The GUI has selected Gavin Moynihan, Kevin Phelan and Reeve Whitson to join Welsh Amateur Rhys Pugh in the Irish Open at Carton House from June 27-30. But who would you like to see get the other eight invitations to tee it up?
Pugh, who was a Walker Cup star two years ago when he won the Irish Amateur Open, gets into the field as a reward for winning last year’s European Amateur Championship on the Montgomerie Course at the Maynooth venue.
It now remains to be see who will get the remaining eight invitations to tee it up at Montgomerie’s “inland links” and if recent years are any indication, another amateur may well squeeze into the field.
There have been calls for 34-year old career amateur Robbie Cannon to be rewarded following the Balbriggan player’s play-off victory in the recent Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin. Rathsallagh’s Jack Hume also has a case
He certainly has a case but barring a big push by one or two of Ireland’s Big Four, he’s likely to struggle to get the nod with four amateurs already in the field.
Management companies traditionally get their way and last year we had American Daniel Miernicki, (from the same management stable as Keegan Bradley), Dylan Fritelli (ISM) and Shiv Kapur (ISM) join Portstewart’s Paul Cutler (a future Walker Cup player), Niall Kearney (through the Team Ireland Golf Trust), Ballymena’s Chris Devlin (a former college team mate of Graeme McDowell’s), Mark Murphy (for winning Golf Channel’s Big Break Ireland) and perpetual invitee and Irish-American John Daly.
The GUI nominated Dermot McElroy (Ballymena) and Alan Dunbar (Rathmore) while the home club Royal Portrush nominated Patrick McCrudden, the North of Ireland champion. Harry Diamond, a childhood friend of Rory McIlroy, was also invited.
It appears predictable that Daly will be back again (the week is free in his schedule http://www.johndaly.com/schedule/) alongside the likes of rookie professional Dunbar (ISM) and one player from the Team Ireland grant scheme.
Niall Kearney and Challenge Tour regular Gareth Shaw are the leading contenders for that slot with the Dubliner most likely given that the Irish Open clashes with a Challenge Tour event in Austria.
Asian Tour player Niall Turner is recovering from surgery which brings us to US based Seamus Power and Chris Devlin, or the raft of players on the fringes of the Challenge Tour or on mini tours.
Three-time Alps Tour winner Brendan McCarroll, former footballer Stephen Grant, Murphy, Jonathan Caldwell, Cian Curley, Peter O’Keeffe and Michael McGeady all have hopes of getting the nod.
Bearing in mind that Diamond, McElroy, Nicholas Grant, Geoff Lenehan, Brian Casey, Rory McNamara, Richard O’Donovan and Chris Selfridge have been picked by the GUI for the clashing Brabazon Trophy, who would you like to see get Irish Open invitations? Pick your eight.
As tour pro Gary Murphy rightly points out via twitter, amateurs cannot be invited ahead of pros in the invitation category. However, more can be added in “Category 99 — Amateurs included in the field.” Eight amateurs played in the Volvo China Open recently through various categories, including qualifying competitions. There were also six amateurs, including Reeve Whitson, at the Spanish Open.