Robin Dawson is just 11 days away from entering the big bad world of professional golf.
But if you think he’s apprehensive about his ability to rub shoulders with the game’s best players, head to Carton House tomorrow to watch him in the Eisenhower Trophy before making up your mind.
The 22-year-old will be easy to spot — 6ft 2in with flaming red hair, a massive entourage from Tramore, and a red-hot golf game that’s been good enough this year to take him to eighth in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
It’s been a dream campaign for a player who has a back-up plan in the form of a degree in equine business from Maynooth University, where he transformed himself from a hugely talented boys golfer into one of the world’s thoroughbred amateurs.
But there’s no ‘I’ in team, as the Americans like to say, and while the likes of Jon Rahm (2014), Rickie Fowler (2008), Ryan Moore (2004), Hal Sutton (1980), and Jack Nicklaus (1960) all topped the leaderboard in the Eisenhower Trophy as individuals, Dawson would prefer to match Bryson DeChambeau as part of the three-man team that lifted the Eisenhower Trophy in Japan four years ago.
Ireland won their first medal in Mexico in 2016 when Jack Hume, Paul McBride, and Stuart Grehan claimed bronze. Dawson does not believe high expectations will be a problem for him or teammates John Murphy, from Kinsale, or Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell.
“I feed off that and enjoy playing in that kind of environment. That Irish Close is still the favourite tournament I have played so far even though Alex Gleeson beat me on the 19th in the semis.
“I didn’t think I’d be beaten around my home course that week so I think it will suit me here this week too. And I know John Murphy loves a crowd and nothing fazes Conor Purcell, so I think we have a nice threesome who will deal well with the distraction.”
GUI national coach Neil Manchip took Dawson and Purcell to Gleneagles for last week’s Scottish Amateur Strokeplay where the Portmarnock man was second despite being seven over after seven holes of his opening round and Dawson came home tied for 10th.
“Everyone is aware of the disadvantages of playing at home,” Manchip said of the challenges they face.
Dawson won the Flogas Irish Amateur Strokeplay at Royal County Down in May, reached the final of the Amateur Championship in June, and finished second in the European Amateur Championship the following week to mark himself out as one of the world’s outstanding amateurs.
It’s little wonder he’s confident. “I am in a nice place,” said Dawson, who is through to the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School as one of the world’s top 15 amateurs and plans to take the plunge into the professional ranks after next week’s Home Internationals in Wales.
“It’s mad. It’s like a snowball effect. One or two good results and it grows. So I will keep plugging away.
“I have two events left before I turn pro. The Home Internationals next week and the Eisenhower Trophy, which is the one we have been talking about since the start of the year. Golf is an individual sport so if each of us concentrates on what we have to do, we will just add up all our strokes at the end of the week and see where we are.
“We can only control ourselves but I think we are in with a good chance because we have a good group of guys playing well and we know the courses well.”
Dawson respects everyone but fears nobody.
While Australian stars Min Woo Lee, David Micheluzzi, and Shae Wools-Cobb — not to mention Americans Cole Hammer and Justin Suh and Norway’s US Amateur champion Viktor Hovland — are all world class, Ireland’s trio stand comparison with the best.
Dawson is happy to test himself. “I know that if I play well, I will be up there,” he said.
By Brian Keogh – Irish Examiner