Gavin Moynihan returns to defend Irish Amateur Open title
Four players in the world’s top 50 are in the field
Gavin Moynihan: is takes a short break from his studies in attempting to become the first player to retain the old trophy since Keith Nolan managed the feat in 1997. Photograph: Inpho
At last, it is time for the real thing; which will come as a blessed relief to those competitors who have sought to play practice rounds on the windswept links at Royal Dublin these past couple of days.
Tales of players curtailing their rounds due to the severity of the conditions were the norm but, now, the serious business of competing in the Irish Amateur Open – where Gavin Moynihan is the defending champion – will keep minds in focus for the task at hand these next three days.
No fewer than four players ranked in the world’s top 50 are in the field, headed by English international Nathan Kimsey. The 20-year-old won the Terra Cota Invitational in Florida recently – which includes PGA Tour player Bud Cauley and European Tour cardholder Peter Uihlein amongst its previous holders – but will find conditions here hugely different.
Of the other players – Moynihan (44th), Rory McNamara (45th) and Reeve Whitson (50th) – who feature in the top 50 in the world amateur rankings, Moynihan is a course and distance winner. A Leaving cert student at Malahide Community School, Moynihan – a member of The Island - takes a short break from his studies in attempting to become the first player to retain the old trophy since Keith Nolan managed the feat in 1997.
McNamara has already opened his season in some style, adding the recent West of Ireland championship to the North he won last year whilst Whitson’s well-being was confirmed in March with victory in the Spanish amateur championship.
No doubt, there will be an added incentive to impress the Walker Cup selectors before the team defend the trophy against the USA at The National on Long Island later this season is named.
There were a number of late withdrawals from the championship yesterday – Jordan Hood, Alex Gleeson and Eddie McCormack among them – but the strength of the field, with the likes of two-time Brabazon Trophy champion Neil Raymond and Portugese prospect Gonzalo Pinto adding to the quality.