Reigning South of Ireland champion TJ Ford is hoping to kick-start his season at the Laytown and Bettystown Senior Scratch Cup with entries closing this Sunday, March 20th.
The Co. Sligo man is hoping to arrest a difficult start to the year that saw him tumble to missed cuts at the Portuguese and Spanish Amateur Championships before returning home for a rethink.
The Irish international will next take aim at the 36-hole Laytown and Bettystown Senior Scratch Cup on March 27th with Ford relishing the prospect of a return to links terrain in a bid to build some confidence ahead of a busy season at home and abroad in 2022.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back to some competitive golf on links terrain,” said Ford, a brilliant winner of the South last year at Lahinch.
“Laytown and Bettystown has been leading the charge in scratch cup fields for the last few years, so it’s a great place to start the season. It’s been a long winter and a frustrating start to the season personally, but hopefully getting back to a familiar layout and some links conditions will kick start things again.”
With a little under four weeks to the first Major of the year on Irish soil – The West of Ireland Championship – Ford is keen to dispel some early season anxiety and find some form, not least given his home base sits a stone’s throw from the Rosses’ Point venue.
With a new format in operation this year, 54-holes of stroke play and just 16 top qualifiers advancing to the match play stage, there’s little room for error for a would-be West of Ireland champion, a tournament home favourite Ford would dearly love to enter with confidence brimming.
“There’s definitely a bit of nervousness heading into this year’s West,” Ford admitted. “Obviously, being the local boy, coupled with the new format meaning only 16 players qualify after the stroke play, it means the first three days are really a tournament in itself.
“It’s one of those things where if you finish 16th it’s as good a chance as you’ll have to win it, but if you finish 17th you’re going home scratching your head. I’m hoping a good finish in Bettystown settles those nerves and helps get the ball rolling.”
It will have been three years since Galway’s Ronan Mullarney etched his name on the Laytown and Bettystown Scratch Cup in 2019 with the pandemic wiping the event from the schedule in 2020 and 2021.
Sponsors PING and club pro Gavin Byrne have combined for a first prize of €600 and the event is already attracting a stellar field with Forrest Little’s Jack McDonnell, Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty and Grange’s Mullingar Trophy winner Jake Whelan all set to line up in the 51st anniversary of the event.
Reminder, entries close this Sunday, March 20th .To enter, call 041 982 7170.
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