The 119th Amateur Championship gets underway today at Royal Portrush and Portstewart golf clubs in Northern Ireland.
For the third year in succession all 288 competitors from 28 countries are ranked players on the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
Fifteen golfers from Ireland and Northern Ireland have made the draw that also features 13 top players from the USA alongside competitors from as far afield as Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and New Zealand.
The Amateur Champion will earn a place in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake and the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay in Washington State. Traditionally, an invitation is also extended to play in the Masters Tournament at Augusta.
Thirty-three of the top 100 on the WAGR™ listing will make the trip including England’s Ryan Evans, the highest ranked British player in the field.
Evans was the stroke play medalist at the 2014 Australian Amateur before winning the Lake Macquarie Amateur in January.
Last year’s quarter-finalist, Italy’s Renato Paratore, ranked 17th in the world, will lead the continental European challenge alongside Mario Galiano Aguilar of Spain and last year’s Belgian Amateur Champion Thomas Detry, who are ranked 15th and 19th respectively.
The 2013 East of Ireland Champion, Paul Dunne, who, like Detry, has been selected for this year’s European Palmer Cup team, will lead the home challenge alongside 2013 Irish Amateur Close Champion Cormac Sharvin.
The Irish players in the draw are: Darragh Coghlan (Portmarnock), Robin Dawson (Faithlegg), Harry Diamond (Belvoir Park), Paul Dunne (Greystones), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore), Jack Hume (Naas), Gareth Lappin (Belvoir Park), Geoff Lenehan (Portmarnock), Tiarnan McLarnon (Massereene), Rory McNamara (Headfort), Chris Selfridge (Moyola Park), Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass), Eugene Smith (Ardee), Richard O’Donovan (Lucan) and Reeve Whitson (Mourne).
Two Irish clubs have two players in the draw, Belvoir Park and Portmarnock.
Also in the field is European Palmer Cup team member Grant Forrest, fresh from his victory at the St Andrews Links Trophy, and 2013 Boys Amateur Champion Ewen Ferguson. Making his debut this year is Spain’s Javier Ballesteros, son of the late three-time Open Champion Seve Ballesteros.
“The support for amateur golf has always been strong in Ireland and Northern Ireland and The Amateur Championship is a wonderful opportunity for spectators to watch amateur golf at the highest level played at two of the finest links courses in the UK,” said Euan Mordaunt, The R&A’s Director – Amateur Events.
“We have an excellent international field and it promises to be a great week of golf.”
The first two days of The Amateur Championship comprise stroke play qualifying over both courses before the field is cut to 64 and ties and the match play format finds the champion over the final four days play at Royal Portrush.
Several former Open Champions and Ryder Cup team members have played in the Amateur Championship including Jack Nicklaus, Sir Nick Faldo, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen, Ernie Els, Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia, who won in 1998.
Admission and parking is free and spectators are welcome in the clubhouses at both clubs.
Full details including the championship draw can be found at RandA.org and television highlights will be broadcast on Sky from 19 to 21 June.
on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland and via local satellite suppliers in other countries.