The European Amateur Championship – 2017 Preview, Reports & Results

1st July 2017

Alfie PLANT (ENG) today won the European Amateur Championship on another beautiful day for golf on the perfectly presented Old Course at Walton Heath.

With his win Alfie earned an exemption into this month’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale and certainly made a very well timed and strong statement with regard to his inclusion in the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.

Scheduled the week after the Amateur Championship in nearby Kent the field was the strongest it has even been, helped by a high number of non-European entries. The SPWAR expects to rank it the 5th strongest event in 2017, after the NCAA Division I Championship, The Amateur and the forthcoming Western Amateur (US) and US Amateur.

All in all what a win for Alfie, the biggest of what has been a very good amateur career.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. You’ve got to take the highs and the lows and I know I’ve been playing really good golf so it was only a matter of time.” said Plant beside the 2nd green as he reflected on what had largely been a disappointing season to date. “I can also have a few days off now as I don’t have to go up to Hollinwell tomorrow” where he had a 6.45am tee time in Tuesday’s Final Qualifying event for The Open.

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Alfie Plant, 2017 European Amateur Champion (Photo: GolfBible)

Play-Off

Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA), Afie PLANT (ENG) and Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA), who had all tied on -15 for the 72 holes of stroke play, qualified for the play-off.

Plant, who is probably the best supported amateur golfer in the world, had the strong backing of ‘Alfie’s Army’ who were certainly out in full force for what was a ‘local’ event for them. In a family affair his brother Albert was also caddying for the Kent man.

Alfie’s Army (Photo: @lad_golf)

A 3 hole aggregate score play off over holes 1, 2 and 18 was the order of the day. If this proved to be insufficient to separate the players then a sudden death play-off would commence over the same holes.

So off we went. Last year’s Championship took 7 play off holes to decide and with three experienced players contesting the 2017 version no one expected this one to be over quickly.

On the 235 yard par 3 1st hole Plant and Scalise both found the heart of the green but Cianchetti pulled his tee shot well to the left, short siding himself and finding a poor lie in long grass thirty feet from the green. Cianchetti hacked out well on to the green but was ultimately unable to save his par. Plant misjudged his long first putt allowing it to run well past the hole. Scalise who was last to play, and foreseeing an early advantage, lagged his effort down the hill to comfortably secure his par. In what would prove to be a critical moment Plant bravely stepped up and holed his 10 footer back up the hill to huge cheers from the spectators.

On the 472 yard par 4 2nd hole, a sweeping down and up right handed dog leg the players all pared. However, this was the moment you felt Cianchetti’s race may be run. He had played a superb second shot up the hill leaving himself a short four footer for birdie and the opportunity to regain parity with his playing partners. It was an unexpectedly bad miss in the circumstances.

On the 404 yard par 4 18th Plant found the green, albeit some distance from the flag, as did Cianchetti who was much closer. Scalise was unfortunate to bounce through the back with his approach. The Tennessee University man was unphased however playing a beautifully judged chip which ended up a matter of inches from the hole. Plant two putted to ensure that at least he and Scalise would progress with their Even par scores. Cianchetti’s birdie putt was hit too firmly and missed the break. He bravely holed for his par putt but at +1 he had to step down.

Cianchetti’s consolation being that he had already qualified for the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale via his 2016 win. Last year’s Championship in Estonia was played in August after The Open was staged at Royal Troon. The European Golf Association, in conjunction with The R&A have subsequently brought the Championship forward so in the future the winner can enjoy their Open exemption almost immediately.

Meanwhile, Plant and Scalise crossed the road back towards the clubhouse to play the 1st hole again, this time in a sudden death format. Both players found the green. Plant putted first and having learned from his near identical putt half an hour earlier was unlucky to lip out, a tad too much pace preventing the ball from dropping. Scalise had a bit of a rush of blood to the head with his first effort, misjudging the slope as Plant had done earlier, and needed to bravely hole from four feet to allow the fun to continue.

Alfie Plant Lips Out On The 4th Play-Off Hole

Both players found the fairway on the 2nd hole, albeit Scalise pulled his drive, leaving a slightly longer approach than he would have liked. The Italian came up just short of the green. Plant seized the advantage and played his iron into the centre of the green, about 15 feet from the flag. Scalise putted up to 6 feet leaving the stage free for the Englishman. Plant prevented Scalise suffering the ignominy of potentially losing the play-off with a bogey by confidently holing his left to right putt for a winning birdie.

The cheers from Alfie’s Army were long and loud and continued all the way back to the clubhouse where the celebrations could properly begin.

Alfie Plant Holes The Winning Putt On The 5th Play-Off Hole With Brother Albert Watching 

Alfie Plant, the 2016 Lytham Trophy winner, who also holed England’s crucial silver medal winning putt at the World Amateur Championship in Mexico, once again showed nerves of steel. He birdied the 18th to put pressure on the Italian leaders before outlasting them, by simply not missing a shot, in the play-off.

