DEFENDING champion Alan Dunbar hopes his batteries will be recharged when he tees it up at Royal Dublin this morning and takes on six of his fellow Walker Cup squad members in the Irish Amateur Open.
The Rathmore star was beaten by Portstewart’s Paul Cutler in the West of Ireland final at Easter and was so tired after just two days rest that he missed the cut in last week’s prestigious Lytham Trophy.
But he goes back into action at the Dollymount links today believing he has the wind game to retain the title and outgun Walker Cup hopefuls such as Cutler, Waterford Castle’s Kevin Phelan, Welsh stars Oliver Farr and Rhys Pugh, Englishman Tom Lewis and Scot Kris Nicol.
“You just have to play par golf,” said Dunbar, who was grateful that his missed cut in Lancashire last week gave him some time to rest. Four rounds of level par won’t be far way here if the breeze stays like this.”
The Walker Cup selectors will also be keen to watch former Boysinternational Jeff Hopkins fromSkerries who finished tied for second in high winds at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s last weekend.
The 19-year old, who led after the first round at Royal Dublin last year before finishing near the back of the field, took up golf just five years ago after his hopes of a professional soccer career were dashed by injury.
The 6’ 3” talent won four All Ireland titles with St Kevin’s Boys and hadtrials with Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Blackburn Rovers before back, knee and groin problems prompted him to give up soccer and concentrate on golf.
His handicap has plummeted from 24 to plus two and he believes he can make a late run for a Walker Cup place for September’s matches at Royal Aberdeen if he can win a big event this summer.
Hopkins said: “A lot of guys are turning pro now so there are a few spots available so hopefully I can do well in the Irish Amateur this week and maybe get a few wins.”
Irish Amateur Open, Royal Dublin
Tee times: (Today/Tomorrow) (7:30/10:48) I Brennan (Greenore), J Dillon (Headfort), C Boggan (Co Meath) (7:39/10:57) A Kelly (Charleville), S Brady (Co Sligo), M Downes (England) (7:48/11:06) B McSweeney (Woodbrook), Q Carew (Edenderry), S Bryan (Delgany) (7:57/11:15) S Ryan (Royal Dublin), G Moynihan (The Island), S Barry (L’town & B’town) (8:06/11:33) L Nemecz (Aut), J Greene (Carlow), A Eckhardt (Fin) (8:15/11:42) R Caron (Hol), M Sinclair (Knock), R O’Donovan (Lucan) (8:24/11:51) R Whitson (Mourne), R Van West (Hol), S Quy (Bel) (8:33/12:00) J Hume (Rathsallagh), G Dunne (Seapoint), P Murray (Limerick) (8:51/12:09) R Pugh (Wal), S Larkin (Sco), A Hogan (Newlands) (9:00/12:18) L J Bjerregaard (Den), T Lewis (Eng), D McElroy (Ballymena) (9:09/12:27) R Kind (Hol), P Croonquist (USA), A Dunbar (Rathmore) (9:18/12:36) F Osther (Hol), P Cutler (Portstewart), J Findlay (Sco) (9:27/12:54) K Nicol (Sco), M Veijalainen (Fin), K Phelan (Waterford Castle) (9:36/13:03) L Lennox (Moyola Pk), P McLean (Sco), P Dunne (Greystones) (9:45/13:12) K Crowley (Lee Valley), C Doran (Banbridge), O Farr (Wal) (9:54/13:21) J Hopkins (Skerries), D Huizing (Hol), P Latimer (Sco) (10:12/13:30) J Fox (Portmarnock), R Leonard (Banbridge), G Stevenson (Sco) (10:21/13:39) J Hord (US), R McNamara (Headfort), G McDermott (Co Sligo) (10:30/13:48) D Murphy (Portarlington), D O’Neill (Carton Hse), T Salminen (Fin) (10:39/13:57) E McCormack (Galway), S Crichton (Sco), Wm Hanna (Kilkeel) (10:48/7:30) D Callister (Eng), D Murray (Skerries), S Moloney (Castletroy) (10:57/7:39) A Kiernan (Forrest Little), R Bridges (Stackstown), E Smith (Ardee); (11:06/7:48) T Silva (Portugal), M Buggy (Castlecomer), B Walton (The Island) (11:15/7:57) G Lawlor (Newbridge), S O’Connor (Skerries), M O’Connor (Eng) (11:33/8:06) J Carlota (Por), C Glynn (Carton Hse), R Fieldhouse (Wal) (11:42/8:15) T Collins (SA), S McGlynn (S County), G McGrane (Royal Dublin) (11:51/8:24) T Rodrigues (Por), T Ibbertson (Eng), N Grant (Knock) (12:00/8:33) C Fairweather (Knock), J Brittain (England), J Lyons (Birr) (12:09/8:51) F McKenna (Scotland), C Molloy (Ardee), E Arthurs (Forrest Little) (12:18/9:00) N Hellberg (Fin), M Gaspar (Por), B Casey (Headfort) (12:27/9:09) R Dhondt (Bel), T Speyer (Eng), M Durcan (Co Sligo) (12:36/9:18) S Crenan (Eng), R Megens (Bel), J Monaghan (Royal Dublin) (12:54/9:27) C O Malley (Westport), C Daly (Castletroy), W Harmston (Eng) (13:03/9:36) C Selfridge (Moyola Pk), M Kippen (Eng), F Schulte (Ger) (13:12/9:45) S Bolton (Eng), K McCarthy (Kinsale), P Shields (Sco) (13:21/9:54) R Cannon (L’town & B’town), J Evans (Eng), T Gurek (Ger); (13:30/10:12) K Murray (Charlesland), B Anderson (Co Sligo), S Borrowman (Sco); (13:39/10:21) C Korbler (Aut), G Bohill (Co Louth), M Shanahan (W Waterford); (13:48/10:30) A Kearney (Castlerock), S Grehan (Tullamore), DF Coghlan (Royal Dublin); (13:57/10:39) H Beins (Ger), D Coyle (Co Louth), C Martin (Kilkenny).