Walker Cup 2015 – The GB&I Team (1)

18th December 2014

Golf in Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) has well and truly entered the quieter winter period.  All of the rounds being played now are of the bonus variety, with survival often the priority over score.  The 2015 Walker Cup still seems an age away and it is no surprise at all that The R&A has made no announcements with regard to it’s possible Team yet.

Royal Lytham Clubhouse

Royal Lytham & St. Annes – Venue Of The 2015 Walker Cup

The 45th Walker Cup Match will take place at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England on 12th and 13th September 2015, i.e. in 268 days time.  For more information on the 2015 Walker Cup and Royal Lytham please click here.

Walker Cup 2015 Logo

Across the Atlantic the USGA have been far more forthcoming, naming a 16-man Walker Cup squad for a practice / bonding session which started yesterday in Georgia.  You may have read my analysis of ‘Team USA’ a few weeks ago.

Whilst it may appear GB&I are falling behind in their preparations we all know that the ever meticulous Captain Nigel Edwards will already be mulling over his options.  He will certainly be looking forward to seeing how some of his charges go in the early 2015 events in the Southern Hemisphere.  Many of our elite players have been overseas enjoying warmer climes and practicing hard for these competitions and the season ahead in recent weeks.  Of course, in his capacity as Performance Director for England Golf Mr. Edwards will also have spent a lot of time with England’s top players at their recent training camp in Portugal.

So to keep myself occupied in the absence of any news I thought I’d pick my own 20-man GB&I training squad.  To give it a bit more edge I’ve split the players into a Current Walker Cup Team and a Challenger Team.  Each player has been given a current Selection * Rating out of 5.

As consistency in selection is important I started by carefully considering the merits of all of the players selected for the GB&I Team that beat the Continent of Europe 14-10 to win the St. Andrews Trophy match in Sweden last August.

Obviously Ryan Evans has turned Pro so he has been excluded.  Likewise Amateur Champion Bradley Neil is almost certain to turn Pro after the US Open so I have reluctantly left him out also.  His recent playing record is included below just in case he decides to play on as Amateur.

Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie GC) – Blairgowrie, Scotland
WAGR 10 / SPWAR 5 – d.o.b. 16/01/96
World Amateur Team T15 (2014)
St. Andrews Trophy W2 D1 L1 (2014)
Amateur Championship Champion (2014)
St. Andrews Links Trophy 2nd (2014)
Lytham Trophy 3rd (2014)
Selection Rating = ***** Would be a definite but expected to turn Pro after the US Open so discounted here.

In addition I have objectively reviewed the latest World Amateur Golf Ranking Positions (WAGR) and Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) to try to determine the best GB&I team available.  The rankings quoted below are accurate as at 17th December 2014.

So here goes: –

My Current Walker Cup Team – December 2014

1. Paul Dunne (Greystones GC) – Dublin, Ireland
WAGR 48 / SPWAR 21 – d.o.b. 26/11/92
Performing well for the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 2014 (Senior)
St. Andrews Trophy W3 D1 L0 (2014)
Home Internationals W6 D0 L0 (2014)
Qualified for The Open Championship (2014)
Palmer Cup W1 D1 L2 (2014)
Selection Rating = *****  Playing very well over in the US and on the back of some excellent Team results last year is simply too good not to be selected.  I believe he can be measured for his outfits now.

2. Grant Forrest (Craigielaw GC) – North Berwick, Scotland
WAGR 26 / SPWAR 25 – d.o.b. 19/06/93
Performing well for the University of San Diego in 2014 (Senior)
European Amateur Team T6 (2014)
Palmer Cup W2 D0 L2 (2014)
St. Andrews Links Trophy Champion (2014)
Home Internationals W5 D0 L1 (2013)
Selection Rating = ***** Like Paul, Grant is doing well on the US College circuit this year and given his recent competition results is therefore increasingly certain of a 2015 Walker Cup debut.

3. Nick Marsh (Huddersfield GC) – Huddersfield, England
WAGR 23 / SPWAR 28 – d.o.b. 20/09/94
St. Andrews Trophy W1 D1 L1 (2014)
Home Internationals W4 D1 L1 (2014)
English Amateur Champion (2014)
Scottish U21 Champion (2014)
Scottish Open Amateur T2 (2014)
Portuguese International Amateur 2nd (2014)
Selection Rating = ***** Well worth his place after an outstanding 2014.  He seems to be getting better as each year passes which is no mean achievement.

GB&I Walker Cup 1-6

Dunne, Forrest, Marsh (top row l-r), Hurley, Chesters and Howard (bottom row l-r)

4. Gary Hurley (West Waterford GC) – Dungarvan, Ireland
WAGR 67 / SPWAR 30 – d.o.b. 28/01/93
St. Andrews Trophy W3 D1 L0 (2014)
Home Internationals W5 D1 L0 (2014)
European Amateur T2 (2014)
Brabazon Trophy T5 (2014)
Lytham Trophy T4 (2014)
Selection Rating = ***** A consistent sequence of high finishes in 2014, including some course form at Lytham, means Gary is looking a very good bet for selection. 

5. Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park GC) – Shrewsbury, England
WAGR 24 / SPWAR 33 – d.o.b. 25/08/89
St. Andrews Trophy W3 D0 L1 (2014)
Home Internationals W5 D0 L1 (2014)
European Amateur Champion (2013, 2014)
Brabazon Trophy 2nd (2014)
Hampshire Salver T3 (2014)
Selection = *****  Consecutive European Amateurs and excellent 2014 Team results mean the experienced Shropshire man is worthy of his place.  Will almost certainly be turning Pro after the Walker Cup so will be striving hard for a place this season.    

6. Paul Howard (Southport & Ainsdale GC) – Southport, England
WAGR 43 / SPWAR 36 – d.o.b. N/k
Good run at European Tour Q-School in November 2014
US Amateur 32s (2014)
Amateur Championship T4 SP / QFs MP (2014)
St. Andrews Links Trophy T3 (2014)
Lytham Trophy T7 (2014)
Hampshire Salver 2nd (2014)
South American Amateur Champion (2014)
Selection Rating = ***** Lancashire’s No. 1 simply has to be selected; an excellent 2014, including a Top 10 at Lytham.  Certain to boost the crowd numbers too !

7. Gavin Moynihan (The Island) – Dublin, Ireland
WAGR 32 / SPWAR 61 – d.o.b. 17/09/94
Left Alabama and the US College circuit behind in Autumn 2014.
World Amateur Team T15 (2014)
European Amateur Team T13 (2014)
Brabazon Trophy T5 (2014)
Scottish Open Amateur Champion (2014)
Bonallack Trophy W3 D0 L2 (2014)
Walker Cup W2 D0 L2
Selection Rating = *****  I am confident Gavin will settle back into GB&I amateur golf in 2015 and put his disappointing time in Alabama behind him.  His undoubted ability and past Walker Cup and Irish Team experience will make him a valuable member of the 2015 team.  

8. Ben Stow (Rushmore) – Salisbury, England
WAGR 28 / SPWAR 37 – d.o.b. 24/10/91
World Amateur Team T8 (2014)
European Amateur T5 (2014)
Brabazon Trophy Champion (2014)
Amateur Championship 64s (2014)
NCAA Div. 1 National USA T29 (2014)
Jones Cup T6 (2014)
Selection Rating = **** A solid performer for many years with the Brabazon Trophy win the highlight of 2014.  Now back from US College I expect him to do well in the major amateur events this year.  Lots of international golf experience should stand him in good stead for Lytham too. 

9. Sam Horsfield (Davenport, USA) – Manchester, England
WAGR 25 / SPWAR 62 – d.o.b. 8/10/96
Outstanding Junior record in the US and now signed up for the University of Florida (2015)
Junior Players Champion (2014)
US Amateur T8 SP / 64s MP (2014)
US Junior T1 SP / SFs MP (2014)
US Public Links 6th SP / 32s MP (2014)
Selection Rating = **** Clearly an outstanding prospect who is consistently delivering in the top junior / adult events in the US.  A lack of competitive UK play / links experience makes his selection tougher than it should be.  It’s probably now or never for Sam as he appears to be on the fast track to the Professional ranks.  His reputation, if not his play, will also be well known to the opposition unlike some members of the Team.

GB&I Walker Cup 7-12

Moynihan, Stow, Horsfield (top row l-r), Chapman, Sharvin, McDonald (bottom row l-r)

10. Adam Chapman (Windermere GC) – Windermere, England
WAGR 83 / SPWAR 103 – d.o.b. N/k (19)
North of England Amateur Champion (2014)
European Amateur T18 (2014)
South of England Amateur Champion (2014)
Amateur Championship 16s (2014)
Hampshire Salver 10th (2014)
Duncan Putter 3rd 2014)
Selection Rating = *** Far from secure in the team, after all I have elevated him above more highly ranked players,  but there is something about Mr. Chapman’s game that I like.  Clearly needs a few good results in 2015, preferably in a national event and ideally in the Lytham Trophy to secure his place.   

Challenger Team

11. Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass GC) – Ireland
WAGR 93 / SPWAR 49 – d.o.b. 8/10/92
Selection Rating = *** Cormac, the 2013 & 2014 Irish Amateur (Closed) champion has a really good chance of making the Team but like many others will need a few good national results to be certain of a spot. 

12. Jack McDonald (Kilmarnock Barassie) – Troon, Scotland
WAGR 91 / SPWAR 59 – d.o.b. 12/02/93
Selection Rating = *** The University of Stirling player impressed at the 2014 Home internationals and appears to like Lytham (2014 LT – T13).  He will need to play himself on to the team in 2015.

