My Review Of GB&I Men’s Amateur Golf In 2017

24th December 2017

As we come to the end of 2017 I thought I would record the more memorable performances that we have seen from Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur golfers throughout the year.

When one reads through the months below it’s hard not to conclude that the year has generally been another successful one, with many highs and just a few lows.

An unusually large number of players have turned professional in the last 3 months (‘Amexit’) but I think we can take comfort from the positive signs already emanating from the next generation of players coming through.



The year started with various touring parties heading off to events in the Southern Hemisphere.

Evan GRIFFITH (quarter finals) and Robert MACINTYRE (semi-finals) enjoyed good runs in the Australian Men’s Amateur.

Jack DAVIDSON and Conor O’ROURKE finished 4th and tied 7th at the South American Amateur in Argentina.

Jack SINGH BRAR and Bradley MOORE finished 2nd and 3rd in the Avondale Amateur in Australia.


Scott GREGORY delivered GB&I’s first major win of 2017, beating compatriot Marco PENGE by 1 hole in the Final of the New South Wales Amateur.

Robin DAWSON (2nd), Dan BROWN (3rd), Liam JOHNSTON (5th) and Craig HOWIE (7th) made good starts to their seasons with high finishes in the South African Stroke Play Championship.

Back in Europe Josh MCMAHON (2nd), Gian-Marco PETROZZI (T4), David BOOTE (T4) and Bailey GILLGeorge BLOOR and Tiarnan MCLARNON (T7) all showed early season form at the Portuguese International Amateur.

Robin DAWSON (2nd) lost a play-off to South African star Garrick Higgo in the Cape Province Open.  Stuart GREHAN and Alex GLEESON finished T4 in the same event whilst Craig HOWIE was T9.

Dan BROWN (-15) was co-medalist in the South African Amateur. Dan sadly lost the play-off for the Proudfoot Trophy on the 4th extra hole albeit his second round 63 at Humewood GC will no doubt live long in his memory. He was 6-under after his first 5 holes having eagled two par 4’s. Liam JOHNSTON and Joe LONG made the Quarter-Final when the Championship match play got going.


Liam Johnston (Photo: Ernest Blignault)

Liam JOHNSTON didn’t have to wait much longer to get his name up in lights. The following week he went on to win the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Leopard Creek CC. In a good week for Scottish Golf Connor SYME (2nd), Jamie STEWART (3rd) and Craig HOWIE (5th) also finished high up.

Ben AMOR (ENG) turned Pro in February.


Jack DAVIDSON got the European season underway by winning the Spanish International Amateur. Interestingly Jack was the final stroke play qualifier after Chris MACLEAN had pipped Stuart GREHAN to medalist honours. Nevertheless he soon got to grips with EL Saler ultimately beating Marco PENGE 4&3 in the 36 hole final.

In an event with little GB&I support David HAGUE popped up with a T7 result at the Italian International Amateur. Even more surprisingly Sean CROCKER the highly rated US College golfer turned up and ended up winning the Championship comfortably by 5 shots.

A superb opening day’s play from Bailey GILL, where he shot two 65’s, helped the Yorkshireman literally blow the field away at the subsequently weather shortened Darwin Salver.

Scott GREGORY re-affirmed his match play credentials with an impressive 1st Extra Hole win over Australia’s 2016 US Amateur champion Curtis LUCK in the pre-Masters Georgia Cup match.


WALES, represented by David BOOTEJack DAVIDSONJoshua DAVIES and Owen EDWARDS, won the European Nations Cup Team competition at RCG Sotogrande in Spain. WALES’ total of +13 was 11 shots better than second placed IRELAND (+24) and 21 shots better than fourth placed SCOTLAND (+34). An out of sorts ENGLAND (+61) finished a disappointing 12th.

Jack DAVIDSON won the Individual European Nations Cup title by 4-shots. Rounds of 70, 70, 70 and 73 (-5), which included 20 birdies and 2 eagles, gave him his second major title in less than a month.

Charlie STRICKLAND, who was runner-up to Bailey GILL at the Darwin Salver, then came to the fore, winning two 72 hole events in consecutive weeks. First came the Duncan Putter – which will be moving to three days at Southerndown in 2018 – and quickly following it up with the U18 Peter McEvoy Trophy at my home club, Copt Heath.


Charlie Strickland with Peter McEvoy (Photo: @GolfBible)

The 2016 US Mid-Amateur champion, Stewart HAGESTAD, won the Silver Cup at The Masters following rounds of 74, 73, 74 and 73 (+6). His tied 36th finish saw him comfortably win low amateur honours. Our Amateur champion, Scott GREGORY, missed the cut after rounds of 82 and 75 (+13).

The Scottish Boys Open Championship, disappointingly scheduled directly against the Peter McEvoy Trophy, was won in style by John PATERSON who came past runner-up Jamie STEWART at Monifieth with an exceptional final round of 67.

