THE 20th staging of the Lee Valley Scratch Cup takes place in April and the Ovens club is planning for another bumper event.
Already it looks like a top-class field will be competing including the holder Gary O’Flaherty. The Cork Golf Club member has taken a shine to the event, last year was his fourth time winning the scratch cup since his first win in 2012.
Lee Valley captain Liam Power is looking forward to the return of the two-day competition.
“As the 2023 captain and like all other previous captains, you’re excited to put your calendar together for the year ahead with annual Lee Valley Senior Scratch being high on the list to lock in dates. As captain, I’m really looking forward to seeing the best amateurs test their skills against Lee Valley course. I’ve played in a few of them and can testify the challenge that faces the lads."
Power is hoping for a home win, the first since 2011. Given the success of the Lee Valley Senior Cup team last year there’s every chance that the home side will challenge.
“We came close last year with local member Ian Bohane in the last group with a great chance of winning but unfortunately it wasn’t to be Ian’s day. Not being biased, it would be great for our club if we could have member come out on top and hopefully it happens this year.”
Traditionally the Lee Valley Scratch Cup has been one of the first major events of the year in Cork. It started off with a date before Easter to give the top amateurs a taste of competitive golf before the first national championship of the year, the West of Ireland.
It now has a fixed date at the end of April which gives the course and the staff a few extra weeks to ensure conditions are perfect for the two-day event. Former winners include Irish Internationals Colm Campbell, Tiarnan McLarnon and PGA Tour pro Shane Lowry who recorded his last win as an amateur in Lee Valley in 2009.
BoyleSports are back as title sponsors of the event, this is their fifth year supporting the event and Power is delighted to have the partner on board for the 2023 event.
"It goes without saying but having a sponsor and partner like BoyleSports really helps to elevate the Lee Valley Scratch Cup and we as a club really appreciate their support again this year. David Keohane and the Lee Valley greenkeeping staff have put a lot of work into the course last year and beginning of this year, I’m pretty confident this course will be in superb condition as a real test for these elite golfers.”
Tournament Director Vincent Drinan has been busy taking entries and he’s delighted to report a strong interest in the tournament.
"The field is nearly half full with five weeks to go. The handicap limit is two but cut is likely to be closer to scratch or better.”
Drinan has been the driving force behind the event since 2008 and he says it’s the team effort in Lee Valley that makes the event an important one in the early season.
"The Keohane Family and staff, club members and finally the players themselves all make it special. To be fair the work is always done in the few weeks running up to the weekend itself which makes the event very enjoyable for all and we as a club look forward to it immensely every year.”
The format is the same as previous years, 54 holes over two days. There’s a 36-hole shotgun start on Saturday, April 22 at 8am, with top 30 and ties through to final 18 holes via timesheet on Sunday, starting at 8am. The competition again qualifies for World Amateur Golf Ranking points. Anyone interested in entering should contact Vincent on 087-9966332.
The start list for the Wes of Ireland is out and Peter O’Keeffe leads the Cork challenge. He now plays from a very impressive handicap index of +6.5 and he’s joined by Morgan Cain, Sean Desmond, Cathal Butler, Dean O’Riordan and Mel Deasy.
David Howard and Charlie Flavin are both in the pre-qualifier which takes place earlier in the week, with James Murray and Sean Deasy both on the reserve list. The format for the west is changing this year with three rounds of Strokeplay taking place before the matchplay phase.
After 36 holes the top 90 will go forward to the third round after which the top 16 will qualify for the matchplay. The event is still run over the five days, starting on Friday, April 7.