Mullingar urged to move Trophy date as leading stars stay away
Rory McIlroy's admission last year that he felt like giving up the game after his win in the 2006 Mullingar Electrical Scratch Trophy fell like a bombshell.
His admission had nothing to do with the 72-hole strokeplay event which tees off at the beautiful James Braid lay-out for the 53rd time tomorrow.
In fact, McIlroy still has no idea why he felt so empty inside.
If it was exhaustion that lay behind McIlroy's lack of joy, it would come as no surprise to the elite Irish players, many of whom are giving the competition a miss due to their exacting schedules.
Three of Ireland's Home International team are getting ready to tee it up in the Northern Ireland Challenge at Galgorm Castle - Dermot McElroy, Colin Fairweather and Colm Campbell.
Then there's the eight-strong part heading to Slovakia for the European Amateur Championship - Open Championship hero Paul Dunne, Robin Dawson, Alex Gleeson, Paul McBride, Jack Hume, Gary Hurley, Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin.
Without 11 top internationals, the Mullingar Trophy field has been decimated, and there is a sense at the Westmeath club that it may be time to move away from the traditional August Bank Holiday date.
Club member and GUI honorary secretary Albert Lee said: "It's now becoming very difficult to get the boys to play.
"Times have now changed and all our top young fellas want to win the Scottish Amateur, the Welsh Amateur, the Brabazon and the Lytham and world ranking points.
"I hope the club will feel strong enough to carry on and look at getting a different date."
This year's entries include a 15-year-old champion from Dubai, Rayhan Thomas. And with Portmarnock's Geoff Lenehan defending, the tournament won't lack for quality golf and a welcoming atmosphere.