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McGinley and Harrington pay tribute to Kelly

January 31st, 2019 9:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Alan Kelly, second from left, pictured with Paul McGinley (left) and Padraig Harrington (right) after their 1997 World Cup of Golf win.

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FORMER European Ryder Cup winning captain Paul McGinley has paid tribute to Bantry Bay Golf Club’s Alan Kelly after his sudden passing.

Golf fanatic Alan was a colourful character well known in golf circles and one of his claims to fame was that he caddied McGinley and Padraig Harrington to World Cup glory at Kiawah Island in 1997.

Alan was a late, late replacement caddie for McGinley, and as the Irish team went on to glory, the Bantry man reputedly picked up ,000 for his week’s work.

It was a tale that McGinley recalled this week after learning of Alan’s sudden death.

‘My memory. World Cup, Kiawah Island 1997. My caddy Jimmy missed his flight. Padraig’s caddy, Reilly, was sent to find someone. He met Alan in a pub who was in America labouring. We won. Alan paid full %. It became public and he worried the revenue would now be after him! Great guy,’ McGinley said.

New European Ryder Cup captain Harrington also sent his condolences to Alan’s family and friends when he tweeted: ‘Alan added so much to what was one of the best weeks of both our careers. RIP Alan.’

Alan was synonymous with Bantry golf and had been involved in various roles with the club over the years, including club captain in 2015 – a role that meant a lot to him.

As a caddie, a player and then in a role marketing the club, he had always been hands on.

In recent times, he hit the headlines by taking golf shots at some of West Cork’s most iconic sports to highlight the beauty of this region. He fired golf balls from the Fastnet Rock into the wild Atlantic Ocean, the top of Mount Gabriel, Bantry House, Gougane Barra, all part of an initiative by Bantry Bay Golf Club.

He loved recalling the tales of his five years on tour as a caddie, from 1993 to 1998, though for obvious reasons, some were better left unsaid!

One of the stories that survived the cut was the time he ate a hamburger with a young Tiger Woods near the driving range at Carnoustie at the end of the 1995 Scottish Open. It’s a story he shared with The Southern Star last year. After watching a young fella practice his swing, Alan and another caddie asked the American golfer if he wanted to join them for a hamburger from the nearby chip van. He took up the offer. Turns out it was Tiger Woods.

Here’s what Alan said: ‘He came over to us and we sat down for 30 minutes and had great craic talking about everything from Charles Barkley to Walker Cup golf. We thought nothing of it because for us he was just a nice American, down to earth, humble and funny. Needless to say as the years went by I treasured that half an hour eating a burger with Tiger.’

Needless to say too, those that knew Alan treasured their time with him too.

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