The Hampshire Salver again proved a popular weekend for competitors. Jack SINGH BRAR won Saturday’s Selborne Salver and Jake BURNAGE Sunday’s Hampshire Hog at North Hants. Singh Brar beat Burnage by 1shot for the combined 72 hole Hampshire Salver.

Up in Scotland Craig HOWIE, the clear favourite at the start of play, dominated the Craigmillar Park Open shooting rounds of 66, 66, 66 and 67 (-15) and winning by 8 shots.

Barry ANDERSON won the West of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at County Sligo beating Jack PIERSE 3&2 in the Final. Earlier Conor O’ROURKE had edged out fellow Naas member Jonathan YATES to secure medallist honours in the 36 hole stroke play qualifier.

Chile’s Joaquin NIEMANN started his rise to the top of the Men’s World Amateur Golf Ranking by winning the prestigious Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in the United Sates.

Owen EDWARDS (-3) won the West of England Stroke Play after a strong final day’s play at Saunton left him as the only player under par. David HAGUE (+1) was 2nd and Will POOLE (+3) tied 3rd.

On the same weekend Connor SYME won the Battle Trophy at Crail. Despite giving the field a chance with a final round 79 the Drumoig man still won by 5 shots.

Meanwhile in South Wales Matthew HARRIS won the Carmarthenshire Open at Ashburnham and Callum MORRIS the Golden Eagle at Tenby. However, it was Luke HARRIES who won the Trubshaw Cup for the best 72 hole score over the weekend.


May saw the focus return to Great Britain and Ireland with our leading amateur events now starting to be played.

Jack SINGH BRAR won the Lytham Trophy helped in no small part by a superb first round of 68 achieved in strong winds when the rest of the elite field struggled (CSS 79). Charlie STRICKLAND and Jake BURNAGE finished 2nd and 3rd in what proved to be a very good week for England Golf with 7 of the top 10 coming from the home nation.   

Just down the road George RAITT and Conor GOUGH finished 2nd and tied 3rd respectively in the Boys’ Fairhaven Trophy. However, Sweden’s Ludvig ABERG was in a class of his own that week winning by 9 shots.

Having come close in the West of England a few weeks’ earlier Will POOLE found Kent’s links courses even more to his liking winning the South East of England Links Championship.

Peter O’KEEFFE won the Irish Open Amateur Championship holding off a strong field at Royal County Down GC. A posse of English and Scottish players made Peter work for it with Chris MACLEAN and Tom SLOMAN ultimately finishing 3 shots back in tied 5th.

David HAGUE won the Lagonda Trophy by 12 shots. An astonishing 62 63 final day finish on the 6,367 yards par 70 Old Course blitzing the field.


David Hague (Photo: Kevin Diss)

Josh HILLEARD won the Murat Cup at the French International Amateur beating the home junior Pierre PINEAU on the second play-off hole. Both players came through the field in the final round of the 72 hole contest at Chantilly; Hilleard shooting 64 and Pineau 66.

In what proved to be a successful weekend for England Golf Gian-Marco PETROZZI secured the Welsh Amateur Open Stroke Play title at The Vale Resort. Gian-Marco (-13) won by 9 shots from fellow Staffordshire player Jack GAUNT (-4) and local favourites Jack DAVIDSON (-3) and Owen EDWARDS (-1).

Woodhall Spa staged the 2017 Brabazon Trophy with South Africa’s Kyle MCCLATCHIE beating Jamie STEWARTJake BURNAGE and Jack SINGH BRAR by 1 shot to secure the prestigious English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play title and beautiful gold plated trophy.

In what proved to be a generally disappointing US Collegiate season for GB&I players Braden THORNBERRY won the NCAA Division 1 Individual Stroke Play before OKLAHOMA secured the Team title in the subsequent Match Play stage.

Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) turned Pro in May 2017.


June started with England’s Max MARTIN picking up the Welsh Open Youths Championship at Prestatyn.

Liam JOHNSTON won the Scottish Men’s Open Championship at Western Gailes, holding off an in form Matthew JORDAN (2nd) by 2 shots and fellow Scottish Internationals Craig HOWIE (T3) and Connor SYME (5th).

The East of Ireland Amateur went to Reece BLACK whose final round 66 at County Louth was needed to hold off a fast finishing Robbie PIERSE (69).

Matthew JORDAN finally got the win his outstanding play in May and June deserved when he picked up the St. Andrews Links Trophy. Two late bogeys on the Old Course from Matthew enabled Ireland’s John Ross GALBRAITH, who birdied two of his last four, to finish 1 shot back, making the result tighter than it really should have been.

