Second-year professional Alison Walshe is getting back to her roots this week at the AIB Ladies Irish Open. The event is being held at Killeen Castle in Dunsany, County Meath, Ireland, site of the 2011 Solheim Cup.
But Walshe, 25, who has lived most of her life in the Boston suburb of Westford, Mass., is more than just a proud Irish-American. Born in Galway, Ireland, she goes home to the Emerald Isle this week to play as a pro before a gallery of family and friends who have never seen the former University of Arizona All-American compete.
In her second season on the Duramed FUTURES Tour and in her rookie year as a 2010 LPGA Tour member, Walshe spoke to the Tour’s senior writer Lisa D. Mickey about her thoughts of going home to play in this week’s tournament on the Ladies European Tour (LET). Here’s what she had to say:
TOUR: How does it feel to play in the country where you were born and where your family has so much history?
WALSHE: It feels great to be back in Ireland. I haven’t been back in almost eight years, so this is special to see family, as well as to show them the experience I’ve gained and what I now do for a living. It will be a fun week!
TOUR: Will you be wearing your “Wicked Irish” shirts? If so, you might want to explain that “wicked” in Boston means “total” or “awesome” or something extraordinarily good.
WALSHE: I will be wearing my “Wicked Irish” logo! It is now on my right sleeve. I am sure I will have a few questions about it, being as I am in Ireland, but I will explain that it’s a proud company out of the greater Boston area that wants people to know they are proud to be Irish-Americans! I think the Irish will approve. :)
TOUR: How many tournaments do you plan to play on the LET this year?
WALSHE: I am playing in Europe this week, followed by next week in Wales. Then I will go home [to the States] for two weeks with the hope of playing in either the LPGA’s Safeway Classic tournament in Portland, Oregon, or the CN Canadian Women’s Open. I then will come back to Europe for three more events (in Vienna, Paris and Malaga, Spain). That’s as in-depth as my schedule goes right now. It’s up in the air. I enjoy the opportunities to play in Europe and the few starts I have received on the LPGA.
TOUR: Are you currently sponsored by any companies in Ireland?
WALSHE: No, I am not sponsored by any companies in Ireland, but I would certainly love the partnership if it ever became an opportunity!
TOUR: What are your hopes and expectations for this week’s event at Killeen Castle?
WALSHE: My hopes and expectations are the same as in any tournament week: to go out there and have fun, enjoy the moments, and to win!
TOUR: Are you doing any “touristy” things in Ireland or just family functions when you have time?
WALSHE: I will definitely try to take in some tourist trips and family time when available. This past weekend, I flew in a few days early and was able to spend time with my family. I went to downtown Dublin to shop on Grafton Street and I went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. Of course, I also spent some time in Temple Bar and I played golf with my uncle at a club called The Island in Dublin. Yesterday, I spent the day at the Guinness Brewery. It was a really great tour and experience to learn how Guinness is made and sold. I even got to pour a pint and have a taste test :)
TOUR: Finally, is there something you love to eat only in Ireland?
WALSHE: Oh YES! The candy is phenomenal here! The chocolate is different and it’s so tasty! I find myself rushing to the nearest convenience store after meals and just devouring a candy bar. It’s not very attractive, but it gets the job done!