December 2019 Men’s Amateur Rankings

6th January 2020

Throughout the year I analyse the two main amateur golf rankings, the SPWAR and the WAGR, to help us assess the performances of Great Britain and Ireland’s leading players.

This information is maintained on the Rankings page of the GolfBible website and is updated quarterly.

The latest update covering the December 2019 Quarter period has now been added.

No Player of the Quarter Award has been made in Quarter 4 due to the small number of events contested in this period

Pease click this link to be redirected to my Rankings page – GolfBible Rankings

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2020, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Some Reflections On The 2019 GB&I Men’s Amateur Golf Year

31st December 2019

Here are a few thoughts on the 2019 Great British & Irish (GB&I) men’s amateur golf season: –

1. I will start with our defining event, the Amateur Championship. It was great to see James SUGRUE (IRL) deliver a memorable win at Portmarnock to the delight of the home fans who supported the event so well. Sugrue peaked perfectly and having played in The Open and in the Walker Cup in 2019 can now look forward to the remainder of his golfing rewards next year.

2. Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) continued to impress winning four times in 2019. The Yorkshireman became just the fourth player to win both the Brabazon Trophy and Carris Trophy – that’s the men’s and U18 boys’ English Open Stroke Play Championships – in the same year. Some achievement.

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Ben Schmidt With The Brabazon Trophy And His Parents (Photo: Jonathan Plaxton)

3. Talking about juniors Conor GOUGH (ENG), Connor MCKINNEY (SCO), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) and Joe PAGDIN (ENG) also stood out amongst the U18’s which hopefully bodes well for the immediate future of GB&I golf. McKibbin winning the Junior Invitational and Pagdin getting to the semi-finals of the U.S. Junior Amateur at Inverness G.C. were particular highlights that stand alongside Ben Schmidt’s wins for me.

4. I am particularly interested to see how the future unfolds for Schmidt and Gough, winners of the two English Amateur Championships this year and our two leading juniors. Schmidt is now focussing on his golf full time and heading towards the professional ranks at some speed whilst Gough appears to be ‘driving with the brakes on’, determined to focus on his education for the time being and happy to enjoy the journey. Followers of amateur golf know there is no right answer to this age old conundrum as everyone is different. Following this tortoise and hare fable over the next few years should be fun.      

5. Whilst I failed to record Tom McKibbin’s chip in to win the McEvoy Trophy on the 2nd play-off hole, despite videoing most of the final play at Copt Heath, I did manage to get Josh MCMAHON‘s (ENG) birdie putt on the 18th which won him the Lytham Trophy. The  “Yes, Get in !” shout from his caddie Dad will live long in my memory.

Josh McMahon Drops The Best Putt Of His Life (Video: GolfBible)

6. I believe a review of Championship entry exemptions may be required for the leading events in the summer months given how quickly one followers another. James NEWTON (ENG) and Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) were the surprise winners of the Irish Amateur Open and the Brabazon Trophy respectively in 2019 but with low WAGR rankings beforehand and having missed the cut off dates had no way of playing in either the St. Andrews Links Trophy or the Amateur Championship. There needs to be a mechanism – a blank entry to cover such eventualities – to allow recent winners to gain a late entry into subsequent events assuming they wish to compete in them. It doesn’t happen too often but this year not playing in two of our major Championships against his direct peers may have cost Ben Schmidt a place in our Walker Cup team.  

7. It was a good year for Scottish amateur golf. Few would argue that Euan WALKER was the outstanding GB&I amateur golfer of 2019 with fellow Walker Cupper Sandy SCOTT not too far behind him. Ryan LUMSDEN also won the prestigious Byron Nelson Award, handed out in late April to a graduating Senior in recognition of their entire collegiate academic and golf career as well as their character and integrity while in college. The Scottish administrators also made the decision to return the Scottish Open Amateur to its late May date from the irrelevant late August fixture it had become since 2018. 

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Euan Walker With His European Amateur Silver Medal (Photo: EGA)

8. Curtis KNIPES (ENG) and Thomas THURLOWAY (ENG) both came through Final Qualifying to join James Sugrue in The Open Championship field. Watching Jake BURNAGE (ENG) and Tom SLOMAN (ENG) try and follow them at Hollinwell was a highlight of my golfing year. Unusually no amateur made the cut at Royal Portrush so no Silver Medal was awarded this year.

9. GB&I lost the 47th Walker Cup match against USA at Royal Liverpool G.C. I may be deluded but I still believe this was a match we could have and should have won. I don’t think the opposition was quite as strong as they had been in previous years and playing at home we should have been spot on with our selection, pairings and preperation – we weren’t. Perhaps if the weather hadn’t been so pleasant we may have done a little better.   

10. Craig WATSON (SCO) stood down / was relieved of his GB&I Men’s Team captaincy duties with Stuart WILSON (SCO), the current Boy’s team captain, promoted as his replacement. Stuart will debut with the men at Royal Porthcawl in July in the next edition of the St. Andrews Trophy match against Continent of Europe. Good luck to him.

11. It wasn’t a vintage year for other GB&I men’s teams either – Sweden beat England in the Final of the European Amateur Team Championship and Europe beat GB&I in the boys’ Jacques Léglise Trophy. 

12. WAGR finally announced a new methodology to be introduced to their ranking with effect from January 2020. A more accurate ranking can be expected but at face value it still won’t be better than the SPWAR. If I was The R&A and USGA I’d have used some of my funds to simply take out Fred Solomon and his ‘gold standard’ SPWAR.

WAGR Logo

13. The R&A and the USGA confirmed that they are reviewing the Rules of Amateur Status to make them easier to understand and apply. The results are set to be published in late 2021 – no rush there then. Lucy LI’s (USA) ‘one time warning’ for her Apple Watch advert at the start of the year (she should have had her amateur status removed) and the more recent California State’s ‘Fair Pay To Play’ Act which means NCAA athletes, including golfers, within that jurisdiction will be able to negotiate endorsement deals from 2023 have accelerated the need for an update.     

14. Josh HILL (ENG) qualified to play in both the Dubai Desert Classic and Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in early 2020 after winning the MENA Tour’s Amateur Order of Merit and then the Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship. What an opportunity for him on two courses he knows very well.                  

15. Ben JONES (ENG) finished the year as GB&I’s highest ranked amateur in the SPWAR after a top 5 finish at the South Beach International Amateur in Florida helped lift him above Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) a few weeks ago. Scant consolation for his surprise exclusion from the GB&I Walker Cup team.

16. One to watch in 2020 – as I haven’t mentioned him yet I’m going to pick Jake BOLTON (ENG). Jake’s crept up to 37th in the SPWAR and with his confidence high after adding the 2019 Scottish Open Amateur title to his resume, as well as a 4th place finish at this month’s South Beach International Amateur, I expect him to progress further next year.

