With a single tee start at 7:50 AM our last reporting time was again 5 AM. Bernard captured the final day rollout of equipment and personnel. After seeing/filming these for many years I was finally included in one! Rain was forecast for later in the day and started briefly for about an hour during our Sunday duties.
The leaders after three rounds were Daniel Im from the USA and Jon Rahm from Spain. They were set to tee off with the final tee time at 1:10 PM. This meant the tournament would end sometime around 5 PM.
David, Dana and I had already decided that we would leave after the morning shift in the hopes of getting settled in Dublin in time to watch the last few holes on television there. Marty was headed back with volunteer Mike Brennan from Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links as our car was again at capacity.
Our morning rounds were completed efficiently and the equipment was stored for the final time that week. The combined group of Portstewart greenstaff and volunteers gathered for our final meal together -- the now familiar hot breakfast.
Tee mowing team leader John O'Brien of the Portstewart Golf Club staff after his last shift of the week. He walked over 140 miles while mowing since the previous Sunday.
During the breakfast we were joined by Miguel Vidaor, tournament director for the European Tour. David captured the following video of his remarks. He declared the tournament and our work a success and thanked us for our efforts. Tour consultant Eugene Hennessy added that we "were a tribute to the profession and we always did our jobs with a smile."
All smiles on the final morning of tournament prep. (L-R) Portstewart Deputy Course Manager Brian McConway, European Tour Consultant Eugene Hennessy, and Damien McConway from nearby Castlerock Golf Club. (Portstewart's Jonny Hemphill with the photobomb in the background!)
We said our goodbyes (or "cheerios" as they say locally) and realized that like a last gathering at high school graduation we would likely never have this same group assembled again in the future. A quick stop at the house to pack up and we were on our way.
On the road out of town we stopped at Dunluce Castle. Originally built by the MacQuillan family in the 1500s, the castle has a rich history and is in outstanding shape for its age and exposure along the Antrim coast. An extensive visitors centre and good signage told the story of this piece of Irish history. Bringing our trip full circle was the fact that stones brought from nearby Giants Causeway were used in construction of the castle.
Dunluce Castle on the Antrim coast.
The drive to Dublin was mostly motorway and we arrived into the area in about three hours. Dana checked into his friend Sean's BnB in Portmarnock while David and I headed into the Castle Lodge BnB in Malahide. We also made a quick stop at Malahide Castle, ancestral home of the Talbot family since the 1100s until being turned over relatively recently to local authorities for preservation.
It was early in the afternoon and David and I were able to reserve a tee time for nine holes at Portmarnock Golf Club. We watched the last few holes of the Irish Open in the bar of the club.
David with Ireland's Eye over his right shoulder at during a nine hole round at Portmarnock Golf Club.
Spaniard Jon Rahm won the tournament by six shots finishing at 24 under par with a total score of 264. Those staff and volunteers who were around for the award presentation (we weren't the only ones to get on the road early) posed for a photo with Rahm and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open trophy. It goes without saying that this practice should be adopted more broadly across professional golf circuits worldwide.
Irish Open Winner Jon Rahm of Spain poses with his trophy and the remaining greenkeeping staff.
Sunday night David rested up for his flight while Marty and I met up with Malahide resident and retired greenkeeper Eddie Donlon for dinner and a few pints. With a more normal wake up hour the next morning, there was finally time to reflect on our amazing week together at the Irish Open in Portstewart.