Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley is keen to put his European Nations team omission behind him and use it as fuel to fire towards his Walker Cup goal.
Four major championships in three years, including becoming the first player to win both the North and South of Ireland Championships since Darren Clarke in 1990 and a Bridgestone Order of Merit title. Foley’s 2022 was stellar, but he was a glaring omission from Ireland’s European Nations Championship side in Sotogrande last week.
The Royal Dublin golfer’s absence from the squad raised plenty of eyebrows despite being the only Irish Walker Cup member to reach the last-16 of the West of Ireland Championship earlier this month.
Foley was also left out of Ireland’s Eisenhower Trophy outfit in France last August despite backing up his North and South double with an Irish Amateur Close final appearance. Ireland did impress with a top-20 finish at Le Golf National.
The Euro Nations squad was named several weeks ago but the disappointment still stings for the Dubliner.
Amazingly, despite all his success, he enters the bulk of the amateur season with a point to prove.
“I definitely had the European Nations marked in my calendar. It’s a great event and I would have loved to be there and be playing with the lads over there but unfortunately, I wasn’t,” Foley laments. “It’s not in my control and whatever about last year I played great at that time.
“I was disappointed not to be there, but I did all I can do. I’m not here to review the selectors process I’m just here to play my own golf and I think that is fair enough to say.
“I can’t hold on to too much annoyance over selection and what the selection was about I need to focus on the next seven events. It’s over now and there’s nothing I can do about it, that’s golf and that’s amateur golf and amateur selections. That can happen.”
The 25-year-old’s performances last year were excellent with two wins in Portrush and Lahinch and he responded to his Eisenhower omission with a runner-up finish to Matt McClean at the US Mid-Amateur Championship in Erin Hills and another second place at the King Hamad in Bahrain.
Foley is focused on letting his golf do the talking again this year and his next outing is at the Lytham Trophy before teeing up in the Flogas Irish Amateur Championship next month.
Missing out on Irish panels will be nothing more than a dropped stitch in his golfing tapestry if he can catch the eye of the all-important Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup selectors for St Andrews in September.
“With the Eisenhower last year, I was disappointed to be sidelined as I felt my game was at its best at the time, I went five amateur events in a row not outside the top two and won 17 out of 19 matches. Whatever about selections I’m working hard to get back to that form. Next event is Lytham and I’m fully focused on getting ready for that and what’s in the past is in the past and move on,” explains Foley who knows performances abroad could tip the scale for him.
“I feel I represent myself well and I try to represent the country well and that’s all I can keep doing and try to do well in the big events which the selectors for the Walker Cup will be looking at. I feel like my game is trending that way, it’s about what I think on the golf course.”
Clearly the Clontarf native isn’t the only one to feel aggrieved by his latest omission with amateurs from across the game and some high-profile professionals also raising their eyebrows in surprise while offering their support.
“I’ve had great support since that Euro Nations selection from amateurs on other teams, from Ireland and professionals,” says Foley. “Very highly rated professionals in Ireland including ex-Ryder Cup players giving me their support which is great because I obviously hugely value their opinions. All I can do is play my own game.”
Ireland finished 13th in the 17-team field in Sotogrande as England edged to a three-shot win with John Gough whose father hails from Meath, leading the charge. Gough will be part of a 55-strong international contingent at next month’s Flogas Men’s Irish Amateur Open Championship in the Island.