5th June 2016
Ireland’s Conor O’Rourke won the 2016 St. Andrews Links Trophy with a magnificent performance. He showed admirable composure, mental strength and no shortage of golf game to lead from the front throughout the event.
Conor O’Rourke (Photo: @TheHomeofGolf / Kenny Smith)
Conor shared the lead after a round 1 65 on the New Course and followed it up with rounds of 69, 71 and 70 on the Old to pick up by far the biggest title of his amateur career with a 275 (-12) total.
Prior to play commencing O’Rourke was ranked 1,245th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR). He was a higher 549th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). His starting odds were amongst the highest at 250-1 to win the Links Trophy. His surprise win lifted him to 193rd in the SPWAR and he is now the 7th highest ranked Irishman in that list.
Home players Sandy Scott (-11) and Ewen Ferguson (-10) also played very well to pick up 2nd and 3rd spots in what was a stellar field. The SPWAR moved Scott up to 56th from 177th and Ferguson up to 69th from 170th.
Click here to view the full results – Links Trophy Results
1st June 2016
144 golfers from 21 different countries will tee off on Friday 3rd June in the 28th St. Andrews Links Trophy, a 3-day Championship which has quickly established itself as one of the ‘Majors’ in men’s amateur golf.
The Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) placed it 6th in it’s 2015 Amateur Tournament Ranking based on the strength of it’s field.
A list of all the past winners can be found in an Appendix at the end of this article. The most famous is Justin Rose who won the Links Trophy in 1997. Only Craig Watson (1992 and 1998), the current Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup captain, and Barclay Howard (1994 and 1996) have won the title twice.
Interestingly given the cosmopolitan nature of the field the trophy has only been won by players from outside GB&I on three occasions – Australia’s Stuart Bovier (1990), Daan Huizing from The Netherlands (2012) and last year Federico Zucchetto from Italy.
Huizing, who had won the Lytham Trophy by 11 shots just a few weeks earlier, set a scoring record of -23 in 2012 (65 New, 64, 68 and 67 all Old) and won by an astonishing 14 shots.
The Links Trophy is a 72 hole stroke play competition normally played over a combination of the Old and New Courses on the first weekend in June. The Jubilee is occasionally used if The Open is being played at St. Andrews later in the summer as was the case last year.
Entry, which cost £60 and closed at the end of April, was open to golfers whose handicap did not exceed scratch (0.4). After various National Golf Union nominations the ‘ballot’ is determined by World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) rather than handicap as is normally the case.
This year round 1 will be played on the New Course and round 2 on the Old Course. Following a top 40 and ties cut the leading players will play 36 holes on the Old on Sunday.
The New Course plays 6,625 yards to a par of 71. The front nine is 3,270 yards long with a par of 36 whilst the tougher back nine is 85 yards longer but with a par of 35.
The Old Course is 6,721 yards off the white tees and has a par of 72. Both nines have a par of 36 and have similar yardages – the front is 3,336 yards long whilst the back is a little longer at 3,385 yards.
Scorecards for the Old and New Courses (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust)
The winner will be the player who returns the lowest 72 hole score. In the event of a tie a sudden death play-off will be held over holes 1 and 18. Ties for other places are decided by the lowest score for the last 18 holes or the last 9 or 6 or 3 or 2 or 1 hole if necessary.
The 2016 Field
The start sheet for Rounds 1 and 2 can be viewed here – 2016 St. Andrews Links Trophy Draw.
The field is impressive with many highly ranked players competing. Teams come in force from both Australia and South Africa and with the US College season all but done most of the top GB&I players will also be on show.
With around 15 leading US golfers about to turn pro this week a good result in St. Andrews will really propel some players up the amateur rankings.
With such a strong field almost any of the entrants could lift the title this year. However, the players of particular note (with their nationality and SPWAR* shown in brackets) are: –
Jack Hume (IRE / 13) – the highest ranked played in the field who has enjoyed a superb season to date highlighted by wins in both the South African Amateur and European Nations. He finished T6 last year.
Grant Forrest (SCO / 22) – in form winner of the Battle Trophy at Crail with strong recent performances in the Lytham Trophy (T5) and last week’s Scottish Open Amateur (T2). Winner of the Links Trophy in 2014.
Harrison Endycott (AUS / 29) – a superb home season with recent wins in the Lake Macquarie Amateur, Avondale Amateur, Riversdale Cup and South Australia Amateur Classic. It will be interesting to see how he fairs in Britain this summer.
Connor Syme (SCO / 31) – winner of the Australian Amateur with solid form since returning back to Europe. T7 at the Irish Amateur and 5th at last week’s Scottish Open Amateur. Now pushing Forrest hard for the Scottish No. 1 spot. He finished T3 last year.
Jamie Bower (ENG / 35) – ran up the SPWAR after a superb early season run of results in South Africa but hasn’t quite found the same form since returning home. T18 in the Lytham Trophy being the highlight of his recent play.
Travis Smyth (AUS / 48) – runner-up in this year Australian Amateur with solid 2016 form. Can take confidence from his T17 finish last week at Gullane in the Scottish Open Amateur.
