A CHANGE in the qualifying process means a new course record could be set at Lahinch over the next couple of days.
For many years, the South of Ireland Championship was contested entirely by match-play but the host club decided to revert to 36 holes of qualifying for this year’s showpiece, with the leading 64 going through to the head-to-head stages from Monday morning until the 18-hole final on Wednesday afternoon.
The current record for the Old Course is five under par 67 set by Mark Ryan from the Grange club in Dublin. It was set during the club championship, the only event played from the very back tees, and now offers a tantalising target for players contesting our oldest provincial championship.
The Lahinch links underwent major changes from 1999 to 2003 under British architect Martin Hawtree who rerouted four holes, added two new par threes and introduced 16 new tees along with bunkers, swales and undulating greens. It now plays to 6,950 yards and is a real test.
Eoin Arthurs, a member of the Irish team in the European Championship, is a late withdrawal but two other members of the side, the promising Paul Dunne from Greystones and the more experienced Pat Murray of Limerick are in the field. East of Ireland champion Richard O’Donovan from Lucan will be hoping to make it a double.
Ian O’Rourke, the young Corkman who made a big impression for Munster in the Interprovincial Championship in Rosses Point, will be closely watched while Jack Hume, winner of all four boys provincial titles in 2010 is now attempting to make the breakthrough in senior golf.
Apart from the top home players, there is the customary list of overseas competitors including Steve Gonzalez (Sun Valley, USA), Tommy McDonagh from Stonehaven, USA; Tyler Morris (The Farms, USA) and Australian Thomas Power-Hogan.
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