Waterford Castle amateur Kevin Phelan is ready to give a US Open encore in this week’s Irish Open.
Having produced a sensational performance to make the cut at Merion, the Florida based 22-year old is hoping that the sensible, no-nonsense approach that paid dividends in Philadelphia will work again at Carton House and in next week’s Local Final Qualifying for The Open Championship near Muirfield.
Joined in the field by Welsh amateur Rhys Pugh and Irish team mates Gavin Moynihan and Reeve Whitson, Phelan said: “I am going to just do the same thing I did at Merion and hit one shot at a time and see where it takes me.”
Having finished tied for fourth in the European Individual Amateur Championship on the Montgomerie Course last August, Phelan is confident he can do well on the same track this week.
But for last year’s Irish Amateur Open champion Moynihan, it’s simply a bonus to be in the field having completed his Leaving Certificate only last Tuesday.
“I played for the Island in the Barton Shield on Sunday and we lost to Portmarnock so I’ve only played about four rounds this month and hardly any golf at all since the Irish Amateur Open,” Moynihan said, “There’s going to be a lot of rust on my game but I am just here to enjoy it.”
Like Phelan, Moynihan is also exempt into next week’s Local Final Qualifying for the Open at Muirfield thanks to his position as one of the top-10 available players from the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
After that he’s looking forward to joining Phelan and Whitson on the six-man Irish team for the European Team Championships in Barcelona before heading to the US to take up a scholarship at the University of Alabama.
Golfers from Britain and Ireland have excelled under the US collegiate system and there are no fewer than five graduates of the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in the field this week.
Monkstown assistant Cian McNamara had ETSU golf coach walk the course with him yesterday and plans a fourball with fellow graduates Rhys Pugh, Rhys Davies and West Waterford’s Seamus Power this morning.
Lurgan’s Gareth Shaw, another leading ETSU graduate, is also in the field.