Lack of light in March has forced the West of Ireland Championship Committee to introduce an 18-hole strokeplay qualifier just 48 hours before the traditional start of the opening amateur championship of the season.
According to the Connacht Branch, Good Friday 2013 has just 12 hours and 47 minutes of daylight compared to 13 hours and 24 minutes last year.
As a result, the Championship Committee has decided that just 123 players will get a place in the tradition 36-hole stroke strokeplay qualifying field compared to 138 in 2012.
The top 117 entries on handicap will automatically be included in the 36-hole qualifying field with the remaining 81 entries playing for just three places in the field in the new 18-hole qualifier on Wednesday March 27.
Enda Lonergan, General Secretary of the Connacth Branch and Tournaments Director, explained:
“If necessary a sudden death playoff shall decide the outcome of the Qualifier on Wednesday evening and those just missing out shall have the fall back that they are now the next Reserves for the remaining 36 hours before the Championship commences.
“No doubt this will lead to considerable excitement for those partaking and spectating and will perhaps have the feeling of a PGA Tour ‘Monday Qualifier’ and in turn get everyone into Championship mood for Good Friday.”
The bad news for the 81 is that they will face the added expense of at least one extra day in Rosses Point.
Mr Lonergan adds:
The remaining three berths in the Championship are filled annually by up and coming young Connacht Players under 25years of age and within 1.0 strokes of the handicap cut off mark as nominated by the Connacht Provincial Council. The West of Ireland Championship is also proud of its ‘Past Winner’ clause whereby any Past Winner who has entered and is within 1.0 strokes of the handicap cut off mark is also granted an exemption.
The West of Ireland Championship Committee feel the introduction of the ‘Qualifier’ shall enable the Championship to have playing numbers comparable to the three other Provincial Championships and in doing so play an even more pivotal role in player development both provincially and nationally.
Entries for the 2013 Championship shall go Live online on the Connacht Branch website from Wednesday January 16th and shall close on Friday March 1. Any queries regarding the Championship should as always be directed to the Tournament Director, Enda Lonergan, Connacht Branch General Secretary.
The Championship Committee are also very pleased to announce that the 2013 event shall be very kindly sponsored once again by the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo.