Stacked Irish contingent in action at Amateur Championship in Lytham

Ronan MacNamara

Matthew McClean (Photo by Richard Heathcote/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

As many as twenty-five Irishmen will tee it up in the 127th Amateur Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes and St Annes Old Links from today, June 13-18.

Royal Lytham & St Annes has hosted the Open Championship on eleven occasions with Ernie Els lifting the Claret Jug in 2012 while St Anne’s Old Links has held various championships and qualifying events for The Open.

The Amateur Championship has an illustrious history with James Sugrue the most recent Irish winner in Portmarnock in 2019. The first championship was held at Hoylake in 1885 and it is contested over strokeplay qualifying then match play. The winner will earn exemptions into the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews as well as next year’s US Open and of course, an invitation the Masters.


Flogas Irish Amateur Champion Colm Campbell is enjoying a superb season. The former Irish international had no intention of teeing it up prior to his win at the Island Golf Club.

After family life became his priority, the Warrenpoint man put golf on the back shelf somewhat but he has had to rethink his summer plans and a good performance this week would put him firmly in the reckoning for a return to the Irish setup.

East of Ireland champion Alex Maguire is arriving hot after a sensational finish last week in Baltray. Rounds of 65 and 68 saw the Mornington native come from ten shots adrift to take the title by two shots after a stunning closing eagle on the 72nd hole.

The Laytown & Bettystown golfer saw off the challenge of Jack McDonnell and Caolan Rafferty both of whom are in the field this week.

Dundalk’s Rafferty has enjoyed top-10 finishes in his last three events in Ireland and the former Walker Cupper finished a respectable 33rd in his last Amateur Championship appearance three years ago.

Robert Moran has had some outstanding links form without breaking into the winners enclosure. The Castle golfer has four top-4 finishes in his last five starts with a third place at last week’s St Andrews Links Trophy setting him up nicely for the week.

The Irish international also finished fourth at the Lytham Trophy last month so his course form is strong.

Matthew McClean also fared excellently in the Lytham Trophy, registering a 6th place finish before he was beaten in a playoff by Campbell in the Island the following week.

The Malone golfer finished third in the Brabazon Trophy and 12th in St Andrews last week while he also has a win in the Portrush Scratch Cup tucked away this season.

Galway’s Liam Nolan will wonder what might have been at the Old Course last week as rounds of 71 and 74 saw his challenge fade as he finished 14th.

The NUIG student roared out of the traps with a 67 and he also finished 10th in the Brabazon Trophy so his form has been good across the pond.

Mark Power is home from a superb year with Wake Forest. The Kilkenny star helped the Deacs win the ACC Championship and he arrives as Ireland’s highest ranked player at 118th.

Reigning South of Ireland champion TJ Ford is in town and he tees off alongside Nolan so both will be hoping they can spur eachother on.

Royal Dublin will be well represented by the trio of Hugh Foley, Richard Knightly and Max Kennedy while Carton House duo Marc Boucher and Keith Egan will be looking for good performances.

The Amateur held its first ever pre-qualifier and Elm Park’s Charlie Denvir was the only Irishman to progress after a fine effort of four-under 67 saw him qualify in second place.

Denvir will play the opening two rounds alongside Moran.

Ulster and Munster Strokeplay champions Jack Hearn and Jake Whelan will be looking to continue their good form while Luke O’Neill, Paul Conroy, John Cleary and Paul Coughlan are also in the field.

Ryan Griffin enjoyed a solid R&A Student Series in the winter and that has propelled the Ballybofey & Stranorlar man into a really promising season.

The Maynooth University student has shown up well in the big events and certainly won’t be fazed this week.

Douglas man Peter O’Keeffe rounds off the Irish contingent. The Irish Close champion hasn’t had his best year so far but has been working incredibly hard on his game with Noel Fox in recent weeks and as we all know it only takes a week for golf to turn around!

England’s John Gough is looking to become just the second player ever to win the Amateur and Lytham Trophy in the same season. Only Sir Michael Bonallack in 1965 has achieved that feat.

The Stoke Park golfer whose father hails from Co. Meath defeated Hugh Foley en route to winning the Copa S.M El Rey at Sherry Golf in March.

“Lytham is my favourite win so far because it’s such a big tournament on a great golf course,” said the Beaconsfield Golf Club member, who won the Spanish Amateur in March. He is also reigning English Amateur champion, and won the Palmetto Amateur last year after graduating from the University of South Carolina. “It’s the strongest ranked stroke play tournament that I’ve won, and the confidence I have from beating such a strong field is huge.”

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