Neil O’Briain will take time out from his PGA training to renew rivalries with Rory McIlroy at the Irish Open this week. The Old Conna Golf Club assistant is one of six PGA pros to qualify for the Royal County Down showpiece via the PGA in Ireland Order of Merit.
As an amateur O’Briain regularly competed with, and against, McIlroy and the opportunity to again tee up against the world number one plus a host of other stars in the €2.5m event is one he is relishing. Having competed on the satellite tours, O’Briain is enjoying his PGA training where he is equipping himself in the disciplines of coaching, sports science, equipment and golf business. But with his second year of PGA exams just finished, O’Briain is for now determined to revel in his Irish Open experience.
O’Briain commented, “I’ve played Challenge Tour and PGA Europro Tour so this is a step up and with such a strong field it’s great to be part of. Rory has got to insane heights in the game – but we all expected that when he was growing up because he was always the golden boy. I played both with and against him. He was always a nice kid, always sound. His dad Gerry used to caddy for him and it’s great to see someone that has potential and talent, who was very driven and hardworking go on to become the best player of our generation. It’s great to say I played with him.”