John Graham Jr.

8th April 2020

History has marked John Graham Jr. down as the ‘Uncrowned King’, the greatest amateur golfer never to win a national Championship.

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‘Jack’, as he was known, was born in Liverpool on 3rd April 1877 to Scottish parents John Graham (1843-1921) and Mary Gilkison Allan (1851-1918). He had a younger brother, Allan, and two sisters, one older than him, Molly, and one younger.

His family were very wealthy. John Snr. was a Director of the Macfie & Sons sugar refinery which previous generations of his family had built up. He moved his family south to work at the new Liverpool branch in 1873. Meanwhile Mary was the grand-daughter of Captain Sandy Allan, whose Allan Shipping Line was one of the biggest shipping companies in the world in the early 19th Century.

The family lived primarily in south Liverpool near Sefton Park but also had a second home ‘The Croft’ on Stanley Road in Hoylake. 

Jack took to golf quickly as a young boy learning the game at Royal Liverpool G.C. where his father was a member. John Snr. would become captain of Hoylake in 1886-87.

He won the club’s Boys’ Medal (for U15’s) in 1888, 1989, 1891 and 1892 and looked all set to follow in the footsteps of local amateur greats John Ball (b. 1861) and Harold Hilton (b. 1869). 

Jack was educated at Marlborough College, the prestigious public school in Wiltshire, for four years between 1891 and 1894. He was a natural sportsman and captained the College’s cricket and hockey teams as well as playing in their racquets team.

As a teenager he joined the Liverpool Scottish Volunteers and rose to the rank of Captain before stepping down due to the commencement of his business career in the sugar industry and increasing golf commitments.

When he left school he joined his father at Macfie’s as a clerk subsequently rising up the organisation during the rest of his career. He became Secretary of the Liverpool Sugar Refiner’s Association.

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On the golfing front he made his debut in the 1896 Amateur Championship at Sandwich losing in the semi-finals to Harold Hilton 4&3. His performances in Kent understandably saw him earmarked as a potential future champion but that elusive major win never came in the years that followed. 

It appears he was neither sufficiently consistent or mentally strong enough to ever get the job done. Horace Hutchinson in his Fifty Years Of Golf (1919) wrote it is “his constitutional misfortune that he is not able to last through a long sustained trial” and “Jack has never been able to last, and has been, beaten at that point by men whom he could give three strokes comfortably in ordinary circumstances and in the earlier stages of the tournament. He has been a terrible disappointment to us all, in this way, for a more brilliant amateur golfer never played. It is his health that has knocked him out every time – a lack of robust nerves”. 

During his career Graham played in 16 Amateurs between 1896 and 1914 winning 52 of his 68 matches (76.5%). He never reached the final losing five times in the semis – in 1896, 1900, 1901, 1905 and 1908 – and on many other occasions in the latter stages. 

The Amateur of 1898, played at Hoylake, seems to be indicative of his Championship play. Graham lost in the quarter finals by 1 hole to the eventual winner and his house guest that week Freddie Tait. Graham inexplicably missed two very short putts in the closing holes which would have ensured his passage to a semi-final against John Low. The second one on the 18th hole to take the match back down the 1st was described by the watching Harold Hilton, who Tait had beaten in the previous round, as “about the shortest I have ever seen missed in a Championship”.    

Jack Graham had three top-10 finishes in the Open Championship, an event which seemed to suit him better. He first played at Hoylake in 1897 and competed in a further 6 Opens up until his final one again at Hoylake in 1913. Graham’s best finish was fourth place in 1906. He finished 9th in 1901 and tied 7th in 1904. He was the leading amateur competitor in 1904, 1906, 1907 (tied 13th) and 1913 (tied 11th).

Whilst the above analysis of his performances in our two main championships imply that Graham was a serial loser thankfully that was not the case.