Cameron John (AUS / 49) – any 17 year old with two overseas men’s wins to their name already has to be respected. Winner of the Argentina Amateur and more impressively the Scottish Open Amateur in 2016.
Albert Venter (RSA / 50) – winner of the inaugural African Amateur earlier this year with five other Top 5’s to his name this season. I’ve picked out Albert but could have easily chosen any of his compatriots Jovan Rebula (46), Aubrey Beckley (54), Tristen Strydom (59), James du Preez (62), Jason Smith (97) or Andre Nel (109). Having completed their busy home season the South African’s arrive with good competitive experience like the Australians. It will be interesting to see if any of them can really break through away from home and justify their seasonally high SPWARs.
Craig Ross (SCO / 52) – winner of the 2016 South African Amateur and Edward Trophy back home in Scotland.
Kyle McClatchie (RSA / 63) – I picked out Kyle as the other South African to watch because of his T8 and T9 finishes in the French International Amateur and Scottish Open Amateur respectively in recent weeks.
Robert MacIntyre (SCO / 69) – Winner of the Scottish Champion of Champions event having left McNeese State University in the US. Finished T11 in this event last year.
Marco Penge (ENG / 76) – must start as one of the favourites after his T4 at the Irish Amateur and 2nd in the French International Amateur. Marco did not defend his Scottish Open Amateur title last week choosing instead to caddie for his girlfriend, Sophie Lamb, at the St. Rule Trophy. With the St. Rule being played on the New and Old Courses at St. Andrews he should certainly be well prepared.
Alfie Plant (ENG / 79) – something of a late bloomer in modern terms but now right at the top table after his superb 2016 Lytham Trophy win. Led England in their victory over France at Formby and followed it up with a T11 at the France International Amateur so clearly maintaining his form. Won’t be lacking for support either.
Ugo Coussaud (FRA / 85) – experienced and proven winner with a T2 at Lytham and a T11 in France by way of recent form.
Craig Howie (SCO / 90) – improving Scotsman who is clearly in good form with a 2nd place at the Welsh Open Amateur and a 4th at the Scottish Open Amateur in recent weeks.
Colm Campbell (IRE / 96) – the 2016 Irish Amateur Open champion can be expected to give a good account of himself.
* The SPWAR quoted above were accurate as at 31st May 2016.
Other players that I would not be surprised to see feature given their recent performances are Bradley Moore (ENG / 103), Stuart Grehan (IRE / 105), Federico Zucchetti (ITA / 127 – reigning champion), Grégoire Schoeb (FRA / 178), Jon-Ross Galbraith (IRE / 188 – who finished T3 last year), Sandy Scott (SCO / 188) and Barry Hume (SCO / 268).
Guido Migliozzi (ITA) was a late withdrawal whilst Mathias Eggenberger (SUI), Mario Galiano (ESP) and Ivan Cantero (ESP) are all playing on the European Challenge Tour in Switzerland.
SkyBET have today posted the following St. Andrews Links Trophy Outright odds.
As they are removed from their website when play starts I have taken photos of them so we can look back once the results are known.
Weather Forecast (as at Wed 1st June, 7.00pm)
Fri 3rd June – Light Cloud. Wind 6 mph N. Max. 14°C / Min 11°C.
Sat 4th June – Sunny. Wind 14 mph NE. Max. 13°C / Min 9°C.
Sun 5th June – Sunny. Wind 9 mph E. Temp. Max. 13°C / Min 8°C.
The winner receives The St Andrews Links Trophy and a cheque for £500. The runner-up and third place finisher also receive commemorative medals. Reducing cash prizes are awarded to the top 10 finishers in all.
In addition to the main prizes The Ian Forbes Memorial Cup is awarded for the best aggregate score on the first two days of the event.
Appendix – Past Winners
As one would expect for a competition held at the home of golf the list of past winner’s is impressive:-
2015 Federico Zucchetti (ITA) 214 (54 holes only)
2014 Grant Forrest (SCO) 278 (after play-off)
2013 Neil Raymond (ENG) 282
2012 Daan Huizing (NED) 264 (lowest 72 hole score)
2011 Tom Lewis (ENG) 279
2010 Matthew Southgate (ENG) 275
2009 Alan Dunbar (N.I.) 285
2008 Keir McNicoll (SCO) 283
2007 Llewellyn Matthews (WAL) 273
2006 Oliver Fisher (ENG) 280
2005 Lloyd Saltman (SCO) 275
2004 Jamie McLeary (SCO) 284
2003 Richard Finch (ENG) 276
2002 Simon MacKenzie (SCO) 289
2001 Steven O’Hara (SCO) 281
2000 Matthew King (ENG) 140 (36 holes only)
1999 David Patrick (SCO) 152 (36 holes only)
1998 Craig Watson (SCO) 276
1997 Justin Rose (ENG) 284
1996 Barclay Howard (SCO) 282
1995 Graham Rankin (SCO) 276
1994 Barclay Howard (SCO) 294
1993 Garry Hay (SCO) 280
1992 Craig Watson (SCO) 281
1991 Ricky Willison (ENG) 289
1990 Stuart Bovier (AUS) 280
1989 Russell Claydon (ENG) 284
Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.