ILGU Chief Executive Sinead Heraty has defended the decision to make Ireland’s top amateurs unavailable for selection for Great Britain and Ireland’s Astor Trophy defence next month.
At the insistence of the Irish Ladies Golf Union, Danielle McVeigh, Lisa and Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow were not considered for selection for the five-strong side which will battle Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa at Fairhaven in Lancashire from June 15-19.
“In the normal course of events we would be absolutely thrilled for the Irish players to play for a GB&I team,” Heraty said. “It is more to do with the scheduling of the Astor Trophy with the Vagliano Trophy, one after another.”
The press release naming the side called the absence of the Irish quartet from the event, formerly known as the Commonwealth Tournament, a “surprise move” as it is the first time that Irish players were eligible to play in the event.
LGU Chairman Gillian Kirkwood said: “Of course this decision is disappointing, particularly since the rules of the former Commonwealth Tournament were changed to accommodate Irish players.”
However, Heraty explained that there are no dark forces at work and that the decision was forced on them by the packed summer schedule which sees the Astor Trophy sandwiched between the Ladies’ British Open and Royal Portrush and the Vagliano Trophy at Royal Portcawl in a three-week period.
Heraty said: “We have completely redesigned our High Performance Programme and part of that high performance programme is periodisation planning where we are trying to replicate what it is that the top professionals do in resting between tournaments.
“With the way that the schedule of events are falling in June you have the British Championship followed by the Astor followed by the Vagliano and from our high performance perspective, we want our players to peak for the Vagliano.
“In order to do that they would have to rest prior to it and in particular we would love to see one of them win the British, which is at the start of June.
“So it is literally down to periodisation and we agreed with the LGU that because there is such a strength in depth in numbers between the GB&I players that it is a great opportunity to give the other GB&I players a chance, not that we want to assume that the Irish players would be picked but we really want them to be picked for Vagliano.”
The round robin event, held every four years, started life as the Commonwealth Tournament at St Andrews in 1959 when Great Britain won the trophy presented by Nancy, Viscountess Astor.
The five players who will defend the title won at Royal Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2007 are: Amy Boulden (Llandudno Maesdu Golf Club in North Wales), Holly Clyburn (Woodhall Spa Golf Club, Lincolnshire), Kelsey Macdonald (Nairn Dunbar Golf Club, Inverness-shire), Pamela Prestwell (Bothwell Castle Golf Club, Lanarkshire), Kelly Tidy (Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Lancashire).
07-11 Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship, Royal Portrush
15-19 The Astor Trophy, Fairhaven Golf Club
24-25 Vagliano Trophy, Royal Porthcawl Golf Club