Cork Golf: Lee Valley set for return of Scratch Cup

Three-time winner Gary O'Flaherty is among the entrants on May 21-22
Cork Golf: Lee Valley set for return of Scratch Cup

Lee Valley Golf Club is set to be in great shape for the Scratch Cup sponsored by Boyle Sports. Picture: Niall O'Shea

THERE are just two weeks to go through the return of the Lee Valley Scratch Cup, and a great field is assembling for the return of the event for the first time in three years.

Already there are over 50 golfers who are playing off scratch or better entered into the event, and it promises to be a very competitive tournament.

Tournament Director Vincent Drinan has been busy getting everything in place for the event, and after a gap of two years, he’s delighted to have the WAGR counting event back in the schedule.

“As a club, we are delighted to have our Scratch Cup back again in 2022,” said Drinan.

It’s been three years since we held it last and we can see by the quality of the field entering, this year will be as good as previous years if not better.”

Drinan has been running the event for two decades and was the tournament director in 2009 when Shane Lowry won the event just a few weeks prior to winning the Irish Open.

He’s been busy contacting players and making arrangements to ensure another great event.

This year sees a slight change in timing which Vincent explained was down to preparation of the course.

“Traditionally we always held it in April but this year we have opted for a month later to enable our ground staff to manicure the course and to have it in the best possible condition for the top amateurs in the country competing on the weekend of May 21-22.

“We are ever so grateful to have Boyle Sports on board as our main sponsor, without them it would be a lot harder to host one of the best Scratch Cups in the country.”

Gary O'Flaherty will be looking for his fourth Lee Valley Scratch Cup win later this month. Picture: Niall O'Shea
Gary O'Flaherty will be looking for his fourth Lee Valley Scratch Cup win later this month. Picture: Niall O'Shea

There’s an impressive prize fund on offer for the tournament with prize money of €2,500 on offer.

The event follows the familiar format of 36 holes on the opening day with top 33 golfers going through to the third round on Sunday.

The course in Lee Valley has undergone plenty of work in the first few months of 2022, as well as the ongoing intensive drainage and sending programmes, the greens have all been through their annual maintenance program and a number of bunkers have also been remodeled with new ecobunker faces.

2019 winner Tiarnan McLarnon is not returning to defend his title due to work pressures, the Massareene golfer has played very little golf in 2022.

NEW NAME

There’s every chance of a new name on the famous cup this year, although a few previous winners may have something to say about that. Three-time winner Gary O’Flaherty is in the field along with Kieran McCarthy, Keith Crowley and Dave O’Donovan.

Nenagh’s Scott O’Brien leads the handicaps on an impressive index of +6.4, followed by Ballybunion’s Senan Carroll on +4.3.

The event does clash with the Brabazon in Devon meaning that many of the Irish team members are travelling to the UK, but there are a large number of young guns hoping to win their first senior event.

Among those are Fionn Hickey who has just returned from California after his first semester in the US. The Muskerry teenager will be looking to impress on his return to the domestic scene.

This weekend Muskerry will host their senior scratch cup. It will be played on Sunday and will be held over 36 holes.

While there are some Senior Cup and Barton Shield matches scheduled for the weekend there promises to be a strong field competing for the first scratch cup of the year.

DEFENCE

Peter O’Keeffe began the defence of his Flogas Irish Amateur Open title this morning.

The double 2021 champion will be hoping to add to his haul of major wins with a successful defence of the crown.

The most important event in the domestic calendar is taking place at the Island Golf Club in north Dublin and O’Keeffe is one of a number of Cork golfers taking part.

Jack Murphy, Mel Deasy, James Walsh and Rober Walsh make up a strong Douglas contingent. Cathal Butler, Paul Buckley, Dean O’Riordan, Morgan Cain, Shane Kenneally and Sean Desmond are the other Cork golfers hoping for success this week.

Further afield John Murphy tee’s it up in Dallas today in his second PGA Tour event of the season.

Murphy won an exemption to the AT&T Byron Nelson in his final year of college and deferred his 2021 entry to take advantage of his professional status this year.

Murphy travelled to the US last week and took some time out to catch up with college friends in Louisville.

A large Cork crowd has travelled to the TPC Craig Ranch course to support John and his caddy Shane O’Connell, and they’ll all be hoping to see the pair make the cut and play the weekend.

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