The Irish Senior Men’s and Women’s Amateur Close gets underway on Tuesday morning in Thurles. Played over four days, this is the first year the Men’s and Women’s Championships will be played on the same course, at the same time.
One player looking to impress in the Men’s Close is Joe Lyons. The Galway GC golfer made his debut on the Seniors tour this year, and recently won the Ulster Senior Men’s Open after a tough start to the year.
“For the first few months of the year, it’s probably the worst golf I’ve played in about 20 years. It was great to win in Donegal, when you’re playing badly, you’re never sure if you’ll play well again.
I’m very busy with work at the minute, so trying to manage my time and playing in the Seniors events has been tough. We’re privileged to play a sport that has a Seniors section. I’ve been looking forward to getting the chance over the past few years. It’s been a struggle competing with younger lads on the men’s tour, but I’m the young lad now!
Despite coming into the Seniors with an impressive CV, Lyons never felt success would come easily at this level.
“I never won at the Mid-Amatuer level, so I never assumed I could do the same at Seniors level. I’m going to Thurles with some confidence, but form comes and goes. If the form holds up, I feel I’ll be competitive.
“My goal at the start of the year was to make the six-man team for the European Championships in August. I think winning in Ulster put me into contention, but I need another good performance in Thurles to have a chance of making the team.”
2021 was a year Carol Wickham won’t forget in a hurry. The Laytown and Bettystown golfer won both the Irish Senior Women’s Open and Close titles.
Wickham goes into the event as the defending champion, but sees it as any other tournament on the calendar in her preparations.
“My expectations are the same as always. I was thrilled to win both titles last year, it was really special. It’s all about competing this year, and hopefully bring my game to Thurles. There are so many good players at this level.”
“I’ve never played in Thurles before. It looks fabulous from what I’ve seen. We’ve never played there in Championships before so it’ll be interesting to see how we compete on it.
“I like the longevity of the game, and being able to compete at a decent level. I love my golf and being able to compete. It’s been a lifelong love.”
The top-16 in both Championships after the opening two days, will advance to the Matchplay, with champions crowned on Friday evening.