One of the biggest stars of Irish golf, Christy O’Connor Jnr, has died while on a holiday abroad.
The 67-year-old from Galway was best remembered for helping Europe retain the Ryder Cup at The Belfry in 1989 when he fired a stunning shot with his two iron to within feet of the hole.
O’Connor’s victory over American Fred Couples helped ensure the contest finished 14-14 with holders Europe therefore retaining the trophy.
It is understood he was on holiday in Tenerife when he died.
The Golf Union of Ireland paid tribute by posting a clip of the memorable shot online and a note describing him as “a gentleman, an iconic figure of Irish golf and a true ambassador”.
“He was a pioneer for professional Irish golfers and inspired a generation of players,” the organisation said.
O’Connor Jnr’s career highlights included two Ryder Cup appearances, 17 professional tournament wins, four wins on the European Tour and two British Open Senior titles.
In his latter years O’Connor Jnr – the nephew of another hero of Irish golf, Christy O’Connor Snr – was heavily involved in designing golf courses.
Tributes began to flood in following news of his death.
O’Connor Jnr was a supporter of Special Olympics and the Irish branch of the organisation described him as one of Ireland’s greatest ever talents and a dedicated patron.
The Professional Golfers’ Association said: “Sad news that Ryder Cup hero Christy O’Connor Jnr has passed away.”
Local politician in Galway, Brian Walsh, said: “A great talent who brought much enjoyment to many and worked quietly to benefit Galway causes.”
Michael Ring, Ireland’s junior minister for sport, described O’Connor as one of the country’s finest golfers and sportsmen.
“He contributed so much to sport in Ireland and was a role model for many Irish golfers,” he said.