Round 4

After bogeying his first hole of the day our winner Alfie PLANT produced an unblemished card with five birdies to shoot a fine 68. He saved his best hole till last though. Knowing he needed a birdie on the par 4 18th to have any chance of making a play-off he played a magnificent approach to 4 feet and calmly holed the putt.

He had just watched his playing partner Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA) bogey the hole, unable to recover from a drive into the left hand fairway bunker which required a sideways chip out. Scalise, who shot 69, had something of a rollercoaster round littered with 6 birdies and an eagle but sadly for him five bogeys.

In the final group the defending champion Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA) looked well placed after he eagled the par 5 14th and birdied the 15th to move onto -16. However having watched Scalise bogey in front of him he was unable to secure the par he needed to win the 2017 Championship. His approach to the elevated 18th found a tricky spot on the greenside bank above the left bunker. A slightly clumsy chip left him 10 feet for the title but he missed.

Luca Cianchetti Misses His Putt On The 72nd Hole

A few groups further back Victor PASTOR (ESP) had made a late run for the title. He stood on the 17th tee in Round 4 on -15, -7 for his round, but again fell foul of the 18th. His bogey left him on -14 after a 66 and a tie for 4th place.

Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) also shot a final round 66. His bogey free effort lifted him up to -14 where he set the early clubhouse mark before Pastor joined him. Robert must surely have secured his Walker Cup spot now.

GB&I’s most in form player Matthew JORDAN (ENG) once again delivered on the big stage. His final round 66, which included a holed mid-iron from the fairway of the 485 yard par 4 4th, finished on -13 and tied 6th. Interestingly he had failed to par the 4th, dropping four shots in the process, during the first three rounds.

John-Ross GALBRAITH (IRE) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) also enjoyed strong finishes, tieing for 7th place. Both players shot 8 birdies in their rounds with Galbraith recording a best of the day 65 and Singh Brar a 66.

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) 70 and Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) 68 tied for 10th place on -11. Both of these young lads have big futures.

View the Results here – 2017 European Amateur Championship Results

ME.

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30th June 2017

Round 3

At the end of 54 holes Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA), Jeremy GANDON (FRA) and Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA) share the lead at the European Amateur, tied on -12 (204).

Lorenzo SCALISE and Zan Luka STIRN (SLO) both shot best of the day 7-under 65’s on another day of very good scoring at Walton Heath GC.

Alfie PLANT (ENG) backed up his 66 of yesterday with a 67 today. On -11 he is well placed to make a push for the title in tomorrow’s final round.

Rory FRANSSEN (SCO) 69 -10, Joshua MCMAHON (ENG) 70 -9, Sandy SCOTT (SCO) 67 -9, Daniel BROWN (ENG) 66 -9 and Conor O’ROURKE (IRE) 70 -9 are Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) other leading players.

Jack SINGH BRAR, who this week chose to has pass on the European Amateur Team Championships to try and qualify for the US Amateur, shot 66 to move up to tied 21st on -6. Connor SYME (SCO) 67 -6, JR GALBRAITH (IRE) 66 -5, Scott GREGORY (ENG) 66 -5 and Owen EDWARDS (WAL) 67 -4 were the other GB&I players to enjoy their rounds.

Sean CROCKER (USA) finally sorted himself out and shot a 66 to move onto -3 (tied 45th), securing himself another round and no doubt an even higher finish.

The Top 60 and Ties cut fell at -2 (214) highlighting the standard of play this week. 64 players achieved this mark or better.

Notable players to miss the cut included James WALKER ENG, 2015 champion Stefano MAZZOLI ITA, Alex GLEESON IRE, Min Woo LEE AUS, Marco PENGE ENG (all -1), Josh HILLEARD ENG (Ev), Harry HALL ENG (+4), Jack DAVIDSON WAL, Charlie STRICKLAND ENG, Jamie STEWART (all +5) and Craig ROSS SCO (+11 Rd2 WD).

ME.

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29th June 2017

Round 2

Day 2 ended at Walton Heath GC with a three way tie for the European Amateur lead. Victor PASTOR (ESP), Jeremy FREIBURGHAUS (SUI) and Dylan PERRY (AUS) shot 64, 66 and 69 respectively to all move onto -9.

The best round of the day, and for that matter the week so far, came from Matthias SCHMID (GER). His 63 (-9) included two eagles and seven birdies.

Defending champion Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA) shot a 67 in Round 2 and is nicely placed in tied 6th on -7.

Despite this strong start from a number of the overseas entries there is still plenty of hope for the Great Britain and Irish players in the field.

England’s boys from the Wirral Matthew JORDAN (-8) and Joshua MCMAHON (-7) lead the way. Jordan shot a second 68 whilst McMahon went one better with a 67. Compatriots Alfie PLANT (-6) moved into contention on -6 after a 66 today whilst Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (-6) held firm after a 71.

Scotland’s Liam JOHNSTON (-7), Rory FRANSSEN (-7), Robert MACINTYRE (-6) and Craig HOWIE (-5) as well as Ireland’s Conor O’ROURKE (-7) and Paul MCBRIDE (-5) are also doing well.

