NOW that Ireland is providing two of the three vice captains to the European Ryder Cup cause, and possibly three players to the team itself, this must be regarded as the golden era for golf in this country.
And it is wonderful to see their support for the National Championship in Killarney this week. It is all the more fascinating given that there is a possibility of a changing of the guard with the “big three” of Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley being challenged by the likes of Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry.
All six have a huge amount to gain from victory or even a big performance this week. Harrington’s success at Adare Manor in 2007 was quickly followed by three major championships but the cupboard has been bare since last August. Another Irish Open title would be a massive boost but to achieve that, he will have to beat the likes of US Open champion McDowell, McIlroy, Lowry and Clarke, all of whom have displayed better form over the past few months. They don’t come any more patriotic than McGinley and a good week could revitalise his career.
Then there are the other European Tour regulars like Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin, along with Colm Moriarty, who performed so splendidly in the Open Championship at St Andrews.
Add eight Irish PGA region members and some very talented amateurs to the mix and you can’t help thinking that Irish eyes may well be smiling come Sunday evening.
Irish at Killarney
Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Pádraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Michael Hoey, Gareth Maybin, Colm Moriarty, David Higgins, Damien Mooney, John Kelly, Peter T Martin, Simon Thornton, Barrie Trainor, Michael Collins, Gary Cullen. Amateurs – Alan Dunbar, Paul Cutler, Cian Curley, Pat Murray.
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