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Jake Bolton With The Scottish Open Amateur Trophy (Photo: Bolton Family)

17. As always a number of players turned Pro, most notably, Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Calum FYFE (SCO), Bailey GILL (ENG), Harry HALL (ENG), Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO), Billy MCKENZIE (ENG), Josh MCMAHON (ENG), Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL), Conor PURCELL (IRL), Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Euan WALKER (SCO). I wish them all well in the coming years.

18. Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) and Matthew JORDAN (ENG) gave encouragement to the next generation of amateurs with a number of excellent performances on the European Tour and Challenge Tour. Over in the U.S. on the PGA Tour Viktor Hovland (NOR), Matthew Wolff (USA) and Collin Morikawa (USA) also showed that a quick transition to the big time is possible for the highly talented and fortunate few.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2020, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

South Beach International Amateur – 2019 Preview & Results

22nd December 2019

Ben SHIPP (USA) won the 2019 South Beach International Amateur (SBIA) after a play-off with Garett REBAND (USA).

Ben Shipp (Photo: SBIA)

Reband three putted his 72nd hole to finish on 281 (-2) and fall back into a tie with Shipp whose 70 (-1) was the lowest round of the final group. Shipp then went on to win the tournament on the second play-off hole.

With late afternoon storms forecast the organisers took the decision to implement a two tee start with players asked to play off the 1st and 10th tees in fourballs from 7.30am. Conditions remained dry for most of the day and the wind receded to more manageable levels when compared with the speeds seen on the first three days.

Reband shot a final round 73 whilst co-leader at the start of the day Karl VILIPS (AUS) could only manage a disappointing 75. Vilips ultimately had to settle for 3rd place on 282 (-1).

Jake BOLTON (ENG), the reigning Scottish Open Amateur champion, finished 4th on 283 (Ev) after a 71. He was the leading GB&I player this week and continues to rise up the amateur rankings (he’s now 37th in the SPWAR).

Ben JONES (ENG) was 5th on 284 (+1). Ben enjoyed a strong weekend, recording a joint best round of the day and the week today with a 67 which included 5 birdies. His 5th place lifted him to 13th spot in the SPWAR meaning he will finish the year as the highest ranked GB&I player.

Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) also finished well today. His 69 saw him finish on 287 (+4) and he can be pleased with his tied 8th finish.

Barclay BROWN (ENG) finished tied 18th on +6 after a final round 72.

Joe PAGDIN (ENG) never quite got going at Miami Beach this week after a solid opening round at Normandy Shores and had to fight hard for his +9 total score and tied 25th finish.

Olly HUGGINS (ENG) climbed a few places with a final round 71. His 295 (+12) saw him finish in tied 37th.

Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) +16 and Andy GIBSON (SCO) +20 finished tied 58th and tied 72nd respectively.

Click here to view the – SBIA 2019 Results

ME.

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21st December 2019

The 80 players who made the cut enjoyed a dry but windy day. Just 8 of the starting 18 GB&I players made it through for the two weekend rounds at Miami Beach.

Karl VILIPS (AUS) shot a 67 to move into a tie with overnight leader Garett REBAND (USA) on -5. Late birdies on 15 and 16 enabled Reband to post a 69 to draw back level with the Australian who finished a few groups ahead of him.

Four shots further back is Ben SHIPP (USA) who equalled Vilips’ 67, the two lowest scores at Miami Beach this week.

Jake BOLTON (ENG) remained well in the mix with a one-under 70 in Round 3. He heads into tomorrow’s final round on Even par and in sole 4th place.

Ben JONES (ENG) 71 and Barclay BROWN (ENG) 73 are on +5 tied 13th.

Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) 76 and Joe PAGDIN (ENG) 73 are one shot further back in tied 17th on +6.

Andy GIBSON (SCO) and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) could only manage a 75 and 78 respectively so fell back to tied 49th on +11. Olly HUGGINS‘ (ENG) 77 sees him in tied 56th on +12.

ME.

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20th December 2019

Friday saw all of the competitors play their second course, be it Miami Beach or Normandy Shores depending on where they were sent for Round 1. The rain largely stayed away but the strong winds remained.

Garett REBAND (USA), a Senior at Oklahoma, retained the lead on -3 with a 1-under par round of 70 at Miami Beach.

Lucas ABRIAL (FRA), who was 2nd overnight, collapsed to an 81 at Miami Beach and ended up missing the cut.

Jannik De BRUYN (GER) and Garrett MARTIN (USA) moved up to tied 2nd on -2 after they both recorded 69’s (-2) at Miami Beach. The always impressive Karl VILIPS (AUS) finished the day 4th on -1 after a 68 at Normandy Shores.

Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) starred for GB&I on Day 2; he’s now tied 5th after a 70 (-1) at Miami Beach. The score didn’t tell the full story though with his card including two double bogeys, two bogeys and seven birdies, including five in a row on his front nine.

Jake BOLTON‘s (ENG) level par round at Normandy Shores, which included four birdies, sees him go into the weekend playing alongside McKibbin in tied 5th on +1.

Barclay BROWN (ENG) +3 for the tournament is tied 13th. A double bogey on his final hole at Normandy Shores left him signing for a 71 (+1) and rueing what could have been.

Joe PAGDIN (ENG) and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) both found the going tougher on Day 2 at Miami Beach. Pagdin stumbled to a 75 (+4) whilst Flanagan posted a 73 (+2). Nevertheless the Englishmen will go into the weekend still well placed in tied 20th on +4.

Ben JONES‘s (ENG) 71 (+1) at Normandy Shores included 15 pars. A couple more scores around par over the weekend, where he starts in tied 28th on +5, should lift him further up the leaderboard.

80 players, tied 61st or better, made the top 72 cut which fell at +8. The second highest cut mark in the 9 years the tournament has been played. It was +11 in 2011, the SBIA’s inaugural year.

Olly HUGGINS (ENG) +6 tied 37th and Andy GIBSON (SCO) +7 tied 47th were the two other GB&I players to progress.

Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) +9, Charlie THORNTON (ENG) +9, Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) +12, Archie DAVIES (WAL) +14, Philip ROWE (ENG) +15, Sam ROOK (ENG) +16, Max MARTIN (ENG) +17, Jack BROOKS (ENG) +20, Curtis KNIPES (ENG) +20 and Jake HIBBERT (ENG) +23 all missed the cut.

ME.

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19th December 2019

The main news on Day 1 was the weather. It rained most of the day with scoring conditions not helped by a 20mph north easterly wind which blew strongly across the two host courses.

Garett REBAND (USA) shot a 68 (-2) at Normandy Shores to take the outright lead on Day 1. Lucas ABRIAL (FRA) managed a 69 (-1) at the same course to secure 2nd place.

Joe PAGDIN (ENG) was the leading GB&I player in tied 4th after a scrambling 70 (Ev) at Normandy Shores.

Jake BOLTON‘s (ENG) 71 (+1) at the tougher Miami Beach was arguably an even better round given the conditions. Likewise Barclay BROWN (ENG) will be pleased to have left there with a 73 (+2).

Back at Normandy Shores Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) both recorded 72’s (+2) to also do themselves no harm in the early stages.

