In all, 26 Irish competitors head overseas next week to compete on the international stage.
The Esmond Trophy marks one of the most prestigious international challenges on the annual girls golfing schedule. The U21 French Amateur Open has enticed yet another top field of 70 elite entrants with five Irish internationals in the mix.
A carefully selected squad made up of Ireland’s top junior players are set to travel and compete next week in Saint-Cloud Golf Club, Paris, carrying the hopes of an Irish victory with them. Valerie Clancy (Killarney), Mairead Martin (Kanturk), Rachel Thompson (Cork), Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden) and Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) will fly out next Tuesday with Irish Girls’ Team Captain Helen Jones (Royal Portrush) and Irish Girls’ Team Coach Chris Jelly.
Last year, Wilson took home the Cartier Trophy as the best U18 player and hopefully her 2017 performance will help her go all the way this time around. She looks in fine form already this season and a win for Wilson doesn’t seem too far away.
The tournament begins with two rounds of strokeplay which will condense the field significantly, allowing the top-32 players progress to the five rounds of matchplay. A knock-out format will decide which player comes out on top and takes home the title on Monday.
As the internationals fight it out in France, the R&A Bursars tournament will take place in St. Andrews. Each year the R&A invites 60 college golf scholars from within Great Britain and Ireland, that the federation financially supports, to compete in this top event.
The two-day championship will consist of 54-holes strokeplay over two courses within the St. Andrews complex. The first 36-holes will take place on day one around the Eden course, with the players inside the cut mark earning the opportunity to play the final round on the Old Course. The male competitors will fight it out for the Italian Federation Salver while the women scholars will compete for the South American Salver.
A new alteration in the Palmer Cup format will mean both the men and women’s champion will earn an automatic spot on the International team for the matchplay event in July. This is the first year the Palmer Cup will include corresponding women golfers on both the USA team and International team; granting the R&A Bursars tournament the capability to offer two places on the esteemed International team as prizes for winning their event.
Both Palmer Cup teams will consist of 12 women and 12 men who will take part in the Ryder Cup-style event at the Evian Resort Golf Club later in the year. With 21 Irish competitors amongst the field of 60, the odds are in our favour to claim back-to-back Irish victories after Stuart Grehan’s triumph in 2017. Exeter University’s Emily Toy will compete amongst the women’s field in the hopes of successfully defending her title and adding a Palmer Cup cap to her golfing resume in the process.