challenge you. ‘Hold your finish. Look like a golfer.’ Almost every lesson he would say that to me. He taught me how to play the low stinger and called it my million dollar shot.”
Cannon now works with a big clientele on tour that includes Shane Lowry, bringing him into regular contact with Stenson’s coach Pete Cowen.
“Any time I see him he always ask how my game is and what I am working on and gives me a lesson,” Cannon said.
“He always asks if I am doing mydrills. ‘Henrik is the only one who does all the drills,’ he says. “So when I saw him at the Scottish Open, he said, wasn’t surprised to see I finished third in the East a few weeks ago.”
Cannon’s third place finish behind Paul O’Hanlon at Baltray makes him a clear favourite at Lahinch, where a stellar field has gathered.
While title holder Stuart Grehan wis competing for Great Britain & Ireland at the St Andrews Trophy, last year’s leading qualifier, Paul McBride, is one of six current internationals in the field.
Ranked 147th in the world, McBride is the top-ranked player in the 150-man field ahead of Flogas Irish Amateur Open champion Colm Campbell and fellow internationals Alex Gleeson, Colin Fairweather, Rowan Lester, Robin Dawson and John-Ross Galbraith.
East winner O’Hanlon is playing in just his second championship since returning to the amateur ranks while Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell is hoping to land a major blow before he departs for college in the US at UNC Charlotte.
The top 64 players after tomorrow’s second qualifying round will progress to the match play stage from Friday.
South of Ireland Amateur Open, Lahinch GC
- (07.00/11.20) Stephen Coulter (Warrenpoint), Conor Ryan (Dun Laoghaire), Aaron Grant (Dundalk)
- (07.10/11.30) Gavin Young (Nenagh), Jake Whelan (Newlands), Shaun Carter (The Royal Dublin)
- (07.20/11.40) Robert Brazill (Naas), Michael Buggy (Castlecomer), Paul McCarthy (Mallow)
- (07.30/11.50) Anthony Sweeney (Woodstock), Brian Doran (Baltinglass), Declan Reidy (Co Sligo)
- (07.40/12.00) Stephen Kinch (Hollystown), Devin Morley (Oughterard), Alec Myles (Newlands)
- (07.50/12.10) Graham Nugent (Kilkenny), David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown), Marc Boucher (Carton House)
- (08.00/12.30) Evan Farrell (Ardee), Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin), Brett Macias (Palmerstown Stud)
- (08.10/12.40) Michael Ryan Jnr (New Ross), Marc Norton (Belvoir Park), Eddie Power (Kilkenny)
- (08.20/12.50) Colin Fairweather (Knock), Rowan Lester (Hermitage), Keith Egan (Carton House)
- (08.30/13.00) Daniel Holland (Castle), Sean Flanagan (Co Sligo), Ronan Mullarney (Galway)
- (08.50/13.10) John-Ross Galbraith (Whitehead), Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Jack Pierse (Portmarnock)
- (09.00/13.20) Gavin Smyth (Clonmel), Cole Madey (Oregan USA), Thomas Mulligan (Co Louth)
- (09.10/13.30) Paul O’Hanlon (Carton House), Andrew McCormack (Castletroy), Liam Grehan (NUIM/Mullingar)
- (09.20/13.40) Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle), James Gerard Fox (Portmarnock), James Sugrue (Mallow)
- (09.30/13.50) Michael Reid (Galgorm Castle), Clayton Madey (Oregon USA), Conor Byrne (Bishop Gate USA)
- (09.40/14.00) Justin Kehoe (Limerick), Jamie Sutherland (Galgorm Castle), Ian Spillane (Mallow)
- (09.50/14.20) Colm Crowley (Woodbrook), Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint), Peter Kane (Ashbourne)