Unfortunately many competitors, including a number from GB&I, played themselves out of the tournament on Day 1 unable to cope with the challenging conditions on two tough courses.

ME.

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3rd December 2019

The 9th South Beach International Amateur (SBIA) will be played between 19th – 22nd December 2019 in Miami Beach, Florida (GMT -5 hours).

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First played in 2011 the SBIA has quickly become one of the world’s leading amateur golf competitions.

It has always attracted an international field and many of the world’s leading amateurs will again be competing this year.

I will continue to update this article once play commences.

Format

The SBIA is a 72 hole stroke play competition played over four days.

18 holes are played at both Miami Beach G.C. and the nearby Normandy Shores G.C. over the first two days.

After a top 72 and ties cut the final 36 holes are played exclusively at Miami Beach over the remaining two days.

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Miami Beach Golf Club (Photo: Miami Beach GC)

Players

A field of 210 players have paid the $385 entry fee and will contest the 2019 SBIA.

The SBIA is expected to have one of the strongest fields in amateur golf in 2019. Only the U.S. Amateur (1st), The Amateur (2nd), Western Amateur (3rd) and NCAA Division I National (4th) will have been better.

Historically around 50% of the players are drawn from overseas with around 30 countries normally represented.

18 golfers from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) are in this year’s starting field. The highest number to date was 19 in 2018. I’ve listed this year’s GB&I entries below (in alphabetical order) along with their current SPWAR (as at 16th December): –

Jake BOLTON (ENG) #103
Jack BROOKS (ENG) #276
Barclay BROWN (ENG) #700
Archie DAVIES (WAL) #468
Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) #447
Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) #95
Andrew GIBSON (SCO) #1,493
Jake HIBBERT (ENG) #1,096
Olly HUGGINS (ENG) #201
Ben JONES (ENG) #18 – the highest ranked player in the field / Finished T2 in 2017
Curtis KNIPES (ENG) #124
Max MARTIN (ENG) #918
Tom MCKIBBIN (N.I.) #333
Joe PAGDIN (ENG) #164
Sam ROOK (ENG) #780
Philip ROWE (ENG) #3,280 – Assistant Coach UNLV, 1999 GB&I Walker Cup (P3 W3)
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) #80
Charlie THORNTON (ENG) #227

Other players in the SPWAR Top 200 competing include (in rank order): –

Karl VILIPS (AUS) #19
Garett REBAND (USA) #20
Jack TRENT (AUS) #23
Philip BARBAREE (USA) #25
Koen KOUWENAAR (NED) #32
Austin HITT (USA) #53
Ryan GERARD (USA) #54
Thomas HUTCHISON (USA) #63
Alex SCHAAKE (USA) #70
Julien SALE (FRA) #82
Ben SHIPP (USA) #83
Julian PERICO (PER) #97
Jannik DE BRUYNE (GER) #99
Palmer JACKSON (USA) #105
Marc HAMMER (GER) #120
Chris GOTTERUP (USA) #121
Charles LARCELET (FRA) #125
Blake TAYLOR (USA) #139
Rasmus NEERGAARD-PETERSEN (DEN) #144
Jamie WILSON (USA) #145
Carl FOSAAS (NOR) #163
Alexandre FUCHS (FRA) #166
Blake WAGONER (USA) #179
Tim WIDING (SWE) #193

The United States has 85 players in the SPWAR Top 200 so it is interesting that just 12 of them have entered this year’s SBIA. The Junior President’s Cup match taking place the week before in Australia will certainly have impacted the field. The non-entrants include the defending champion Pierceson COODY #15.

Courses

Both courses were designed by Arthur Hills and play to around 6,800 yards.

They are typical Florida layouts with numerous lakes coming into play throughout the 18 holes. As a result scores can be high if the wind blows – which it frequently does.

Normandy Shores plays to a par of 70 and Miami Beach a par of 71.

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Normandy Shores G.C. (Photo: miamibeachguest.com) 

Weather Forecast (as at 19th December)

The weather looks interesting with cool conditions forecast and a shifting wind set to make play interesting.

Thur 19th Dec. – Light Rain / Wind 19 mph NE / Temp. Min. 19°C, Max. 23°C.
Fri  20th Dec – Thick Cloud / Wind 21 mph NE / Temp. Min. 21°C, Max. 25°C.
Sat 21st Dec – Light Cloud / Wind 19 mph E / Temp. Min. 22°C, Min 26°C.
Sun 22nd Dec – Thundery Showers / Wind 20 mph SE / Temp. Min. 20°C, Max. 26°C.

SBIA Website Links

Click here to view the – SBIA 2019 Leaderboard

Click here to view the – SBIA Website

2018 South Beach International Amateur

The 2018 South Beach International Amateur was played in windy conditions with play on Day 3 ultimately having to be suspended.

Pierceson COODY (USA), a Freshman at the University of Texas and the grandson of 1971 Masters Champion Charles Coody, won the competition with a 272 (-11) total.

A fast finishing Manuel TORRES (VEN), who studies at the nearby Lynn University, shot an impressive 33 on his final back nine for a 66 (-5) to finish one shot back.

Jake BURNAGE (ENG) finished 3rd on 275 (-8). Jake shot a 64 (-6) at Normandy Shores on Day 1 to share the lead before playing very consistently throughout the remainder of the tournament; rounds of 70, 70 and 71 at Miami Beach enabling him to place.

Four other Englishmen made the cut. Jake BOLTON (+1) finished tied 21st, Joe PAGDIN (+3) tied 26th, Ben JONES and Max MARTIN (both +10) tied 62nd.

19 players from Great Britain and Ireland competed last year.

Click here to view the – SBIA 2018 Results

Click here to view the – SBIA 2017 Results

Here is a list of past winners and the 36 hole cut marks for each year: –

2018 – Pierceson COODY (USA) -11 / Cut +3
2017 – Jacob BERGERON (USA) -3 / Cut Ev
2016 – Danny WALKER (USA) -4 / Cut +1
2015 – Jorge GARCIA (VEN) -5 / Cut +6
2014 – Gabriel LENCH (USA) -4 / Cut +3
2013 – Greg EASON (ENG) -5 / Cut +6
2012 – Juan Pablo HERNANDEZ (MEX) -10 / Cut +3
2011 – Kelly KRAFT (USA) -4 / Cut +11

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The 2020 GB&I Men’s National Squads

30th November 2019

Here is a complete list of the 2020 Men’s National Squads for each of the four home nations.

All of the players selected are listed below along with their current Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR).

In addition I have also listed other leading players who for a variety of reasons have not been included in their national squads.img_8619

ENGLAND

England Golf announced their two men’s Squads on 29th November 2019.