Somewhat ominously, given September’s Walker Cup match, USA ran out easy winners against Europe in the Arnold Palmer Cup played at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Driven on by unbeaten Doug GHIM, with Maverick MCNEALYCollin MORIKAWA and Norman XIONG all featuring, USA won easily 19.5 – 10.5. The Arnold Palmer Cup match moves to a new mixed format in France next July.

One of the highlights of the year was Harry ELLIS’ magnificent win in The Amateur Championship staged at Royal St. George’s and Princes in Kent. 4 Down with five holes to play Ellis somehow fought back, helped in no small part by Dylan PERRY bogeying four of these remaining holes. The Hampshire man ultimately won on the second extra hole when the Australian could do no better than a 6 on the par 4 2nd hole. The win secured Harry his place in history but also this year’s Open Championship and the GB&I Walker Cup team. With a trip to Augusta National in April 2018 still to come it really is the Championship that keeps on giving. A quick word also for medallist Caolan RAFFERTY whose 62 on Day 2 at Prince’s, even with a bogey on the last, was one of the amateur stroke play rounds of the year.

Ben JONES won the U18 Boys Sir Henry Cooper Masters by 10 shots at Nizels G&CC, separating himself from his peers after a 9-under, bogey free, 63 in round 3. In a stellar year for the competition the outstanding Lily May HUMPHRIES won the Girls event by 12 shots.

The 2017 Berkshire Trophy was won by Adam LUMLEY who finished on -18, 7 shots ahead of JACK CLARKSONDavid HAGUE and Billy MACKENZIE finished tied 3rd.


Mark Power (Photo: Castleroy GC)

Mark POWER retained his Irish Boys Amateur Open Championship title at Castleroy GC, the first person to do so since Paul Dunne a few years ago. He and England’s Jack COPE finished on -5 before Mark ended a topsy-turvy three hole play off in style by holing a 129 yard wedge on the 18th.

Kevin LE BLANC (IRE) turned Pro in June.


July 1st saw Alfie PLANT memorably win the European Men’s Amateur at Walton Heath GC. A near tap-in birdie on the 72nd hole helped the man from Kent draw level on -15 with Lorenzo SCALISE and defending Luca CIANCHETTI, helped in no small part by both Italians bogeying the same hole. With a place in The Open Championship on the line Plant went on to birdie the Old Course’s 2nd hole, winning the sudden death play off on the fifth extra hole.


 Alfie Plant (Photo: GolfBible)

Greg DALZIEL won the Scottish Boys Amateur Championship at Scotscraig, beating Australian-based Josh GREER by 1 hole in the Final.

A week later The Scottish Boys U16 Open Championship at Fairmont Kittocks went to 13 year old Calum SCOTT, younger brother of Scottish Men’s International Sandy.  Josh GREER finished tied 2nd four shots back. Equally of note were the 7th and tied 12th place finishes of Max HOPKINS and Aidan O’HAGAN, new names that would come to mean more as the year unfolded.

The North of Ireland Championship was played at Royal Portrush GC with Caolan RAFFERTY winning the stroke play qualifier on -10. Caolan fell to Colin FAIRWEATHER in the semi-finals before Rowan LESTER beat Colin by 2 holes in the final.

DENMARK won the European Boys Team Championship at La Manga beating SPAIN 4-3 in the Final. ENGLAND (T4) and IRELAND (8th) both qualified for Flight A but found little success in their three matches.

ENGLAND (1st)SCOTLAND (5th) and IRELAND (6th) all made Flight A in the Men’s European Amateur Team Championship which was played concurrently with the Boys’ at Diamond CC in Austria. In a closely fought match SPAIN beat ENGLAND 4-3 in the final.

Estonia’s Joonas TURBA was something of a surprise winner at the MacGregor Trophy (Boys’ U16 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship). English propsects Max HOPKINS and Robin WILLIAMS were second and third respectively.

Noah GOODWIN (USA) beat Matthew WOLFF (USA) 1Up in the final of the US Junior Amateur at Flint Hills National GC in Kansas.

Alfie PLANT collected the Silver Medal for the low amateur at The Open Championship after rounds of 71, 73, 69 and 73 (+6) secured a T62 at Royal Birkdale GC. Connor SYME (73 76, +9) and Harry ELLIS (77 75, +12) both missed the cut.

Jake BURNAGE beat a fast finishing Jack YULE to win the South East of England Amateur Championship played on the New and Old Courses at Walton Heath GC. The Club have recently announced that the event will be renamed as The Walton Heath Trophy from 2018.

img_4962Jake Burnage (Photo: GolfBible)

Andrea ROMANO from Italy beat France’s Jean BEKIRIAN in a play-off to secure the Carris Trophy (Boys’ U18 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship). English trio Jack COPETaylor STOTE and Robin WILLIAMS all finished in the Top 5 at West Sussex GC.

