AS the field gets set for tee-off tomorrow at the Irish International Open in Rocklodge, Communications & Press Officer Jason O’Connor takes a closer look at the field for this weekend’s event.
A CLUB rich in the history of the PPUI, Rocklodge should be fine hosts this weekend for the latest instalment of the Irish International Open, the fifth in total going back to its inauguration in Royal Meath back in 2009 and the first to be held in the Pitch & Putt hotbed that is Cork. In the Gents event, Castletown’s Eamon Gibney is the defending holder as his victory in Glenville in May 2014 served as a breakthrough success for the Meath player leading on to his crucial role in Ireland’s World Cup win in Andorra back in early July. With this tournament being held in the heart of Cork, a victor from the host county would be hard to bet against but there are those who will endeavour to prevent it.
Deerpark’s Damien Fleming is a two time winner of this event going back to his success in the inaugural event in Clonee alongside victory on his home course in the 2011 staging. He is also an associate member of this weekend’s venue which should put him in the mix alongside a recent third place finish at the National Gents Strokeplay Championships. St Annes’ Ray Murphy has set the tempo for the weekend however with a 16 under par round in the recent Enable Ireland Open at the course and considering he won the 2013 Irish Strokeplay at this venue he should be in serious contention for the top honour. His St Annes club-mate Frank Dineen is the only Cork player to have won an Irish Open, doing so in 2010 in RGSC as he came through a playoff with Stephen Murray (who also competes this weekend) to come out on top.
The host club have a total of 14 entries for the event, 2012 National Matchplay winner Kevin McCarthy the most notable on the Gents side with Mary Murray a double National Intermediate Strokeplay winner on consecutive Sundays back in July. While an honorary Fourball of club grandees TJ O’Riordan and Mick Forrest along with Club Captain Michael Murphy and Club Chairman Michael Mannix will get the event underway, Martin O’Sullivan will have the honour of the first competitive tee-shot on Saturday morning and he will be followed by club-mates, Maurice Carey, Aidan Kavanagh, Lar Long, John Murray, Alan O’Mahony, John Tracey, Murray, Raymond Chisholm, Garrett O’Mahony, Craig Cahill, Des Quinn, McCarthy and James McKeon in the next 13 three-balls to the tee-box on Saturday. Some other notable entries from the field include Irish No 1 John Walsh, a member of the winning Irish World Cup team who won the recent Enable Ireland Scratch Cup at the weekend’s venue and is in the final year of his present reign as World Strokeplay Champion.
Irish Matchplay winner from Seapoint Shane Murphy also tees off this weekend as does the holder of the European and Irish Strokeplay titles, Liam O’Donovan of Bruff. O’Donovan broke records with his winning score in the recent Irish Strokeplay in Tullamore and is a regular on the International Pitch & Putt scene. He was also runner-up to Gibney in Glenville. Former Irish Strokeplay Champions Anthony Malone, Chris Scannell, John Cahill, William Buckley Jnr and Brian Delaney are also amongst the entries for the weekend. Giving an international feel to the entries this weekend will be the Dutch contingent of Maurits Rangkouw, Remon de Groot, Bernhard Struyck, Gerard Spaargaren, Maurice Stuyvers, Ed Janssen, Esther de Schiffart and Herma Kleinlugtenbeld with Catalonia’s John Frederick Evans the sole Catalonian entry. Collinstown’s Rene Jan Bloem is a Dutch native of course as he joins Collinstown club-mate Alan Hanlon amongst the field this weekend. Alan finished third in Glenville two years ago with Bruff’s Pacelli Darcy also entered for the weekend having won the seniors section in Glenville last time it was played.
Esther and Herma will be competing in a Ladies section that sees National Strokeplay winner Breda Lonergan and National Matchplay Runner-Up Eleanor Walsh amongst the field alongside local hope Murray. We are guaranteed a new winner in this section with none of the previous winners Chrissie Byrne (2009 and 2010), Tracey McGrath (2011) or Marian Courtney taking part this weekend. Also amongst the entries this weekend is PPUI President Mervyn Cooney who tees-off alongside the aforementioned Walsh and Trim’s David Campbell. All competitors will play 36 holes on Saturday followed by the closing round of 18 holes on Sunday in reverse order. It will be interesting to see if we have winner from the established order within the Irish game or will a new face break through and announce themselves to the Pitch & Putt community this weekend.
Best Wishes to all competitors this weekend as well as the Rocklodge club with the hosting of the event. If you can’t head to Cork to watch the action updates on proceedings will be available on the PPUI website throughout the weekend.
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