10 Apr 2023

Seamus Power: Prime position

Europe’s Ryder Cup team have unearthed a new diamond in Seamus Power right when they need it.

Known for his consistent performances and unwavering dedication to the sport, the Irishman is quickly becoming a household name among golf enthusiasts. The 36-year-old claimed his second PGA Tour victory at the 2022 Butterfield Bermuda Championship and recently focused his attention on making Luke Donald’s side this September. Here, the Waterford man gave us the lowdown on his time in the Middle East along with his ambition of representing Europe later this year.

It’s been an unconventional rise to the top echelons of the sport for Power. The two-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t followed the traditional tried-and-tested route for a European which peaks at the DP World Tour and beyond. Instead, he went to play in America for East Tennessee State University before turning professional in 2011. It’s been a slow climb to the elite level he finds himself at now, but it was worth waiting for.

“It’s a dream,” said Power of his ascent to the PGA Tour. “I played four years of mini-tours and you’re playing for nothing. You know, two to three million, whatever a winning cheque is now, that’s a huge life-changing amount of money. At the end of the day, we’re only playing a game of golf. To be able to play for any of those figures that we are talking about, it’s lucky.”

As the Irishman alludes to, the financials of the sport are an ever-present aspect of golfing headlines right now. The emergence of LIV Golf and the drastic scheduling changes to the PGA Tour have made it a great time to be a professional player. The money that the game’s best now compete for is mind-boggling, but it still hasn’t come without damages. There have been ruined relationships – like Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia’s – and a potential asterisk over the upcoming Ryder Cup with regards to who should and shouldn’t be there. The long-term future of the sport remains uncertain.

“This game has been around for a long time,” added the 2016 Olympian. “There’s been a lot of incredible people and a lot of incredible players that have really affected the game. Hopefully this generation has the same amount. You see Rory, I feel like he’s really taken the mantle. He’s taken the bull by the horns and seems to be the one leading that way. I’ve known Rory a long time and he’s a great guy to be on your side and long may it continue. That’s going to be the key. I keep going back to it, it’s for us in this generation to leave golf in a better place. It’s not what we can all get out of it. It’s what we can kind of do for the game and give back for a game that’s given everyone in this field so much already.”

PLAYING IN THE UAE

Despite being one of many US-based Europeans, the Irishman still made the trip over to the Middle East in January to participate in the Hero Cup and Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. In fact, he flew directly from Hawaii’s Sentry Tournament of Champions to Abu Dhabi which was 28 hours on a plane. He’s only played in a handful of DP World Tour events to date, but that journey alone has proved his strong commitment to the Ryder Cup cause.

“I took a lot from it,” said Power of his Hero Cup week. “We don’t play a lot of match play much anymore, so getting reminded of the difference is the biggest thing to me. I played against guys that were fantastic players and you see the depth of talent. When you talk about Rory, Jon, Viktor, and Fitz not being there; it was amazing to see. I played with Nicolai, an amazing player, huge, talented player. Bob MacIntyre in fourball was a joy to play with, so easy going and a lovely player.”

Despite being on the losing side that week at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, he did follow it up with a top 20 finish at Yas Links a week later. And even despite the long flight, the Middle East appears to have taken a small piece of his heart. “I’m not surprised there are so many guys basing themselves in this part of the world,” added Power. “You couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s gorgeous. You’re in shorts every day possible. It makes a world of difference as golfers. You need good weather and you need good courses.”

But could the 36-year-old ever see himself make the move permanent?

“At the moment I’m happy enough in the US,” he stated. “But I can easily see why the likes of Tommy (Fleetwood) base themselves in the Middle East. You have got everything you could possibly need to be a good professional golfer. And Tommy at the moment, he plays more of a worldwide schedule than me. Hopefully I can continue playing good golf and maybe I can kind of lean more that way and play some more around the world.”

RYDER CUP HOPES

The biennial team event between the US and Europe will always be the pinnacle of any golfers career, and Power’s debut is firmly in sight. It’s more than just a tournament, but a celebration of the game and the values that it represents: teamwork, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. It brings together players and fans from different backgrounds and cultures, united by their passion for golf. But perhaps more importantly, playing in a Ryder Cup is an opportunity to inspire the next generation of golfers and to leave a lasting legacy that will endure long after the tournament is over. The drama that unfolds during a Ryder Cup week is special, and a chance for players to leave their mark on the game.

“I will never forget Paul McGinley’s putt at The Belfry (in 2002),” recalled Power. “That’s one that hit home. I’ll never forget that moment, seeing Sam Torrance on the side of the green crying. And Ian Poulter for me was the one that was just remarkable. He just turned into the best player in the world on those Ryder Cup weeks. Obviously he had an incredible career and won a lot anyway, but on those weeks, you just couldn’t see him losing, and it was just amazing that someone could seem rise so much in some of these moments. Some of the fist-pumps, some of the looks on his face.”

As a top 30 player in the world himself, the Irishman has a great chance of adding his own chapter to the history books. Only 12 of the 159 Europeans to participate in a Ryder Cup have hailed from the Republic of Ireland, but his impressive form over the last year and a half have him poised to add to his country’s representation. Even if he doesn’t qualify automatically, his achievements thus far have earned him the potential to be a Captain’s Pick.

“After the win (in Bermuda), I called Luke and I talked to Paul McGinley, just getting their input and their advice, what they would recommend, what would Luke like to see in terms of some of that stuff,” said the 2017 Korn Ferry Tour graduate. “I’ve played well for the last year so I’m on the radar to some extent. So much can happen, there are so many tournaments in the next few months. Hopefully some of my good golf continues.”

While the specifics of that phone conversation with Donald will remain a secret, Power’s name is a prominent topic in the discussion of team selection. Ten years ago, the Irishman was competing on America’s third level of professional golf, the eGolf Professional Tour, and now he is a multiple PGA Tour winner on the brink of making history. It’s been a steady climb so far, but the summit is now in sight.

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