Men’s Squad
Ben Schmidt – 17, Yorkshire (82)
Ben Jones – 21, Northamptonshire (18)
Robin Williams – 18, Nothamptonshire (186)
Joe Long – 22, Gloucestershire (116)
Jake Bolton – 21, Wiltshire (122)
Tom Plumb – 20, Somerset (48)
Callum Farr – 21, Northamptonshire (147)
Matty Lamb – 21, Northumberland (78)
Charlie Strickland – 20, Sussex (322)

Men’s A Squad
Sam Bairstow – 21, Yorkshire (196)
Harry Goddard – 19, Hertfordshire (271)
Arron Edwards-Hill – 19, Essex (73)
Sam Broadhurst – 22, Warwickshire (210)
Jack Brooks – 28, Cheshire (302)
Max Martin – 22, Warwickshire (914)
Charlie Thornton – 21, Yorkshire (227)
Joe Harvey – 22, Gloucestershire (326)

Other Elite Players
Oliver Farrell – Worcestershire & USA (199)
Alex Fitzpatrick – Yorkshire / Wake Forest University, USA (39)
Angus Flanagan – Surrey / University of Minnesota, USA (94)
Jack Floydd – Sussex (130)
Conor Gough (U18) – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire (269)
John Gough – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire / UNC Charlotte, USA (167)
David Hague – Yorkshire (210)
Josh Hill (U18) – U.A.E. (250)
Olly Huggins – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire (216)
Curtis Knipes – Essex (124)
Jamie Li – Somerset / Florida State University, USA (152)
Daniel O’Loughlin – Nottinghamshire / University of Colorado, USA (148)
Joe Pagdin – 18, Yorkshire & Florida / University of Florida, USA – from Sept. 2020 (164)

IRELAND

The Golf Union of Ireland announced their Squad on the 8th November 2019.

Men’s National Panel
Robert Brazill – Naas (291)
Colm Campbell – Warrenpoint (342)
Keith Egan – Carton House (1,050)
Sean Flanagan – Portmarnock (1,039)
Eanna Griffin – Waterford (563)
Rowan Lester – Hermitage (244)
Matthew McClean – Malone (507)
Tom McKibbin – Holywood (327)
Tiarnán McLarnon – Massereene (158)
Ronan Mullarney – Galway (59)
John Murphy – Kinsale / University of Louisville, USA (87)
Peter O’Keeffe – Douglas (384)
Mark Power – Kilkenny / Wake Forest University, USA (104)
Conor Purcell – Portmarnock (TURNED PRO ON 27/11/19)
Caolan Rafferty – Dundalk (17)
James Sugrue – Mallow (83)

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SCOTLAND

The 2020 Scottish Men’s Squad is yet to be confirmed but is expected to be selected from the following players: –

Men’s Squad (to be confirmed)
Callum Bruce – San Diego State University, USA (597)
Matthew Clark (222)
Stuart Easton (316)
Rory Franssen – University of Missouri, USA (345)
Darren Howie (489)
Jim Johnston (693)
Eric McIntosh – Northwestern University, USA (433)
Euan McIntosh (206)
Connor McKinney – Western Australia (135)
John Paterson – University of Colorado, USA (550)
Stephen Roger (261)
Sandy Scott – Texas Tech University, USA (22)
Jamie Stewart – University of Missouri, USA (370)
James Wilson (138)
Jeff Wright (486)

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WALES

The 2019-20 boy’s and men’s players receiving support are listed on the Wales Golf website.

High Performance Programme
Toby Bishop (2,141)
George Bryant (1,561)
Caolan Burford (NR)
Archie Davies (462)
Jacob Davies (530)
Will Fido (NR)
Jake Hapgood (256)
Callum Hook (NR)
Connor Jones (1,589)
Joe Jones (NR)
Ethan Langley (NR)
Charlie McKinney (NR)
Connor Owen (1,417)
Sam Peet (NR)
Tom Peet (2,804)
Matt Roberts (1,220)
Ioan Rowe (NR)
Matthew Rumsey (NR)
Matthew Sandoz (2,269)
William Sandoz (NR)
Lewys Sanges (643) – Turned Pro 1/20
Charley Simpson (NR)
Dylan Thomas (2,841)
Gaelen Trew (247)
Ryan Williams (NR)

Other Elite Players
Ben Chamberlain (358)
Tom Froom (954) – Turned Pro 1/20

ME.

Copyright © 2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Gary Wolstenholme

28th November 2019

Gary Wolstenholme will forever be known as “The man who beat Tiger” in the 1995 Walker Cup match at Royal Porthcawl.

There is of course much more to his story than a single win though.

Wolstenholme’s record and commitment to the amateur game is simply unparalleled. Given his longevity and the era in which he played, with its greater depth, he is arguably Great Britain & Ireland’s (GB&I) greatest ever amateur golfer.

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Gary Peter Wolstenholme MBE was born in Egham, Surrey on 21st August 1960.

His father was Guy Wolstenholme a renowned amateur and professional golfer in the 1950s and ’60s. Peter Alliss is one of Gary’s god-parents due to his long friendship with his father. Sadly Guy died from cancer in October 1984 well before his son’s golfing peak.

Gary’s parents divorced when he was four years old and it was his mother Joan, and her parents, that brought Gary up in Grange-over-Sands in Cumbria. When he was 10 the family moved to Keighley in Yorkshire and Gary was sent off to boarding school at Giggleswick. He completed his schooling there save for an 18 month period when he moved to Melbourne, Australia as his parents tried in vain to make their relationship work again.

He first played golf when he was 4 years old but didn’t start taking it seriously until he was 17. His father actively discouraged him knowing only too well how making a career in golf was fraught with difficulties. Gary was a 23 handicap when he was 18 and whilst he dropped his handicap rapidly thereafter still only earned his first England cap when he was 27.

Always a short hitter off the tee he practiced for many hours to ensure he got the maximum out of his game. His consistency, short game and confidence in his own ability enabled him to overcome many a supposedly stronger player in his lengthy career.

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Wolstenholme won The Amateur Championship twice. In 1991 he beat Bob May (USA) 8&6 at Ganton GC and in 2003 he beat Raphael De Sousa (SUI) 6&5 at Royal Troon GC.

His 2003 win came when he was 42, making him one of the oldest champions in the history of this prestigious competition.

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Gary Wolstenholme With The Amateur Championship In 2015 (Photo: Age Partnership)

In his long career Gary won numerous other national and international titles (see Appendix 1), including the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase, the Duncan Putter (3), the Berkshire Trophy (3), the Welsh Stroke Play, the Scottish Stroke Play, the Sherry Cup (4), the Lagonda Trophy and the Lee Westwood Trophy.

However, like his career amateur predecessor Peter McEvoy, the English Amateur Championship always alluded him. Whilst his father was a two-time winner the closest Gary came to lifting the trophy was a 4&2 loss to Paul Casey in the 2000 final at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. It was his only defeat in a major final.

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Gary played in five Majors – the 1992 and 2004 Masters, the 1992 (Muirfield) and 2003 (Royal St. George’s) Open’s and the 2008 U.S. Open (Torrey Pines) – but missed the cut in all of them.

