Home > Shamrock Rovers Programme General Articles > On tee, from Shamrock Rovers, Stephen Grant

On tee, from Shamrock Rovers, Stephen Grant

Article from Shamrock Rovers match day programme August 2009

Photo from http://www.gui.ie

This season Shamrock Rovers striker Gary Twigg is battling to win the League top goalscorer title having reached 15 goals by half way through the season.    Five years ago Twigg was lining out on loan with English Conference side Burton Albion while Shamrock Rovers’ top goalscorer that season was Stephen Grant.   So where is our top scorer from that 2004 season now?  Well Grant has swapped playing on the wing to playing from the fairway and now plays on one of the professional golf tours in the United States of America which is quite an interesting journey.  So how did Birr native Grant journey from the League of Ireland to the US Hooters Pro Golf Tour?

Stephen Grant had two spells at Shamrock Rovers.  After initially being on Sunderland’s books, he returned to Ireland and played 20 games back in the 96/97 season scoring four goals (including scoring on his debut against Bohemians).  He then signed for Stockport County with Rovers picking up a cheque of around about £10,000.  It was during his time at Stockport he gained four Ireland u21 caps.  Grant came back to Rovers in 2001 via a series of clubs including Burnley, Waterford United, Galway United and he even had a spell with Boston Bulldogs.  During Rovers’ fine European run in 2003, Stephen Grant was an integral part of the team which became the first Irish side in over twenty years to win a tie both home and away in Europe.  Grant scored the equaliser for the Hoops away to Odra Wodzislaw before Rovers got a late winner from his namesake Tony.

2004 was to be his last year at Rovers and his last as a footballer.  The year was a difficult one for Rovers with the club’s finances worsening and issues still very much unresolved on the stadium front in Tallaght.  As the GAA began to delay the completion of the stadium project via the Courts, Grant was making almost weekly appearances in Croke Park.  But he wasn’t playing, rather he was modelling GAA jersies in the Croke Park match programme.  Spotted in a nightclub previously, he was signed up to Assets Model Agency and worked on a number of high profile advertisement campaigns as well as shoots with numerous fashion magazines and from this he earned the nickname of Zoolander with the Hoops faithful!  Financially independent with business interests outside of football including a furniture business, property and family business in heating products, he also found time to indulge his passion for golf.

And it was the golf he turned to as his main sporting interest when Rovers went into financial freefall towards Examinership in 2004.  Playing in a number of Golf Union of Ireland events, he reduced his handicap from 16 down to 3.  He won two Midland Alliance tournaments at Birr and Esker and competed in the Golf Links Winter Series.

In April 2007, he shot a course record 64 at the West of Ireland Championship in Rosses Point leaving up and coming golfing star Rory McIroy behind him in the field.  He turned pro with the support of Horizon Sports Management who also have Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Ross Fisher on their books and moved to Arizona to take part in the US Gateway Tour. He took a fifth place at Martin Downs Country Club and last year he took second place at the Broward Open in Florida and picked up his maiden win in America at the Inverrary Open.

As Grant told the Irish Sun last year:

“I played soccer for 10 years and enjoyed it and this is a new challenge and I am really up for it. I’m hoping to play on the Europro Tour. I just want to see how good I really am.”

This year has been his most successful to date.  Playing out of Palm Beach Gardens, he finished 21st on the money list on the Gateway tour’s “Beach Winter Series” in Florida including shooting a nine under par 63 to tie for tenth place at Palm Valley and finished 11th at the Fountain Country  Club.  He earned his playing card on the US Hooters Golf Tour.  The tour is the third level of pro golf in the states below the Nationwide and top US PGA tour.  Previous Hooters tour competitors include two time major winners John Daly and Lee Janzen, major winners and Ryder Cup players like Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis, Tom Lehman, David Toms and Chad Campbell.

Grant has played five events so far this year in this very competitive tour and is currently placed in the top 150 of the tour which has 230 competitors and has picked up $4,000 in prize money.  He is a bit off the number one spot which is held by Ted Potter (with $144,900 of earnings).  Since May, Grant has been playing a number of events on the European Challange tour including the Credit Suisse Challange in Luterbach in Switzerland and the Karten Open in Austria.

It is a long way from the League of Ireland or a FAI Cup tie against UCD for Stephen Grant. We shall have to wait and see will any hidden golfing talent in our current squad emerge maybe at a future Shamrock Rovers Golf Classic?  We certainly wouldn’t want to lose Gary Twigg for the lure of the links.

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  1. January 2, 2011 at 17:21

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