Robert Moran is excited to get back into the links swing and kick off his Irish championship season after becoming a golfing globetrotter for the last five months.
The Castle golfer has taken in spells in Australia, South Africa and India while he represented Ireland at the European Nations Championship before getting the links season underway with a second successive top-10 finish at last week’s Lytham Trophy.
Moran has been playing plenty of golf but he spent a significant period away from the links and he feels Lytham whetted his appetite for the Flogas Irish Amateur Open on Thursday.
“Nice to be back playing links golf and to start my Irish championship season with the biggest one we have,” said Moran. “It’s kind of when you play too much of it you can get fed up of it but for me I haven’t played much links golf at all, played Lytham which was probably my first links golf outing in eight months. I’m having a honeymoon period of enjoying it again, it’s always nice to be staying at home.
“The Island is going to be in really good condition there looks to be a few improvements made on last year so it should be really good,” added the Dubliner who has England’s John Gough staying in his home this week.
“He came early, I told him to come whenever he wants but he rocked up on Sunday! He was meant to caddy for me in a Senior Cup match but his flight was delayed three hours but he’s here for a few days so it’s good.”
The Irish Amateur Open heads to the Island for the second successive year and Moran who finished just two shots behind Colm Campbell in third twelve months ago and he feels keeping the ball in play will be key, in particular over the closing stretch of holes which gave way to late drama last time out.
“Lytham was good, my golf was fine, kept out of as many bunkers as I could. It’s always a very challenging test so any week you come through not too bad is fine. If you’re not on it, things can get away from you quickly, the same with the Island because there is always danger lurking.
“The last four holes not easy holes depending on the wind. You can have any wind direction, some days I hit four iron, gap wedge into 17 and others it was driver, four iron. They are pretty challenging and 18 is one of the best finishing holes you play all year, into the wind or down wind it’s very tricky. 16 is a great par three you can get punished if you miss the green.
“It’s a really good golf course and the finish is great so anything can happen over those last four holes.”
The 23-year-old fared well on his travels earlier in the year with a fifth place finish at the Australian Master of the Amateurs and ninth at the South African Amateur while he made both of his cuts on the Challenge Tour in India so he feels his game has been trending in the right direction as he enters a hectic championship summer.
“My game is getting better the last few weeks I had been managing a few bits and pieces on the course the last few months I wasn’t too happy with a few things but now I feel more on top of my game than I had been.
“Australia is such a cool place, I can see why so many people move out there. The events were great and South Africa was fantastic I always enjoy that trip with the lads every year and Leopard Creek was unbelievable, South Africa is a very cool country as well.
“It was cool playing Challenge Tour events in India and seeing how they were set up.”
Moran was named in the provisional Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad with ten panelists set to tee it up on Thursday including Liam Nolan, Matthew McClean, Hugh Foley and Peter O’Keeffe. Fifty five international players are Island bound in what is a top quality field and the strongest since Covid-19.
“I remember when I was maybe 17 or 18 in Royal County Down the fields were almost 50/50 between foreign players and home players. We have missed that with Covid but it’s good to see it getting back to normal. The Island is a great golf course as well and I’d say a few of the lads played British Am there a few years ago and it’s an ideal spot being beside the airport.
“It’s good for everyone in Ireland to have a field like this for the Irish Amateur Open because you are pitting yourself against the best from Great Britain and there are a good few Walker Cup lads playing which is very exciting.”
Moran tees off on Thursday alongside Sweden’s David Lundgren and Scottish star Matthew Wilson at 8.44am from the 10th tee.
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