If proof be needed that Irish amateur golf is in a very healthy state then look no further than the make-up of the Great Britain and Ireland team to face the United States in the biennial Walker Cup match at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s on the Lancashire coast next weekend.
Ireland will have a record five players on the 10-man team including West Waterford’s Gary Hurley who was the only Irish player on the European Palmer Cup team (a collegiate golf event between the United States and Europe) this season.
Scotland will have three representatives while two English players have also made the grade.
The previous record for Irish representation on the Walker Team was in 1949 and 1951 when Jimmy Bruen, Joe Carr, Max McCready and Cecil Ewing were selected.
Although the team is top heavy with Irish players the general consensus in the golfing world is that all five Irish players – Gary Hurley, Jack Hume, Paul Dunne, Cormac Sharvin and Gavin Moynihan are fully deserving of their selection based on what they have achieved this year.
Gary Hurley, a student at NUI Maynooth, finished runner up in the European Amateur Championship in Slovakia last month and was also runner up in the Spanish Amateur Championship at the end of February.
Paul Dunne, a graduate of University of Alabama, had a share of the lead heading into the final round of the British Open at St Andrews before finishing in a tie for eighth. The Greystones golfer also reached the quarter final of the US Open where he was defeated by eventual winner Bryson De Chambeau.
Cormac Sharvin became the first Irish golfer since Rory McIlory nine years ago to lift the Brabazon Trophy when he finished the four rounds English men’s open stroke-play tournament one stroke ahead of fellow Walker Cup team-mate Gavin Moynihan.
The University of Stirling (Scotland) student had earlier finished runner-up in the Irish Amateur Strokeplay and the Lytham Trophy earlier in the season.
Jack Hume enjoyed a brilliant underage career and won all four provincial Boys titles in the same year.
Although he missed the cut by a shot at the Irish Open, his first professional event, he finished third behind Sharvin in the Brabazon Trophy and was Ireland’s leading points scorer in the European Team Championships.
Gavin Moynihan is the only survivor from the 2013 defeat to the United States. He won the Irish Amateur Open in May for the second time in three years and finished third in the European Amateur Championship.
The Great Britain and Ireland team is completed by three Scottish golfers – Grant Forrest, Jack McDonald and Ewen Ferguson and two English players – Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen.
Great Britain and Ireland are currently 5/6 favourites with the bookies to lift the Walker Cup for only the second time in the last six outings.
Whatever the final outcome, the team will certainly be hoping for a closer and more entertaining match than the 17-9 defeat to the United States two years ago in New York.