Walker Cup stars the ones to beat at Dundalk Scratch Cup

Conor Purcell, James Sugrue and Caolan Rafferty pictured at the opening ceremony at the 2019 Walker Cup. Picture: Niall O'Shea / IrishGolfer.ie

Walker Cup and Ireland stars Caolan Rafferty, James Sugrue and Conor Purcell will switch from being teammates to rivals this Sunday (September 15) when they tee it up at the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup at Dundalk Golf Club.

The trio were part of the Great Britain & Ireland team that lost out to the United States in the Walker Cup at Hoylake before travelling to Lahinch ahead of representing Ireland in the Home Internationals.

The presence of three players from the World’s top-60 amateur golfers is sure to attract big crowds to Dundalk for the 36-hole tournament which will have shotgun starts at 9am for Round 1 and 2pm for Round 2.

Rafferty is the defending champion and is bidding to win a third title in four years while Sugrue from Mallow is the Amateur champion and Portmarnock’s Purcell is the Australian Amateur champion.

The three Walker Cup players will start as favourites but there are plenty of players in the star-studded field that will fancy their chances of lifting the famous trophy. Previous champions include the likes of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington while another former Walker Cup player, David Sheahan, was the first winner in 1963.

Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell won the event in 2017 while Co Louth’s Gerard Dunne set a new course record in last year’s second round and both will be expected to feature strongly as will another former winner, Gary Cullen, while current Boys’ internationals Max Kennedy and Dylan Keating will see this as their opportunity to make their senior breakthrough.

Rafferty will lead a strong home challenge into this year’s competition as members of the club’s senior panel will be battling to nail their places in next week’s All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final against Rosses Point in Westport. Over their home course, the challenge of Aaron Grant, Eoin Murphy, Josh Makin and Brendan Lawlor cannot be underestimated.

The greenkeeping staff at Dundalk have been working hard over the last few weeks to have the course in top shape for Sunday and Dundalk Captain Pat Davis said everybody is looking forward to the event.

“We have a great field this year and are delighted that James Sugrue and Conor Purcell are able to play given their busy schedules. The course is in superb condition and we are expecting a lot of people to come out and take advantage of the opportunity to see some of our top amateur golfers in action,” he said.