Ladies look ahead to Glenville
P.P.U.I. - 02/05/2014 - Tracey McGrath, Chrissie Byrne and Linda Thomson share their thoughts on the return of the Irish Open
Irish International Open 2014: Ladies Preview
THE field might be smaller in comparison to its male equivalent but it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any less competitive judging by the quality of those entered. Consider the defending champion (Tracey McGrath), Irish No 1 and World Champion (Chrissie Byrne), local favourite (Linda Thomson), Kildare duo Marian Byrne and Tara Dillon along with Margaret Hogan from Tullamore and you’ve the basis for a strong argument amongst the Pitch & Putt fraternity about who would emerge on top after 54 holes.
Tracey, Chrissie and Linda all expressed their delight at seeing the Irish Open return when they sat down to discuss the event at the launch in Glenville on Good Friday last. “It great to finally see it back after three years. At the same time it’s a nice feeling to say you were a defending champion for that long though because these things are usually taken off you very quickly!” the defending champion said. The Offaly native has fond memories of the 2011 event in Deerpark where she became only the second winner of the event following Chrissie’s successes in the first two stagings back in 2009 and 2010. “Deerpark put on a great competition that year, it really showcased the best of Pitch & Putt I felt and I know Glenville are going to do their best to match that, if not better it,” Tracey said.
While there might be a lot of local eyes following her progress over the course of this weekend, Linda admitted that her first thoughts were for the club when it became known that they would be hosting this prestigious event. “I just thought that it was a nice achievement for the club to get the honour because in my view it’s one of the best in the country. It was nice to be invited by the club to play in it as well,” she said. The Irish Open in itself is unique for the Ladies according to Linda. “It’s the only National Singles event you play that you are mixed with the Gents. All the other majors the Ladies play are amongst ourselves. The fact that there will be an international dimension to this as well makes it a very unique competition to play in,” Linda feels. Tracey also likes the mixed aspect of the pairings for the event. “It certainly makes it more competitive because you’re focused on trying to keep with their scores as much as the other Ladies and I think it’s a great opportunity for any Lady Player,” she says.
Chrissie won the first two stagings of the Irish Open as previously mentioned; there was only seven months between both -Royal Meath, September 2009 and RGSC, April 2010- but said it was a good feeling to win them so close together. “That wasn’t a lot of time between them but it does make it all the more special when you win something in quick succession,” the Irish Ladies No 1 said. With it being the first major event of the year, there might be a few surprises in the offing this weekend and Chrissie is expecting a strong International challenge on the Ladies front. “Esther (De Schiffart) ran me to within one shot at the World Strokeplay last year while Herma (Kleinlugtenbeld) is another good player so I would expect them to feature. I don’t think any of us have been playing much with the Winter that we have had so it will even things out a bit. I would class this as the seventh major event for the Ladies after the two Nationals, two Provincials and the two Inter-Counties so it’s another great avenue for us,” Chrissie feels.
Linda is hoping that the event will be a fitting tribute to the efforts that the club have put in to get everything ready for this weekend. “There has been an unbelievable amount of hours put in by everyone over the last few months to try and get the place ready. No stone has been left unturned in getting everything ready and there won’t be either all through the weekend itself,” she said. Finally all three have different views on what it will take to win the event over the course of the three days. Tracey: “I think it depends on how tightly cut the greens are and if the weather stays warm in the meantime.” For Linda: “It depends on how much water the greens get in advance and the direction of the wind as well.” For Chrissie: “If the weather stays fine, I certainly think it will be a high score that wins it.”
Plenty of food for thought there and the fact that the Ladies will also be competing against the Gents for the overall prize this weekend will make it all the more interesting when it comes down to the crunch on Sunday.