Sport Golf

Sunday 22 October 2017

Morgan plans to keep it on straight and narrow in bid to land 'East'

Brian Keogh

Des Morgan will be as concerned about the six-inches between his ears as the savage rough when he begins his bid to finally break his championship drought in the East of Ireland Amateur Open at County Louth today.

Baltray's rough is juicier than it has been in years and, while the weather is set fair, the 32-year-old Mullingar man will be relying on brains rather than brawn to leave a host of international hopefuls in his wake.

Pressure to make Ireland's six-man side for July's European Team Championship in Denmark, not to mention the Home International side, will add to the challenge for the likes of Irish Amateur Open champion Robbie Cannon, Rathsallagh's Jack Hume, Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan and Belvoir Park's Harry Diamond in the 156-strong field.

But having narrowly failed to satisfy the huge expectations from his home support in the recent Mullingar Scratch Trophy, Morgan's only task this weekend will be to stay on the fairways.

CONSISTENTLY

"There is a huge premium on driving it straight this year," said Morgan, who has three top-five finishes at Baltray.

"If you do that consistently, you will be there in the shake-up. You have to have a little bit of manners and while Baltray has tended to be a little bit of a birdie-fest on the Monday, you'll have to be very sensible this year."

Happy just to be back playing golf having undergone surgery to replace a faulty heart defibrillator three months ago, Morgan will be free of the peer pressure that makes winning the Mullingar Scratch Cup an almost impossible task.

"Playing at home, everyone means well, but it adds a little bit of pressure," said Morgan, who has been drawn with his Mullingar Scratch Cup nemesis Daniel Holland from Castle.

"It's a bit easier to concentrate this week and get into the game. You can just do your own thing."

Moyola Park's Chris Selfridge, who won the East and the Irish Close in the space of a week last year, is back from college in the US to defend his title.

But with internationals and Walker Cup aspirants such as Reeve Whitson, Richard O'Donovan and Dermot McElroy away at the clashing Scottish Amateur Strokeplay and reigning North and West of Ireland champion Rory McNamara skipping the event to better prepare for the likes of the St Andrew Links or the British Amateur, the title race is wide open.

The top 51 after the second round qualify for Monday's 36-hole finale and Morgan is hoping he's the straight hitter with a cool brain who will lift the Lyons Cup.

draw in factfile

Irish Independent

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