48 of the world’s best amateur players will tee it up in La Manga Resort, Spain on Thursday to contest the Bonallack and Patsy Hankins Trophies.
Alex Maguire and Beth Coulter will be representing Europe in their respective competitions in two Ryder Cup style matches played between 12-player teams from Europe and Asia-Pacific over the three days.
Maguire and Coulter will be looking to help Europe claim back both trophies from their visitors.
On the men’s side, the European team also looks slightly stronger on paper, with nine players ranked inside the WAGR top-100. England’s John Gough is the top ranked player in the men’s match and will look to lead the side to win back the trophy from the visitors.
Arguably Europe’s most in form player is Laytown & Bettystown star Maguire who seems to be charging towards a Walker Cup place for GB&I after a trophy-laden summer, winning the East of Ireland and St Andrews Links Trophy while also picking up a bronze medal for Ireland in the European Team Championships and he is relishing his debut for the blue and gold.
“It’s a big honour to be able to represent your continent and to be chosen for Europe is something I am very, very proud of,” said Maguire who competed at last month’s Open Championship.
“I think it will be a great week and I’m looking forward to getting started in the foursomes it will be a long few days here with the heat and with foursomes and four balls in the afternoon so it will be tough but yeah it’s nice to be away from the Irish weather for a few days and get a bit of sun while playing a top quality competition.”
Maguire is part of a seriously talented squad that includes the likes of Barclay Brown, James Ashfield and Nicola Gerhardsen who will be well known to Irish golf fans, while Irish Amateur champion Gough arrives off the back of a home away from home outing at the Irish Challenge in Kells.
“It’s nice to be able to say I’m on a team with some of the best players in Europe. Looking along the dinner table last night and everyone is just so good and that’s the reason they are here and it’s nice to be rewarded for some good golf this summer and play alongside these guys and go out to battle with them. They are incredible golfers and the fact I was chosen to be alongside them is very pleasing and something I am very proud of. It’s not often you get to represent your continent at amateur level.”
As for La Manga, Maguire is expecting a birdie fest on a great matchplay course.
“It’s a pretty difficult resort course, it’s generous off the tee and the greens are big and soft so it will be a challenge to hole putts inside five feet because when you walk on the greens a lot of footprints are implanted into the greens. It’s a great match play course where there will be a lot of birdies and I can’t wait to get started.”
Kirkistown Castle’s Coulter is Ireland’s only representative on Europe’s Patsy Hankins team which will be spearheaded by Spaniard Cayetana Fernandez Garcia Poggio who is the highest ranked player in the competition at third in the WAGR.
Europe boast eight more players inside the top-50 on the WAGR with all twelve players perched inside the top-100 while team bonding will be no issue with most players familiar with each other from playing Junior Solheim and both the Vagliano and Junior Vagliano matches.
Coulter has also been in fine form herself despite not having the silverware to back it up. The nineteen-year-old has runner-up finishes in both the Irish Women’s Amateur Open and Close Championships while she was fifth at the Amateur Championship.
She was just two shots off the pace heading into the back nine in the final round of the European Ladies Championship before fading away while she also impressed at the Vagliano Trophy.