Walker Cup 2015 – The GB&I Team (2)

23rd January 2015

The R&A has today announced an initial 20-man Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup squad.

The 2015 Walker Cup is to be played on 12th and 13th September.

The players are to meet up at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s, the host course, on two occasions; ahead of the Lytham Trophy which is to be played on 1st – 3rd May and then more formally on 21st and 22nd July.

The squad is shown below in full.  I have listed the players based on their World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) but also show their Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) alongside: –

Rankings –                                     WAGR   SPWAR

  1. Bradley Neil (SCO)                     9             6
  2. Ashley Chesters (ENG)             22           36
  3. Grant Forrest (SCO)                  24           31
  4. Sam Horsfield (ENG)                 26          39
  5. Nick Marsh (ENG)                     32           22
  6. Gavin Moynihan (IRE)               34           74
  7. Paul Howard (ENG)                   45          20
  8. Ben Stow (ENG)                        48          34
  9. Paul Dunne (IRE)                      49           26
  10. Jack Hume (IRE)                       51          63
  11. Jamie Savage (SCO)                52         103
  12. Gary Hurley (IRE)                      64          33
  13. Adam Chapman (ENG)             82         112
  14. Jack McDonald (SCO)              90          75
  15. Cormac Sharvin (IRE)               92          53
  16. Jimmy Mullen (ENG)                123        119
  17. Tomasz Anderson (ENG)         124        110
  18. Daniel Brown (ENG)                 131        170
  19. Graeme Robertson (SCO)       139        146
  20. David Boote (WAL)                  159         55

The Top 10 GB&I players listed above have a combined WAGR ranking of 340.  The USA’s current Top 10 in the same rankings have a combined total of 108.  If one removes Ollie Schniederjans (1) and Brian Campbell (18), who have already indicated they will probably be turning Pro and won’t be playing, and replace them with the next highest ranking Americans, Xander Schaufelle (28) and Bryson DeChambeau (29), this total rises to 146.  This gives a rough indication – without allowing for the USGA’s Mid-Amateur selection policy * – of the relative merits of the two teams.  Thankfully Walker Cup’s are not played on paper.

[* On the 25/1/15 Scott Harvey (36), the reigning US Mid-Amateur Champion, won the South American Amateur Championship – almost assuring himself a spot on the US Team and to a degree overturning the point I was trying to make about this policy potentially weakening the US team.]

The squad consists of 9 English, 5 Irish, 5 Scottish and 1 Welsh player.  In 2013 there were no Scottish players in the team, the first time this had happened since 1949.  This time Wales looks the most likely to miss out with the other Home Nations well represented in this initial squad.  Hopefully someone else, perhaps Evan Griffith, Mike Hearne or Rhys Pugh, can rise to the challenge and give David Boote some support in this regard.

There are no real surprises here and the players selected are all well known and proven.  As I highlighted in December on this website there is little the selectors can do at this stage than go off the World Rankings.  Daniel Brown is the only player I excluded from today’s squad when I selected one in December.  I included Ireland’s Dermot McElroy instead.  Some background information and 2014 playing information on the players is available in that post – Golf Bible Squad.

Bradley Neil has rightly chosen to keep his options open at this stage but it is no secret that he will be hoping to turn Pro in the summer after competing in the US Masters and US Open.  Good results and growing confidence may also see other selected players elect to turn Pro before the competition starts in September, thus making themselves ineligible.

With the exception of Robertson and Boote the squad is essentially made up of the highest ranking GB&I players on the R&A-endorsed World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) list (click to view).  Continuing down the current WAGR – see below – highlights those players, most notably Dermot McElroy, who are perhaps unlucky to miss out.  Of course these and many others are still in with a good chance of making the team as the season unfolds.

  1. Dermot McElroy (IRE)              130        84
  2. Haydn McCullen (ENG)           147       363
  3. Ben Taylor (ENG)                     156       136
  4. Robin Dawson (IRE)                 170       211
  5. Chris Selfridge (IRE)                175       159
  6. Luke Johnson (ENG)               187        201
  7. Cameron Shaw (ENG)             192        547
  8. Sean Towndrow (ENG)            214        190
  9. Brandon R.-Thompson (ENG) 222        738
  10. Paul Kinnear (ENG)                 225        150
  11. Craig Ross (SCO)                    226         93
  12. Daniel Young (SCO)                229        109
  13. Connor Syme (SCO)                358       177

I am sure all of the elite GB&I players appreciate an early squad announcement so they all know where they stand with the selectors and the work they have to do over the season ahead – both to stay in the Top 20 but equally to break into it.  Whilst slightly ironic for me to say so, The R&A may regret making their thoughts known this early, particularly as it is not possible for the squad to meet before May, a full three months away.  There is lots of amateur golf to be played between now and then.  A ‘date for the diary’ communication via the Home Nations about a pre-Lytham Trophy gathering may have been preferable alongside a statement as to an early April date for a formal squad announcement.

The final 10-man team with 2 reserves will be announced in mid-August.  I look forward to following the progress of the squad and reporting on how the team is shaping up over the coming months.

Notes
Walker Cup background and my previous articles on it can be found by clicking here – 2015 Walker Cup
The full R&A press release with regard to todays GB&I squad announcement can be read here – GB&I Squad Announcement

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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