President, Taoiseach lead tributes to Christy O'Connor Junior

The Galway native golfer has died at the age of 67

President, Taoiseach lead tributes to Christy O'Connor Junior

O'Connor at the 1989 Ryder Cup. Picture by: Ross Kinnaird / EMPICS Sport

Tributes are being paid to golfing legend Christy O'Connor Junior, who has died at the age of 67.

President Michael D Higgins has described him as an iconic figure in golf.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he knew Christy personally and he loved and lived life to the full.

Táaniste Joan Burton said: "He achieved great successes as a golfer".

"Without doubt, he will be missed by many people both in his home-town Galway and in the golfing community here and abroad", she added.

While the Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe has described his as one of the leading lights in golf.

He competed in over 20 major championships and was a member of the Ryder Cup winning team in 1989 in which he secured victory for the European team with his two-iron approach.

He also won back-to-back Seniors British Opens titles.

It is understood he passed away while on holiday in Tenerife. He is survived by his wife Ann and children, Nigel and Ann.

He lost his second son in a car crash in 1998 at the age of just 17.

The Galway native is best remembered for securing the point for Europe that retained the 1989 Ryder Cup at The Belfry.

His 2-iron on the final hole has been widely said to be one of the best shots ever.

 He came from a famous Irish golfing family. His uncle, Christy O'Connor Senior was part of the World Cup winning Irish team in 1958, and was also part of ten Ryder Cup teams.

O'Connor Junior was a four-time winner on the European Tour - including a victory at the Irish Open in 1975 at Woodbrook.

He also thrived on the Seniors Tour, winning the Seniors British Open in 1999 and 2000.