Jones Cup Invitational – 2021 Preview & Results

7th February 2021

Sweden’s Ludvig ABERG won the 2021 Jones Cup Invitational at Ocean Forest G.C. in Georgia.

The Texas Tech University teammate of Scotland’s Sandy Scott finished on a 214 (-2) total, good enough for a 1-shot victory. His 2-under 70 in the second round, played in very difficult conditions, was probably the determining factor. Ironically he only secured his place in the field last week when there was a withdrawal. 

Aberg’s win secured him an exemption into the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic event next November.

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Ludvig Aberg (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational)

With the 16th, 17th and 18th holes ranking as the 2nd, 5th and 6th hardest on the course over the three days it was inevitable that there would be some late twists in this tournament and so it proved to be.

Aberg bounced back from a bogey on the 17th by holing a winning 7 foot birdie putt on the final hole. This shortly after defending champion Davis THOMPSON (USA) had bogeyed both the 16th and 17th and Cole HAMMER (USA) had bogeyed the short 17th. To his credit co-runner up Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) pared all three finishing holes but in the end needed more.

Hammer, Thompson and Fitzpatrick finished in a three-way tie for 2nd place on 215 (-1).

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Results (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational / Golf Genius Scoring)  

John MURPHY (IRL) finished strongly with a final round 70 to secure tied 6th place on 217 (+1).

Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) finished tied 11th on 219 (+3). His final round 71 was his best of the week and given his lack of competitive action in the last 6 months and the difficulties of practicing in the UK recently his overall performance was very impressive. The same goes for Matty LAMB (ENG) whose tied 22nd was no mean achievement.

Barclay BROWN (ENG) 21st and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) tied 22nd were both left to rue bad rounds, Barclay’s 78 today and Angus’ 80 yesterday.

Here are the final results for all thirteen of the GB&I players: – 

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GB&I Results (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational / Golf Genius Scoring)

Click here to view the full results – Jones Cup Invitational Results

Given the Walker Cup sub-plot this week  it is interesting to see the impact of these results on the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking. The ranking was updated shortly after the finale with the notable moves being Fitzpatrick rising 37 places to 18th, Schmidt 14 places to 38th and John Murphy 95 places to 76th.

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SPWAR GB&I Top 30 On 7th February 2021 (Photo: SPWAR) 

ME.

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6th February 2021

It was a wet and windy day in Georgia and the scores ballooned around the challenging Ocean Forest course. Yesterday the average score was 74.3, today it was 77.4 as the field of 84 generally struggled to deal with the conditions.

Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) and Spencer RALSTON (USA) share the 36 hole lead but both players reversed back into the field after rounds of 77 and 76 respectively. 

Ludvig ABERG (SWE) -2 is 3rd and will join the leaders in tomorrow’s final group. Aberg’s 70 was the joint best round of the day.

Ominously defending champion Davis THOMPSON (USA) moved into tied 4th after a very satisfactory 1-over 73.

Barclay BROWN (ENG) matched Thompson’s 73 and will start the final round on even par in tied 6th place. A top 10 finish here will go along way to securing his place in the GB&I Walker Cup team. 

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Leading Round 2 Scores (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational / Golf Genius Scoring)  

There was just 4 rounds under par and one of par in Round 2. John MURPHY (IRL) shot the par 72 round to move up to tied 16th. 

Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) and Matty LAMB (ENG) finished the day on +4 and tied 19th after shooting 74 and 76. Given their lack of competitive golf over the last six months both are doing well in such a high class field.

Mark POWER was on track for one of the best rounds of the day but a quadruple bogey 7 on the 17th ruined what had been another very good bad weather day for the Irishman. His 2-over par 74 didn’t tell the full story and left him back in tied 25th, alongside Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL).

By way of reminder there is no cut in the Jones Cup Invitational with all of the players returning for the final round tomorrow. Some may be looking forward to this more than others as the weather forecast is again mixed.

Here are the full Round 2 scores for all thirteen of the GB&I players: –

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GB&I Round 2 Scores (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational / Golf Genius Scoring)  

ME.

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5th February 2021

Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) leads the Jones Cup Invitational after recording an opening round 64 (-8).

Starting on the 10th tee at 8.50am the Yorkshireman quickly got into his stride with five birdies in his opening nine holes. A further three were added on the front nine as he completed a blemish free round. His final birdie on the par 3 9th secured a new tournament record round score. 

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Alex Fitzpatrick’s Round 1 Scorecard (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational / Golf Genius Scoring)

Spencer RALSTON (USA) -7 and Maxwell FORD (USA) -5, who had played alongside Fitzpatrick, finished the day in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Ralston and Ford were also bogey free in Round 1.

