Usual suspects fancied despite Close switch to stroke play

THE GUI have strayed from the straight and narrow for the first time in the event’s 118-year history by changing the format of the Golfsure-sponsored Irish Amateur Close Championship from matchplay to strokeplay for the next two years.

But those who stray from the fairways at Shannon Golf Club over the next three days are guaranteed to find themselves in a world of pain, so tight and demanding is the pristine County Clare parkland course.

Walker Cup hopefuls Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar are fancied to continue their dominance of the domestic game when they tee it up today in a 144-strong field.

There is a veritable army of young, up-and-coming stars such as Skerries’ Jeff Hopkins, a semi-finalist in last year’s British Boys Championship, Rathsallagh’s Jack Hume and Headfort’s Rory McNamara waiting to pounce.

But there is also a collection of experienced players with Muskerry’s Niall Gorey, a semi-finalist in the West of Ireland at Easter, fancied to contend along with Galway’s Eddie McCormack and Newlands’ Andrew Hogan.

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