After tomorrow’s third round there will be Top 60 and Ties cut.

ME.

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28th June 2017

Round 1

Italy’s Lorenzo SCALISE leads the European Amateur after Day 1. The University of Tennessee student shot a bogey free 64 (-8).

On a day of generally low scoring 61 players in the field of 144 recorded under par scores in Round 1.

Toby BRIGGS (ENG) and Keegan DE LANGE (RSA), both of whom had eagles in their round, are both one shot back on -7.

Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG), who played well at The Amateur last week, continued his form at Walton Heath. His 67 (-5) saw him finish the day in tied 6th place with Conor O’ROURKE (IRE) and Rory FRANSSEN (SCO) for company.

Daniel BROWN (ENG), Matthew JORDAN (ENG), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) and Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) all shot 68’s in Round 1. Their -4 scores leaving them nicely placed in tied 9th with 54 holes still to play.

ME.

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25th June 2017

The 31st European Amateur Championship starts on Wednesday 28th June at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England.

This prestigious international Championship is being run by the European Golf Association (EGA), assisted this year by England Golf.

Competition Format

The European Amateur is a 72-hole stroke play event. 18-holes are played daily over four days.

A 54-hole cut will be in force with the 60 lowest scores and ties qualifying for the final round on Saturday 1st July.

Entries

144 players will contest the Championship this week.

All of the players must have handicaps of 0.0 or better with an entry ballot applied based on the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Exemptions were also available to the defending champion, a single nomination from each EGA member nation, competitors in the most recent Bonallack Trophy, St. Andrew’s Trophy and Jacques Léglise Trophy events as well as four players from England, the host nation.

All of the leading European and Great Britain and Irish (GB&I) players will be on show. Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA) will be defending the title he won in Estonia last August and new Amateur Champion Harry ELLIS (ENG) will also be competing.

Whilst some of the Australian and South African touring parties have now returned home a number of their top players are entered at Walton Heath, notably Min WOO LEE and Albert VENTER respectively.

Amongst the United States entries are highly ranked Sean CROCKER, who made the cut at the BMW International on the European Tour last week, and Jimmy STANGER. Stewart HAGESTAD had entered but withdrew prior to the event commencing.

Walton Heath Golf Club

The 2017 Championship is being staged on Walton Heath’s famous Old Course. 

Seve Ballesteros 16th hole, Old Course, Walton Heath GC (Photo: Walton Heath GC)

This heathland masterpiece in Surrey, known for it’s superb turf, heather fringed bunkers and large greens, has hosted many major amateur and professional golf events in its illustrious history.

The par 72 championship course stretches to 7,406 yards, as the scorecard below shows, and is noted for it’s strong finishing holes.

img_4772Old Course Scorecard (Photo: Walton Heath GC)

Weather Forecast

A generally dry week is forecast in the south east of England this week (as at Tuesday 27th June 7.00 pm): –

Weds 28th June – Showers. Wind 9 mph (SW). Max. 22°C / Min 13°C.
Thurs 29th June – Showers. Wind 5 mph (NW). Max. 19°C / Min 12°C.
Fri 30th June – Showers. Wind 7 mph (NW). Max. 23°C / Min 13°C.
Sat 1st July – Cloudy. Wind 12 mph (N). Max. 23°C / Min 14°C.

Prizes

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the Top 3 finishers.

The winner also receives an invitation to compete in this year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in Lancashire, England.

The Championship Trophy is held by the winning player’s national golf authority.

2016 European Amateur Championship

Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA) beat Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) on the seventh play-off hole to win the 2016 European Amateur Championship.

Luca Cianchetti (Photo: Italian Golf Federation)

Both players were tied on -16 at the end of the 72 hole stroke play event which was taking place at the Estonia Golf & Country Club.

Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) -13 and Connor SYME (SCO) -12 were the best of the GB&I players, finishing 4th and 5th respectively. Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) -9 finished tied 9th.

Click here to view the – 2016 European Amateur Championship Results

History

The competition was first contested in 1986.

It has been hosted in 18 different countries to date.

2017 will be the seventh time it has been played in GB&I and the second time in England. The previous courses to host the event being Hillside (1991), Dalmahoy (1993), Celtic Manor (1999), Nairn (2003), Carton House (2012) and The Duke’s St. Andrews (2014).

Former winners who have gone on to enjoy very successful professional careers include Stephen GALLACHER (1994), Sergio GARCIA (1995), Gregory HAVRET (1999), Carl PETTERSSON (2000), Rory MCILROY (2006) and Victor DUBUISSON (2009).

In addition to Gallacher and McIlroy other GB&I past winners include Jim PAYNE (1991), Paddy GRIBBEN (1998), Stephen BROWNE (2001), Brian MCELHINNEY (2003), Matthew RICHARDSON (2004), Rhys PUGH (2012) and Ashley CHESTERS (2013 and 2014).

Chesters is the only player to have won the Championship twice.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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