Heroic efforts pay off as five Irish to face USA in Walker Cup
Choice of Irish players seen as a sign of strength of Irish amateur game
Gavin Moynihan from The Island GC is the only survivor from the 2013 Walker Cup team.
In years gone by, an old warhorse on the amateur circuit around Ireland would often give his opinion on how difficult it was to make a Walker Cup team. “If you’re Irish,” he’d say, “you need to be twice as good as the others.”
It would seem that, these days, merit is more correctly rewarded; for Ireland will have a record five players on the team next month to face the United States at Royal Lytham and St Annes, on the Lancashire coast.
Although Scotland, as European champions, might be entitled to some grievance in only getting two players onto the team (albeit an improvement of two on 2013 when the cradle of the sport astonishingly didn’t have any), there was general consensus that the five Irishmen – Cormac Sharvin, Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan, Gary Hurley and Jack Hume – all fully deserved selection.
As Neil Manchip, the GUI’s national coach, observed on the quintet getting the nod for the match on September 12th-13th, “each one has played their way on to the team through brilliant performances this season . . . the strength of Irish amateur golf is well reflected.”
All five Irish players occupy places inside the top-50 on the world amateur rankings.
A snapshot of how Irish players have performed this season: in the recent European Amateur championship, Hurley finished runner-up and Moynihan, the only survivor from the B&I team from the 2013 match, finished third, while Moynihan won the Irish Amateur Open for a second time in three years earlier this season. Dunne led into the final round of the British Open at St Andrews and reached the quarter-final of the US Amateur last week; Sharvin won the Brabazon Trophy (English amateur strokeplay); and Hume was part of the Ireland team that retained the Home Internationals. All five are expected to move on to the professional ranks after the Walker Cup.
Team captain Nigel Edwards, a Welshman who is currently director of coaching with the English Golf Union, said: “The Walker Cup offers these players a tremendous opportunity to display their abilities and gain invaluable experience of playing in international team competition. I know there will be players who are disappointed not to have made the team and it has been a difficult decision to make with such strength in depth in the British and Irish game at the moment, but we believe we have selected the best players.”
Apart from the five Irish players selected, the team includes three Englishmen – Ashley Chesters, Sam Horsfield and Jimmy Mullen – and two Scots, Grant Forrest and Jack McDonald. No Welsh player made the team.
The USA finalised its team following the US Amateur Championship, won by Bryson DeChambeau. Five players – DeChambeau, Maverick McNealy, Beau Hossler, Hunter Stewart and Lee McCoy – had been previously selected and the team was completed with the additions on Sunday of Robby Shelton, Jordan Niebrugge, Denny McCarthy, Scott Harvey and Mike McCoy.
HIGH FIVE – IRISH PLAYERS IN WALKER CUP SQUAD
A graduate of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Dunne – who finished fifth in the NCAA collegiate championship – shared the lead heading into the final round of the British Open at St Andrews last month before finishing tied-8th. Finished tied-11th in the European Championship and reached the quarter-final of the US Amateur.
Has been hugely consistent all season. A quarter-finalist in the Spanish Amateur earlier this year, he finished third – behind champion Sharvin – in the Brabazon Trophy and was Ireland’s leading points scorer, garnering three points from four, in the European Team Championships. He was on the Ireland team that won the Home Internationals earlier this month.
Club: West Waterford and Maynooth University
Handicap: +5.1 The only Irish player on Europe’s Palmer Cup collegiate team this season, Hurley finished runner-up in the Spanish Amateur Open earlier this season and was runner-up in the European Individual Championship in Slovakia.
Club: The Island
The only survivor from the 2013 Walker Cup match, the Dubliner is a proven winner; he claimed the Irish Amateur Open championship at Royal Dublin in May, for a second time in three years, to add to his Scottish Open amateur success of last year. He finished third in the recent European Amateur championship.
Hurling’s loss has been very much golf’s gain, as the Ardglass player – a student at the University of Stirling in Scotland – has established himself as one of the world’s top amateurs. A runner-up in the Irish Amateur Strokeplay and the Lytham Trophy this year, Sharvin finally got a deserved “W” when lifting the Brabazon Trophy.