Amateur golfer set to meet legends
A renowned amateur golfer from Co Down will be rubbing shoulders with legends of the sport when he captains a Great Britain and Ireland side in a new charity tournament in America.
Garth McGimpsey, 58, from Bangor, is set to join multiple major winners Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin in Florida next week as the stars host the inaugural Concession Cup - an event named after a famous encounter between the two golfing greats in the 1969 Ryder Cup.
Nicklaus's decision to concede a three foot putt to Jacklin on the 18th green, thus halving the match and ensuring the overall Ryder Cup contest ended as a tie, is the inspiration for the amateur showdown between teams from the US and GB&I. Aptly, the event will be played at the Concession - a course jointly designed by Nicklaus and Jacklin.
McGimpsey, who has had a glittering amateur career - including five Walker Cup appearances, said it was a great honour to be asked to lead the GB&I 18-man team as playing captain.
"Nicklaus and Jackiln are going to be there as honorary team captains so it's a very big event," he said, revealing that the Concession Cup was already set to raise 500,000 US dollars (£298,000) for charity.
"It's going to be a great experience, it's going to be a big event, it's going to be really fun to play in the inaugural event and all this money is being raised for charity because these two amateur teams are coming together so that can't be bad."
The Bangor Golf Club member joked that his preparations in Northern Ireland may have been rather different to those of his rivals.
"I was just thinking the other day I was up at the driving range wearing two sweaters, hitting yellow balls off a hard mat and I am sure my American counterparts were hitting brand new balls, off grass, in sunny weather - so it's not really a level playing field," he said.
The contest will see both young and old golfers tee off, with three age categories represented in the two teams - 25-54, 55-64 and over 65s.
"We have picked a pretty strong team," said McGimpsey.
"But the Americans have picked a really strong team, so we are definitely up against it. But I am really looking forward to it."