Rafferty eyeing Amateur Close prize
Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty is hoping to round off a dream summer with a 'major' victory as he begins his AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship quest in Galway today.
The 24-year-old has been in sensational form this year, leading the qualifiers in the British Amateur and the North of Ireland Championship and finishing joint top scorer in the Interprovincial Matches to earn his international call-up for last week's Home Internationals.
Rafferty was Ireland's top man at Moortown, winning an impressive five points out of six on his debut as Ireland took the Raymond Trophy for the fourth year running.
And after losing in the semi-finals of the 'North' last month, he's hoping to break his championship duck at the famed Salthill venue this week.
"It was a really good week at Moortown," Rafferty said. "I'm a wee bit fatigued, but I'd love to get that maiden win. It would be the icing on the cake.
Rafferty didn't get a practise round yesterday as the course was closed due to heavy rain.
But he got, at least, an extra 24 hours to rest a stiff arm after getting his vaccinations to travel to Colombia with Massereene's Tiarnan McLarnon for the South American Championship next week.
Just four of the 11-man Ireland team that won at Moortown are in action in Galway with Rafferty joined by Warrenpoint's Colm Campbell, Tramore's Robin Dawson and defending champion Alex Gleeson from Castle.
A quality winner looks guaranteed with 16 players from Galway or Galway Bay joined by East of Ireland champion Reece Black, West of Ireland winner Barry Anderson, South of Ireland champion James Sugrue and Irish Boys champion Mark Power.
The leading 64 players after 36 holes of strokeplay will make Thursday's first matchplay round with the semi-finals and final set for Saturday.