Ireland’s Walker Cup hopefuls are bracing themselves for brutal weather conditions when they tee off in the Irish Amateur Open at windswept Royal Dublin today.
Squally showers and west winds forecast to gust over 30mph will buffet an elite, 120-man field featuring 82 homegrown stars and 38 overseas contenders from 10 nations.
The bookies have installed England’s world No 23 Nathan Kimsey, the highest ranked player in the field, as the 12/1 favourite for a title that’s been captured by major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Padraig Harrington since it was revived following a 35-year hiatus in 1995.
But the plus three-handicapper from Woodhall Spa is closely followed in the betting by Ireland’s elite, headed by Spanish Amateur Open winner Reeve Whitson from Mourne, defending champion Gavin Moynihan of the Island, Headfort’s reigning North and West of Ireland champion Rory McNamara and the classy Lucan star Richard O’Donovan to name but a few.
Rathsallagh’s Jack Hume is also fancied to lift the trophy on Sunday following his brilliant runner up finish in the prestigious Lytham Trophy last weekend, where the 19-year old was beaten after a three-hole play-off by Finn Albert Eckhardt.
“The greens are pretty soft out there compared to what they should be, it’s going to be tough with the weather for the rest of the week,” said plus-five handicapper O’Donovan, who knows he must impress the Walker Cup selectors with big performances over the next three months.
“It’s going to be par-golf and keep the big numbers off the card. I’m playing Wales next week, then the Scottish Amateur, St Andrews Links, the British Amateur and then the Brabazon Trophy.
“They are big tournaments and if you want to play Walker Cup in September you’ve got to do well in them, that’s where the selectors are going to be, so I’ve got to put myself out there.”
Whitson, who was fifth at Royal Lytham, certainly believes he has nothing to fear from the field following his win in the Spanish Amateur Open in March.
“The fields are always deep,” said Whitson, who grew up playing Royal County Down. “It’s the weather that’s the biggest challenge. That’s the key at Royal Dublin because it can be brutal - a real battle.”
Irish Amateur Open Championship, Royal Dublin Golf Club
Draw for Rounds 1 & 2 (Today/Tomorrow)
(7:00/10:51) J Yates (Naas), M McAlpin (Royal Portrush), J Ross (Sco),
(7:11/11:02) C Fairweather (Knock), S Bryan (Delgany), S Hogan (Nenagh),
(7:22/11:13) A Hogan (Newlands), S Grehan (Tullamore), S Healy (Claremorris),
(7:33/11:24) A Kearney (Castlerock), C McKenna (Mallow), R Connolly (Rathsallagh),
(7:44/11:35) A Verschaeren (Lux), E O’Keeffe (Corrstown), G McDermott (Co. Sligo),
(7:55/11:57) A Culverwell (Sco), S Dwyer (Lucan), K McCarthy (Kinsale),
(8:06/12:08) S Borrowman (Sco), J Hume (Rathsallagh), C Campbell (Warrenpoint),
(8:17/12:19) G Costa (Por), C O’Neill (Sco), S McGlynn (Carton House),
(8:28/12:30) P Murray (Limerick), C Sharvin (Ardglass), S Ward (Co. Louth),
(8:39/12:41) P Spraggs (Eng), E Arthurs (Forrest Little), G Stevenson (Sco),
(8:50/12:52) E Scott (Sco), J Kukkonen (Fin), P Kelly (Eng),
(9:01/13:03) G Robertson (Sco), G Moynihan (The Island), N Raymond (Eng),
(9:12/13:14) J McDonald (Sco), G Pinto (Por), M Clark (Sco),
(9:34/13:25) D McElroy (Ballymena), J Shufflebotham (Wal), J Rutherford (Eng),
(9:45/13:36) J White (Sco), N Kimsey (Eng), B Casey (Headfort),
(9:56/13:47) J Carlota (Por), A Dunton (Sco), L Ruuska (Fin),
(10:07/13:58) H Diamond (Belvoir Park), N Henderson (Sco), G McKenna (Fortwilliam),
(10:18/14:09) T Toivonen (Fin), J Savage (Sco), R Whitson (Mourne),
(10:29/14:20) R O’Donovan (Lucan), T Bakker (Fin), S Binning (Sco),
(10:40/14:31) R Bell (Sco), R McNamara (Headfort), M Shanahan (Castlemartyr),
(10:51/7:00) A Purdy (Ballyclare), K Le Blanc (The Island), E Smith (Ardee),
(11:02/7:11) G McGrane (Royal Dublin), J Ekeland Arnoy (Nor)), S Flanagan (Co. Sligo),
(11:13/7:22) K Lynch (Skibbereen/NUIM), L McMillan (Carton House), F McKenna (Sco),
(11:24/7:33) J Sugrue (Mallow), R Lester (Hermitage), M Killen (Eng),
(11:35/7:44) C Geraghty (L’town & B’town), N Foley (The Island), M Morrissey (Mount Wolseley),
(11:57/7:55) S O’Hara (Co. Sligo), B Daly (Edmondstown), H Coyne (Carton House),
(12:08/8:06) R Gardarsson (Ice), S Moran (Carton House), D Barry (Mahon),
(12:19/8:17) G Bohill (Co. Louth), D O’Donovan (Muskerry), I Brennan (Greenore),
(12:30/8:28) S Carter (Stackstown/NUIM), G Lappin (Belvoir Park), P Coughlan (Moate),
(12:41/8:39) G Lawlor (Newbridge), M Kane (Whitehead), D Holland (Castle),
(12:52/8:50) M Gaspar (Por), J Fox (Portmarnock), R Bridges (Stackstown),
(13:03/9:01) M Pennycott (Sco), J Lyons (Galway), R Arnorsson (Ice),
(13:14/9:12) LM Sandvoil (Nor), W Hanna (Kilkeel), D O’Neill (Carton House),
(13:25/9:34) M Kippen (Eng), S O’Connor (Lutt’town Castle), B Best (Rathmore),
(13:36/9:45) S Walsh (Portmarnock), P McBride (The Island), J Carvill (Banbridge),
(13:47/9:56) T McLarnon (Massereene), C Doran (Banbridge), M Sinclair (Knock),
(13:58/10:07) W Jones (Wal), J Hendrick (Sco), S Davidson (Ita),
(14:09/10:18) G Lenehan (Portmarnock), N Grant (Knock), S Ryan (Royal Dublin),
(14:20/10:29) K Holmes (Eng), R Dawson (Faithlegg), C Drumm (Rosslare),
(14:31/10:40) R Cannon (Balbriggan), G Collins (Rosslare), J Greene (Carlow).