It is 100 days until the World Amateur Team Championships, which tee off at Carton House on August 29.
The Championships are coming to Ireland for the first time and the two tournaments – the Eisenhower Trophy (men) and Espirito Santo Trophy (women) – will see top amateur golfers from over 72 countries competing over the Montgomerie and O’Meara courses.
The championships are the breeding ground for many of the most famous names in golf. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy have fought for the Eisenhower Trophy, a tournament which dates back to 1958.
The Espirito Santo Trophy came a few years later, in 1964, and Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Nancy Lopez have all competed for their countries.
Australia won the most recent Eisenhower Trophy, in 2016, by 19 strokes. Out of the 71 nations competing, Ireland were tied for third, 20 shots behind. It was Ireland’s best ever performance and the team comprised Paul McBride, Jack Hume, and Stuart Grehan.
In 2014, in Japan, Ireland finished in tied 11th place behind winners USA. All three members of the team have since turned professional. Gavin Moynihan and Gary Hurley are continuing their efforts to make the big breakthrough in the professional game, but Paul Dunne is now an established world-class player, ranked 70th in the world.
“In all my time in amateur golf, this was the hardest team to make as you have to make a team of three,” Dunne said yesterday at the launch of the 100 Day Countdown at Carton House.
“It’s the pinnacle of national amateur golf, in my mind anyway. It’s a great spectacle for golf and I think people should turn up to watch. They’ll see a lot of future champions.”
It is worth noting that in 2014, Bryson DeChambeau holed the final putt for the USA, while Spain’s Jon Rahm smashed the record for the lowest individual score (-23 for four rounds).
It is a fabulous opportunity for Irish golf fans to get close to the professional golf stars of tomorrow.
The same is true for the Espirito Santo Trophy. Maria Dunne, one of Ireland’s most successful Irish amateurs, competed in 2014, alongside Paula Grant and Mary Doyle.
“Dun Laoghaire was phenomenal,” she said of her experience competing in the 2016 Curtis Cup.
“It raises your ability to step up another level with home support. They want to see you doing well and the support was unbelievable.”
Ireland’s best finish was at the last championships, in 2016, when Leona Maguire, Olivia Mehaffey and Annabel Wilson came third, behind South Korea.
It should be pointed out that in both the men’s and women’s tournaments, Ireland has only been competing as an individual nation since 2002. Prior to that it was a Great Britain & Ireland team… and one which included Mary McKenna on four occasions.
There will be a maximum of 72 countries competing in the Eisenhower Trophy, while approximately 60 will contest the Espirito Santo Trophy.
Final team selections will not be announced until the end of July, and the 72 countries for the Eisenhower have also yet to be confirmed as over 80 countries wish to enter a team.
Tickets are free of charge (simply register at www.watc2018.ie) and with Carton House’s experience of hosting three Irish Opens, the infrastructure and organisation will undoubtedly run like clockwork.
Said Pat Finn, chief executive of the GUI: “This is the first time that Ireland has hosted an amateur golf tournament on this scale. In every aspect, the World Amateur Team Championships is a spectacular event.
“It is a rare opportunity to see so many of the world’s best golfers in action. This momentous occasion will act as a boom to the local economy in north Kildare, with restaurants, pubs and hotels in demand throughout August and early September.”
*Espirito Santo Trophy (Women): August 29-Sept 1st; Eisenhower Trophy (Men): Sept 5-8th
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