Galbraith’s presence in Lahinch a sign South of Ireland back on the up

The draw for the West Clare hotels South of Ireland Championship beginning at Lahinch on Saturday suggests the event is again attracting some of the biggest names in amateur golf.

Galbraith’s presence in Lahinch a sign South of Ireland  back on the up

For a couple of years the quality of the entry fell somewhat below what one would have expected for the oldest provincial championship in the country.

Just like the professional game, the balance of power nowadays rests north of the border in the amateur game and that’s one good reason why the presence in the Lahinch field of John Ross Galbraith, this year’s winner of the Irish Close Championship, and Chris Selfridge, who retained his North of Ireland title last week, is welcome.

Added to that pairing is the presence of former South and Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon and Pat Murray while the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) points at stake lend badly needed prestige to the event. Nevertheless, it is a source of disappointment that Gary Hurley is the only member of the six-man Irish team in the field that reached the European Championship final in Finland only to be beaten by Spain.

Dubliner Gavin Moynihan is currently the best placed Irishman on the WAGR points list in 12th and the others in the top 100 are Paul Dunne (47th), Jack Hume (72nd) and Dermot McElroy (92nd).

Hurley, who was also the only amateur to make the cut in the Irish Open at Fota Island, is in 145th place.

There will be criticism of those who pass up on the South and of a GUI programme that makes it virtually impossible for all the leading players to fit Lahinch into an unbelievably busy programme at this time of year. Immediately after the European Championships was the North of Ireland at Portrush while this week the Interprovincials are listed for The Island links in Dublin. Two days later it’s the South and then the Home International Championship. And all the time, those with an eye on the European PGA Tour School try to pace their schedules so they aren’t exhausted before an event that could decide their futures comes around.

That’s why Paul Dunne, who qualified for the Hoylake Open and then missed the cut by only two shots, could hardly be faulted for skipping the South.

He tweeted: “After nine weeks with nine tournaments, 45 rounds of golf, 18 flights and one boat journey, I think it’s time for a break.”

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