Final preparations are well under way at Sutton Golf Club for the second Irish PGA 9 Hole Golf Championship which once again will feature local company Annesley Williams Skoda as title sponsors. This innovative tournament, the brainchild of Sutton Professional Paddy Devine, was first played in 2019 but sadly Covid postponed its second coming until this September. The first winner of the title in 2019 was Tim Rice.
This year’s dates for the Annesley Motors Skoda sponsored event are Saturday and Sunday 24/25 September. The tournament proper will be preceded by a Pro-Am, on Friday 23rd. The Pro-Am was sold out on the day it was announced and currently has a waiting list. The field for the Championship will be made up of the top 27 players in the Irish PGA order of Merit, following September’s Connemara Pro-Am, along with 5 invites by Sutton pro Paddy Devine.
The prize fund for the Championship is €15,000 making it the third largest prize fund on the Irish Pro-Am circuit this year. All 32 participants are guaranteed a cheque. The format has however changed since 2019 when the event was played on a straight knock out basis with first round losers only getting a single game.
This time around the 32 professionals will be divided into 8 groups of 4 professionals with everyone guaranteed 3 matches on the Saturday before the 8 group winners go forward to Sundays quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. The draw for the composition of the pools will take place after the Pro-Am on the Friday evening.
Tim Rice has confirmed he will be definitely back to defend his title and defeated finalist in 2019 Colm Moriarty is currently right behind him in the Irish PGA Order of Merit. Damian McGrane, former European Tour and current Irish PGA champion will be playing. Others sure to qualify include David Higgins, Simon Thornton and Richard Kilpatrick all in the top ten in the Order of Merit currently. The ladies will also be represented with Hazel Kavanagh confirming her participation.
Sutton Captains Derek Hunter and Marie Jones paid tribute to the club’s own pro Paddy Devine whose idea the event was in the first place. They noted that Sutton has had a long association with the Irish PGA dating back to the 1980’s when the Sutton Pro- Am was perhaps the most eagerly anticipated Pro-Am on the Irish circuit. “This new event was a huge success when it was introduced in 2019 both amongst members and also the professionals involved. There is a real sense of excitement in the club as the event gets ever closer.”
They also thanked club member Cian Bennis whose company Annesley Williams Skoda had made the event possible with its generous sponsorship.
Speaking about the event Paddy Devine said that when he first proposed the idea he had found great enthusiasm amongst his fellow professionals for both the format of the event and for the challenges presented by the Sutton links. In that context he said he was confident that Sutton Head Greenkeeper Simon Lewis would have the course in pristine condition. “Simon and his team have done a wonderful job, and the weather this year will undoubtedly help to ensure this will be links golf at its very best.”
Speaking on behalf of the sponsors Cian Bennis of Annesley Williams Motors said that the company was delighted to sponsor such an innovative initiative. “Sutton is very much part of the world from which we draw our business and it is rare enough to have the opportunity to sponsor something as good as this so close to home. The event in 2019 was very much a leap of faith for us as we had not done anything quite like this before. It was however a huge success which made it a very easy decision to make when we were asked to stay involved this year. I personally love the event as it affords you the opportunity to watch some terrific players up close. An opportunity to learn from the best.”