Defending champion and Ocean Forest G.C. specialist Davis THOMPSON (USA) shot 70 (-2) to finish the day in tied 7th place.

Barclay BROWN (ENG) and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG), who like Fitzpatrick are both studying in the U.S. College system, are tied 11th after 71’s (-1). Both played well but were unable to avoid all of the pitfalls on this tricky course; Brown posting three bogeys and Flanagan four.

Like Flanagan Matty LAMB (ENG) let a good round slip on the closing holes of the front nine having started on the 10th. Four bogeys in his final five holes will have frustrated the Hexham player who had previously suggested that he had lost none of his excellent 2020 form. Nevertheless an even par 72 for tied 19th place represents a solid start.  

Here are the full Round 1 scores for all thirteen of the GB&I players: –

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GB&I Round 1 Scores (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational / Golf Genius Scoring)   

ME.

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1st February 2021 

The 17th Jones Cup Invitational will be played between 5th-7th February 2021 at Ocean Forest G.C. on the northern tip of Sea Island in Georgia.

Historically a top 10 ranked amateur tournamant this year it will be taking on even greater importance. The COVID-19 impacted schedule and the early playing of the Walker Cup match in May means results here may have a significant bearing on the final selection of both teams. Even more so given the similarities between the Seminole and Ocean Forest courses.   

It is also worth noting that the winner of the Jones Cup Invitational earns an exemption into the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, subject to them remaining an amateur. This year’s RSM Classic will be played at Sea Island G.C. on 18th-21st November 2021. 

I will be updating this article as the tournament progresses with daily reports.

The Jones Cup Invitational was first played in January 2001 as a prelude to that year’s Walker Cup match which was being staged at Ocean Forest in August.

The Jones Cup Junior Invitational and Jones Cup Senior Invitational commenced in 2009 and 2012 respectively. These two competitions are played at Sea Island G.C.’s nearby Seaside Course.

A new Sea Island Women’s Amateur will be played for the first time between 27th-29th July 2021 also on the Seaside Course.

Format

The Jones Cup Invitational is a 54 hole individual stroke play competition played over three days.

Given the small field there is no cut. 

17th Hole, Ocean Forest Golf Club (Photo: Evan Schiller)

Players

The Jones Cup Invitational Committee invite 84 players to contest their tournament.

The majority of invites are granted based on each player’s previous performances and their world amateur rankings.

An 18 hole qualifying event was played on Sea Island’s Plantation Course on 18th January with three spots in the main event allocated to the leading players from a field of 78. 

13 golfers from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) are competing this year. 10 of the 15 man GB&I Walker Cup squad are in attendance. They are (in alphabetical order with their SPWARs): –

Jonathan BALE (WAL) #4761 
Jake BOLTON (ENG) #34 WC SQUAD
Barclay BROWN (ENG) #67 WC SQUAD 
Callum FARR (ENG) #132 WC SQUAD
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) #51 WC SQUAD
Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) #66 WC SQUAD
Rory FRANSSEN (SCO) #363
Conor GOUGH (ENG) #1148
Matty LAMB (ENG) #57 WC SQUAD
Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) #77 WC SQUAD
John MURPHY (IRL) #167 WC SQUAD
Mark POWER (IRL) #22 WC SQUAD
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) #50 WC SQUAD

Ben JONES (ENG) had entered but withdrew last week.

For those GB&I players not studying in USA such as Jake Bolton, Callum Farr, Conor Gough, Matty Lamb, Tom McKibbin and Ben Schmidt this will be one of the last playing opportunities they have to impress before the Walker Cup team is selected.

In a very strong field there are 26 other players in the SPWAR Top 100 competing (in rank order): –

Quade CUMMINS (USA) #2 WC SQUAD
Davis THOMPSON (USA) #5 WC SQUAD – defending champion 
Cole HAMMER (USA) #6 WC SQUAD
Pierceson COODY (USA) #8 WC SQUAD
Preston SUMMERHAYS (USA) #9
McClure MEISSNER (USA) #12 WC SQUAD
William HOLCOMB (USA) #19
Luke POTTER (USA) #21
Travis VICK (USA) #25
Parker COODY (USA) #28
Ludvig ABERG (SWE) #29
Trey WINSTEAD (USA) #29
Graysen HUFF
 (USA) #33
Trent PHILLIPS (USA) #37
Kelly CHINN
 (USA) #40
Jonathan BRIGHTWELL
(USA) #42
Julian PERICO (PER)
#43
Garett REBAND
(USA)
#48 WC SQUAD
Wilson FURR (USA)
#69
Mateo FERNANDEX DE OLIVEIRA
(ARG) #74
Jackson SUBER
 (USA) #78
Stewart HAGESTAD
(USA) #83 WC SQUAD
Austin HITT
(USA) #86
Hunter WOLCOTT
(USA) #90
Ryan HALL
(USA) #94
Julien SALE
(USA) #100 

As shown above there are seven players selected for the 16-man US Walker Cup Squad playing this week in Georgia.

