Walker Cup stars heading for Dundalk Scratch Cup

Walker Cup and Ireland stars Caolan Rafferty, James Sugrue and Conor Purcell will switch from being teammates to rivals this Sunday (September 15) when they tee it up at the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup at Dundalk Golf Club.
Last weekend the trio were part of the Great Britain & Ireland team in the Walker Cup at Hoylake before travelling to Lahinch to represent Ireland in the Home Internationals.
The presence of three players from the World’s top 60 is sure to attract big crowds to Dundalk for the 36 hole tournament which will have shotgun starts at 9am for Round 1 and 2pm for Round 2.
Rafferty is the defending champion and is bidding to win a third title in four years while Sugrue from Mallow is the Amateur champion and Portmarnock’s Purcell is the Australian Amateur champion.
The three Walker Cup players will start as favourites but there are plenty of players in the star studded field that will fancy their chances of lifting the famous trophy. Previous champions include the likes of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington while another former Walker Cup players, David Sheahan, was the first winner in 1963.
Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell won the event in 2017 while Co Louth’s Gerard Dunne set a new course record in last year’s second round and both will be expected to feature strongly as will another former winner, Gary Cullen, while current Boys’ internationals Max Kennedy and Dylan Keating will see this as their opportunity to make their senior breakthrough.
Rafferty will lead a strong home challenge into this year’s competition as members of the club’s senior panel will be battling to nail their places in next week’s All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final against Rosses Point in Westport. Over their home course, the challenge of Aaron Grant, Eoin Murphy, Josh Makin and Brendan Lawlor cannot be underestimated. 
The greenkeeping staff at Dundalk have been working hard over the last few weeks to have the course in top shape for Sunday and Dundalk Captain Pat Davis said everybody is looking forward to the event.
“We have a great field this year and are delighted that James Sugrue and Conor Purcell are able to play given their busy schedules. The course is in superb condition and we are expecting a lot of people to come out and take advantage of the opportunity to see some of our top amateur golfers in action,” he said.

Rafferty bidding for second Dundalk Scratch Cup victory

Pictured at the launch of the 2018 Dundalk Scratch Cup sponsored by One Finance were (from left): Pat Cleary (Lady Captain); Martin McDonnell (One Finance), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk & Ireland), Niall McDonnell (One Finance) and Gerry Byrne (Captain).

SOUTH of Ireland champion Caolan Rafferty will be the big draw when the One Finance sponsored Dundalk Scratch Cup takes place this Sunday (September 16) over 36 holes at Dundalk Golf Club.

Since he first won the competition in 2016, Rafferty has firmly established himself as one of the top amateur players in Ireland and is currently the second highest ranked Irishman in the World Amateur Golf Rankings where he sits this week in 63rd place.

He will head home to Dundalk after spending the earlier part of this week in the Welsh seaside resort of Conwy as part of an Irish team looking to win the Home Internationals for a fifth year in a row.

Last year, Rafferty had to settle for third place behind Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell in his defence of a title that includes the likes of three times major winner Padraig Harrington among its former champions since its inception in 1963 when David Sheahan was the first winner.

Rafferty’s presence alone is sure to guarantee a large crowd at Dundalk on Sunday as the locals avail of a rare opportunity to see the 25-year-old in competitive action over his home course.

Rafferty will lead a strong home challenge into this year’s competition with all eight members of Dundalk’s Senior Panel included in the field as they battle for places in next month’s All-Ireland Barton Shield semi-final at Thurles Golf Club.

Entries are still open but the field already includes plenty of quality with the likes of Colin Woodroofe, Aaron Marshall, Eugene Smith, Max Kennedy, TJ Forde, Jack McDonnell and Cian Geraghty among the early entrants for an event that is firmly established as one of the top Scratch Cups in the country.

The greenkeeping staff at the Dundalk have been working hard over the last few weeks to have the course in top shape for Sunday and the course record of 64, which was set last year by Aaron Grant, could be under threat.