The undoubted golden era of Irish golf arrived in the eight-season period from 2007 to 2014 – but are we on the verge of another spell of success on the world stage?

The latest men's world rankings today have three Irish players inside the top 40 with Rory McIlroy moving up to second, Shane Lowry staying at 24 and Seamus Power jumping up to 36th. Leona Maguire has jumped to 17th in the women’s listings after a fruitful weekend.

The blocks for another sustained push are being put in place. Maybe not to match that winning streak of 07-14 [ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann] but to at least provide genuine reasons to be hopeful.

Fifteen years ago this week, the US Open had just drawn to a close and Ángel Cabrera, currently incarcerated in Argentina after being found guilty of an assault charge, held off Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods to claim the title. At 17 over par, Graeme McDowell was best placed of the Irish contingent in a tie for 30th.

Over the next 30 men’s majors, Ireland’s haul would go from one [Fred Daly’s 1947 Open success in Liverpool] to an astonishing 10. What’s more, it wasn’t through one golfer’s domination, although Rory McIlroy contributed four of those nine wins. Padraig Harrington [3], McDowell [1] and Darren Clarke [1] also joined the major roll of honour as the greens were painted, well, green.

Darren Clarke is one of five Irish players to win at the Open

Just over a month after McIlroy lifted his fourth, the PGA Championship, Paul McGinley became the first Irishman to captain the European Ryder Cup team as they defended the trophy against Team USA in Scotland.

The Irish Open also had two home winners in that period, Harrington at Adare Manor in 2007 and an amateur by the name of Shane Lowry at a wintery Baltray two years later.

Lowry is the only Irish major winner since that incredible run after earning an emotional home Open win at Portrush in 2019, but there is good reason to believe that the tally could tick upwards in the very near future.


Shane Lowry crowned king of Portrush


Lowry and McIlroy already have majors to their name and appear the obvious candidates, but just like during that golden period, the spread of threats is a very good reason to be hopeful.

Indeed, given what transpired on Sunday, that could happen as soon as this week.

While the majority of golfing eyes were drawn to the incredible final round at the US Open in Brookline, where Matthew Fitzpatrick was ending his wait for major honours, something very special was happening in Michigan in the Meijer LPGA Classic.

Cavan’s Leona Maguire, who in February became the first Irish winner on the LPGA Tour, came agonisingly close to one of the comeback rounds of the season.

Starting the final day seven shots off third round leader Nelly Korda, she produced a brilliant 65 to earn a play-off with Korda and Jennifer Kupcho.

Korda was eliminated on the first play-off hole and it looked like Maguire would be too as she drove right and into the rough on the second hole, a tree obscuring her route to the green. However, her recovery from that position with a wood was surely one of the best shots of her life as it landed bang in the middle of the green.

Both players were unable to convert their third shots and it looked like it would be two players moving onto the next hole. However, while Kupcho cleaned up, Maguire missed her putt from a couple of feet – the sort she’d usually convert in her sleep – and had to make do with a tie for second.

As disappointing as that was, it provided a timely return to form ahead of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship that begins at Congressional Country Club this week.

Prior to the Meijer LPGA Classic, Maguire had missed the cut in four of her last five tournaments. Now she enters a major brimming with confidence that she can make even more history.

Also in the field is Stephanie Meadow who has already made over $100,000 on tour this season.

The Antrim player does struggle for consistency, but she has had one top-10 finish this season and four in the top 40. She has posted seven rounds in the 60s in 2022 and made the cut at the first major of the year, finishing in a tie for 35th at the Chevron Championship, and narrowly missed out on the weekend action at the US Women’s Open. If she can just produce it over the four days, she has the real feel of a bolter from nowhere.

The conclusion of the men’s US Open on Sunday means that we are three-quarters of the way through the 2022 men’s major season with the Open at St Andrew’s to come in mid-July.

How many Irish competitors are involved remains to be seen with qualifying taking place today, including at the Baltray venue where Lowry famously triumphed back in 2009 in the Irish Open.

Seamus Power has made an excellent start to major golf

The current qualified list includes McIlroy, Lowry, Harrington and Clarke – all former winners – but perhaps it’s another Irish man, Seamus Power, who could be the one to watch.

Before the 2022 season, the Waterford native had never appeared in a major. His results in the three recent events have been a tie for ninth position, a tie for 12th and a tie for 27th. Power is relishing the big stage. He’s come away content with his results but also frustrated knowing that in each, he had periods of good golf that he failed to capitalise on that would have maybe had him in contention on the back nine on Sunday.

Power has grown and grown since his inaugural PGA success at the Barbasol Championship in July 2021. Ten top-20 finishes this season tells its own story. His career earnings stand at $7,490,854 – the $347,058 he won at the US Open last week takes him well clear of the two-million mark for this season alone.


McIlroy, Power buoyed by US Open showing


Meanwhile Lowry’s missed cut at the weekend – by a single stroke – was only his second time not playing in a major weekend since the start of the 2019 season. Included in that run were three top-10 finishes to go with that Portrush success.

And what of McIlroy? Many think he’s destined to remain on four majors until he puts the clubs away for the final time. However, take away the fact that he hasn’t been able to get over the line and his recent major consistency has been ridiculously good.

Since 2019 he has enjoyed eight top-10 finishes. A tie for fifth at Brookline means three top-10 major finishes in a row in 2022. All he has to do is convert now.

It’s clear to see that Irish golf is putting itself in a position to succeed. Golfers from the island are knocking on the door, and it seems only a matter of time before someone breaks it down.