Conor GOUGH (-5, 7th), Barclay BROWN (+1 T14), Lily May HUMPHRIES (-2, 1st) and Annabell FULLER (Ev, T3) collectively won the Team title at the European Young Masters with a -12 total score in Oslo.

The 2017 South of Ireland Open Championship was won by James SUGRUE at Lahinch. After the North champion Rowan LESTER had won the 36 hole stroke play qualifier James worked his way through a strong field before beating Conor O’ROURKE 3&2 in the final.


Evan GRIFFITH dominated stroke play qualifying in the Wales Amateur Championship at Aberdovey GC with two rounds of 68 and 64 (-10) seeing him achieve medalist honours by an impressive 6 shots. However, Wales’ player of the year Jack DAVIDSON got the better of him in a tight semi-final before going on to beat Tim HARRY in the 36 hole final by 8&7.

The Scottish Amateur was played at Prestwick and was won by Sam LOCKE. Sandy SCOTT and Calum FYFE were the leading qualifiers. LOCKE played superbly in the match play stage ultimately beating Ryan LUMSDEN 9&8 in the 36 hole final.

The English Men’s Amateur was contested at The Berkshire. The story from the stroke play stage was medalist’s David LANGLEY’s superb 61 on the Blue Course on Day 1. However, it was Todd CLEMENTS who prevailed in the match play eventually beating Jack GAUNT 2&1 in the final.

Like the Brabazon Trophy earlier in the year it was a South African who won the Reid Trophy, awarded to the winner of the English Boy’s U14 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship. Casey JARVIS (-4) held off fast finishing Spaniard Jose BALLESTER at the Manchester GC. For those looking for potential GB&I stars of the future Rory MCDONALD-O’BRIEN (ENG), George DURKAN (ENG), Joshua HILL (IRE), Joseph BYRNE (IRE) and Jack BIGHAM (ENG) all finished in the top 10.

ENGLAND won The Boys’ Home Internationals at St. Anne’s Old Links. Toby BRIGGS, Conor GOUGH, Joe PAGDIN and Robin WILLIAMS all compiled W5 L1 H0 records during the week. Whilst SCOTLAND came last they did provide the highlight of the week; the unbeaten foursomes pairing of 13 year olds Calum SCOTT and Aiden O’HAGEN.


 Calum Scott and Aiden O’Hagen (Photo: GolfBible)

Andrew WILSON (-4), the only player to finish under par for the 72 holes and helped on his way by a 62 in round 1, won the Lee Westwood Trophy at Rotherham GC. Charlie THORNTON and Olly HUGGINS (Ev) were tied 2nd.

IRELAND continued their superb run at the Men’s Home Internationals winning the Raymond Trophy for a fourth consecutive year at Moortown GC in England. Caolan RAFFERTY (W5 L1 H0), Paul MCBRIDE (W4 L0 H1) and Colin FAIRWEATHER (W4 L1 H0) starred in a strong team performance.

The 2017 Boys’ Amateur Championship was played at Nairn GC and Nairn Dunbar GC. Home player Darren HOWIE (-8) was medallist with Alex FITZPATRICK (-7) tied 2nd and Danny DANIELS (-6) tied 4th. However, it was Portugal’s Pedro LENCART SILVA, who had qualified in tied 6th on -4, who came through the match play stage to win. He beat defending champion Falko HANISCH (GER) 5&4 in the 36 hole final.

Played at the magnificent Riviera CC and Bel-Air CC’s in Los Angeles Doc REDMAN won the U.S. Amateur Championship in stunning fashion. Hayden WOOD (-9) achieved medallist honours in the stroke play qualifying. Jack SINGH BRAR (-2) T8 led the way for GB&I, with Connor SYME and Robert MACINTYRE (both +2) T35 following him into the match play stage. Syme went furthest at Riviera ending up losing 2&1 in the quarter finals to Doug GHIM. Ghim went on to reach the final where he found himself 2Up with two to play and just over the back of the green in two on the par 5 17th. With Redman just on the green in front of him easily 50 yards away from the hole he could be forgiven for thinking the Havemeyer Trophy was his and for allowing his mind to wander to the first tee of Augusta National in April 2018. Unfortunately the golfing gods stepped in. After Ghim had left his chip 6 feet short Redman stepped up and at pace holed the most amazing right to left downhill putt of the year, or for that matter almost any year, for eagle. Redman then followed it up with a superb birdie on the uphill 18th from 6 foot with Ghim only managing a scrambled par. With the match now All Square, Redman hit a perfect drive to the front of Riviera’s short 315 yard par 4 10th, the first extra hole. Visibly shocked at what was happening in front of him Ghim then hooked his drive and having hacked around for a while before securing a 6 conceded Redman the Championship. An unbelievable finish to amateur golf’s premier event.

