Star quality descends on Ballybunion for the AIG Women’s Close

Irish Golfer

Image from the Ladies' and Girls' Home Internationals at Ballybunion Golf Club in 2018 (Photo by Brendan Moran/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

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The cream of Ireland’s women amateur golfers will converge on Ballybunion this week for the AIG Irish Women’s Amateur Close Championship. After last year’s cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Championship returns on the famed Old Course at the Kerry venue.

70 players will complete 36-holes of stroke play on Thursday, with the top-32 reaching the Matchplay stage of the Championship. The next 16 players will compete for the Ita Wallace Plate.

Among those competing are mother and daughter duo Ailish and Rachel Thompson. Ailish previously played in the Championship when it was last held in Ballybunion in 2013, while Rachel will compete in Ballybunion for the first time, looking to improve on her Quarter-Final exit in 2019.

Speaking ahead of the event, Rachel said the course will be different to what she is used to in America, where she studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

“It’s not like any course I’ve played before so I cannot compare it to anywhere. Ballybunion is so nice though,” she said. “I need to get used to Links courses again. I’m a member of Cork Golf Club, which is a parkland course, so this is a change for me. I’m just hoping to enjoy myself this week. You’d never know what could happen.”

Along with the Thompsons, Roscommon’s Blaithin O’Brien will also be competing. Now based in Cork, O’Brien has worked on the frontline in the past 15 months and is looking forward to returning to the course on a national stage.

“Getting back on the course and spending time with friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I’m delighted to get back on the course,” Blaithin admitted. “This week, I’m going to try and use the wind to my advantage, read the greens well and hopefully have fun.

“I played in the Connacht Women’s and a few club events, but this is my first Championship this year. Being able to play at Ballybunion is a massive pleasure. No matter what the score, I’ll enjoy myself this week.”

COVID-19 Spectator Registration: If you are planning on attending a Golf Ireland event or championship as a spectator, please register here.

  • Full list of tee-times HERE

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