Ireland to host 2018 World Amateur Team Championships - Who can match McGimpsey, O'Connell and Gribben?

Eisenhower Trophy winners for GB&I — Garth McGimpsey (centre) and Eoghan O'Connell (far right) with Geoff Marks (captain), Peter MCEvoy and Jim Milligan in Sweden in 1988. 

Three Irishmen have lifted the Eisenhower Trophy with GB&I while no Irish women have yet managed to win the Espirito Santo Trophy.

But while Gavin Moynihan, Paul Dunne and Gary Hurley will this week be hoping to become the first purely Irish team to lift the World Amateur Team Championship since we went it alone in 2002, our future star will be looking to do the double in 2018 when Ireland hosts both events for the first time.

The news, which was confirmed by the GUI and the ILGU on Tuesday, is a huge coup for Irish amateur golf, not to mention Carton House, which will use both its courses (the O'Meara and the Montgomerie) to play host to the best amateurs in the world in four years' time.

As Ireland begins its bid for the Eisenhower Trophy in Japan on Wednesday, many will recall how Garth McGimpey and Eoghan O'Connell formed part of the winning 1988 Great Britain and Ireland Eisenhower team that also featured Peter McEvoy and Jim Milligan.

That triumph came at Ullna Golf Club in Sweden and 10 years later, Warrenpoint's Paddy Gribben was part of the GB&I side alongside Luke Donald, Lorne Kelly and Gary Wolstenholme that held off the challenge of Australia's Aaron Baddeley, Kim Felton, Brendan Jones and Brett Rumford in Chile.

That trip to Santiago had negative consequences for Gribben's future career as a professional as he developed a debilitating fear of flying as a result.

"As we were taking off the runway, the plane hit a bump and the wheels on the undercarriage locked into position. We spent three and a half hours flying around, off-loading aviation fuel, before undertaking a crash landing," Paddy recalled in an interview in 2000.

Chile 1998 — L-R: Peter McEvoy, Paddy Gribben, Luke Donald, Lorne Kelly and Gary Wolstenholme in Santiago

But Ireland's fortunes in the amateur game are on the rise and in 2002 we joined the rest of the Home Unions in sending individual teams to the Eisenhower Trophy and the Espirito Santo Trophy with Scotland winning the men's event in 2008 in Australia. 

With the 2016 events heading for Cancun in Mexico, there will be high hopes that Ireland can make an impact in both events on home turf at the GUI's headquarters in 2018.

Both events certainly have a rich history – the Eisenhower Trophy was inaugurated at St Andrews in 1958 and the Espirito Santo in France some six years later.  On only one prior occasion, however, has the Eisenhower Trophy been played for in Britain or Ireland – on its inaugural staging at The Old Course in St Andrews.

The Eisenhower Trophy is a 72-hole stroke play team championship, with 72 nations participating in this year’s event in Japan while the Espirito Santo Trophy consists of an identical format, with 51 nations competing in 2014 (Ireland were 33rd behind winners Australia).

Australia team members Shelly Shin (left), Minjee Lee and Su Oh lift the Espirito Santo Trophy in Japan. © IGF/Steven Gibbons)

While O'Connell, McGimpsey and Gribben all won the Eisenhower Trophy with GB&I team, Ireland’s best finish since 2002 was fifth place in Argentina in 2010 when current European Tour professional Kevin Phelan, 2012 Amateur champion Alan Dunbar and Paul Cutler, who went on to become GB&I’s top scorer at the 2011 Walker Cup Matches.

According to a press release from the GUI:

A joint delegation from the GUI and ILGU are currently in Japan and were conducting an information campaign ahead of the vote. 

The Irish bid was also supported by Failte Ireland’s recently-announced Major Events Unit, which is tasked with growing international visitation through the events sector. 

The Major Events Unit are aiming to achieve this goal by identifying, bidding for and winning major events for Ireland in partnership with relevant stakeholders. It is targeting events which have a proven capacity to deliver a significant number of international bed nights, in addition to raising Ireland’s sporting and tourism profile generally.

"We are delighted that the WATC will be playing in Ireland in 2018," said Sinead Heraty, Chief Executive of the Irish Ladies Golf Union, following confirmation of Ireland's successful bid.

"Being selected to host the most prestigious amateur golf event in the world is a great achievement for Ireland.

