O'Hanlon hopes East of Ireland defence can be springboard to Team event
Carton House's Paul O'Hanlon wants to continue the trend of PAYE champions when he begins his defence of the East of Ireland Amateur Open at County Louth today.
The 32-year-old accountant (and former tour professional) was a wire-to-wire winner on his return to the amateur fold at Baltray 12 months ago. Now he wants to win again, and he admits that his lofty goal is to compete for a place in the three-man Irish team for the World Amateur Team Championships at his adopted club next year.
"I'd like to at least ask the question," O'Hanlon said. "With the Eisenhower Trophy at Carton House, it's a goal I have in my head."
The action begins today as the 72-hole strokeplay classic becomes a four-day event for the first time, with the field reduced from 156 to 132.
Climax There will be a 54-hole rather than a 36-hole cut with the top 42 and ties after Sunday's third round qualifying for the Monday climax.
The change in format was made in a failed attempt to attract more overseas players. But with 13 of the 18-strong international panel unavailable, the championship has been left without a clear-cut favourite.
With accountant Barry Anderson winning the West of Ireland at Easter before Peter O'Keeffe (31) claimed last month's Flogas Irish Amateur Open at Royal County Down, there's a high probability that a man with a nine-to-five job will triumph.
O'Keeffe won't get a chance to make it back-to-back wins as a neck injury forced him to pull out. Five members of the Irish squad are in the draw: the Island's Kevin LeBlanc, Kilkenny starlet Mark Power, Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon, Castle's Daniel Holland and Co Sligo's Sean Flanagan.