Jack Hume is the red-hot favourite as the Flogas Irish Amateur Open tees off at Royal Dublin today and there’s no doubt in the minds of many of his rivals exactly why he’s 13/2 with the bookies to claim the Irish Open spot on offer for the winner.
Not only is he the highest ranked player in field at 10th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, he’s won twice this season, led the Irish in the Lytham Trophy last week and has a work ethic and course management ability that leaves his peers open-mouthed in admiration.
“I played with the winner of the Lytham Trophy for the first two rounds last week and he was impressive,” said Ardee’s Eugene Smith.
“But in the third round the conditions were just brutal — high wind and sheets of rain — and I thought a 72 or a 74 would be a great score.
“Then Jack comes in with 68! There’s something special there.”
Galway’s Joe Lyons spotted it when he was hammered by a teenage Hume in the first round of the 2012 South of Ireland Championship.
“He beat me on the 13th,” Lyons said. “He is a different league to be honest.”
Smith went on: “You see him practising down in Carton House all the time. I arrived one day and it was basically snowing. I was afraid to get out of the car and there was Jack Hume on the putting green. “
Winning to order at Royal Dublin won’t be easy with a 120-strong field featuring 77 overseas players from 16 countries.
But having finished third, sixth and 20th for the last three years, Hume knows what it takes to defeat the old lady of Dollymount.
“It’s about staying patient and sticking in and then waiting for that run where a burst of birdies can get you into a good position,” Hume said at an immaculate Royal Dublin.
“You can see why Jordan Spieth does so well. He thinks and manages himself better than anybody else.” Like Spieth, Hume is 22 and having missed out on qualifying for the Final Stage of Q-School last year by one stroke despite a closing 63, he’s got his sights firmly set on following his 2015 Waker Cup team mates Paul Dunne, Gary Hurley, Cormac Sharvin and Gavin Moynihan into the professional ranks.
“Paul Dunne doing so well has given everyone confidence,” said Hume, who was the leading Irish player at 13th in the Lytham Trophy last weekend.
“We have all played with him so much and know he is a super player.
“But we know we can compete with him as well and if he is doing that, we know the standard is not as far away as people think.”
There is a strong 77-strong overseas challenge in the 120-strong field with England’s Bradley Moore and Marco Penge, 2014 winner Jamie Savage and his Scottish compatriot Connor Syme, the world No 52, some of the biggest threats. The home challenge will be very strong.
Apart from Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy, Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell or Whitehead’s John Ross Galbraith, recently crowned West of Ireland champion Jonathan Yates has the game to beat all comers, including his club mate Hume.
Bursting with confidence and gunning to use his driving power to attack the Dollymount track after being shackled by the bunkers in last week’s Lytham Trophy, 22-year old Yates also wants to win that Irish Open place at The K Club on offer for the winner.
“I caddie there so I know it really well,” said Yates, whose power could be an important factor come Sunday.
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