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Saturday: A later reporting time and a single tee start.


Peter McCormick

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There was some drama in determining the cut at the end of Friday's second round. The drama belonged to England's Nathan Kimsey who birdied the Par 4 18th hole with a very long putt as part of his second round. By carding a combined 140 instead of a 141 over the two rounds he effectively knocked out 15 other players who came in at 141. We all imagined that he wasn't very popular around the Players Lounge Friday evening.

 

With the field reduced to 65 for Saturday and Sunday, play would be only off the first tee for the first time all week. The first starting time was 7:50 AM so we were given a later reporting time for Saturday morning. Some chose to use the extra hour in the town of Portstewart Friday night. With fatigue setting in we chose to put it toward an extra hour of sleep.

 

After our customary continental breakfast at 5:00AM we were all clear of the maintenance facility well before 5:30. Assignments had been posted the night before and everyone knew where they were headed and what they were doing. This was clearly going to be the best weather for the week so we were sure to make the course look as good as possible for the expected large crowds. We were also determined to see some golf being played.

 

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Team TurfNet heads out from the maintenance facility to watch some golf on a beautiful Saturday afternoon (above). Below, on the 18th hole on Saturday afternoon. Portstewart Golf Club clubhouse in the background.

 

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We returned to our rental home for a few hours of sleep but decided to return to the course long before our 5 PM reporting time. In what has become a tradition for me, I purchased a Dubai Duty Free Irish Open flag and had members of the combined crew sign it. While the official uniform we were issued is a great keepsake, the signed flag has special meaning to me. Each name represents a new friend in the fraternity of greenkeeping. Whether I was assigned to work with them or just sat with them at the same table over breakfast each name on that flag holds fun memories of the groups job well-done. Bernard Findlay liked the idea so much that he got one and did the same.

 

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David Escobedo wonders where this has been all week?!

 

Our return to the course allowed us to see some of the players over the holes closest to the maintenance facility. Seeing the course we were maintaining in play for the tournament was a special treat.

 

The Irish golf fans, fearing rain on Sunday, came out in droves for Saturdays round. Many of them just sat out and enjoyed the sometimes elusive sunshine (below).

 

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Before our evening shift we had the pleasure of being visited by the Captain and Lady Captain of Portstewart Golf Club -- Mr. Paul Hewitt and Mrs. Julie Corbett. The captains are elected by the membership and serve as figureheads in all club golf and social matters.  In addition to singing the praises of Bernard Findlay and his in-house team, they thanked us for our work around the course and told us to thank our families for understanding our need to be away for the week. Given the many responsibilities of the two captains, we were honored that they took the time to visit with us.

 

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Portstewart Lady Captain Julie Corbett (center) and Portstewart Captain Paul Hewitt (right) congratulate Bernard Findlay (left) and the combined crew on a job well done before our Saturday afternoon rounds. 

 

As expected and given his duties as host of the tournament, Rory McIlroy stayed onsite and used much of the day to practice. The crew assigned to the chipping green were lucky enough to grab a photo with him before his trip to the clubhouse.

 

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A larger than normal crowd at the chipping green as Rory hones his short game in advance of next weeks Scottish Open.

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A larger security detail sticks close to tournament defending champion and host Rory McIlroy. 

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Last year Rory took a photo with the entire greenkeeping team after winning the Irish Open. This year it is a smaller group at the chipping green since he missed the cut. 

 

Our duties were complete by 8:15 PM so we decided that a short visit to catch up with the rest of the crew was in order since it was our last evening in the area. It was determined that most of the gang was at Shenanigans so after a short taxi ride we headed there. A large crowd was even larger due to a waterfront fireworks and the bar was packed to the gills. It wasn't unusual to have to wait twenty minutes at a bar that was three deep just to get a beer. We reflected that in the States a bar in a similar situation with anticipated crowds would have had auxiliary bars on the patio to handle the larger than normal crowd and to keep the cash register ringing, but they do things differently here.

 

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Some of the greenkeeping staff out on the town at Shenanigans on Saturday night. 

 

The club did have a nice band (I thought it would be the case when I saw a banjo as they were setting up) and we stayed for a set before heading home to pack up for our departure on Sunday.  

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Guest Paul Hewitt (Captain PGC)

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Well done gentlemen. You did a phenomenal job and were a highly professional team throughout. Most of all you were brilliantly good-humoured despite the pressure and long hours. Thank you one and all - we couldn't have been nearly as good without your efforts. Have a good summer throughout the world in your home clubs: they should be proud of you! Paul Hewitt

 

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