Lenehan aims to catch the eye of Irish selectors at Seapoint
Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30
Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan won't care that 11 of Ireland's top 20 world-ranked players will be missing from the field when the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship tees off at Seapoint.
The 26-year-old plus-three handicapper is knocking on the door for a full international call-up this year and, while there are those who are horrified that the vast majority of the Irish team is playing in the St Andrews Links Trophy this weekend, Lenehan doesn't expect to see an asterisk beside his name if he wins his first 'Major' in Wednesday's final.
"Whoever wins it, in 10 years' time nobody is going to say that the other guys were away," said the Dubliner, who pulled out of the trip to St Andrews.
Among the players who have gone to Scotland are world amateur No 10 Gavin Moynihan, Paul Dunne, West of Ireland Amateur Open winner Jack Hume, Dermot McElroy, reigning Close champion Cormac Sharvin, Gary Hurley, Rory McNamara, Reeve Whitson, Robbie Cannon, Eugene Smith and Richard O'Donovan.
"It's important to get a win when it comes down to picking teams because there is a very strong nucleus of around 15 or 16 Irish players vying for places on teams.
"If you have a win behind you, it's a good argument for your cause," said Lenehan.
"It's a shame about the clash with St Andrews. I was keen to play there because I might never get a chance to qualify off my world ranking again.
"But it's also a great chance to do well in the Close."
The unfortunate clash of dates will not occur next season as it is understood that the blue riband Irish event will move back to August.
However, even though the condensed international calendar and the desire of the top players to impress the Great Britain and Ireland selectors by winning a top clash event is a harsh reality of the modern amateur game, the absences do not wash with six-time championship winner Declan Branigan, who designed Seapoint with his close friend Des Smyth more than 20 years ago.
The counter-argument is that international wins, such as Moynihan's victory in the Scottish Amateur Strokeplay last weekend, can only enhance Irish amateur golf.
There will be a 144-strong field at Seapoint, featuring a string of top players.
Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell, crowned CityNorth Hotel East of Ireland Amateur champion on Monday, will be bidding to become the first player to do the double since Chris Selfridge (another absentee) two years ago.