Hume and Grehan star as draws released for "West" at new-look County Sligo

The new fairway bunker at the second, which now features a bigger green

World No 12 Jack Hume and No 78 Stuart Grehan will be the men to beat in the 93rd staging of the Radisson Blu sponsored West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at County Sligo.

Whether or not Hume can win his second West since 2014 and his third title of 2016 following his victories in the South African Amateur Open and the European Nations Cup at La Reserva in Cádiz remains to be seen.

It will also be fascinating to see if Grehan can become the first player to hold the East, South and West of Ireland titles at the same time — not even JB Carr could pull it off — against a field that boasts the likes of defending champion Dermot McElroy and fellow senior internationals Colm Campbell, Robin Dawson, Alex Gleeson and John Ross Galbraith.

Apart from a host of former internationals or championship winners — Tiarnan McLarnon, Pat Murray, Michael Sinclair, Joe Lyons, John Greene and Stuart Bleakley — there will be a strong local challenge from the likes of Sean Flanagan (leading qualifier and semi-finalist last year), Gary McDermott, Steffan O'Hara and Barry Anderson.

The view from the new fifth tee, situated right of the fourth green

There will be usual threat from ambitious young guns  such as the improving Nass duo Conor O'Rourke and Jonathan Yates; the talented Kevin Le Blanca and Thomas Mulligan; Eanna Griffin, Daniel Holland, Gary Collins. Geoff Lenehan, Alan Lowry, Caolan Rafferty and Eugene Smith, that there will be huge shocks along the way.

West of Ireland draws 2016

But as the draws are published today for the March 23 qualifier for eight spots and strokeplay qualifying for 64 spots in Championship proper on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, it's the venerable Rosses Point links that may prove to be the big winner.

The course has undergone some major changes by the hand of Pat Ruddy over the past 18 months with several innovations, which were only hinted at for last year's championship, coming into play.

The extension to the right side of first green will make for some challenging pin positions while the new fairway bunker on the left side of the second fairway and the extended green (50 percent bigger than before) will considerably increase the difficulty of the course's most elevated hole.

The new third green with the old green still in place in foreground (right).

The par-five third will be one of the stars of the show and while the old green remains — it will be removed straight after the championship with its turf used to extend the back of the current 18th green by some 10 or 15 yards — competitors will play to a new green, situated some 65 yards further back, just short of the white, former coastguard's shelter.

The new fifth tee, to the right of the fourth green, offers a tough tee shot over the corner of the realigned drain with new fairway bunkers left and right of the landing zone, putting a greater emphasis on accuracy.

New fairway bunkers on the sixth and seventh (20m beyond the two bunkers on the right) will be of the risk-reward variety and offer players who are trapped the chance to take on the green if they draw a decent lie.

An extension to the right seventh green has also been done but while it brings the stream more into play and leads straight to the new, eighth tee (20 yards further back and also out of play this year), it won’t be in play until the end of 2016. 

A spectacular new tee is also being built at the 10th which will add considerable length to a hole that now features an extended green — it's nearly 60 yards long — with a deep bunker protecting its left hand side.

Site of the proposed new 10th tee.

Looking straight down the new 10th green, which is nearly 60 yards long.

From the current tee, player may face approach shots some 30-40 yards longer than normal, making the 10th a very strong hole indeed.

There is also a new tee at the 11th, which will add at least 30 yards to the approach when it eventually comes into play.

As for the par-five 12th, the last hole in the first phase of the renovation to undergo changes, a new fairway bunker on the left will make the bigger hitters think twice about taking the short cut down that side.

The changes will not please all but many of them are excellent, especially the fairway bunkering at the second, fifth, sixth, seventh and 12th and the new green complex at the third.