Gary Hurley focusing on the here and now

Between final exams at Maynooth University and a full amateur schedule, there has been a lot on Gary Hurley’s plate as he prepares to make another appearance in an Irish Open.

So, it is no wonder Ireland’s world amateur No 42 from West Waterford Golf Club would rather not concentrate too much on a swansong at the Walker Cup, before he turns professional later this year.

The 22-year-old Paddy Harrington scholar from Aglish near Dungarvan arrived at Royal County Down as one of three GUI-nominated amateurs in the field for this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and, along with Jack Hume and Irish Amateur champion Gavin Moynihan, the trio all have September’s matches between Great Britain & Ireland and the United States at Royal Lytham & St Annes as their goal come the end of the summer.

All three, plus fellow Irishmen Cormac Sharvin and Paul Dunne are on the extended GB&I panel, with a great chance of making the 10-man team and becoming Ireland’s largest contingent since Messrs McGimpsey, Harrington and McGinley played the 1991 matches at Portmarnock.

“We’ve a great chance this year, we really do, of getting a lot of Irish lads on the team this year,” Hurley told the Irish Examiner.

“A lot of us are playing really well, like Cormac coming second in the Lytham Trophy where the Walker Cup is on. That’s given him a great chance, now, and Gavin Moynihan has played well in it before and is playing really well now, as is Jack Hume and Paul Dunne, who’s in America. So, we do have a really, really good chance of getting four or five players on it this year, which would be brilliant for Irish golf.

“But I’m trying not to think about it, to be honest. I can’t control what they do selection-wise. There’s no ranking system, like the Ryder Cup, so there’s no points to be won, it’s all picks. So, I’ll just try and take care of what I can, myself and how I play in tournaments. If they want me to play on the team, that would be great, but if they don’t that’s okay too.

“I’d love to play in it, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to play in the Walker Cup, but it’s a good thing to keep it out of your mind. If you focus on it, that can take away from what’s actually important, which is right now, not September. So, I try to just concentrate on what’s happening.”

What’s happening right now is the Irish Open, in which Hurley made the cut last year at Fota Island, following a stellar second-round 66. Yet, only a week removed from his last exam, the schedule in advance of the European Tour event has been tight.

“I was hoping my exams would have finished earlier, so I could have a bit of rest time, because there hasn’t been much rest time, lately,” he said, before conceding the experience could prove instructional, should he achieve his ambition of life on the European Tour.

“I could get used to it,” he said with a smile. “If you can manage yourself well you can play a lot of golf, but if you’re staying up late every night, it’s not going to work if you’re up early most mornings; it’ll catch up with you.”

A summer as a full-time amateur will also mean more time away from home and his friends at West Waterford.

“I don’t play down there often, unfortunately, but I go down to see them whenever I’m home and I’ll meet Austin [Spratt, a director at the golf club], but I don’t get to play that often. They’re very supportive at the club and they’re always in contact, asking how I’m getting on. I talk to Austin a lot and he puts up the news on the club facebook page.”

Hurley’s swing instructor from an early age was Munster coach Fred Twomey, while Justin Spratt was West Waterford’s junior officer and a big influence as Hurley caught the golfing bug after his father took him to the club.

“Seamus Power was always doing well when I was younger and he spurred me on.” So too has receiving an invitation to the Irish Open this week.

“It definitely helps and it lets you know you’re playing well, more than anything. It is a boost to your confidence and playing in these big events is a great opportunity, I’m really looking forward to it. Keep progressing, keep getting better every year, and it’s starting to show now.

“It’s been kind of a natural progression over the years, getting more and more comfortable in the fields I’m playing in. The better the players you come up against, the more confidence you get in each tournament you play in.”


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