He played with a 62 year old Arnold Palmer in round 1 of the 1992 Masters and recorded an even par 72 at Augusta. In 2004 he was paired with Tom Watson shooting 77 and 76.

He made more of an impression with some of the other professional tournament invites he received. He was the leading amateur at the 1993 Benson and Hedges International and 2004 British Masters and also made the cut at the 1992 Australian Masters.

He was also invited to play in the 1992 Memorial Tournament by Jack Nicklaus.

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Throughout his long career Wolstenholme derived the most satisfaction from his team selection for England, GB&I and Europe.

He is the most capped player in world amateur golf, playing 218 times for England. Between April 1988 and 2008 he won 130 games, halved 25 and lost 63, earning 142.5 points for his country.

England won the Home Internationals 13 times and the European Men’s Team Championships at Hillside in 2005 with Gary in the team. Gary played seven times for England in the latter competition between 1997 and 2007.

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Wolstenholme has consistently stated over the years that winning the Eisenhower Trophy for GB&I in Chile in 1998 was the highlight of his golfing career.

All four of Gary’s scores counted in the 72 hole event, including a final round 67 which helped take the four man GB&I team 4 shots clear of Australia and USA.

Having the golf medal placed around his neck while the national anthem was playing was his crowning glory.

In addition to 1998 he also played in the World Amateur Team Championship for GB&I in 1996 (Philippines) and, after each home nation started to enter separately, England in 2002 (Malaysia) and 2004 (Puerto Rico).

_________________________________________

Gary played on six Walker Cup teams, at Royal Porthcawl (1995), Quaker Ridge (1997), Nairn (1999), Ocean Forest (2001), Ganton (2003) and finally Chicago (2005).

He is the all-time leading points scorer for GB&I. He played 19 games in total, 11 Singles and 8 Foursomes, winning 5 of each (see Appendix 2). His wins against Tiger Woods in 1995 and Anthony Kim 10 years later being the obvious highlights. Unsurprisingly one rarely hears the second part of the Woods story which is that the two of them played again in the Day 2 Singles and that Tiger won relatively easily.

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Tiger Woods and Gary Wolstenholme At Porthcawl in 1995 (Photo: Sunday Times)

He was on the winning side four times; an impressive stat when one remembers GB&I have only won nine times in the 46 matches played since the contest started in 1922.

His leading points winner and most match win records are almost certainly never going to be broken due to the much changed nature of the amateur game.

Given his commitment to amateur golf and his status in the history of the Walker Cup it is disappointing that The R&A have not found themselves able to afford him the captaincy of the GB&I team to date (even accepting that he eventually turned professional).

_________________________________________

In 1998 the Bonallack Trophy match between Europe and Asia-Pacific started. Wolstenholme was selected for Europe on four occasions in 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2006. Europe won three of these matches and Gary holds the record for both the most games played and most points scored.

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Gary’s late blossoming meant he never really considered turning pro during his amateur career. He was simply never good enough while young enough and likewise when he became good enough he considered himself too old to embark on such a pursuit. He was also realistic enough to appreciate he didn’t have the finances to do so either. His somewhat nomadic life, he moved from Leicestershire to Bristol and then back again, meant he never really enjoyed a home fanbase which could have helped him attract local start-up sponsorship.

In September 2008, having just turned 48, Wolstenholme finally turned professional.

Whilst no one could begrudge Gary the opportunity to belatedly try and cash in on his years of hard work on the golf course he left the amateur ranks a little disillusioned. Both The R&A and England Golf had indicated to him that they wanted to focus on younger players going forward. If this was not bad enough neither party also seemed keen for him to play a role in helping to develop this next generation, something he had hoped for and perhaps expected.

Presented with little alternative, if he wished to continue playing golf competitively, he took the plunge; his theory being to acclimatise on development tours ahead of playing the Senior Tour after he turned 50 in 2010.

Shortly before this he had sold his house in Leicestershire and moved back in with his mother in Cumbria. He started an attachment with Carus Green Golf Club in Kendall as a result which continues to this day.

His first professional win came in July 2010 in the Stoke-By-Nayland event on the PGA EuroPro Tour where he shot a 63 in round 2 on his way to a -15 4-shot victory. At 49 years and 313 days old I assume he must be the oldest ever winner of a PGA EuroPro Tour event.

Gary made an impressive start to life on the European Senior Tour (now the Staysure Tour) in the Autumn of 2010. He finished third in his first event, the Travis Perkins Masters at Woburn, before winning the €90,000 first prize next time out at the 2010 Casa Serena Open (-13 by 3 shots) in the Czech Republic.

Wolstenholme went on to win a further two events; the 2012 Mallorca Open Senior (-8 by 2 shots) and the 2012 Benahavis Senior Masters (-13 by 1 shot).

He is currently playing his tenth season on the Staysure Tour. As at November 2019 he has played in 134 events and has to date amassed career prize winnings of €926,069.65. His decision to turn pro therefore appears to have been a good one.

He also won the 2011 ISPS Handa Australian Senior Open.

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Gary Wolstenholme Receives His MBE In May 2007 (Photo: Daily Mail)

Wolstenholme was awarded an MBE (for services to golf) in the 2007 New Year’s Honours list. “It’s a great honour and I’m very proud,” he said at the time. “This means everything to me. It salutes the sacrifices I’ve made to the game over the past 20 years but this is not just for me. It is also for those people who have helped me achieve what I have. Those at my club Kilworth Springs (where he was the Director of Golf for eight years), those who have coached me over the years, the people who helped me when I was in Bristol, and especially my mother without whom I wouldn’t have achieved anything.”

‘The Long and the Short of It: The Autobiography of Britain’s Greatest Amateur Golfer’ by Gary Wolstenholme (and Sunday Times journalist Derek Clements) was published by John Blake Publishing on 4th October 2010. It is dedicated to his mother Joan and presents an honest story of his career in the game.

Book Gary Wolstenholme

Gary’s AutobiographyThe Long And Short Of  It’ (Photo: GolfBible)

Over the years he has also been given honorary memberships at Berkhamsted GC, The Berkshire GC, Bristol & Clifton GC, County Sligo GC, GC of Georgia (USA), Grange-over-sands GC, Heysham GC, The Leicestershire GC, Morecambe GC, Scarborough North Cliff GC and Trevose G&CC.

In 2005 Wolstenholme was invited to join The R&A only for the invitation to be subsequently withdrawn by Chief Executive Peter Dawson after a couple of members, one presumably very senior, surprisingly ‘blackballed’ him for being “not suitable”.

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Gary Wolstenholme was sometimes viewed by his peers as a loner, an outsider; superstitious and a little eccentric on the one hand but occasionally arrogant and aloof too.

Having played most of his golf with players much younger than himself it was perhaps inevitable that some found it hard to build a rapport with him. The truth is Gary probably didn’t want them to. Like a great many champions he did what he believed to be necessary to fulfil his potential and get the job done.

For me his playing record and achievements certainly outweigh any character flaws that he may have had. He often talked about setting his name in stone within the history of the game. As the only amateur to win on all five continents he has undoubtedly done that.