"Ireland has a great history and tradition of hosting successful major golf events and the staging of the World Amateur Team Championships in 2018 will continue that tradition and build awareness of the standard and passion of elite amateur golf.

"Having both the men’s and ladies events in Carton House on back-to-back weeks will be a great showcase of amateur golf and compatible with the image we wish to present of the sport."

Pat Finn, General Secretary of the Golfing Union of Ireland, added: "We are delighted that the member countries of the International Golf Federation have unanimously approved our bid. 

"With 72 national teams from five different continents, the World Amateur Team Championships will be the most extensive international golf event that has ever been hosted on the island of Ireland, and we are looking forward to the challenge it will present.

“We are extremely grateful to Carton House for agreeing to put their facilities forward in bidding for the event.

"We are also very grateful to the Irish Sports Council and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, both of whom endorsed our application to bid for the event, and to Failte Ireland's Major Events Unit for their tremendous support of our bid.

"We are looking forward to working closely with all of them in what will be an exciting time over the next few years as we prepare to host the world of golf at Carton House."

Ireland have been drawn with Chinese and Turkish players for the first two rounds of this week's Eisenhower Trophy in Japan, where they will begin their title bid on the Iriyama Course at Karuizawa 72 Golf East near Nagano. Tee times

The United States is bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back World Amateur Team Championship titles since the USA won three in a row from 2000, 2002 and 2004.

WORLD AMATEUR GOLF RANKING (Members of the Top 25 playing in Japan this week)

(As of Aug. 31)

3 – Mario Galiano (ESP)

4 – Marcus Kinhult (SWE)

5 – Renato Paratore (ITA)

6 – Bradley Neil (SCO)

10 – Ashley Chesters (ENG)

11 – Beau Hossler (USA)

12 – Guillermo Pereira (CHI)

13 – Jon Rahm (ESP)

14 – Denny McCarthy (USA)

18 – Grant Forrest (SCO)

19 – Lucas Hebert (AUS)

20 – Gavin Green (MAS)

24 – Ryan Evans (ENG)

Irish in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (as of 9 September)

26 — Gavin Moynihan

55 — Paul Dunne

69 — Gary Hurley


Four of the top 10 finishers at the recent Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, are competing in the 2014 WATC. Gold medalist Renato Paratore, of Italy, silver medalist Marcus Kinhult, of Sweden, as well as Feroz Garewal, of India (tied for fifth) and Dou Zecheng, of People’s Republic of China (tied for 10th), were among the top finishers in late August.

In addition, Marcus Kinhult and Linnea Strom of Sweden won the gold medal in the mixed team event. Korea, with Eun Ho Youm and So-Young Lee, was second and Italy, withRenato Paratore and Virginia Elena Carta, was third.


Following is a listing of the 20 players from the 2014 WATC who were named to the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Division I, four Division II and other division All-America teams for 2013-2014:

Division I

Second Team
USA – Bryson DeChambeau, Southern Methodist University

Malaysia – Gavin Green, University of New Mexico

USA – Denny McCarthy, University of Virginia

Third Team

Ireland – Paul Dunne, University of Alabama-Birmingham

Honorable Mention

Wales – David Boote, Stanford University

Chinese Taipei – Cheng-Tsung Pan, University of Washington

Belgium – Thomas Detry, University of Illinois

Scotland – Grant Forrest, University of San Diego

USA – Beau Hossler, University of Texas

Switzerland – Marco Iten, Austin Peay University

Costa Rica – Jose Mendez, University of Minnesota

Canada – Taylor Pendrith, Kent State University

Spain – John Rahm, Arizona State University

Scotland – Chris Robb, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Division II

First Team

Canada – Adam Svensson, Barry University

Second Team

Colombia – Santiago Gomez, Nova Southeastern University

Wales – Michael Herne, Southern Nazarene University

Honorable Mention

Colombia – Ricardo Celia, Nova Southeastern University


Guatemala – Jose Rolz, Texas Wesleyan

Hong Kong, China – Matthew Cheung, Oklahoma City University


Five players from the 2014 WATC participated in the Palmer Cup, an international team competition, at Walton Heath Golf Club in England in late June. Europe defeated the United States of America 18.5-11.5. Representing Europe from the Eisenhower Trophy were Grant Forrest, of Scotland, Paul Dunne of Ireland, Thomas Detry of Belgium and Jon Rahm of Spain. The only player from the USA at the WATC is Bryson DeChambeau.