Leading Amateurs tee it up out West for Centenary Championship

Irish Golfer

Colm Conyngham (Bridgestone Marketing Manager) with TJ Ford (Golfer) at the launch of the Bridgestone Order of Merit at Co. Sligo Golf Club, Rosses Point, Co. Sligo, Ireland. 06/04/2023 Picture: Golffile | Thos Caffrey

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The Connolly’s Audi West of Ireland Amateur Championship tees off at Co Sligo tomorrow (FRI) as the much-anticipated 2023 amateur season gets underway.

Now in its centenary year, this prestigious event also marks the launch of the exciting Bridgestone Order of Merit. Last year the men’s title was captured by Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley while Katie Poots, of Knock, was victorious in the women’s race.

The Women’s Bridgestone Order of Merit began last month with a series of Scratch Cups. The first Championship, the Munster Women’s Open, hosted at Monkstown Golf Club concludes today. Back in its traditional Easter weekend slot, The West is the first of ten events that make up the Men’s Bridgestone Tour.

Bray’s Alan Fahy is defending champion in Rosses Point, with Peter O’Keeffe (Douglas) and Arron Edwards-Hill lively contenders. Reigning Bridgestone Order of Merit champion Foley is another leading challenger while Mullingar Scratch Cup champion Joshua Hill will also be in contention.

Local amateur TJ Ford is excited about his home championship and the chance to improve on his 36th placed finish in last year’s Bridgestone Order of Merit.

“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s the 100th year, it’s a big West, it’s a massive event for the club. It’s the highlight of the year and it’s on Masters week – a marathon of golf,” said the 25-year-old.

“It’s a really good field this weekend, with the top 16 going through it’s very exciting to try and make the cut. It’s nearly two events in one, you are trying to win a three-day 54 hole strokeplay event and then after that if you get through you have two matches for a home semi-final. It’s as good a chance as you’ll ever have to win one.

“It’s great as well that there are spots up for grabs for home internationals and for team events for all of the Bridgestone Order of Merit events. So, I’m obviously looking to get off to a good start and get the ball rolling on what will be a good season.”

The partnership between Golf Ireland and Bridgestone demonstrates a shared commitment to nurturing the talent of amateur golfers and providing a platform for them to shine on the national stage.

Matt McClean, who was runner-up in a thrilling conclusion to the Bridgestone Order of Merit last year, is currently competing on the international stage. His sensational rise sees him taking part in the Masters at Augusta this week.

“Bridgestone is proud to be part of this exciting chapter in Irish golf. The events on the Bridgestone Tours provide a great platform for talented players like Matt McClean, TJ Ford, Katie Poots and others to shine on the national stage,” said Bridgestone Marketing Manager Colm Conyngham.

“We have seen former winners such as Tom McKibbin go on to achieve incredible things and are very excited to see what the season ahead holds. We are committed to supporting Golf Ireland in their efforts to promote and grow the sport for men and women across the country.”

For more information on the Connolly’s Audi West of Ireland Amateur Championship and the Bridgestone Order of Merit, please visit the Golf Ireland website.

Men’s Bridgestone Tour Events 2023

West of Ireland – Co Sligo, 7-11 April

Munster Men’s Amateur Open – Cork, 29 April-1 May

Flogas Men’s Open – The Island, 11-14 May

Ulster Men’s and Women’s Stroke Play – Clandeboye, 29-30 May

East of Ireland – Co Louth, 3-5 June

Connacht Stroke Play – Portumna, 10-11 June

South of Ireland – Lahinch, 26-30 July

Mullingar Scratch Cup – Mullingar, 6 August

AIG Men’s Irish Close – Malone, 18-20 August

North of Ireland – Royal Portrush, 20-22 September

Women’s Bridgestone Tour Events 2023

Woodbook Scratch Cup – Woodbrook, 19 March

Royal Co Down Scratch Cup – Royal County Down, 26 March

Royal Portrush Scratch Cup – Royal Portrush, 2 April

Munster Women’s Open – Monkstown, 6 April

Lahinch Women’s Scratch Cup – Lahinch, 15 April

Flogas Women and Girls Amateur Open – Woodbrook, 19-21 May

Ulster Men’s and Women’s Stroke Play – Clandeboye, 29-30 May

Connacht Women’s Open – Loughrea, 3 June

AIG Women’s Irish Amateur Close – Connemara, 22-25 June

Hermitage Scratch Cup – Hermitage, 22 July

Leinster Women’s Open – Bunclody, 28 July

Ulster Women’s Open – Warrenpoint, 6 August

Irish Mid-Amateur Championship – Portsalon, 6-8 October

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