- (10.00/14.30) Shane McGlynn (Portmarnock), Niall O’Reilly (Clonmel), Marc Nolan (Delgany)
- (10.10/14.40) Paul Murphy (Rosslare), William Small (Tandragee), John Reynolds (Dungarvan)
- (10.20/14.50) Darragh Smith (Castle), Mark Mullen (Rosslare), Luke Donnelly (Kilkenny)
- (10.40/15.00) Greg Mungovan (Headfort), Tom Griffin (Crews Hill UK), Peter McKeever (Castle)
- (10.50/15.10) Dean McMahon (Castletroy), Cillian Moloney (Fota Island), Michael Reddan (Limerick)
- (11.00/15.20) Brian Gilligan (Woodstock), Eamon Haugh (Castletroy), Brian Shally (Dromoland Castle)
- (11.10/15.30) Garrett Mallon (North West), Robert Farrell (New Ross), Eoin Glynn (Lahinch)
- (11.20/15.40) Declan McInerney (Lahinch), Tony O’Leary (Wexford), Stephen Walsh (Portmarnock)
- (11.30/15.50) Gary Ward (Kinsale), Thomas Neenan (Lahinch), Peter Sheehan (Ballybunion)
- (11.40/07.00) Darragh Crawford (Bundoran), Joe Lyons (Galway), Alan Thomas (Dungarvan)
- (11.50/07.10) Arthur Pierse (Tipperary), Gerard Dunne (Co Louth), Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick)
- (12.00/07.20) Kyle McCarron (North West), Mark Morrissey (Mount Wolseley), Ruairi O’Connor (Co Sligo)
- (12.10/07.30) Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park), Sean Ryan (The Royal Dublin), Eugene Smith (Ardee)
- (12.30/07.40) Stephen Watts (Cairndhu), Cathal Butler (Kinsale), Tony Cleary (Woodstock)
- (12.40/07.50) Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little), Stefan Greenberg (Tandragee), Shane Hogan (Nenagh)
- (12.50/08.00) Des Morgan (New Forest), Sean Burns (Dromoland Castle), Paul Carey (Nenagh)
- (13.00/08.10) Robbie Pierse (Grange), Daniel Brennan (Shannon), Dylan Brophy (Castleknock)
- (13.10/08.20) Jack Walsh (Castle), Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock), Cian Geraghty (Laytown & Bettystown)
- (13.20/08.30) Ross Steedman (Courtown), Sam Sweeney (Vista Valencia USA), Ryan Berkeley (Dun Laoghaire)
- (13.30/08.50) Stuart Bleakley (Shandon Park), Colm Campbell Jnr (Warrenpoint), Alex Gleeson (Castle)
- (13.40/09.00) Robin Dawson (Tramore), Conor Purcell (Portmarnock), Jason O’Donnell (Shannon)
- (13.50/09.10) Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Pat Murray (Limerick), Gary Collins (Rosslare)
- (14.00/09.20) Paul McBride (The Island), Thomas O’Connor (Athlone), Barry Daly (Edmondstown)
- (14.20/09.30) Alexander Purdy (Ballyclare), Jack Ryan (Castletroy), Colin Woodroffe (Blainroe)
- (14.30/09.40) Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire), John Hickey (Cork), Paul O’Hara (Kilkenny)
- (14.40/09.50) Fergal O’Sullivan (Tralee), Sean Poucher (Limerick), David Reddan Jnr (Nenagh)
- (14.50/10.00) Mark Ford (Cork), Gary McGrane (The Royal Dublin), Aaron Moore (Adare Manor)
- (15.00/10.10) Edward Stack (Ballybunion), Michael O’Kelly (Limerick), Eoin Leonard (Wentworth UK)
- (15.10/10.20) Cathal Nolan (Galway), Nils Conway (Grange), John Greene (Portmarnock)
- (15.20/ 10.40) Mark MacGrath (Limerick), Sean Walsh (Carton House), Ben Best (Rathmore)
- (15.30/10.50) Rory Williamstown (Holywood), Owen O’Brien (Limerick), John Conroy (Portmarnock)
- (15.40/11.00) Robert Cannon (Balbriggan), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas)
- (15.50/11.10) Eoin O’Connor (Ballybunion), Dave O’Donovan (Muskerry), Keith Murphy (Charlesland).