A big couple of days lie ahead for those hoping to tee it up at Ballyliffin next week as the DDF Irish Open Qualifier at Rosapenna gets underway.
The field includes such names as Simon Thornton & David Higgins from the Irish PGA circuit as well as Niall Kearney, Neil O’Briain and Stuart Grehan but does not include Gavin Moynihan who has benefitted from an invitation and will definitely be at Ballyliffin next week.
One of those hoping that local knowledge could prove decisive at Rosapenna Golf Resort this weekend is Brendan McCarroll as the 32-year-old, who has lived in Letterkenny for the last 18 years and spent many hours battling the elements on the testing Sandy Hill Links course venue, looks to gain qualification for the DDF Irish Open through Saturday and Sunday’s 36-hole event.
“I grew up playing golf at Ballyliffin but with Rosapenna being 40 minutes down the road I’ve got a lot of time tucked away on these greens,” said Brendan (West Cliffs Golf Club). This is the type of course that you really don’t need to attack off the tee.”
“You have to play it smart. A lot of people who haven’t played the course before tend to have a crack at it and then they find themselves in knee-high rough which is never good.”
The Derry-born golfer has been performing brilliantly on the EuroPro Tour in recent weeks. He lost out to Mark Young in a play-off at the Jessie May World Snooker Golf Championship at Clevedon Golf Club, Somerset but confidence is high heading into the weekend.
He continued; “Last year I switched coach mid-season and I’m now working with Barrie McGoldrick at Galgorm Castle.
“I have done some good work with him and maybe, my course management has improved.
“We worked it out the other day that over my last 13 rounds, I’m 47 under par.
“Knowing that, when I do go out on the course I feel that I can shoot under par all the time.”
Players coming off the course after Friday’s practice round were remarking about how hard and fast the links was playing as a result of the hot, dry spell.
“It is going to be a test of patience,” said in-form Michael McGeady (Evolve Golf Coaching). McGeady, who is currently leading the PGA in Ireland Order of Merit, has also been a regular visitor to Rosapenna over the years but admitted that he had never played it under these conditions.
“I’ve never seen it so dry but hopefully local knowledge will be useful, especially around the greens using the slopes and undulations to get the ball close,” he said.
“I have a game plan but it is a bit of a lottery out there. You could play quite well and get a few bad bounces and shoot three or four over.
“You will see a lot of people hitting irons off tees and using the putter to keep it on the ground around the greens. It’s running so hard and fast that keeping it on the greens downwind is very tough.
“Before this dry spell I thought six or seven under could get you in the mix but, it will be much less than that now, maybe two under?”
The field of 122 players is competing for a first prize of €6000 and one of four spots in next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin.
To check out the field and tee times CLICK HERE