The North of England U16 Boy’s Championship was won by Callum MACFIE at Pannal GC. Matthew JACKMAN was one back with Max HOPKINS a little further back in 3rd place.

The Irish U16 Boys Amateur Open Championship was played at Rockmount and was won by Mullingar’s Adam SMITH. Odhran MAGUIRE, the younger brother of Leona and Lisa, was 2nd.

Down at Sundridge Park GC Liam BURNS (-5) defenced the Waterford Trophy. A 67 66 final day finish was required by the man from Chiselhurst to hold off Nick PANTING by 1 shot.

The U16 Welsh Boys was won by Bryn THOMAS at Cradoc GC. Thomas’ final round of 67 helped him to a 9 shot victory over Tom PEET.

The Irish Amateur Close Championship was won by Jamie FLETCHER at Galway GC. Peter KERR and David BRADY were seeded 1st and 2nd after both recorded 138 (-2) in the stroke play stage. In a tight 18 hole final Fletcher beat David KITT by 1 hole.

Richard MANSELL (ENG), Bradley MOORE (ENG), Marco PENGE (ENG) and Sean TOWNDROW (ENG) all turned Pro in August.


The CONTINENT OF EUROPE won the annual Jacques Léglise Trophy U18 Boys’ match against GB&I at Ballybunion GC by 15.5 – 9.5. Unbeaten pair Pedro LENCART SILVA (W3-L0-H1) and Eduard ROUSARD SABATE (SWE) helped the away side to a second successive win. Ben JONES (W2-L1-H1) and Robin WILLIAMS (W2-L1-H0) put up the best defence for GB&I.

The Walker Cup result was an even more sobering experience for GB&I the following week. Craig WATSON had to step down as GB&I captain on the eve of the match but with Andy INGRAM a very capable deputy I am sure this in no way contributed to what followed at Los Angeles Country Club. Whilst the final result was not unexpected the manner of the 17-9 defeat was. Only Jack SINGH BRAR (W3-L1-H0), Robert MACINTYRE (W1-L1-H1) and Scott GREGORY (W2-L1-H1) really came away with any credit from the match. From the USA side Captain Spider Miller had clearly learned a few lessons from Royal Lytham in 2015 and backed up by superb performances from Doug GHIM, Maverick MCNEALY, Colin MORIKAWA, (all W4-L0-H0) and Norman XIONG (W3-L0-H1) the one sided result felt inevitable as soon as the Day 1 singles were concluded.


The USA Walker Cup Team (Photo: GolfBible)

Ben JONES won The Duke of York Champions Trophy at Royal Liverpool GC by 8 shots from Sweden’s Oscar TEIFFEL. John PATERSON, who shot a 69 in round 2, the best of the week, finished 7th.

David BOOTE (WAL), Dan BROWN (ENG) Jack DAVIDSON (WAL), Tom GANDY (ENG), Scott GREGORY (ENG), Evan GRIFFITH (WAL), Cameron LONG (ENG), Alfie PLANT (ENG), Craig ROSS (SCO), Conor O’ROURKE (IRE), Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG), Connor SYME (SCO), Will WHITEOAK (ENG) and Jack YULE (ENG) all turned Pro in September.


David HAGUE (+1) won the North of England Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship at Alwoodley GC. Andrew Wilson (+3) was 2nd with Harry GODDARD and Nick POPPLETON (+4) tied 3rd.

Joshua DAVIES (WAL), Owen EDWARDS (WAL), Colin FAIRWEATHER (IRE), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) all turned Pro in October.


A birdie, eagle finish helped China’s LIN YUXIN to the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship title at Royal Wellington GC in New Zealand. We can therefore look forward to seeing him in action at The Masters in 2018.

14 year old Max HOPKINS (-2) became the youngest ever winner of the Boys’ Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf Championship at Quinta do Lago in Portugal. Ben JONES (+1) was 2nd and Alfie FOX (+3) 3rd.

Jamie CLARE (ENG), John Ross GALBRAITH (IRE) and Chris MACLEAN (SCO) all turned Pro in November.

Sam HORSFIELD won the Final Stage of the European Tour Qualifying School at Lumine Golf & Beach Club in Spain. His final -27 score, with all six rounds in the 60’s and a best of the day final round of 63 (-8), saw him win the 108 hole event by an impressive 8 shots. Amongst the other players to pick up a 2018 Tour card were Connor SYME, who finished tied 9th on -17 and Jonathan THOMSON, who finished tied 18th on -14.


Ben JONES (-12) finished tied 2nd at the South Beach International Amateur in Miami. In an event which enjoyed the 5th strongest field of the year it was also pleasing to see Harry HALL (-7) and Joe PAGDIN (-4) record impressive results; tied 10th and tied 19th respectively.

