Portrush lures Pyman
Dad and lad ... the Pymans
The course of true love never did run smooth but watching the Open Championship from Royal Portrush helped rekindle Ian Pyman’s affection for a game that has given him wonderful highs and equally despairing lows.
The Dunluce course was the scene for Pyman’s win in the 1993 Amateur Championship with the final against Paul Page going to the 37th hole.
The biggest win of his career earned him a place in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s a few weeks later, where he won the Silver Medal as the low amateur, and an invite to Augusta for the 1994 Masters.
Pyman recalled: “I had a chance to beat Paul on the last but missed from three feet. Stood over that putt was the first time I had said to myself ‘hole this and you are in the Open and the Masters’ so I can’t even start to imagine what kind of things were going through Shane’s mind during the latter part of his final round.
“But what I liked most about it was how much he enjoyed the walk up the last hole. You haven’t seen a winner in recent times be able to enjoy it as much as Shane did and that’s the way it should be. “
The vociferous yet knowledgeable local crowd typified Irish golf fans. “The Amateur wasn’t anywhere near as big a deal as the Open but it drew a lot of interest and because I had beaten a local guy in the semi-finals, they really got behind me and cheered me on in the final.”
He stayed in a local B&B with fellow Sand Moor members the Pullan twins and Stuart Cage in what was a golden age for the north Leeds club. Cage, who lost in a play-off for the 1995 Irish Open in his rookie year is now a successful agent and was also back at Portrush during the Open to watch his star client Eric Van Rooyen, who was in contention before falling away.
Pyman, however, hasn’t been back since his win which came when he was 20, but has fond memories.
“I will never forget Royal Portrush. They have made a few changes and on TV it looked like the putting green was the 18th green as we played it. But it was a fantastic course back then as well.” Pyman went on to play over 300 events on the European Tour and won well over £1m, but it’s fair to say that he never fully realised the potential he had shown in a stellar amateur career – although he did win a record eight times on the Challenge Tour in a tournament career that spanned 16 years.
“Towards the end of my career I really didn’t want to be out there and when you are struggling it can be soul destroying. I really fell out of love with the game,” he added.
Pyman pretty much turned his back on golf and returned to his native Whitby to work in the hospitality industry and until last month had played only two rounds in the past two and a half years. But he played six times in July including the Yorkshire Open and has rediscovered his passion for the game.
“I’m really enjoying playing again and have set myself a four-year plan to get on the European Senior Tour so that’s my goal. And watching the Open over a course where I won also made me realise how much I have missed that winning feeling.”
“The challenge at the moment is that I might have to work for seven days straight and then turn up to play without any preparation but the desire is back and that’s what really counts.”
Pyman was speaking to Yorkshire Golfer as he followed his son Thomas round Moor Park in a practice round for the English under 18 Boys’ Open Amateur Strokeplay (Carris Trophy) which Pyman Snr won back in 1991.
“Unfortunately, I won it at Long Ashton in Bristol so I wasn’t able to tell him much about the course.”
He’s very much hands off with his son’s golf game preferring to leave it to Thomas and the coaches around him.
“I’m his dad not his coach. I will offer advice on course management and on the odd occasion he will ask me something and I will give him my opinion, but that’s as far as it goes.”
Thomas is in the Yorkshire Boys set-up playing off a handicap of plus 1 at the age of 16 which is a few shots in front of where his father was at the same stage in his life. “I was off 2 at 16 but I grew up under the old system where it was unheard of to get to plus 4 or 5 and I only took the game up aged 14.”
Thomas is considering a golf scholarship in the USA and if his game continues to progress the Pyman’s will make some father and son team.