GB&I amateur golf supporters owe him a debt of gratitude for the service he gave to his country over 20 years. Many of his playing records will never be broken and he will rightly take his place in history as our last great career amateur.

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Appendix 1 – Other Amateur Victories

1986 & 2002 – Midland Open Stroke Play

1987 – West of England Open Stroke Play

1989 – Golf Illustrated Gold Vase

1993 – Chinese Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship

1994, 1996 & 1999 – Duncan Putter

1994, 1996, 1998 & 2001 – English County Champion of Champions

1995 – United Arab Emirates Amateur,

1995, 1996 & 1998 – British Mid-Amateur Championship

1996 – Finnish Amateur Stroke Play Championship,

1996, 1997 & 2002 – Berkshire Trophy,

1997 – Welsh Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship

1998 & 2006 – St Mellion International Amateur Stroke Play

2000 & 2001 – Sherry Cup Invitational Stroke Play

2002 – Lagonda Trophy

2002 – South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship

2003 – Scottish Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship

2004 – Georgia Cup Match (v. US Amateur champion Nick Flanagan)

2005 – New South Wales Medal

2006 – South of England Open Stroke Play

2006 & 2007 – European Mid-Amateur Championship

2007 – New South Wales Amateur Championship

2008 – The Lakes Medal

2008 – Lee Westwood Trophy (his last ever amateur competition)

Appendix 2 – Walker Cup Results

1995 Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, Wales

GB&I 14 v. 10 USA

Day 1 Foursomes
Not selected

Day 1 Singles
W v. Tiger Woods by 1 hole

Day 2 Foursomes
L with L James v. G E Marucci Jnr & J Courville Jnr by 6&5

Day 2 Singles
L v. Tiger Woods by 4&3

1997 Quaker Ridge Golf Club, New York, USA

USA 18 v. 6 GB&I

Day 1 Foursomes
L with K Nolan v. J Gore & J Harris by 6&4

Day 1 Singles
L v. J Harris by 1 hole

Day 2 Foursomes
W with J Rose v. R Leen & C Wollman by 2&1

Day 2 Singles
L v. D Delcher by 2&1

1999 The Nairn Golf Club, Scotland

GB&I 15 v 9 USA

Day 1 Foursomes
W with P Rowe v. M Kuchar & B Molder by 1 hole

Day 1 Singles
Not selected

Day 2 Foursomes
W with P Rowe v. M Kuchar & B Molder by 4&3

Day 2 Singles
W v. D Gossett by 1 hole

2001 Ocean Forest Golf Club, Georgia, USA

USA 9 v 15 GB&I

Day 1 Foursomes
W with S O’Hara v. D Green & DJ Trahen by 5&3

Day 1 Singles
L to E Compton by 3&2

Day 2 Foursomes
Not selected

Day 2 Singles
W v. N Cassini by 4&3

2003 Ganton Golf Club, England

GB&I 12.5 v 11.5 USA

Day 1 Foursomes
L with M Skelton to B Haas & E Kuehne 2&1

Day 1 Singles
L to B Haas by 1 hole

Day 2 Foursomes
W with O Wilson v. B Haas & E Kuehne 5&4

Day 2 Singles
W v. C Wittenberg 3&2

2005 Chicago Golf Club, Illinois, USA

USA 12.5 v. 11.5 GB&I

Day 1 Foursomes
Not selected

Day 1 Singles
L v. J Holmes by 1 hole

Day 2 Foursomes
Not selected

Day 2 Singles
W v. A Kim by 1 hole

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

European Tour Q-School – 2019 Final Stage Preview & Results

13th November 2019 (Updated 20th November 2019)

The European Tour’s FINAL STAGE QUALIFYING event was played between 15th – 20th November 2019 at Lumine Golf Club in Tarragona, Spain.

Lumine replaced PGA Catalunya Resort in 2017 and hosted Final Stage for the third consecutive time.

A total of six rounds or 108 holes were played over the venue’s two championship courses; the Lakes which plays 6,909 yards (par 71) and the Hills which is slightly longer at 6,975 yards (par 72).

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Lumine Beach & Golf Club – 18th hole, Hills Course (Photo: http://www.lumine.com)

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156 players from 28 different countries started Final Stage. 74 of them were exempt due to past performances and their previous status on the two tours, 79 were Second Stage Q-School qualifiers and the final 3 Second Stage Alternates (Gary STAL FRA,  Mathias EGGENBERGER AUT and Filip MRUZEK CZH).

Bjarki PETURSSON (ISL) turned Pro ahead of Final Stage which meant that no amateurs were competing in the event this year.

40 Great British & Irish players made the original lineup, 23 coming through Second Stage with the remainder being exempt. Unfortunately Paul DUNNE (IRE) withdrew before play commenced with a wrist injury taking our starters down to 39.

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77 players on -4 or better made the four round Top 70 cut and went on to play the final 36 holes exclusively on the Lakes Course. 22 GB&I players were amongst this number.

28 players finished tied 25th or better to earn a ‘full’ membership category on both the European and Challenge Tours for the 2020 season.

Benjamin POKE (DEN) earned medalist honours with a superb -25 total score.

8 GB&I players secured their cards – well done to Laurie CANTER (ENG), Garrick PORTEOUS (ENG), Marcus ARMITAGE (ENG), Bradley DREDGE (WAL), Jonathan CALDWELL (NIR), Dave COUPLAND (ENG), Toby TREE (ENG) and Dale WHITNELL (ENG).

Daniel YOUNG (SCO) and Tom GANDY (IOM) sadly missed out by one shot finishing tied 29th.

On average over the last 5 years the Final Stage medalist has received 29 European Tour starts whilst the 25th placed qualifier has garnered 19. Every finishing place therefore matters.

The players who made the 72 hole cut but finished outside the Top 25 also earned a membership category on the European Challenge Tour.

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I have specifically followed all of the Great British and Irish (GB&I) professionals, First Stage and Second Stage Qualifying medalists and a few other overseas ‘players of interest’. Here’s how they all finished: –

PLAYERS T25 OR BETTER EARNING A EUROPEAN TOUR CARD
1st  -25 Benjamin POKE (DEN) WINNER
T5   -16 Rasmus HØJGAARD (DEN)
T5   -16 Laurie CANTER (ENG)
T13 -14 Garrick PORTEOUS (ENG) – 2nd Stage Desert Springs
T13 -14 Marcus ARMITAGE (ENG) – 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T17 -13 Bradley DREDGE (WAL)
T17 -13 Jonathan CALDWELL (NIR) – 2nd Stage Bonmont
T17 -13 Dave COUPLAND (ENG) – 2nd Stage Bonmont
T17 -13 Toby TREE (ENG) – 2nd Stage Alenda
T25 -12 Dale WHITNELL (ENG)

