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McClean heads Ulster glory bid at South of Ireland Amateur Open at Lahinch


Matthew McClean

Matthew McClean

Matthew McClean

Ireland international Matthew McClean will lead the Ulster contingent who are aiming to pick up victory at the South of Ireland Amateur Open at Lahinch this week.

Twenty-five Ulster players will take to the Clare links for two rounds of stroke play qualifying today and tomorrow, with the top 64 reaching the match play, which begins on Friday.

McClean, who represented Ireland at the recent European Team Championships, missed last week’s North of Ireland at Royal Portrush as he had to quarantine on his return from Spain but will hope to put in a big performance in his comeback in one of the biggest tournaments on the Irish amateur circuit.

Also in the Ulster mix are Lisburn’s Joshua Robinson, who reached the quarter-finals of the North of Ireland last week, Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon and Warrenpoint’s Colm Campbell.

Two men in form, North of Ireland winner Alex Maguire and Irish Senior Close champion Karl Bornemann, are also in a 170-strong field hoping to overcome defending champion Sean Desmond, who won in 2019, with the tournament cancelled last year due to Covid-19.

Hugh Foley, the 2020 Irish Close winner and the leading qualifier at the 2019 South of Ireland, believes patience is the key.

“If all goes well, and I play well, I’ll be there for a long week, playing a lot of golf,” said Foley.

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“It’ll be mainly about maintaining energy throughout the week. I ran out of steam in the quarter-finals two years ago, but the aim is to peak this week.

“There will be lots of guys gunning for the title, with lots of guys sharp from Portrush. It should be a brilliant tournament.”

Meanwhile, Kirkistown Castle’s Beth Coulter is going for European glory in Italy as she tees it up at the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship.

The 17-year-old, who defended her Irish Girls’ Close title last week, faces a tough assignment as the tournament has a star-studded field, featuring four of the top five in the world — Linn Grant, Ingrid Lindblad, Maja Stark and Beatrice Wallin.

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