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Moynihan vows to 'fight hard' for biggest prize

Dublin teenager Gavin Moynihan will attempt to continue his amazing run of form when he steps on to amateur golf's biggest stage at Royal Troon this morning.

The 17-year-old from The Island won the McEvoy Trophy at Copt Heath in April and the Irish Amateur Open title at Royal Dublin last month and now it's time for an even bigger challenge at the Amateur Championship.

"This is the one I really want and I intend to fight hard for it," said the fifth-year student at Malahide Community College.

Alan Dunbar, the 22-year-old Walker Cup star from Rathmore, launches his challenge for the title on the back of an excellent performance in the St Andrews Links Trophy, which took him to second place.

Dunbar, who won the Links Trophy in 2009 and is a past Irish champion, appears to be at the peak of his form. He tees off in the first qualifying round at Troon at 10.34 this morning with Spaniard Alberto Fernandez and American Carl Johnson.

But the Irish challenge will be launched earlier by Mourne's Reeve Whitson, who is in the first trio on to the famous British Open course at 7.0.

Whitson has been playing well lately and will hope to make an impact this week. Both he and Dunbar will move to Glasgow Gailes tomorrow to complete their qualifying phase.

West Waterford's Gary Hurley is a winner already this season, having lifted the Trubshaw Cup in Wales and he also plays at Troon today looking for a fast start to the championship.

There is a very strong Irish entry and it would not be any surprise if, come Saturday, one of the contingent is still involved.

Lucan's Richard O'Donovan and Kevin Phelan from Waterford Castle have also both been playing well -- Phelan's career highlight being when he qualified for the US Open two years ago -- while Ballymena teenager Dermot McElroy, after an encouraging finish in the Scottish Open stroke-play championship, goes into the event in buoyant mood.

Like Dunbar, he will be in the Irish Open field at Royal Portrush next week.

Michael Durcan (Co Sligo), Paul Dunne (Greystones), Brian Casey (Headfort), Andrew Hogan (Headfort) and Nicholas Grant (Knock) are among others from Ireland in the field for the Amateur Championship.

Some 288 players from more than two dozen countries are competing in this gruelling contest. After 36 holes of stroke-play, the top 64 and ties qualify for the knockout phase which will end in the 36-hole final on Saturday.

Irish Independent