Irish Open 2015: New kids on the block take on Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler
Belfast Telegraph asses four gifted youngsters coming to the Irish Open... this won't be the last time you hear of them.
Reigning British Amateur Champion Bradley Neil comes to Royal County Down with fond memories of Ulster, having won that coveted title last year at Royal Portrush.
He had recorded seven top ten finishes in 2014 before landing the big one on the County Antrim coast, becoming the first Scot to lift the title in ten years with a win over South African Zander Lombard in the final.
That win qualified him for last year’s Open Championship at Royal Lytham.
He was part of Scotland’s successful European Nations Cup side last year and he was also a member of the victorious Great Britain and Ireland St Andrews Trophy team.
He played in the Junior Ryder Cup team at his home course of Blairgowrie and, as Amateur champion, took his place in the field at this year’s Masters where he missed the cut at 13 over par.
Gary Hurley of the West Waterford club has built up a solid reputation as one of the most consistent performers on the international amateur scene.
Two years ago he clinched the R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament title and with it, a place on the European team for the Palmer Cup.
He has earned a place on that team for this year and was one of five Irish players named in the provisional Walker Cup Great Britain and Ireland panel in January.
Although he did not manage a victory last season, he was one of the circuit’s most consistent performers. He tied for fifth in the Free State Open, fourth in the Lytham Trophy, reached the semi-finals of the West Of Ireland, came third in the East Of Ireland, fifth in the Brabazon Trophy, second in the European Amateur Championship and was also runner-up in the Irish Colleges Invitational Tournament.
He played in last year’s Irish Open at Fota Island and made the cut on his European Tour debut with a superb second round 66.
This year he has managed a fifth placed finish at the South Africa Stroke Play Championship and was runner-up at the R&A Foundation Scholars event.
Gavin Moynihan from The Island club in County Dublin first came to international prominence in 2012 as a 17-year-old when he captured the Peter McEvoy Trophy and the Irish Amateur Open Championship within a month of each other.
He came close to defending the amateur title the following year when he only lost out in a three-man play-off.
Those performances led to a Walker Cup debut at the National Golf Club for Great Britain and Ireland when he was undefeated after playing in all four series of matches with two victories and two halves.
He is well on course for a place on this year’s team and was announced as a member of the 20-man provisional squad in January.
Last year he added the Carrick Neil Scottish Amateur Open title to his haul and was a member of the European team which won the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy in India against an international side.
So far in 2015 he has had top ten finishes in South Africa when he lost a play-off in the Eastern Province/Border Championship and then tied fifth in the South African Stroke Play Championship.
Jack Hume of the Naas club in County Kildare is one of only two players to have won all four of the provincial Irish Boys Championships in a single year – which he achieved in 2010 at the age of 16.
His runner-up finish at the 2013 Lytham Trophy earned him his first international call-up and he has become a regular on the Irish team since.
Last year he added two individual championships, the West of Ireland and the Nassau Invitation in New York.
He also finished runner-up to Gavin Moynihan in the Scottish Amateur Stroke Play Championship and was third in the Miami Invitational.
Like Moynihan, he was included in the provisional 20-man for this year’s Walker Cup matches to be played at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Belfast Telegraph Digital