‘He was lovely’ – Gearoid Hegarty on meeting Tiger Woods

It’s lower than two years in the past that Gearóid Hegarty was speaking about Bryson DeChambeau and the way the facility play of golf’s ‘mad scientist’ was threatening some age-old traditions within the sport. 

That was at the same time as parallels have been being drawn with how the Limerick hurlers have been engaged in a model of identical – Hegarty was named Participant of the 12 months after hitting an impressive seven factors from play within the All-Eire ultimate itself.

He defined how he was an enormous fan of the small ball sport. How the character of the US Open win left him rapt in admiration – it turned out the Limerick wing-forward can hammer the ball down a fairway with sufficient energy and accuracy to make him a low single-digit golfer.

Gearoid Hegarty
Jordan Speith of USA with Tiger Woods of USA, left, and Limerick hurler Gearóid Hegarty throughout day one of many JP McManus Professional-Am at Adare Manor Golf Membership in Adare, Limerick. Pic: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Seems, Hegarty’s love for the sport stemmed from rising up with Tiger Woods as his sporting hero. The concept then that he could possibly be standing beside Woods himself and holding a dialog with him halfway by way of a spherical? 

Properly, identical to tearing it up on All-Eire ultimate day and changing into a a number of All-Eire winner – yesterday he was named as soon as once more because the PwC GAA/GPA Participant of the Month for July – a unique type of dream was realised earlier the identical month on the JP McManus Professional-Am at Adare Manor.

By advantage of Limerick’s long-time sponsor internet hosting the occasion, a number of the gamers had distinctive entry. Hegarty recollects how he did not let the second move to share a second with Tiger. 

‘I used to be daring sufficient now, I do not know was I alleged to do it or not however I mentioned I in all probability was by no means going to be on this state of affairs once more and get to ask the person a query. 

Tiger Woods of USA, businessman JP McManus, Limerick hurling supervisor John Kiely and captain Declan Hannon throughout day one of many JP McManus Professional-Am at Adare Manor Golf Membership in Adare, Limerick. Pic: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

‘No matter means it was designed within the Manor that day for the Professional-Am on the eleventh par three, you tee off and go and mark your ball after which only for tempo play the gang behind you’ll tee off and also you simply stand again on the greenway, and he was standing in the back of the greenway ready for Leona Maguire to hit her shot earlier than he may go up and putt.

‘I used to be beside Barry Nash and he is pure quiet and shy. And I simply mentioned “proper, that is our likelihood,” as a result of we would been following him for the reason that first 11 holes and I used to be simply ready and ready. 

‘I simply wished to get a photograph with him to be trustworthy with you, as a result of he was my hero rising up and possibly nonetheless is to be trustworthy. I simply mentioned “I am simply going to go for it right here,” and I went over. I did not even know what I mentioned to the person however I type of simply launched myself and talked about Limerick as a result of I do know he could have heard of that earlier than by way of his reference to JP.

‘He was beautiful, I simply had a chat with him for a few minutes. Could not let you know what I mentioned to him, I do not know if I even made sense. I simply wished to get a photograph with him and say that I spoke to him, however what an unreal man. As I mentioned, he was my hero rising up, so it is actually cool to have that second.

Tiger Woods of USA, left, and Limerick hurler Gearóid Hegarty throughout day one of many JP McManus Professional-Am at Adare Manor Golf Membership in Adare, Limerick. Pic: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

‘Twelve of the highest 13 on this planet have been there, and 50 to perhaps 70 per cent of the gang have been following Tiger. He is nonetheless the primary draw, it was unimaginable. I used to be fully in awe of him. He has such an aura about him.’

As to how he ended up idolising Woods, who was concerned solely this week in summit talks with the PGA gamers within the face of the breakaway LIV Tour? 

‘I used to be a large golf fan and he was golf rising up. He was successful the whole lot, how may you not love him? He is simply been an unimaginable sportsman for golf and take a look at the whole lot he has carried out for golf and the sum of money he has made for all of the gamers, I feel they name it the “Tiger tax” by way of the cash he has made for different folks by way of how a lot he has elevated the sport in sponsorship and issues like that and prize cash at occasions. He is carried out a lot for it, and he is class. I used to be leaving it off about LIV Golf, I wasn’t going close to that one!’

Even to stroll a couple of holes within the sneakers of Tiger Woods was eyeopening. ‘I can solely think about how onerous it has been to stay his life. He lives his life with a digital camera in his face in every single place he goes, you seen it that day. 

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods of United States performs his tee shot on the third gap throughout Day Two of the JP McManus Professional-Am at Adare Manor on July 05, 2022 in Limerick, Eire. Pic: Oisin Keniry/Getty Photographs

‘The vast majority of folks adopted Tiger and each single individual had their telephones out and each step he takes there is a thousand cameras taking a look at him, so I am unable to even think about what it is like. 

‘It have to be so powerful, you even see it in The Final Dance documentary, Michael Jordan is of an analogous stature and he spent most of his enjoying profession in a resort room hiding out, so it is not straightforward for them both.’

Hegarty has develop into one in all Limerick’s final big-game gamers, producing one other Man of the Match efficiency towards Kilkenny, to go along with the 2020 decider towards Waterford. He mentioned it felt so good for Limerick to win with the crowds again. ‘This yr was simply bananas, did you see any of the homecoming stuff? It was like three years rolled into one.’

When he got here into the dressing room, Kilkenny supervisor Brian Cody was simply wrapping up his personal respectful tribute to the successful crew. Information then of Cody’s departure the next weekend got here from left-field. 

Brian Cody
17 July 2022; Limerick supervisor John Kiely and Kilkenny supervisor Brian Cody shake arms after the GAA Hurling All-Eire Senior Championship Closing match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin. Pic: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

‘I used to be stunned, to be trustworthy. Brian Cody is the best GAA supervisor of all time, doubtless. I do not assume anyone will ever get even near his file, is it 11 All-Irelands and 17 finals or one thing like that? God solely is aware of what number of Leinster Championships he is received. He is managed a number of the best hurlers of all time.

‘Some fellas simply have an aura about them and so they maintain the room so effectively and doubtless he has that.

‘I used to be type of late coming into the dressing room, I used to be simply on the surface listening, and he simply walked out and he shook my hand and mentioned, “Properly carried out”.’

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