Ben JONES finished tied 28th at the Boy’s Junior Orange Bowl Championship in Miami, 22 shots behind runaway winner Jerry JI from The Netherlands. Lily May HUMPHRIES enhanced her growing reputation by winning the Girls event by 9 shots.

Mason OVERSTREET (USA) won The Patriot All-America in Arizona. The six GB&I players struggled to make an impression with George BURNS (T38) recording the best finish.

Josh HILLEARD (ENG) turned Pro earlier in the month.


If you want to review the detailed results of any of the above competitions then please take a look at the GolfBible Results Page where you will be able to find links to nearly all of those mentioned above.


Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

My Top 15 In 2015 – A Review Of Men’s Amateur Golf

24th December 2015

Every amateur golf season seems to be memorable for some reason but as I look back on 2015 I can’t help but think this year has been extra special.

We have seen exciting Championships, notable Major and Tour performances by amateurs and to cap it all off a stunning Walker Cup success for Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I).  It is not easy for amateur golf to usurp the pro game in the media but during 2015 it has managed to do it quite frequently.

By way of an annual review I have drawn up a ‘My Top 15 in 2015’ list. I am not looking to re-invent the world rankings but simply note those players that have impacted me most to tell the story of the year. I also make no apologies for a little GB&I bias here.


Some people say Miguel Ángel Jiménez is the ‘most interesting man in golf’.  I never thought it myself and I certainly don’t at the end of 2015.

California’s 22 year old Bryson DeChambeau ticks a few more boxes for me – be it the name, the ‘Hogan cap’, the thick gripped irons all at the same 7-iron length or the ball dipping in water and epsom salts to ensure they each have a perfect centre of gravity.  It is easy to be different, it is another to win different – which is what he’s being doing.

Bryson, let’s call him that because I am sure we all will be soon – as in Tiger and Rory – won both the U.S. Amateur Championship and the NCAA Division I Individual Title in a memorable breakout season.  Not many people do that same season double – to be precise just Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004) have done it before him.

He beat Derek Bard 7&6 in the 36-hole U.S. Amateur final at Chicago’s Olympia Fields, having already secured the NCAA title by finishing 1-shot ahead of Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan with a 280 (-8) total at the Concession CC in Florida.

Bryson DeChambeau US Amateur 2015

Bryson DeChambeau – 2015 U.S. Amateur Champion (© USGA)

Despite a saw neck at Royal Lytham he won two and halved one of his three matches at The Walker Cup in September too.

With Southern Methodist University (SMU) kicked out of the 2016 NCAA’s due to historic recruiting violations DeChambeau has recently left college – not finishing his Physics Major – and started to compete in professional events as he looks forward to taking up his Masters invitation in April.  In November he tied 2nd at the Australian Masters at Huntingdale GC on 278 (-6), 2-shots behind home favourite Peter Senior.


Marcus Kinhult won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley by 1-shot from Davis Shore in late April then followed it up with the Lytham Trophy just a week later.  The latter he won by a staggering 8-shots in tough conditions.

Marcus Kinhult Lytham Trophy

Marcus Kinhult – Winner of the 2015 Lytham Trophy  (©

In June he led the Nordea Masters on the European Tour after 36 holes in Sweden before finishing tied 33rd.  He showed that was no fluke in July by then finishing tied 10th at the Omega European Masters in the week of his 19th birthday.

To put the icing on the cake – not only to a fine year but sadly to his amateur career – Marcus recently strolled through European Tour Final Q-School finishing 17th and turning Pro immediately.

Currently 951st in the Official World Golf Rankings it will be interesting to watch his progress in the coming years.


The highlight of Romain Langasque’s year was clearly his Amateur Championship victory at Carnoustie.  He beat Scotland’s Grant Forrest by 4&2 in the Final.

Playing a global schedule he also enjoyed six other top 6 finishes during the year in Argentina, South Africa and Great Britain.  He won the Southern Cross Invitational in March in Argentina and the Mouchy Cup back home in France.

His season tailed off a little as he struggled to take advantage of a number of pro tournament invites that came his way.  He did make the cut at The Open Championship which in any other year would have been a notable achievement for an amateur.


Cormac enjoyed a great year and in a hard fought contest is probably my top GB&I amateur of 2015, just pipping Paul Dunne, Jimmy Mullen and Marco Penge.

Cormac Sharvin Reflects on the Walker Cup and his 2015 (© BBC Sport)

His victories at the Brabazon Trophy (English Amateur Open) and unbeaten Walker Cup (P3 W3 L0 H0) were clearly the highlights.  I really enjoyed his ‘heart on the sleeve’ performance at the Walker Cup which has tipped the balance in his favour.

His overall consistency, with Top 5 finishes at the Lytham Trophy, Irish Amateur Open and Scottish Amateur Open really impressed me.


