AMATEUR Champion, Alan Dunbar, will lead the home challenge when the European Amateur Championship gets underway tomorrow at Carton House.
Dunbar, a former Irish Amateur Open champion, also finished runner-up at the St Andrews Links Trophy and will spearhead a 17 strong Irish contingent which includes Brabazon Trophy runner-up Kevin Phelan, Irish Close and East of Ireland champion Chris Selfridge, and West of Ireland champion Harry Diamond.
Other ‘home’ players are 2011 East of Ireland champion Richard O’Donovan, Reeve Whitson, Gary Hurley, Rory McNamara, Dermot McElroy, James Fox, Niall Gorey, Paul Dunne, Aaron Kearney and Jack Hume.
Among the 144 starters are a large number of international players who know what it takes to win at the highest level with none more acutely aware than Austria’s Manuel Trappel, who will defend his title at the Montgomerie Course.
Trappel triumphed last year in Sweden by virtue of a three-hole playoff after finishing tied with England’s Steven Brown after 72 holes.
In doing so, he joined the likes of Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy on the illustrious list of champions, but he has a task on his hands to keep another name of that list this year.
Along with Trappel, the Austrian challenge includes Matthias Schwab, narrowly pipped at the post for the Amateur Championship at Royal Troon in June, when he lost out on the final green to Dunbar.