St Andrews Links Trophy a key test for Irish Walker Cup hopefuls

Ronan MacNamara

Peter O'Keeffe (Photo by Luke Walker/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Believe it or not, there is golf to be played in the midst of what is going on. Remarkably in a sphere where gulf states haven’t wrapped their claws around it… yet.

One of the majors of men’s amateur golf, the St Andrews Links Trophy will carry an extra weight of meaning and significance given its venue and timing. With the Walker Cup set to take place at the Home of Golf in September, this week’s event is a massive opportunity for the current Great Britain and Ireland panel to stake their claim for a permanent berth and for an outsider to force their way into the reckoning of captain Stuart Wilson.

72 holes of stroke play will be played across both the New and Old Course beginning on Friday, with the top-40 and ties playing the final 36 holes on Sunday.


Matthew McClean is one of three absent squad members as he prepares for the US Open Championship next week while Kilkenny’s Mark Power makes his first start since returning home from the US college scene.

England’s John Gough is the only player guaranteed to qualify for the GB&I side in September as of now, but Galway’s Liam Nolan can further stamp his credentials with another strong performance here.

The NUIG student had a quiet spring period due to college commitments but announced himself with the biggest win of his career at the Brabazon Trophy, adding to the South American Amateur title he won in January.

“You can get so obsessed with thinking about getting picked on teams but I try to play well in each tournament that I go to and if I do that hopefully the rest will sort itself out,” said Nolan who keeps his cards close to his chest.

“If you get obsessed with trying to make teams that’s a slippery slope to go down so yeah just stay present and not think too far ahead, just enjoy the tournaments.”

Royal Dublin’s Hugh Foley has been consistent both at home and aboard this year with top-9 finishes at the West and Lytham Trophy but a 26th place finish at the Scottish Men’s Open will need to be bettered.

Foley boasts a stellar record on Irish soil but knows performances abroad will tip the scale for him.

“They want the best ten players in the UK, they can’t measure that in just Irish, English and Welsh events, it has to be in the big events away from home. I’m looking at the big events this year and unfortunately, I might not get to play as many at home, but I’ll play the big ones at home.”

Castle’s Robert Moran and Douglas’ Peter O’Keeffe make up the Irish contingent on the provisional GB&I Walker Cup squad. 

Of the Irish who are on the outside looking in, Max Kennedy and Alex Maguire appear best placed to make an eleventh hour charge for a place against the USA in September.

Royal Dublin’s Kennedy had a win and six top-10 finishes Stateside before coming home to win the Ulster Strokeplay. His Palmer Cup commitments have seen him miss the East and the St Andrews Links so Laytown&Bettystown’s Maguire takes the outsider gong this week.

Maguire has been in excellent form since arriving home from Florida, defending his East of Ireland title for the first time since Raymie Burns after finishing 4th at the Irish AM and fourteenth at the Brabazon.

“I’d love to play Walker Cup and I’m going to do everything I can to make that team,” said Maguire who has five wins in the last three years. “I hope to keep playing well in upcoming events and get on the radar. 

“I’m not a big outcome person, the work I do with Donal Scott it’s very process driven. If I want to make Walker Cup I have to think of what I need to do and have a deep dive into my game and see what I can do.  

“The main goal would be to play Walker Cup.”

Roganstown starlet continues his Junior Ryder Cup bid while he also remains an outside bet for the Walker Cup.

As does Robert Brazill who is looking to catch fire on a week where he misses out on defending his Connacht Strokeplay title. Roscommon’s Thomas Higgins and Jack Hearn make their first appearances in big field events this summer while Paul Conroy is back after his experience at the NCAA Championships.

Caolan Rafferty enjoys a reduced schedule but that hasn’t dampened his consistency. Seventh at the Irish AM and runner-up at the East, the 2019 Walker Cup star can play himself into the reckoning by pulling off something special here.

Colm Campbell and Luke O’Neill make up the Irish contingent at the Home of Golf this week.

Tee times here



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