PLAYERS FINISHING T70 OR BETTER WHO MADE THE 72 HOLE CUT
T29 -11 Daniel YOUNG (SCO) – 2nd Stage Desert Springs
T29 -11 Wilco NIENABER (RSA) TURNED PRO 7/19 – 1st Stage Frilford Heath / 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T29 -11 Tom GANDY (IoM) –1st Stage Hardelot / 2nd Stage Alenda
T34 -10 Steven TILEY (ENG)
T34 -10 Craig HOWIE (SCO) – 1st Stage Ebreichsdorf / 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T44  -8 Niall KEARNEY (IRE) – 2nd Stage Alenda
T44  -8 David DIXON (ENG) – 2nd Stage Alenda
T44  -8 Gavin MOYNIHAN (IRE)
T51  -7 Nicolai HØJGAARD (DEN)
T51  -7 Matthew BALDWIN (ENG)
T51  -7 Marc WARREN (SCO)
T57  -6 Jordan WRISDALE (ENG) – 2nd Stage Alenda
T57  -6 Ewen FERGUSON (SCO)
T57  -6 Daniel GAVINS (ENG) – 2nd Stage Alenda
T65  -4 Euan WALKER (SCO) TURNED PRO 9/192nd Stage Las Colinas
67th -3 Aron ZEMMER (ITA) – 1st Stage Bogogno / 2nd Stage Bonmont WINNER
T68  -2 Ben STOW (ENG)

PLAYERS WHO MISSED THE 72 HOLE T70 CUT
T78  -3 Ben EVANS (ENG)
T78  -3 Liam JOHNSTON (SCO)
T78  -3 Robin DAWSON (IRE) – 2nd Stage Bonmont
T91  -1 Blake WINDRED (AUS) TURNED PRO 10/19 – 2nd Stage Desert Springs WINNER
T91  -1 Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) TURNED PRO 9/191st Stage Frilford Heath / 2nd Stage Alenda
T96  Ev Björn HELLGREN (SWE) – 1st Stage Arlandastad WINNER / 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T96  Ev Chris CANNON (ENG) – 2nd Stage Bonmont
T96  Ev Scott GREGORY (ENG) – 2nd Stage Desert Springs
T96  Ev Lauri RUUSKA (FIN) – 1st Stage Fleesensee WINNER / 2nd Stage Bonmont
T106 +1 Ross MCGOWAN (ENG)
T106 +1 Will ENEFER (ENG) – 1st Stage Fleesensee / 2nd Stage Bonmont
T106 +1 Rhys ENOCH (WAL)
T106 +1 Gary KING (ENG) – 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T120 +3 Thomas ROSENMÜLLER (GER) TURNED PRO 10/19 – 1st Stage Ebreichsdorf / 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T120 +3 Bjarki PETURSSON (ISL) TURNED PRO 11/19 – 1st Stage Fleesensee / 2nd Stage Bonmont
T120 +3 Jimmy JONES (CAN) – 2nd Stage Las Colinas WINNER
T131 +5 Jonathan THOMSON (ENG) – 2nd Stage Bonmont
T131 +5 Louis HIRST (ENG) – 2nd Stage Desert Springs
T134 +6 Ben BRISCOE (WAL) – 1st Stage Arlandastad / 2nd Stage Desert Springs
T134 +6 Jarand Ekelund ARNOY (NOR) – 1st Stage Stoke by Nayland / 2nd Stage Alenda WINNER
T138 +7 David MICHELUZZI (AUS) TURNED PRO 10/19 – 2nd Stage Bonmont
T138 +7 Michael HOEY (NIR) – 2nd Stage Las Colinas
T145 +8 Lee SLATTERY (ENG)
151 +15 Matteo MANASSERO (ITA)
152 +16 Steve WEBSTER (ENG)
WD Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) after Rd 2 (+2)
WD Paul DUNNE (IRE) before Rd 1

Click this link to view the European Tour website’s full – FINAL STAGE Q-SCHOOL RESULTS

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THE 2019 EUROPEAN TOUR QUALIFYING SCHOOL SERIES

The European Tour Qualifying School was first played in 1976, four years after the European Tour was founded. What started out as a 72 hole sprint has grown into potentially a 252 hole marathon.

Nowadays there are three stages of stroke play qualifying, First, Second and Final.

The 2019 European Tour Q-School entrance fee is £1,800 or €2,030 (2018: €2,000).

Some entrants are exempted straight into Second Stage or Final Stage based on their past results and ranking.

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First Stage

First Stage consisted of nine 72 hole stroke play qualifying events split into five Sections, A, B, C, D and E.

A total of 842 players contested First Stage Qualifying this year with 185 (22%) progressing to Second Stage. 83 of these were amateurs with a further 17 newly turned professionals. Of the First Stage qualifiers 22 started out as amateurs.

For a recap on the nine First Stage competitions played between 3rd September and 12th October please read my earlier article – European Tour Q-School – 2019 First Stage Preview & Results

Second Stage

The Second Qualifying Stage consisted of four separate 72-hole events played at Alenda Golf, Club de Golf Bonmont, Desert Springs GC and Las Colinas G&CC, all in Spain, concurrently on 7th-10th November 2019. The Alenda and Bonmont events required a fifth day due to strong winds.

183 of the 185 First Stage qualifiers were joined at Second Stage by those players who were exempt from the preliminary round due to their performances on the 2019 European Tour, Challenge Tour and other feeder / satellite tours.

The two missing First Stage qualifiers were, James NICHOLAS (USA) AM (1st Stage Bom Sucesso, Portugal) and Jordan NIEBRUGGE (USA) (1st Stage, Stoke-by-Nayland, England), who withdrew from the European Tour Qualifying Series after also qualifying for the Second Stage of the Korn Ferry Qualifying Series.

Exemptions into Second Stage were also given to the leading five Q-School entrants as at 21st August 2019, up to a limit of 15th place, in the Men’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. As a result of this David MICHELUZZI (AUS) and Euan WALKER (SCO) were both exempted into Second Stage this year.

325 players started Second Stage with 82 progressing (including three Alternates) to Final Stage. 18 players competed as amateurs.

For a recap on the nine First Stage competitions played between 3rd September and 12th October please read my earlier article – European Tour Q-School – 2019 Second Stage Preview & Results

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

W. Lawson Little Jr

31st October 2019

William Lawson Little Jr. was born on 23rd June 1910 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

He is best known for his “Little Slam”, winning both the U.S. Amateur and Amateur Championships in 1934 and 1935. In these two years the Championships were both contested solely via match play.

He is the only player in history to have twice won both of these titles in the same year. Just three other players have achieved the ‘double’ in the same year – Harold Hilton (ENG) in 1911, Bobby Jones (USA) in 1930 and most recently Bob Dickson (USA) in 1967.

In achieving this feat he won an impressive 33 consecutive match play singles games in the two Amateur Championships and the Walker Cup¹.

Lawson Little Receives The 1934 Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: Prestwick GC)

He started playing golf when he was 8 and was a student of English golf instructor Ernest Jones who emigrated to the New York area in the early 1920’s.

