The first day of the inaugural Riga Open took place today and it was an excellent day for the Irish amateurs in Latvia.
Martin McCrudden, John Sutton, Josh Boileau and TJ Dowling all emerged through the preliminary stage to book their places in the first round proper.
Irish senior national champion McCrudden and his TerryRogers club teammate Sutton both recorded a brace of 4-0 whitewashes to set up clashes with professionals Anthony Hamilton and Stuart Carrington respectively.
Sutton only narrowly missed out on graduating to the Main Tour via Q-School in May when he lost out in the final qualifying round but seems to have carried on his good form despite the summer break and should prove to be a good match for Englishman Carrington.
Former World Championship quarter-finalist Hamilton will prove a tougher test for McCrudden, although he too is riding a high wave of confidence after becoming the first man in the modern era to win four national titles.
Dowling, meanwhile, who was crowned Ireland’s best way back in 1997 and 1998, overcame the challenge of Sam Harvey while Ireland’s potential star of the future in Josh Boileau survived his opening bout with Joe O’Connor with a 4-2 success before easily dismantling Belgium’s Kristof Vermeiren’s cause.
Boileau, the 2014 world and European under-21 runner-up, will test Aditya Mehta in the last 128 while Dowling faces veteran Mark King.
It was just reward for the quartet’s desire to make the long trip to Eastern Europe for the first European Tour event of the campaign, and justifies why efforts should be made to ensure that more Irishmen on the amateur scene should be encouraged to compete internationally.
As was highlighted on Thursday, the country continues to produce talented competitors but the financial cost of entering every event remains an ever-present obstacle to overcome.
The best of luck to these lads as they come up against bigger and better opposition over the next couple of days.