Sunday, August 19, 2007



By Neil Ahern

One of Ireland's top lady golfers, Marian Riordan, has announced she will make her last appearance as an amateur at the Home Internationals next month.
The 26 year-old, the runaway leader of this year's ILGU Order of Merit, has had a long tenure in the amateur game, but has hit the crest of the wave this year and decided to move to pastures new in search of a career in the game.
Riordan, pictured right, will be inducted into the three-year PGA course for professionals at The Belfry in Birmingham, where she will embark on one of the most exciting ventures of her life.
“It is exciting alright,” said the Tipperary player.
“I'm also a little apprehensive. I've thought about it over and over but everyone's been really positive towards me and I'm positive about it myself.”
The Tipperary player has been the most consistent performer in Irish golf this year, culminating in a runner-up spot at the Irish Close, a Lahinch Scratch Cup win and a sure bet for all of Ireland's International squads.
And now she feels it's time to move forward and take her game to a new level.
Although turning down a possible Curtis Cup place in the future, she is unwavering on her belief that she has made the right choice and will play for a card on the Ladies European Tour this year.
“I would really love to play the Curtis Cup, but for some reason I don't think I will regret it.
I know if I wait around for the Curtis Cup and don't do something different with my game, I could regret that more than anything.”
Riordan will leave a full-time job as a teacher behind when she begins her three-year course and although the obscurity of professional golf is a far cry from her previous work, she sees things from a different angle.
“I think financially it is a big decision for me, but in terms of the bigger picture I take money out of the equation.
“When you do that, you think ‘will I regret not taking this opportunity in 10 years?' It's a dream, there's no doubt about it.”
“I've had my ups and downs over 10 years, but the sacrifices you make build you in this
The advice she has received from two opposite ends of the spectrum en route to her decision was invaluable.
She spoke to Eileen Rose Power, one of Ireland's best players never to have turned pro,
and one of Ireland's most successful tournament professionals, Rebecca Coakley, about her options before deciding on what was undoubtedly a massive decision.
“I played with Rebecca recently and I analysed her game closely. That made me think that I can do it. I know I need to sharpen up around the greens. I know I need to step up two more levels and that's what I want to achieve. Eileen Rose is one of Ireland's greatest golfers and was at a time one of the best in Europe.
“But she said that the (professional golf) lifestyle just wasn't for her and she still loved the amateur golf.
“I'm certainly going to miss it, as amateur golf has been a big part of my life for so long and I've met some of my best friends there. But I'm going to make a big effort not to lose touch.”
Once again, however, amateur golf will be at loss with a top player deciding to try her
luck in the professional ranks. One thing is for sure though, Marian Riordan will undoubtedly be terrifically supported throughout her career, whatever it is and wherever it takes her.