TROWLEY BOTTOM, England – Irish golfers are giving the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain Colin Dalgleish and his team of selectors something of a headache this year.
Shane Lowry started the ball rolling. The burly Irish player was almost guaranteed a place in the 10-man GB & I team at the start of the season. However, he passed on the chance to play at Merion September 12-13 when he shocked the world of golf by winning the European Tour’s Irish Open and promptly turned professional.
Dalgleish and his team just got over that problem when they were presented with two more in the shape of Niall Kearney and Alan Dunbar. Although the GB & I captain would be the first to admit these are two welcome problems.
Only the most die hard of college golf aficionados will know anything about Kearney. He attended East Tennessee State, another in the long line of British and Irish players coach Fred Warren has built his program around. However, Kearney didn’t last long. He’d hardly unpacked his bags in Tennessee when he decided college golf wasn’t for him and returned home.
The Dubliner started the season as a member of the 28-man GB & I Walker Cup squad, from which the majority of the 10-man team will be picked. Lowry’s departure greatly helped his chances of becoming one of the Irish representatives on the GB & I team. Kearney’s subsequent victory in the Brabazon Trophy means he is practically pencilled into the team right now. A good run in next week’s British Amateur Championship at Formby would seal his place.
Dunbar is also a member of the GB & I squad, but most didn’t rate his chances of making the 10-man team. His victory in the St Andrew’s Links Trophy changes that view. That win will have made the selectors sit up and take notice.
Throw in fellow Irish squad members Dara Lernihan, Paul Cutler and UCF’s Simon Ward and it should be interesting to see which Irish players make the GB & I team.