Major decision for Hoey and McDowell


The art of being in two locations at the same time is something that has even evaded those top amateurs, players who somehow manage to squeeze more tournaments into a season than many professional tour players seem to achieve.

All of which means that Ireland's current top two players, Michael Hoey and Graeme McDowell, have been forced to stay away from the European Individual strokeplay championship when it takes place at Odense, in Denmark, on August 22nd-25th.

Hoey, the British Amateur champion, and McDowell, a scholarship student at the University of Alabama, will make their debuts in the Walker Cup at Sea Island, Georgia, in 11 days, and, then, will stay on in the United States to compete in the US amateur championship which takes place in East Lake, Atlanta, on August 20th- 26th, dates which overlap with the European strokeplay.

As one of amateur golf's so-called "majors", it is right and proper that Hoey and McDowell should opt to compete in the US amateur, especially given that their participation in the Walker Cup will not only have sharpened their competitive juices, but also the fact that they will be well acclimatised for the task of competing in the Atlanta heat.

In fact, Hoey and McDowell won't be the only Irish players participating in the US amateurs, an event won just two years ago by David Gossett, who achieved his maiden success on the US Tour in last weekend's John Deere Classic.

Waterville's Mark Murphy also intends to compete in the US championship and, indeed, he will be a competitor in this week's Canadian amateur championship which starts at Credit Valley in Ontario next Sunday.

With Hoey and McDowell - who was runner-up in the championship last year - unavailable for the European individuals, it has opened the way for some of Ireland's most promising strokeplay players to gain valuable experience.

Yesterday, six Irish players were selected to travel for the European strokeplay championship in Denmark, among them Irish close champion Gavin McNeill, who is the only player to have won a championship included in the travelling party.

McNeill, a member of Waterford, has been rewarded for his improvements this season which culminated in victory in the national championship, while Stephen Brown, of Hermitage, was extremely impressive in assisting Ireland to the final of the recent European Team Championships, where they lost out to Scotland.

The other four players selected for duty in Denmark on August 22nd-25th are Tim Rice (Limerick), Sean McTernan (Co Sligo), Justin Kehoe (UCD and Birr) and Colm Moriarty (Athlone).

Meanwhile, the Irish team to compete in the Boys' Home Internationals at Moortown in England next week is:

James Barton (Ballinasloe), Clancy Bowe (Tramore), Kenny Fahey (Connemara), Ciaran McAleavey (Banbridge), Robert McCarthy (The Island), Michael McHugh (Ballinasloe), Martin McTernan (Co Sligo), Colm Montgomery (Malone), David Rawluk (The Island), Gareth Shaw (Lurgan) and Niall Turner (Muskerry).

The 11 players will also remain on to compete in the British Boys' Amateur Open championship at Ganton on August 13th-18th.