Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty is hoping to round off a dream summer with a "major" victory as he begins his AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship quest at Galway today.
The 24-year old has been in sensational form this year, leading the qualifiers in the British Amateur and the North of Ireland Championship and finishing joint top scorer in the Interprovincial Matches to earn his international call-up for last week's Home Internationals.
Rafferty was Ireland's top man at Moortown, winning five points out of six on his debut as Ireland claimed the Raymond Trophy for the fourth year running.
And after losing in the semi-finals of the "North" last month, he's hoping to break his championship duck at the famed Salthill venue this week.
"It was a really good week at Moortown," Rafferty said. "I'm a wee bit fatigued, but I'd love to get that maiden win. It would be the icing on the cake.
"To play well last week was fantastic but to win a championship really would top the year off. I have nothing to lose, so I will just give it a go."
Rafferty didn't get a practise round yesterday as the course was closed due to heavy rain.
But he at least got an extra 24 hours to rest a "stiff" arm after getting his vaccinations to travel to Colombia with Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon for the South American Championship next week.
Just four of the 11-man Ireland team that won at Moortown are in action in Galway with Rafferty joined by Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell, Tramore’s Robin Dawson and defending champion Alex Gleeson from Castle.
A quality winner looks guaranteed with 16 players from Galway or Galway Bay joined by East of Ireland champion Reece Black, West of Ireland winner Barry Anderson, South of Ireland champion James Sugrue and Irish Boys champion Mark Power.
The leading 64 players after 36 holes of strokeplay will make Thursday’s first matchplay round with the semi-finals and final set for Saturday.
AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship, Galway GC
Strokeplay Qualifying, August 22/23
1st tee/10th tee
- 08:00/12:30 Alan Gaynor (Co. Sligo), Tommy Smyth (Castle), Damien Glynn (Galway Bay)
- 08:11/12:41 Charlie Denvir (Elm Park), Ciaran Henry (Strandhill), David Reddan Jnr (Nenagh)
- 08:22/12:52 Marc Norton (Belvoir Park), Conor Waters (Lahinch), Eoin Glynn (Lahinch)
- 08:33/13:03 David McAleenon (Edenmore), Cameron Raymond (Newlands), Tony Cleary (Woodstock)
- 08:44/13:14 Sean Desmond (Monkstown), Michael O'Farrell (Galway), Mikey Burke (Galway)
- 08:55/13:25 Gavin Fitzmaurice (Balcarrick), Patrick Brennan (Belvoir Park), Ross Dutton (Tandragee)
- 09:06/13:36 Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush), Eugene Smith (Laytown & Bettystown), Alan Fahy (Dun Laoghaire)
- 09:17/13:47 David Foy (Laytown & Bettystown), Reece Black (Hilton Templepatrick), William Russell (Clandeboye)
- 09:28/13:58 Kyle McCarron (North West), Matthew Murphy (Clandeboye ), Ciarán Kelly (Fort Lauderdale CC)
- 09:39/14:09 Jack McKenna (St Patricks), Evan Farrell (Ardee), Alexander Wilson (Portmarnock)
- 09:50/14:20 Jonathan Quinn (The Island), Michael Ryan Jnr (New Ross), Conor Ryan (Dun Laoghaire)
10th tee/1st tee
- 08:00/12:30 Barry Anderson (The Royal Dublin), Luke O'Neill (Connemara), Robbie Pierse (Grange)
- 08:11/12:41 Gavin Smyth (Clonmel), John Hickey (Cork), Jake Whelan (Newlands)
- 08:22/12:52 Stephen Healy (The Royal Dublin), Robert Brazill (Naas), Darragh Smith (Castle)
- 08:33/13:03 Thomas Mulligan (Laytown & Bettystown), James Sugrue (Mallow), Sean Flanagan (Co. Sligo)
- 08:44/13:14 John Brady (Rosslare), Cathal Butler (Kinsale), Robert Cannon (Balbriggan)
- 08:55/13:25 Eanna Griffin (Waterford), Jack McDonnell (Forrest Little), Colin Woodroofe (Dun Laoghaire)
- 09:06/13:36 Mark Power (Kilkenny), Niall Carroll (Athlone), Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint)
- 09:17/13:47 Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Thomas O'Connor (Athlone), Ronan Mullarney (Galway)
- 09:28/13:58 Jonathan Yates (Naas), Robin Dawson (Tramore), Alex Gleeson (Castle)
- 09:39/14:09 Gary Collins (Rosslare), Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle), Eddie McCormack (Galway Bay)
- 09:50/14:20 Paul Coughlan (Castleknock), Richard Tighe (Elm Park), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk)
1st tee/10th tee
- 12:30/08:00 Hugh Foley (The Royal Dublin), Joe Lyons (Galway), TJ Ford (County Sligo Golf Club)
- 12:41/08:11 Richard Knightly (The Royal Dublin), Jack Blake (The Island), Jamie Knipe (Royal Portrush)
- 12:52/08:22 Robert Moran (Castle), Ted Collins (Dun Laoghaire), Shane Mc Dermott (Co. Cavan)
- 13:03/08:33 Shane Kenneally (Kinsale), Conor Dowling (Mallow), Jack Walsh (Castle)
- 13:14/08:44 Jamie Fletcher (Warrenpoint), Gareth Mann (Tullamore), Brian Shally (Dromoland)
- 13:25/08:55 Marc McKinstry (Cairndhu), Ruairi O'Connor (Co. Sligo), Daniel Coyle (Portmarnock)
- 13:36/09:06 Sean Doyle (Athlone), Brian Timlin (Galway), Ryan McKinstry (Cairndhu)
- 13:47/09:17 Liam Grehan (Mullingar), John McQuaid (Rossmore), Kieran Lynch (Skibbereen)
- 13:58/09:28 Paul Carey (Nenagh), Anthony McDaid (Palmerstown Stud), Thomas Nolan (Galway)
- 14:09/09:39 Cathal Nolan (Galway), Jonathan Doherty (Ballina), James Maginn (Mourne)
- 14:20/09:50 Cian Feeney (Co. Sligo), Liam Nolan (Galway), Shane McGlynn (Portmarnock)
10th tee/1st tee
- 12:30/08:00 Michael Joseph Kennelly (Galway Bay), Stephen Brady (Galway), Niall Hearns (Mountrath)
- 12:41/08:11 David Brady (Co. Sligo), Mark McKenna (Dun Laoghaire), Seamus Cullen (Slieve Russell)
- 12:52/08:22 William Small (Tandragee), Michael Shiel (Galway Bay), Matthew Grehan (Tullamore)
- 13:03/08:33 Andrew Hickey (Ballyhaunis), Allan Hill (Athenry), David Kitt (Athenry)
- 13:14/08:44 James McVicker (Knock), Aaron Moore (Adare Manor), Owen Crooks (Bushfoot)
- 13:25/08:55 Colm Hughes (Galway), Thomas Plunkett (Crover House), Robert Browne (Castle)
- 13:36/09:06 John McCarthy (Stackstown), Andrew Mulholland (Castlerock), Aaron Ryan (Thurles)
- 13:47/09:17 Harry Gillivan (Westport), Conor Glennon (Glasson), Liam Power (Galway)
- 13:58/09:28 Jack Tuohy (Galway Bay), Darragh O'Connor (Fota Island), Matthew Fitzsimons (Ardglass)
- 14:09/09:39 Craig Martin (Kilkenny), James Fox (Portmarnock), Eoin Murphy (Dundalk)
- 14:20/09:50 Mark Healy (Kinsale), Eoghan Collins (Laytown & Bettystown), Ryan O'Doherty (Enniscrone).