Irish Open winner John O'Leary...

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Irish Open winner John O'Leary dies

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

02:47 26 Mar 2020


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Golfer John O'Leary has passed away at the age of 70. 

O'Leary became just the third ever Irishman to win the Irish Open when he pipped England's Maurice Bembridge to the title by a single stroke at Portmarnock in 1982.

He would remain the last Irishman to win the tournament until Padraig Harrington's triumph at Adare Manor in 2007.

Indeed O'Leary was one of the first to congratulate Harrington on his 2007 victory, having told Dermot Gilleece in 2000, "Quite frankly, with all the success our players have had in recent years, I'm amazed they haven't pushed me into the background.

"I will always be remembered as an Irish Open winner, which is very gratifying."

20 May 2007; John O'Leary, left, the last Irish winner of the Irish Open in 1992 congratulates Padraig Harrington on his success. Irish Open Golf Championship, Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort, Adare, Co. Limerick. Picture credit: Kieran Clancy / SPORTSFILE

O'Leary was also a member of Bernard Hunt's Great Britain & Ireland Ryder Cup team that lost 21-11 to the United States at Laurel Valley in 1975.

He was one of three Irish rookies in that team along with Christy O'Connor Jr. and Eamonn Darcy.

His Irish Open success was his second European Tour victory - in 1976 he became the inaugural winner of the short-lived Greater Manchester Open at Wilmslow.

It was at Foxrock Golf Club where O'Leary made his name, joining as a junior in the late 1960s.

A gifted amateur, O'Leary won the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship.

In the year of his Ryder Cup appearance, O'Leary won on the controversial South African Tour - claiming the Holiday Inns Royal Swazi Sun Open.

In retirement, he would go on to be a director at the European Tour and the professional at Buckinghamshire Golf Club in England.

Several of his contemporaries have paid tribute since news of his passing broke.

Former European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance described O'Leary as "one of my dearest friends and roommate for 10 years on tour."

Another ex-Europe captain Paul McGinley warmly remembered "a dedicated follower of fashion and all round great guy".


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1975 Ryder Cup Adare Manor Great Britain & Ireland Irish Open John O'leary Padraig Harrington Portmarnock Ryder Cup

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