13. David Boote (Kingswood GC / Walton Heath GC) – Surrey, England
WAGR 164 / SPWAR 51 – d.o.b. N/k (20)
Selection Rating = *** Gaining momentum for selection with some encouraging Fall 2015 results for Stanford University.  Unclear whether the US base will help or hinder his selection prospects.  Limited GB&I competition exposure is always a concern as Greg Eason found out in 2013.   

14. Dermot McElroy (Ballymena GC) – Ballymena, Northern Ireland
WAGR 132 / SPWAR 69 – d.o.b. 13/06/93
Selection Rating = *** An exceptional if slightly inconsistent player.  Capable of some very low scoring and good results as he showed in 2014 at the European Amateur (T9) and usefully at the Lytham Trophy (T7).  

15. Jamie Savage (Cawder GC) – Scotland
WAGR 52 / SPWAR 92 – d.o.b. 24/07/94
Selection Rating = *** 2014 was a good year for Jamie who won the Irish Amateur (Open) and reached the QFs of the Amateur Championship.  Unfortunately he struggled to make an impression in the St. Andrews Trophy, losing the two matches he was selected for.  Will Mr. Edwards see beyond this ?  

 GB&I Walker Cup 13-18

Boote, McElroy, Savage (tope row l-r), Anderson, Taylor, Robertson (bottom row l-r) 

16. Tomasz Anderson (Brocket Hall GC) – Welwyn Garden City, England
WAGR 126 / SPWAR 96 – 29/05/92
Selection Rating = *** Will need a good run next year but has performed well for Jacksonville State University in the Autumn and scored well in the 2014 Home internationals last year.  US base may hinder prospects as with others.

17. Ben Taylor (Walton Heath GC) – Leatherhead, England
WAGR 161 / SPWAR 118 – d.o.b. N/k (22)
Selection Rating = *** A strong player who appears to be improving in the tough US College system.  Now a Senior at Louisiana State he has a recent win to his name and must be a good ‘outsider’ if he can continue his form into 2015. 

18. Graeme Robertson (Glenbervie GC) – Scotland
WAGR 141 / SPWAR 126 – d.o.b. N/k (26)
Selection Rating = *** Selected for the St. Andrews Trophy last summer – so on the radar – but will need some strong 2015 results to secure a spot.

19. Jack Hume (Naas GC) – Ireland
WAGR 56 / SPWAR 99 – d.o.b. 8/10/93
Selection Rating = *** performed well in the British (64s), Irish (T6) and Scottish (T2) Amateurs last year but will clearly need to play himself into contention in 2015 given the competition.  Likes to travel around and often pops up in high quality US events which can be ranking enhancing. 

20. Jimmy Mullen (Royal North Devon GC) – Devon, England
WAGR 94 / SPWAR 129 – d.o.b. 18/11/93
Selection Rating = *** The 2014 Duncan Putter Champion went on to impressively record the highest GB&I finish at the US Amateur last year (SP T8 / MP 16s).  He will need to record similar results next year to break into the team but wouldn’t surprise anyone if he did.

GB&I Walker Cup 19-20

Hume, Mullen and The Walker Cup Trophy

Other Notables Worth Watching (i.e. time to cover my back a little more)

Wales’ Rhys Pugh** (WAGR 265 / SPWAR 214) played on the Walker Cup team in 2011 and 2013 so his experience would be very useful.  However, he is having something of a lacklustre year at East Tennessee State in the US, where he is in his final year of study.  Well down the world rankings currently.

Scotland’s Craig Ross** (WAGR 235 / SPWAR 84) and Daniel Young** (WAGR 237 / SPWAR 95) are both unlucky not to be included above given their good results at the 2014 Home internationals and 4th / T5 places at the Brabazon Trophy.

Others put on the bench by me at this stage but with a good chance to fight their way up the rankings are Paul Kinnear *(WAGR 231 / SPWAR 138), Daniel Brown* (WAGR 133 / SPWAR 160), Connor Syme *(WAGR 355 / SPWAR 166), Chris Selfridge* (WAGR 208 / SPWAR 167), Haydn McCullen* (WAGR 158 / SPWAR 342), Robin Dawson* (WAGR 168 / SPWAR 200), Luke Johnson* (WAGR 190 / SPWAR 184) and Scott Borrowman* (WAGR 282 / SPWAR 187).

Of course the above commentary is all a bit of fun.  We all know it is very early days in terms of GB&I selection with the final team not expected to be announced until late August 2015.  There is clearly plenty of time for other players, even those not listed anywhere above, to play there way in to consideration.  Irrespective of what happens and how accurate my initial assessments are I look forward to following the selection process through 2015 and updating the above analysis (with apologies to those who prove me wrong) over the coming months.

Please let me know what you think and feel free to point out anyone who I should have mentioned but haven’t !

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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