15 July 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Colm Shalvey

Irish golf is at an unprecedented high, with golfers from this island having won five major championships since 2007, but as well as the big-name Irish players, there is one competitor in this week’s British Open with close links to Monaghan.
Three-time major champion Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and US Open champion Rory McIlroy have all won majors in the last few years and will be competing at Sandwich from today, along with Darren Clarke, but Monaghan golf fans will be looking out for Francis McGuirk, who has links with the Farney county.
Francis’ father and mother both hail from North Monaghan – his father Michael is from Tyholland, and his mother Ann, née Macklin, hails from Canal Cottage near Old Cross Square in Monaghan Town. He is nephew of Pearl McGuirk, owner of the well-known coal business operating from Old Cross Square.
The English-born player, who is based in Kent just half a mile away from the British Open course, booked his place in his first major championship last month. He held off contenders, including 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell, to finish tied for second place on five under par in the final qualifying round at Prince’s Golf Club.
The 37-year-old professional went close to qualifying for the British Open in 2009, when he missed out by just one shot, but he finished the job this time, with the benefit of local knowledge at Prince’s, which is owned by his father Michael.
Speaking to BBC Radio Kent after qualifying, an elated McGuirk said it was “a dream come true” to have qualified for the Open and he added that he hoped to be able to get in a few “sneaky practice rounds” at the course before going into the biggest tournament of his career to date.
McGuirk is in good form going into this weekend, as he won his last event at Berkhamsted to stay top of the TP Tour Series Order of Merit. He is available at odds as high as 1,500/1, but he will hope to put his experience of the host course to good use.

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