Maynooth’s Walker feeling sharp ahead of Home of Golf return

John Craven

Simon Walker of Maynooth University (Photo by Octavio Passos/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Maynooth’s Simon Walker can’t wait to test himself at the iconic St Andrews at next week’s R&A Student Series Final from April 3-5.

The Roscommon man has reaped the benefits of the warm-weather golf the Series has provided this winter and after missing out on the Old Course last year because of The 150th Open, he’s doubly excited to return to the Home of Golf to experience the famous course first-hand.

“It was my first time there last year and we didn’t get to play the Old Course because of The Open but getting to play that this year in the final means I’m really looking forward to it,” says Walker.


“It was a great town to visit last year. I really enjoyed it. The whole atmosphere of golf around there is unique. It’s a really special place so I can’t wait to get going.”

Walker will hope to bring the same golf game to Scotland that saw him capture the title at the Portugal event in Troia in February. Primed after a week’s training camp alongside the programme’s top coaches in Noel Fox, Johnny Foster and Donal Scott, Walker came out firing, free from the rust you’d normally associate with golfers wintering in Ireland.

“Because of the training week in Portugal, we couldn’t have done much more to get us fresh and ready for competitive golf,” he says.

“It’s such a good tournament in Troia so to have our coaches with us prepping for the event was a massive bonus.

“We knew the course well having played there before but thankfully I felt good going into the event and everything came together on the week.

“It’s been great getting so many reps in at this time of year. Usually there’s not much on during the off-season to keep you sharp but these tournaments are very good, they’re really competitive.

“The venues are class too, none more so than St Andrews so hopefully we can keep the form going.”

Walker sits sixth on the season-long Order of Merit as he looks to follow in the footsteps of teammate David Kitt and clinch the coveted chequered flag. With one-and-a-half times the points on offer for the final event, as well as spots in the Arnold Palmer Cup, The Amateur Championship and a Challenge Tour invite going to the season-long race winner, there’s a chance Walker could spring from the pack and leapfrog the lot.

Still just 21 and in his third and final year of an Accounting and Finance degree, such an achievement would be the cherry on top of the cake for Walker’s three years at Maynooth, having always believed he’d fit right in as a Paddy Harrington Scholar.

“I was always looking at Maynooth,” he says. “I really liked the look of the programme, I liked the people who were there. The great names that have passed through. It’s produced some really good players so it always felt like the right fit.

“The Student Series adds to that. We have year-round golf now, and an incredible setup with the facilities at Carton House and the access to top class coaches.

“The tournaments abroad are competitive and it’s only going to strengthen year on year. It’s a great place to be.”

Not to mention the town itself at Maynooth – no shortage of watering holes to take your mind off the game…

“Absolutely,” Walker laughs. “It’s all about balance!”

The first two rounds of next week’s finale will be played over the St Andrews Jubilee Course before the final round is contested on the Old Course.

As ever, Maynooth boasts a strong hand with more students in the race for the men’s Order of Merit title than any other Institution, with six students lying inside the Top-10 (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 10th, 12th). In the women’s event, Kate Dwyer lies in 6th place.

  • More information on the R&A Student Series HERE
  • Men’s Order of Merit table HERE

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