Schoolboy sensation Gavin Moynihan might be Ireland’s No 1 amateur but he won’t get the chance to go for glory in next month’s Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
The 17-year old from The Island pulled off a shock victory in the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin last weekend to become Ireland’s top ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, soaring 225 places to 101st.
But his win came too late to secure one of two Golfing Union of Ireland nominations to rub shoulders with superstars Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell or Darren Clarke on the Dunluce Links from June 28 to July 1.
Moynihan said: “There was a lot of speculation about getting a place in the Irish Open but I’ve heard nothing. I’d love to play in it but it never crossed my mind when I won on Sunday. I was just delighted to win the championship.
“I’m not even going to play the Irish Close at Royal Portrush next week and my next start is the East of Ireland. It’s a pity about the Irish Open but I’m just delighted to win a championship and go to 101st in the world. I was around 2,500 at the start of the year.”
Members of The Island have been calling the Golfing Union of Ireland wondering if their newest star would get the chance to tee it up alongside the game’s superstars on the European Tour.
But the GUI confirmed it had just two nominations for this year’s Irish Open and awarded them to two Ulstermen - Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar and Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy - more than four weeks ago.
The names were chosen on the basis that the closing date for entries for the Brabazon Trophy, which clashes with the Irish Open, was April 17.
Royal Portrush secured an invitation for its reigning North of Ireland champion Patrick McCrudden while the European Tour has extended a special invitation to McIlroy’s best friend, West of Ireland champion Harry Diamond of Belvoir Park.
Diamond is 113th in the latest world rankings while Walker Cup star Dunbar is 370th, McElroy 419th and McCrudden 2,624th.
Diamond is currently on the Brabazon Trophy entry list but has already withdrawn.
The Irish Close championship will be played at Royal Portrush next week (May 25-27) but the GUI also confirmed yesterday that the winner will not earn a place in the Irish Open field.
Meanwhile, the European Tour confirmed yesterday that Masters champion Bubba Watson has been ruled out of playing in the Irish Open due to personal commitments.
However, Tour spokesman James Finnigan added: “We are going to have a really strong field and other major champions are coming to play in this year’s Irish Open without a shadow of a doubt.”
With world No 1 and US Open champion McIlroy set to be joined by major winners Harrington, Clarke and McDowell, the Irish Open does not need many more big names.
US PGA champion Keegan Bradley has already confirmed his participation but it will be interesting to see if the tour or Ireland’s big four have managed to convince more big names to travel.
Finnigan would not confirm if he was talking about the likes of Australia’s Steven Elkington, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie and New Zealander Michael Campbell or more recent majors champions such as Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen or even Phil Mickelson.
The Irish Open is still without a title sponsor but Finnigan confirmed that local dairy business Dale Farm has come on board as an official sponsor.
Getting a few more big names would certainly be cool.