Hugh Foley feels he is a deserving winner of the Bridgestone Order of Merit after his exemplary performances in the Irish events this year.
Foley became the first man since Darren Clarke in 1990 to win both the North and South of Ireland titles in the same season and after progressing to the semi-final of the AIG Irish Close Championship he has an opportunity to join the 2011 Open Champion in lifting a hat trick of North, South and Close titles in one year.
The 2020 Close winner knew he could wrap up the season long race if he got through his third round tie with fellow Royal Dubliner Max Kennedy it served as extra motivation.
“That was important to me for a couple of maybe personal reasons,” said Foley who is not part of Ireland’s Eisenhower Trophy side at the end of the month. “Yeah, I have come second in it twice. So it is good consistency in the Irish events and it is good to win it.”
The 25-year-old’s absence from the team selection stuck out like a sore thumb as McClean, Robert Moran and Mark Power completed Ireland’s three-pronged attack. But perhaps it was his performances abroad that went against him with McClean finishing third at the Brabazon Trophy, sixth at Lytham and a top-10 at the Amateur while Castle’s Moran was third in St Andrews and fourth in Lytham and Mark Power is 87th on the WAGR.
“Next year I will try to take that form abroad a bit more. I have still had a decent season abroad but I’d like to improve that.”
Foley has beaten his semi-final opponent McClean to the Order of Merit title and he will be looking to rubberstamp his glaring omission from Niall MacSweeney’s squad with a third win in as many events.
“You always want to be pushing to do well in these events. I think it is a good marker of playing in Ireland and being No 1 in Ireland. So in my tournaments in Ireland I have been No 1 in Ireland so that speaks for itself in terms of recent ongoings so I am happy with that.”
While there will unfortunately be no rewards in terms of team selection with the World Amateur Championships lineup decided and the diminished R&A Home Internationals already lost in Ballyliffin, Foley and his fellow semi-finalists will have to make do with one of the most prestigious trophies in Ireland.
Foley is hunting his second Close title while McClean is chasing a maiden major title as the top two seeds showdown on Wednesday morning.