Harrington wins 2006 IGWA ‘Professional of the Year’ award

Padraig Harrington, who became only the third Irish player to win the Harry Vardon Trophy as PGA European Tour Order of Merit winner, has been named as ‘Professional of the Year’ for 2006 by the Irish Golf Writers’ Association.

A member of the Europe team at The K Club in September that won the Ryder Cup for a record third successive time, Harrington’s late season charge that saw him win the Dunhill Links championship and finish runner-up to Jeev Milka Singh in the Volvo Masters enabled him to overtake Paul Casey in the final counting event to become Europe’s leading player.

Rory McIlroy, who became the first player since the legendary Joe Carr to retain the Irish Close championship, has been voted as the Irish men’s ‘Amateur of the Year’ for 2006. The 17-year-old from Holywood Golf Club in Co Down capped a magnificent season by winning the European Amateur Strokeplay Championship, while also retaining the West of Ireland championship.

Martina Gillen, from Beaverstown, has been named as the ‘Lady Amateur of the Year’ for a season in which she emerged as winner of the Irish Strokeplay championship and finished runner-up in the Irish Ladies Close and also represented Great Britain and Ireland on the losing Curtis Cup team. She has since won her full tour card on the Ladies European Tour.

Gerry O’Brien, a former inter-county Gaelic footballer for Dublin, will be presented with the ’Distinguished Services’ award for his contribution to golf when the annual awards dinner takes place at Elm Park Golf Club in Dublin on January 25th, 2007. O’Brien, who won the Lord Mayor’s Cup in 1976, was President of the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1987 and served as Honorary Secretary of the GUI from 1990 to 2004.