The stretch in the evenings is now clear to see for all golfers and now that we’re into March golf courses around Cork are much busier. The ground has also firmed up and thoughts are turning to qualifying competitions and championships which will get underway later this month. There are a large numbers tournaments and events scheduled to take place in Cork over the next eight months, and the first event on the schedule is the Cork Women’s Scratch Cup which takes place in Cork Golf Club on Saturday 11th March.
In April Monkstown will host the Munster Women’s Senior and Junior Championships and at the end of April the Munster Men’s Amateur Open will be hosted by Cork. This is the new name for the Munster Strokeplay which incorporates the Cork Scratch Cup, the oldest scratch cup in the Country. This year marks the centenary of the Cork Scratch Cup and in a nod to the original format, a match play element will return for 2023. Two rounds of strokeplay qualifying will be followed by the top 16 going forward to four rounds of matchplay before the winner is presented with the historic cup.
While many are waiting to get their season underway, a number of Cork golfers already have some early season action under their belts. Peter O’Keeffe was in action in South Africa last week for the second of two events. O’Keeffe travelled as part of the Irish high performance squad in their second event of the year. O’Keeffe played in the Octagonal matches in Spain in January and he finished in 40th place in the South African Stroke Play two weeks ago. Last week he comfortably made it though the Strokeplay qualifying for the South African Matchplay. O’Keeffe had 11 birdies as he breezed past Travis Procter in the first round but he lost out in the round of 32.
Morgan Cain, Robbie Walsh and Sean Reddy were all in action in Spain recently on the Toro Golf Tour. Reddy played in the San Roque tournament and finished in the top 30. Cain and Walsh were in action in La Canada where none of the field managed to finish under par on a testing championship course. Both Cork lads finished in the top twenty and all three will be happy to get some early season tournament golf in. The West of Ireland is the first major amateur competition of the season and that takes place in the first week of April in the famous Co Sligo Golf Club.
In the professional ranks James Sugrue got his season off to a start in Egypt last week. The Mallow man is playing on the Alps Tour for his first two events and he will also be hoping to feature on the Challenge Tour as the season develops. Sugrue missed the cut by a single stroke at the Ein Bay Open last week but he rebounded in the second Egypt event making the cut with two strokes to spare. Sugrue qualified for an Alps Tour card thanks to his top 50 finish and he’ll be looking to make the most of his status. After Egypt it’s on to Spain but it’s likely that Sugrue will also get a number of Challenge Tour starts once the European swing starts in May.
John Murphy is having a tough start to his DP World Tour season after missing the cut last week in India. Murphy won his tour card in dramatic fashion, shooting a 65 on the final day of qualifying school to claim his place on the top tour. He finished 2022 with a few missed cuts in the first events of the season, and after a break over Christmas he travelled to the Middle East for the opening 2023 events. Unfortunately for Murphy, he recorded four missed cuts over the past four events. Murphy has been working hard on the range, and while he wasn’t on the course at the weekend, he was on the range working with caddie Shane O’Connell to sharpen up his game. While it has been a disappointing start for the Kinsale man, he does have time on his side. He has another 20 events on the DP World Tour as well as several other Challenge Tour tournaments to play in as the season runs through to November. John was back in Dubai this week working with his coach Ian Stafford to tune up his game after the opening un of four tournaments. Murphy will be confident of an improvement in form, in the past two years on the Challenge Tour he only needed of few weeks of decent form to record a few results and bank a decent amount of prize-money. With purses in excess of €2,000,000 at most events, Murphy just needs a few good performances to give himself the chance of moving up the Race to Dubai rankings.