Marco Penge Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship

Marco Penge – 2015 Carrick Neill Scottish Open Strokeplay Champion (© Kenny Smith)

By any measure 2015 was a superb season for 17 year old Marco Penge.  He certainly won more events than any other GB&I amateur golfer.

He destroyed three Junior U18 fields, easily winning the Faldo Series Wales Qualifier (+2, to win by 6 shots), the McEvoy Trophy (-12, to win by 8 shots) and the Sir Henry Cooper Masters (-14, to win by 7 shots).

He capped the year off by winning the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play (-6), his first Men’s win against a strong field at Moray GC.

He also got to the quarter finals of the English Men’s Amateur and reached the semi-finals of the British Boys, eventually losing to the winner, Marcus Svensson.  If he had won the Boys or another late season Men’s event he may well have had to be picked for the Walker Cup.  However, late season injuries saw him tail off and drift out of that picture.

Marco is clearly a great prospect. The question is what does he do in 2016 ?  Push on to a full Men’s schedule or continue to play both Junior and Men’s, incorporating leading Junior events for which he will still be eligible.  There is nothing like winning and having the chance to win to gain experience and breed confidence.


Paul Dunne finished his time at UAB with a 5th place result at the NCAA Division I Individual Championship with a 283 (-5) total.  However, a final round 73 (+1) meant this was a famous title he perhaps let slip – whilst easy to say a 70 would have tied him with DeChambeau.

He was the first name on my Walker Cup team sheet which tells you how good he is.

Paul followed a tied 9th finish at the Brabazon and a tied 8th in the European Team Stroke Play (SP) Qualifier with a memorable Open Championship performance at St. Andrews (his tied 30th telling only a little of the full story, having won the Final Qualifier at Woburn for the second successive year).  He then tied 11th at the International European Amateur in Slovakia and reached the quarter-finals of the US Amateur Match Play stage in late August. 

He finished the season by turning Pro where he quickly settled in; a tied 19th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and a tied 25th at the British Masters being the early highlights.  To cap a great year he then played his way through every stage of the European Tour Q-School to secure a 2016 card.

Earlier this week the Irish Golf Writers’ Association voted Paul their Men’s Amateur Player Of The Year, an award he also won in 2014.

Perhaps he should be higher in my 2015 list but without a win I have chosen to scale him back.


Devon’s Jimmy Mullen became just the fourth GB&I player – after Andrew Oldcorn, Paul Casey and Luke Donald – to deliver a maximum four points in a Walker Cup match.  He continued his strong foursomes partnership with Ashley Chesters (perhaps unlucky not to be on this list himself) successfully leading GB&I out on both days at Royal Lytham.  He also beat Denny McCarthy twice in singles.  That’s the same Denny McCarthy that subsequently finished tied 9th at the Tour Q-School to secure his 2016 playing privileges in the U.S.


Earlier in the year Mullen won the Welsh Open Stroke Play Championship and finished tied 3rd at The Duncan Putter.

He turned Pro in late September and unsurprisingly made an encouraging pro debut at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (tied 30th).  He finished the year with a good run at the European Tour Q-School, winning his Second stage qualifier at El Saler before sadly coming up short in the Final.


Jon Rahm Rodriguez (21), who is now a Senior at Arizona state, has sat on or near the top of the Amateur Rankings throughout most of 2015.   He continued to shine on the US College circuit – with four wins and eight top 5’s – and was rewarded with the 2015 Mark McCormack Award for being the top amateur player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) at the end of August.  That in itself will gain him entry into both the 2016 U.S. Open and Open Championships.

Jon Rahm Arizona Waste Management

Jon Rahm competing in the 2015 Waste Management Open in Arizona (© PGA Tour).

He also received the prestigious 2015 Ben Hogan Award in the summer; voted for by the Golf Coaches Association of America and awarded in their view to the best college player in the U.S.

However, what made this year particularly special was his two top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour – tied 5th at the Waste Management and tied 10th a few weeks ago in the Mayakoba Classic.  It was that first result that drove his amateur rankings standing – rightly or wrongly it earned him way more points than DeChambeau got for winning either the U.S. Amateur or the NCAA Division I title.


Stanford’s Maverick McNealy had an astonishing 6 wins and 9 top 5’s in the 2014/15 US College season.  He won both the Nicklaus Award (given to the top player in NCAA Division I) and the Haskins Award (given to the most outstanding U.S. collegiate golfer) as a result.

Maverick McNealy

Maverick McNealy – Winner of the 2015 Haskins Award (© Haskins Award)

There seems to be no stopping him in the first half of 2015/16 too.  Junior McNealy has already won three times and finished in the top 10 in the other event he has played this academic year.  He is now just 2 wins behind the Stanford record of 11, held jointly by Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers.