In 1902 Royal Liverpool proposed an England v. Scotland International Match prior to their staging of that year’s Amateur Championship. At the behest of his father Jack chose to represent Scotland much to the disappointment of the other English players. Interestingly the Hoylake organising committee stipulated that Graham could not play either Ball or Hilton in this first series due to the local bad feeling it was believed it may cause. The Match became popular and in the ten games Jack played between 1902 and 1911 he won eight times.

He won 25 gold medals and every major title at Royal Liverpool most of which were played for during their Spring, Summer and Autumn Meetings. This was no mean achievement given the quality of the club’s membership at the time with the likes of Ball, Hilton, Hutchings, Hutchinson and Laidlay nearly always competing against him.  

Jack also won the prestigious St. George’s Grand Challenge Cup twice and his score in 1914, just two months before World War I broke out, of 146 was not equalled until 1928 and not broken until 1937 (144).

At the outbreak of World War I Jack, now 37, immediately volunteered to serve in the 10th (Scottish) Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment. After fighting on the front line from November 1914, where he rose to Captain again, he was eventually killed on 16th June 1915 during an early morning attack at the Battle of Hooge in Belgium. Jack’s body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Ypres Menin Gate Memorial near West Flanders in Belgium. 1,000 British soldiers died and 3,000 were injured in the Battle which lasted 12 hours.

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In his obituary Bernard Darwin described Graham as “a player of unquestioned genius” who “could not have left a more unforgettable or pleasanter memory”. A view seemingly shared by the membership of Royal Liverpool G.C. who commissioned a posthumous portrait by RE Morrison the costs of which were heavily oversubscribed for. The picture hangs in the famous old clubhouse to this day.

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Jack Graham by RE Morrison

Jack never married and left the modern equivalent of over £2m in his will. 

Jack Graham appears to have had all of the golfing skills required to be a champion but a combination of family business commitments, bad luck and mental weakness repeatedly deprived him. The fact golfing historians have included him in a ‘Hoylake Triumvirate’, alongside Ball and Hilton, demonstrates that whilst he didn’t collect the trophies he certainly earned the respect of his golfing peers in the early 20th Century.

On all things Hoylake it is perhaps best to leave the final word to Guy Farrer, author of the first Royal Liverpool G.C. history in 1933. He wrote on Graham: “I think he hated Championships; the long drawn-out struggle, the clamour and the shouting, and all the other ordeals that a champion must face were repugnant to his rather shy and reserved nature. Golf, to him, was a game to be played far from the madding crowd, with some congenial friend, where new methods could be tried, with nothing resting on the match except the satisfaction of playing brilliant golf. Those who were privileged to play with him in these private games know what wonders he performed”.

ME.

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

March 2020 Men’s Amateur Rankings

3rd April 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 March 2020 Quarter period has now been added.

In a tight contest Ben SCHMIDT beat Joe LONG to my Player of the Quarter Award. Both players have made great starts to the new year and will be particularly disappointed with the curtailment to the 2020 season.

Ben Schmidt With The New South Wales Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: GolfNSW)

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

ME.

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

John Laidlay

3rd February 2020

John Ernest LAIDLAY was born on 5 November 1860 at Seacliff House, near North Berwick in Scotland.

Johnny was the son of John Watson Laidlay FRSE, a wealthy indigo plantation owner and merchant and Ellen Hope. His brother was the cricketer and artist, William Laidlay.

Laidlay learnt the game of golf whilst at Loretto School near Edinburgh between 1872–1878. He played much of his early golf on Musselburgh Links and was a member of North Berwick G.C.

History has portrayed him as one of the ‘last of the gentlemen golfers’, reflecting his family’s wealth and his ability to play golf at his convenience.

John Laidlay (Photo: Fine Golf Books)

In 1884, after a poor run of form, he started to use an overlapping grip with each club held as lightly as possible. This approach, now widely used, became known as the ‘Vardon Grip’. While Harry certainly popularised this approach it is generally accepted that Laidlay first played at a high level with it. He explained his reasoning in an interview with American Golfer shortly afterwards stating “that my hands being more opposite each other, were more likely to work together and swing the club like a pendulum, and not likely to operate against one another.”

