Cormac Sharvin leads amateur stars’ charge

Cormac Sharvin will go into this week’s Irish Amateur Open Championship full of confidence after claiming a top-five finish at the prestigious Lytham Trophy over the weekend.

Cormac Sharvin leads amateur stars’ charge

The Walker Cup hopeful, one of five Irishmen on the initial 20-man squad for this September’s matches between 10-player teams from Great Britain & Ireland and the United States, claimed fourth place at Royal Lytham & St Annes on the Lancashire coast behind runaway winner Marcus Kinholt of Sweden.

Like the rest of the cream of Irish amateur golf, Sharvin, of Ardglass Golf Club, now turns his attention to Royal Dublin and the Irish Amateur Open, which gets underway on Thursday. Sharvin finished joint runner-up a year ago and will be aiming to get the better of Scotland’s Jamie Savage this time around.

The Ulsterman is one of four Walker Cup panellists in the field with 2012 champion Gavin Moynihan of The Island, Naas GC’s Jack Hume and Gary Hurley of West Waterford all hoping to impress the selectors. European Palmer Cup team member Hurley, a Paddy Harrington scholar at Maynooth University, finished 19th at Lytham over the weekend although both Hume and Moynihan missed the cut.

Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy will be another looking to make an impact at Royal Dublin following his recent West of Ireland success, which he followed up with a 10th-place Lytham Trophy finish.

The opening round gets under way on Thursday morning with the top 50 and ties after 54 holes progressing to Sunday’s final round.

Meanwhile, Golfing Union of Ireland general secretary Pat Finn has praised the European Tour for continuing to invite Irish golf’s rising stars to compete in their national open.

Hume, Hurley and Moynihan all got their invitations last week to compete alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed in this months Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down (May 28–31).

They will be joined on the revered Ulster links by the R&A’s reigning Amateur Champion Bradley Neil, the Scottish youngster who won the prestigious title at Royal Portrush last summer.

The three Irish amateurs were shortlisted by the GUI Selection Committee and general secretary Finn said: “We are grateful to the European Tour for allowing us to nominate three amateurs to compete in this year’s Irish Open, which is shaping up to be a fantastic tournament. For Gavin, Gary and Jack, it will be a great learning opportunity and hugely beneficial to their development. And with such a strong field already confirmed, this year’s tournament really gives our amateurs an opportunity to show what they can do on a global stage.

Let’s not forget the performance of a 22-year-old Shane Lowry in 2009 at Baltray when he became the only amateur ever to win the Irish Open. This remains a huge inspiration for our amateurs and reminds them that sometimes dreams do come true.”

Hurley already has a special Irish Open memory having shot a second-round 66 to make the halfway cut at Fota Island last year.

Big Irish interest could make Walker Cup a hot ticket

The tantalising prospect of a bumper crop of Irish golfers featuring on the Great Britain and Ireland team this September may well make the 45th Walker Cup match against the United States at Royal Lytham & St Annes one of the most exciting fixtures of the golfing season.

GB & I will be bidding to regain the trophy following Team USA’s convincing 17-9 victory in the 2013 match at the National Golf Links of America on Long Island, New York, and tickets have gone on sale for the 2015 renewal in Lancashire to be played September 12-13.

With the aforementioned Hume, Hurley, Moynihan and Sharvin as well as Greystones’ Paul Dunne all in the initial 20-man squad named by team captain Nigel Edwards and set to be narrowed down to 10 in August, Ireland could have its best representation since Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Garth McGimpsey played at Portmarnock in 1991.

Tickets are available through the R & A (http://tickets.randa.org) with daily entrance costing £30stg (approx €40) while U16s will be admitted free of charge if accompanied by an adult. Even hotter tickets are proving to be for this month’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down with sales last week passing the 70% mark and European Tour organisers urging Irish golf fans to book as soon as possible.

Prices rose by £5 for each day on May 1 to their full gate price, from £30 to £35 for each day from Thursday to Saturday and £35 to £40 for the Sunday, May 31 with season tickets for all four days increasing from £75 to £80 once the early-booking discount expired at the end of April.

Yet organisers are still expecting the tournament to emulate the 2012 Irish Open at Royal Portrush when it became the first European Tour event to sell out in advance. Royal County Down will boast an even better field. World number one Rory McIlroy’s Rory Foundation managed to recruit stars of the calibre of Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie and Jose Maria Olazabal to augment the homegrown major-winning quartet of Darren Clarke, Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell.

“This year’s Irish Open is the talk of the golfing world,” said Antonia Beggs, Irish Open Championship Director, said. “We were at Augusta for The Masters and there was a real buzz amongst players and officials alike about the Irish Open with everyone telling us what a great event we have this year. We would urge people to please book their tickets in advance and not risk turning up at the gate empty handed.”

Doyle heading for U.S.

Seán Doyle, Athlone Golf Club will lead a group of five young Irish golfers to the U.S. in September for the 19th Faldo Series Grand final.

Doyle, 16, conquered testing conditions at the renowned, Faldo-designed Lough Erne course to claim the overall championship victory and the Boys’ U18 title.

That was good enough for a six-shot victory in his age division, with Scrabo’s Ben Graham, Rosslare’s Paul Murphy (80-70) and Jack Brophy of Clontarf (75-75) tied for second place.

Overall, Doyle finished two shots clear of nearest overall rival, Boys’ U21 winner Jamie Fletcher, the Warrenpoint golfer who needed a play-off victory over Delgany’s Marc Nolan to book his place in the Faldo Series Grand final.

Galway’s Paddy Culhane needed a similar route to the Boys’ U16 title, defeating AJ McCabe of Malahide in a play-off but there was plenty of daylight in the Girls’ U21 section, where Julie McCarthy of Forrest Little finished seven clear of the field.

McCarthy, who followed that up on Sunday by winning the Hermitage Ladies Scratch Cup, will be joined in making the trip Stateside, at a venue yet to be determined, by Girls’ U16 winner Maeve Rooney of Co. Sligo, who won her division by two shots at Lough Erne’s Faldo Course.

K Club hosts Irish PGA

It is indeed the merry month of May for Irish PGA professionals who from today, will compete in the most valuable pro-am in Ireland at the €33,000 K Club Newstalk Irish PGA Pro Am in association with Newbridge Silverware.

European Tour-proven pros Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie and Brendan McGovern will be at the K Club as part of a strong field attempting to wrest the title from last year’s champion, Niall Kearney.

Both of The K Club’s championship courses, The Palmer Ryder Cup Course and The Smurfit Course will be in play over the two days with more than 120 amateurs battling it out for overall and daily awards.

More in this section

Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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