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Tom McKibbin hoping home advantage can help in Amateur Championship


On course: Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin
On course: Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin

By Paul Kelly

Holywood teenager, Tom McKibbin, will join a large Irish contingent playing in the 124th Amateur Championship which gets under way today at Portmarnock and The Island (June 17-22).

The 16-year-old had a superb April, during which he won the Peter McEvoy Trophy followed by the Sage Valley Junior Invitational in South Carolina. Unfortunately, he had to put the clubs away for a period to finish his GCSEs but he has returned in time to test himself against a truly international field.

Ireland's leading light this week will be Conor Purcell who is hoping home advantage can prove invaluable. The 20-year-old, who reached the semi-finals of the championship at Royal Aberdeen last year, is a member at Portmarnock.

He said: "I have had a good build up all year and to be able to play at home is always nice. I joined Portmarnock as a member when I was aged 12 and I've been playing ever since.

"It's going to be nice in a sense that I won't need to take notes in practice and I will have family and friends around."

With exemptions into The Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament, there is much at stake this week.

The Amateur Championship sees the field take part in the stroke play stage on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 June, playing 18 holes over each of the two courses.

From there, 64 players and ties will advance to the match play stage at Portmarnock from Wednesday 19 to Saturday 22 June. Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes, with the Final being played over 36 holes.

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