The changes elevated his game to a position where he quickly became capable of competing on a national level.

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John Laidlay at St. Andrews (Photo: Wrench Postcard)

Laidlay played in the Amateur Championship 28 times between 1885 and 1920. He won 65 of his 91 matches during this time with his record in the seven year period 1888-1894 particularly impressive.

He won the Amateur twice at St. Andrews, in 1889 and 1891, beating Leslie Balfour-Melville by 2&1 and Harold Hilton after 20 holes respectively. He was also runner-up in 1888, 1890 and 1893 and reached the semi-finals in 1892, 1894 and 1904.

He won around 150 amateur medals during his career and played in many exhibition matches which often drew large crowds. His popularity saw him feature in a few of the earliest cigarette card series at the start of the 20th century.

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John Laidlay Cigarette Cards (Photo: GolfBible)

He rarely practised – “golf can be overdone” he once said – and was known for playing his strokes off the front foot, for lurching forward threw impact and for his crouched putting stance.

He played in the Open Championship 16 times between 1885 and 1906. He recorded six top 10 finishes and was low amateur (LA) four times; 1886 Tied 8th LA, 1887 4th LA, 1888 10th, 1889 Tied 4th LA, 1893 2nd LA, 1901 Tied 7th. The closest he came to winning it was 1893 when he finished two strokes behind the winner, Willie Auchterlonie.

Laidlay represented Scotland every year from 1902 to 1911 in the international match against England. Scotland won eight of these 10 matches.

He was a member of many Scottish clubs and Captain of Prestwick (1894), Lundin Links (1894-6), Elie (1896), Honourable Company of Edinburgh GC’s (1904), North Berwick (1906), North Berwick New (1913-15) and Tantallon Golf Club (1906-08).

John Laidlay (Photo: Wikipedia)

An all-round sportsmen he played cricket for Scotland on one occasion in 1878.

He married (Jane) Eileen Redmayne in Ambleside, Cumbria in January 1889. Their first son John was born there the following year. In 1891 the family moved back to Scotland and settled in Largo, Fife. The Laidlays had four more children, Richard Ernest in 1892 (who died after 15 months), (Eileen) Faith in 1895, Peter in 1896 and Robert in 1897 (who also died soon after his birth). In 1899 he returned home building the 10-bedroomed Invereil House overlooking the 8th fairway on the West Links in North Berwick.

Laidlay was a Justice of the Peace and sat at Haddington Sherriff Court.

After World War I Laidlay moved to Sunnningdale with his wife Eileen. He knew both Jack White, the club professional at the famous Berkshire club, and James Sheridan, the famous caddie master who both hailed from East Lothian and who had both caddied for him on many occasions.

In his book ‘Sheridan of Sunningdale’ James Sheridan said of Laidlay: “He was a most wonderful iron player, but wooden clubs were his weakness. Being a real wizard with the putter, the keener or more difficult the green the greater his artistry appeared. He seemed to revel in a big match and few men were his equal as a match player.”

Johnny continued to play the game at Sunningdale and recorded low scores well into his sixties.

He eventually died on 15 July 1940 aged 79 and is buried in Holy Trinity Cemetery in Sunningdale.

ME.

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

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.

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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)

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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 was confirmed on 5th February when they launched their new website: –

Men’s Squad
Callum Bruce – San Diego State University, USA (597)
George Burns (1,070)
Matthew Clark (222)
Stuart Easton (316)
Darren Howie (489)
Lewis Irvine (914)
Eric McIntosh – Northwestern University, USA (433)
Connor McKinney – Western Australia (135)
Stephen Roger (261)
Sandy Scott – Texas Tech University, USA (22)
Jamie Stewart – University of Missouri, USA (370)
James Wilson (138)

Other Elite Players
Rory Franssen – University of Missouri, USA (345)
John Paterson – University of Colorado, USA (550)

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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 © 2019-20, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.