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Golfing grandpa lands club's prize after 50 years of trying

IF at first you don't succeed then try, try again . . . for 50 years.

That's the lesson learned by golfer Tom Clarke, who won the Captain's Prize at St Anne's Golf Club after five decades of effort.

With golf headlines currently focusing on Rory McIlroy, veteran Tom has struck a blow for the more mature player.

McIlroy may have waited longer than he'd have liked to win his first major but, playing on the same weekend, 78-year-old Tom had been trying to win the Captain's (Larry Curran) Prize at St Anne's for nearly half a century.

The grandfather from Baldoyle in north Co Dublin admitted drawing inspiration from Ireland's newest major winner.

"Rory was an inspiration to me. I thought if he can do it, an auld fella like me shouldn't have a problem," he said.

"I was nearly 50 years trying to win it. I joined the club in Balbriggan in 1957 and I've been playing at St Anne's for nearly 30 years so it was a long wait."

Having failed to qualify on a number of occasions over the past few years, he did not have high expectations going into the event.

Playing off a handicap of 19, Tom led the qualifiers with 42 points but there weren't many expecting him to follow it up with another good score.

"I was the leading qualifier all weekend, I got a 34 on the Sunday and that was good enough."

A popular and figure in North Dublin golfing circles, Tom worked as a greenkeeper at Portmarnock, Royal Dublin and St Anne's golf clubs.

"I worked as a groundskeeper in St Anne's for two sessions of three years so I suppose I had a local knowledge," he added.

"The rest of the of the field were probably in their 40s -- it's seldom grandad who gets to win."