Reigning Flogas Irish Amateur Open champion Robin Dawson was delighted to taming a fiery New Course with a level par 71 on day one of the prestigious St. Andrews Links Trophy at the Home of Golf.
Robin Dawson / Image from Cashman Photography
Dawson, 22 joined 143 fellow amateurs from as far away as Argentina, New Zealand, Australia as well as South Africa and India along with golfers from the USA and Canada and one player each from Morocco, Egypt and Slovenia in bright but increasingly windy conditions at St. Andrews.
Dawson is among a dozen Irish teeing-up with Kinsale’s John Murphy and Naas-attached Jonathan Yates, each out in the opening nine groups sharing the leading Emerald Isle honours with scores of one-under par 70s.
Also posting a 70, but only after doubling the last, was Newland’s Jake Whelan out in the sixth last group of the day to finish near 7.15pm local time.
The St Andrews courses and region and indeed Carnoustie to the north, host to next month’s Open Championship, have seen less than a centimetre of rain in the past two months leaving courses with plenty of brown tinging and with greens staff everywhere in Fife and Angus pumping water onto the fairways greens.
Dawson, competing alongside England’s and defending champion, Matthew Jordan, went out in 36 thanks to three birdies (3, 7 and 7) and an equal number of bogeys (5, 6 and 9) ahead of seven straight inward pars before the Tramore golfer’s shot of his round at the 229-yard par-3 17th.
“The 17th by a mile was my best shot all day as I hit a 4-iron to just four-feet and holed the putt, so that was a great birdie,” he said smiling.
“Overall it was a nice round of golf. I played lovely tee-to-green and the thing is you have to be very disciplined out there and be patient, as the course is playing just so firm.”
“The key to my round was my strategy as I felt I was very good mentally, working my way around the course, so all-in-all I am happy enough with my round.”
The tall red-haired Dawson, world amateur No. 34, is contesting the Links Trophy for a fourth year running and while delighted to have captured the Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal Country Down, he’s also looking to next fortnight’s British Amateur at both Murcar and neighbouring Royal Aberdeen.
“I am not trying to dwell on my Irish Amateur win as we are only coming into the middle of the season but then I am sure when the season ends, I will look back saying how great it was to win,” he said.
“I am more focussed on the big tournaments coming up and I can’t let myself get sidetracked as the British Amateur is the week after next and then I have the European Individual at Royal Hague, so I am just focussed on what I have to do over these few weeks.”
And watching all the Irish compete was a very proud Ireland captain in John ‘Blondie’ Carroll from the Bandon Club.
Carroll took-up his three-year appointment earlier this year after having served as a selector under three Irish team captains, most recently Tony Goode, and contributing to a remarkable run of success which has brought four Home International crowns in a row, as well as a historic first medal at the World Amateur Team Championships.