On 21st December 2020 the USGA confirmed that the three highest ranked players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) as at 10th February 2021, i.e. immediately following the playing of the Jones Cup Invitational, would receive exemptions onto the 2021 USA Walker Cup team. As at 3rd February the three ‘places’ are currently held by Davis THOMPSON #2, Ricky CASTILLO #5 and Pierceson COODY #6. Castillo is not playing this week due to University commitments. Garrett REBAND #10, Quade CUMMINS #12, Stewart HAGESTAD #14 and McClure MEISSNER #18 are and will all be hoping to force their way into the automatic WAGR USA selection spots.

Course

Ocean Forest is a challenging course with an exposed seaside links feel. Holes run alongside both the Hampton River and the Atlantic Ocean with marshes and the sea abutting a number of the fairways and greens. The remaining holes are cut through a pine forest.

Natural sand dunes are evident albeit the defining feature is the small undulating greens. 

The course plays to 7,321 yards with a standard par of 72.

13th Hole, Ocean Forest G.C. (Photo: Evan Schiller) 

The Club was founded in 1995 by Bill Jones III. His family’s Sea Island Company having owned the land since the 1920’s.

Jones invited architect Rees Jones to design a championship course on the site with work commencing in September 1993. Some renovation work was subsequently done by Rees Jones in 2007.

President George H. Bush, Bill Jones III, former U.S. attorney general Griffin Bell, David Love III and Rees Jones played the opening round in Spring 1995.  

The course was awarded the 2001 Walker Cup shortly after opening. At just 6 years old it remains the youngest club to be afforded this honour. Peter McEvoy led GB&I to a convincing 15-9 victory.  

Weather Forecast (as at 3rd February)

Showers and moderate winds appear to be in order for the tournament which traditionally has cool weather.

Fri 5th Feb. – Showers / Wind 17 mph SW / Temp. Min. 8°C, Max. 18°C.
Sat 6th Feb. – Showers / Wind 12 mph NE / Temp. Min. 10°C, Max. 12°C.
Sun 7th Feb. – Showers / Wind 12 mph N / Temp. Min. 9°C, Max. 14°C.

2020 Jones Cup Invitational

Local player Davis THOMPSON (USA) won the 2020 Jones Cup Invitational by 9-shots after a record breaking performance. 

His 203 (-13) total was capped by a final round of 65, almost certainly the best in the tournament’s history. 

Davis Thompson (Photo: Jones Cup Invitational)

From a GB&I perspective Mark POWER (IRL) +3 was our highest finisher in tied 13th.

Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Callum BRUCE (SCO), John PATERSON (SCO) all +5 came tied 21st, Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) +7 tied 31st and Archie DAVIES (WAL) +9 tied 37th.  

Click here to view the – Jones Cup Invitational 2020 Results

To finish off here is a list of the past winners with their finishing scores: –

2020 – Davis THOMPSON (USA) 203 (-13)
2019 – Akshay BHATIA (USA) 142 (-2) – event shortened to 36 holes due to bad weather
2018 – Garrett BARBER (USA) 212 (-4) – winner of the Jones Cup Junior Invitational in 2016
2017 – Braden THORNBERRY (USA) 212 (-4)
2016 – Beau HOSSLER (USA) 214 (-2)
2015 – Austen CONNELLY (USA) 216 (Ev) 
2014 – Corey CONNORS (CAN) 218 (+2)
2013 – Sean DALE (USA) 213 (-3)
2012 – Justin THOMAS (USA) 216 (Ev)
2011 – John PETERSON (USA) 217 (+1)
2010 – Patrick READ (USA) 222 (+6)
2009 – Kyle STANLEY (USA) 217 (+1)
2007 – Luke LIST (USA) 206 (-10) – played at Frederica G.C. due to renovation work at Ocean Forest
2005 – Nicholas THOMPSON (USA) 214 (-2)
2003 – Gregg JONES (USA) 211 (-5)
2001 – DJ TRAHAN (USA) 210 (-6)

Canada’s Corey Connors is the only non-American winner of the Jones Cup Invitational.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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