Little moved to San Francisco when his father, a colonel in the Army Medical Corps, was posted to California. He represented the Presidio G.C. in his adopted City throughout his career.

He first came to national prominence as a teenager in the late 1920’s. His 1928 and 1930 wins at the Northern Californian Amateur Championship helped but it was his part in the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach that really did the trick. After Johnny Goodman beat Bobby Jones in Round 1 in one of the greatest golfing upsets of all time it was Little who knocked the Omaha man off his pedestal in their afternoon Round 2 match.

Little graduated from Stanford University in Autumn 1935 having majored in Economics and was subsequently inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame.

Lawson Little With The U.S. Amateur Championship Trophy in 1934 (Photo: Leslie Jones)

Little played in one Walker Cup match in May 1934 at The Old Course in St. Andrews. He won his foursomes with Johnny Goodman 8&6 against Roger Wethered and Cyril Tolley on Day 1 and then thrashed Tolley again 6&5 in the Saturday singles.

He was awarded the Amateur Athletic Union’s James E. Sullivan Award for the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States in 1935. This award, which is still handed out annually today, has only been given to a golfer twice, Bobby Jones also collecting it in its inaugural year of 1930. The Little family donated the trophy to the USGA Museum in Far Hills, New Jersey in 2008.

Little was well known for carrying as many as 26 clubs, including seven wedges, in his bag and as such was a major influence in the USGA introducing the 14-club limit in 1938.

He was nicknamed ‘cannonball’ reflecting the huge power he was able to generate from his modest 200lb, 5ft 9” frame. However, it was not just length that made him a leading player in the 1930’s and ’40s; he also had a superb short game, was a sound putter and was an intense competitor with a strong mind. He famously once said “It is impossible to outplay an opponent you cannot out think.”

Little turned professional in April 1936. At the time the U.S. PGA had a rule which meant that new pros had to serve a 5 year apprenticeship at a golf club before they could take up full membership so his playing opportunities, when he was 25-30 and in his prime, were limited.

Thankfully his stellar amateur career meant he was one of the first pros to receive significant commercial endorsements. The PGA’s rules also meant he could take up an invitation to join the Spalding “Keystones of Golf” exhibition tour alongside Bobby Jones, Horton Smith and Jimmy Thompson. In 1936-39 Little calculated that he travelled over 300,000 miles and played around 725 rounds of exhibition golf.

Lawson Little Wine Advertisment

The highlight of his pro career was his 1940 victory at the U.S. Open Championship when he overcame Gene Sarazen in an 18 hole play-off after both players had finished on 287 (-1).

He won a total of eight PGA Tour titles, including the Canadian Open (1936) and the Los Angeles Open (1940). Perhaps unfairly his professional career is considered a disappointment largely because of the high expectations that most people held for him at the time.

Between 1935 and 1957 Little played in 18 U.S. Masters finishing in the top 10 seven times. His best finish was a tied 3rd in 1939. He was the low amateur in 1935 when he finished 6th.

Little played in The Open in 1935, 1939, 1946 and 1948. On the back of his 1935 Amateur win he finished tied 4th, the low amateur, at Muirfield. His next best finish was 10th at St. Andrews in 1946.

Lawson and Dorothy Little With The U.S. Open Trophy in 1940 (Photo: The Golf Auction)

The onset of World War II, where Little served in the U.S. Navy and played numerous Red Cross exhibition games, obviously impacted his pro career. With many major championships cancelled it is said his interest in golf waned with investments in stocks and shares increasingly taking up more of his time.

With The Ryder Cup missing four matches between 1937 and 1947 one of the best match players of all time sadly never had an opportunity to make his mark in this contest.

Little married Dorothy Hurd in 1936 and the couple had four children, Linda, Sandra, Sonya and William Lawson III. Lawson Little III briefly played on the PGA Tour before becoming the club professional and then president of Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel Valley for over 35 years. Like his father he died prematurely in June 2015, aged 67.

Lawson Little Jr was just 57 when he died of a heart attack on 1st February 1968 at his home alongside the first hole at Pebble Beach in California. He had started to drink heavily in the early 1950’s and this inevitably took it’s toll on his health in middle age.

He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1980 but despite this remains one of the least known and most under-appreciated golfers in the history of the game.

Lawson Little Mac Cartoon Celebrating His Amateur Championship Wins (Photo: Pure Golf Auctions)

Note ¹ – 1934 and 1935 Match Play Championship Results

1934 Walker Cup Match – St. Andrews (2 games)
Foursomes W (with Johnny Goodman) 8&6 v. Roger Wethered & Cyril Tolley
Singles W  6&5 v. Cyril Tolley 

1934 Amateur Championship – Prestwick GC (8 games)
Rd1 W 3&1 v. RW Ripley (Banstead Downs) 
Rd2 W 5&3 v. FL Rankin (Sunningdale)
Rd3 W 3&2 v. EA McRuvie (Innerleven)
Rd4 W 3&2 v. LOM Munn (Royal Cinque Ports)
Rd5 W 4&3 v. GB Peters (Fereneze)
QF W 4&2 v. TA Bourn (Sunningdale)
SF W 20th Hole v. LG Garnett (Addington)
Final W 14&13 v. J Wallace (Troon Portland)

The American Walker Cup team were scheduled to sail home from Liverpool on the evening of the 1934 Amateur final. Thankfully The R&A arranged for the Final to start earlier and for the ship to sail at midnight so Lawson could compete and then travel south. As it happened Lawson’s play was so good – he made twelve 3’s in the 23 holes played – that they probably needn’t have worried.

1934 U.S. Amateur – The Country Club, Brookline (8 games)
Final W 8&7 v. David Goldman

1935 Amateur Championship – Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s (8 games)
Rd1 W 1 Hole v. TH Parker (Fairhaven)
Rd2 W 5&3 v. EM Smith (Royal St. George’s)
Rd3 W 4&3 v. JP Zacharias (Formby)
Rd4 W 2&1 v. HG McCallum (Troon)
Rd5 W 2 Holes v. JL Black (Rhos on Sea) 
QF W 6&4 v. GLQ Henriques (Cavendish) 
SF W 3&2 v. R Sweeny Jr (Prince’s)
Final W 1 Hole v. Dr. W Tweddell (Stourbridge) 

Lawson played poorly during most of this Championship but enjoyed good fortune with a friendly draw and timely poor play from his opponents. In Rd 1 he shot 80 so was lucky to progress against a local player who knew Lytham well. McCallum three putted two late holes to hand Little a win in Rd 4. In Rd 5 the American recorded an air shot in a bunker on the 16th and in his Semi-Final he shot 40 on the front nine. Little led the Final 3Up at lunch but having returned to his hotel in the break returned late and preceded to lose the first two holes of the afternoon 18. Tweddell achieved parity by the 12th but a win with par on the 15th proved enough for the American to hold on as both players parred in.  

1935 U.S. Amateur – The Country Club, Cleveland (8 games)
Final W 4&2 v. Walter Emery

Mark Eley.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.