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McKibbin and Wilson lead the NI charge for Boy's Amateur glory



Glory trail:Tom McKibbin has sights on the Boys’ Amateur title

Glory trail:Tom McKibbin has sights on the Boys’ Amateur title

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Annabel Wilson

Annabel Wilson


Glory trail:Tom McKibbin has sights on the Boys’ Amateur title

Almost 400 of the world's leading young golfers will tee it up in Northern Ireland when two of the sport's most prestigious amateur championships get under way today.

The Boys' Amateur Championship will take place at Royal Portrush and Portstewart, starting today and lasting until Sunday, while the Girls' British Open Amateur Championship will be staged at Ardglass from today until Saturday.

Rising star Tom McKibbin (Holywood GC) will be part of the home contingent battling it out over the opening two days of qualifying on the north coast.

In total, 23 Irish competitors will tee it up, among them three players from Lisburn Golf Club; Aaron Marshall, Josh Black and Joshua Robinson.

Portugal's Pedro Lencart, who defeated the 2016 champion Falko Hanisch 5&4 in an enthralling final at Nairn, returns for the 92nd staging of the Championship.

The 252-strong field, drawn from 28 countries, includes some of the best young golfers from Europe as well as players from Australia, Canada, Japan, India and Vietnam.

The leading Irish hope comes in the shape of Kilkenny's Mark Power. The 18-year-old former Irish Amateur champion comes into the event in form, finishing second in the stroke play qualifying rounds at the European Boys' Team Championship last month, following that up with a third-place finish at the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship.

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Power, who represented Great Britain and Ireland in the 2017 Jacques Leglise Trophy, arrives at Portrush having competed in the Boys' Home Internationals last week at Royal Dornoch, where he won six points from six matches.

The leading 64 lowest scores over 36 holes, plus ties for 64th place, will progress to the match play stage which culminates in a 36-hole final on Sunday at Portrush.

Over at Ardglass, the Girls' Amateur Championship will be contested by 144 competitors from 24 countries.

On the home front, Lurgan's Annabel Wilson will be ready to make an impact at the Co Down club.

With a pair of top-10 finishes under her belt at the beginning of the year - eighth at the Portuguese International Ladies' Amateur Championship and ninth at the Spanish Ladies' Amateur Championship - the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland Vagliano Team member will relish playing in front of local support as she bids to capture her first Girls' British Amateur trophy.

Kirkistown's Beth Coulter, who recently finished fourth at the European Young Masters in Norway, will also be in action alongside Irish Close Championship winner Sara Byrne (Douglas).

The highest ranked player in the field, Italy's Alessia Nobilio (WAGRTM 19), is on an exciting spell of form. The 2018 German Girls' runner-up topped the leaderboard in the stroke play qualifying rounds at the European Girls' Team Championship in Sweden in July.

The 16-year-old followed that up with a tie for third at the European Ladies' Amateur Championship.

The first stage comprises two qualifying rounds of stroke play before the leading 64 progress to match play. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes including the final.

Admission and parking is free at both venues. Scoring from each Championship will be available at www.randa.org/Championships. Follow The R&A on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates on social media.

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