Moriarty and Fox deserve Cup reward

AS Ireland’s two new Walker Cup stars basked in the adulation at Mullingar yesterday, where Colm Moriarty strode to an impressive victory in the prestigious 72 hole Scratch Cup to confirm his current well being, they became the 29th and 30th golfers from this country to be chosen on the British & Irish Walker Cup team.

Moriarty and Noel Fox have thoroughly earned their selection in a side where many Irishmen before them were inexcusably passed over, so their relief at the confirmation of their selection is fully understandable.

Moriarty has made no secret of his intention to turn professional and try for his European Tour card in the autumn. He was delighted at his Walker Cup selection, saying “while I knew I had a very good chance, it was very nice to hear confirmation of my selection in a phone call from the captain Garth McGimpsey. He told me, ‘you’re in, well down, and now it’s all about winning the Walker Cup’. It’s a great thrill and honour for myself, my family and the Athlone club and, of course, it is also a very nice stepping stone to the pro game.”

Moriarty, aged 24, intends to play in the Home Internationals at Ballybunion on September 17-19 before making the big move.

Meanwhile, 29-year-old Noel Fox has been chasing a Walker Cup team place for a number of years and has finally and deservedly achieved a burning ambition.

“I knew I had as good a chance as any after winning the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin and finishing 4th in the Lytham Trophy and St Andrews Links Trophies. That’s what you’ve got to do, deliver the goods when all the panel is together.”

This could well be a very special year to figure in a British & Irish team for they are on the threshold of winning the Walker Cup for a third successive year, something they have never achieved before.

Only two of the ten, Gary Wolstenholme, aged 42, and 34-year-old Welsh Golfing Union golf co-ordinator Nigel Edwards, have previously played in the Walker Cup so it could be suggested that this is a relatively inexperienced side.

Wolstenholme has an amazing Walker Cup record having been a member of the successful side at Royal Porthcawl in 1995 when he beat Tiger Woods in the first day singles. He was also on the successful teams at Nairn in 1999 and Sea Island, Georgia, in 2001. His current form is impeccable. He won the British Amateur Championship for the second time at Royal Troon.

Nor can anyone question the form of three other members of the side, Welshman Stuart Manley, the Scot Graham Gordon and England’s Michael Skelton. Manley and Gordon won their respective country’s championships at the week-end, and Skelton, the “baby” of the team at 19, was runner-up in the English equivalent.

The US team will be announced later this week and is likely to be depleted by the defection to the paid ranks of a number of contenders for places, the most obvious being their 2002 champion Ricky Barnes, who outscored Tiger Woods in the first round of the Masters at Augusta in April.

The British and Irish team is:

Captain: Garth McGimpsey (Bangor); Nigel Edwards (Whitchurch), Noel Fox (Portmarnock), Graham Gordon (Newmachar), David Inglis (Glencorse), Stuart Manley (Mountain Ash), Colm Moriarty (Athlone), Michael Skelton (Middlesbrough), Oliver Wilson (Coxmoor), Stuart Wilson (Forfar), Gary Wolstenholme (Kilworth Springs).

Reserves: 1. Jack Doherty (Vale of Glamorgan), 2. Richard Walker (Frodsham)

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