I can see Maverick turning out to be the Matt Fitzpatrick of U.S. golf in the next few years – a baby-faced assassin.  He is a player who still looks very young and has not filled out and as a result is under-estimated by nearly everyone who watches and plays against him.  Just like Fitzpatrick one can see him moving seamlessly from the amateur to paid ranks in due course.


Cheng Jin Asia-Pacific 2015

Cheng Jin – 2015 Asia Pacific Amateur Champion (© APAC)

The new Guan Tianlang ?  Cheng Jin is certainly the latest child prodigy to come out of China and make a global name for themselves.

He won the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship after a first round course record 62 and as a result will tee it up in the 2016 Masters Tournament.

More recently at the Thailand Golf Championships Darren Clarke described him as “the best 17 year old I’ve seen since Rory McIlroy – seriously impressed.”  Cheng Jin finished the event, won by Jamie Donaldson, tied 11th.


Ewen, who turned 19 in July, enjoyed a fine season culminating in his selection for the GB&I Walker Cup team.  Not originally in the Walker Cup squad at the start of 2015 he simply played his way on to the roster by being one of GB&I’s most consistent performers during the year.

He started off with a string of good finishes on Scottish Golf’s early season tour of South Africa before returning home to win the Scottish Champion of Champions and Craigmillar Park Open events.

He followed that up with a tied 3rd at the Irish Amateur Open, a tied 4th at the Scottish Open Amateur, a satisfactory Amateur Championship and a tied 11th at the Brabazon Trophy.  Finally, he was also a member of the Scottish Team that won the European Amateur Team Championship in Sweden.


Very much like Danish Pro Thorbjørn Olesen a pretty ordinary year was made special by a great week in St. Andrews.  Olesen did very little all year but then won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.  Niebrugge did very little all year but then came through on the last day to finish tied 6th on -11 in The Open Championship – a stunningly good result in a Major for an amateur.

Jordan Niebrugge Open 2015

Jordan Niebrugge – Open Championship 2015 Silver Medal Winner (© Getty Images / The R&A)

I also think Jordan should be congratulated for coming over to Great Britain after the U.S. college season and playing our leading amateur events.  He may not have got the results he was looking for – save for The Open which he also chose to and had to qualify for – but hopefully the experience will stand him in good stead for the future.

He was selected for the U.S. Walker Cup team at Royal Lytham, largely on the back of his Open result.  Surprisingly he proved to be largely anonymous, losing all three of his matches comfortably.


Ben deserves recognition for his contribution to Louisiana State University’s (LSU) 2015 NCAA Division I victory in June.  Ben, ending his college career at the Championship, sunk the winning 8-foot putt in the final match against the University of South Carolina.  He was conceded the winning putt in LSU’s semi-final match against Georgia too after hitting a 6-iron close.  It was LSU’s first national title since 1955.

Ben Taylor NCAA

Ben Taylor – Louisiana State University, 2015 NCAA Div. I Champions (© LSU Men’s Golf Team)

This was Ben’s second National Title.  He won the 2012 Division II Championship with Nova Southeastern as a freshman – earning himself the Nicklaus Award for Div. II Player of the Year in the process – before transferring up a league to LSU.

Unfortunately he wasn’t able to deliver the results back home in the summer, both individually and for England, that were necessary to secure a place on the GB&I Walker cup team – but he must have been close.  He did finish tied 7th in both the Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifier and the Brabazon Trophy.  He secured an impressive quarter final win over Cormac Sharvin at the European Team’s but followed it with a disappointing late loss to Greig Marchbank in the semi’s that let in Scotland.  He also qualified for The Open Championship but unlike many of his amateur peers failed to really get going at St. Andrews.


For me amateur golf is all about winning tournaments and championships.  Philip Barbaree won the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur in such style he simply had to be included in my 2015 list.  The victory assisted him in becoming the world’s undisputed No. 1 Junior in 2015 – well at least in the eyes of our American friends.

In the 36 hole final at Collation River Plantation Club, South Carolina, Barbaree found himself 5 down with 8 holes to play against Andrew Orischak.  Watching his comeback (and sadly Orischak’s collapse) – he won on the 37th hole after being one down on the 18th second time around – was amongst the most exciting and interesting golf I saw on TV all year.

Barbaree also won the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rolex Tournament of Champions by a record 14-shots and finished tied 6th at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, the event won by Marcus Kinhult.


As the unofficial chairman of the Bradley Moore Fan Club it would be remiss of me not to include him in my 2015 list.

The highlight of another very solid year was his victory in the Carris Trophy, the English Boys’ U18 Open Amateur Stroke Play, at Little Aston.

Bradley Moore Carris Trophy 2015

Bradley Moore – Winner of the 2015 U18 Carris Trophy (© Leaderboard Photography)

In addition to many other good junior performances 2015 also saw Bradley step up to the Men’s circuit; his 8th place in the Lytham Trophy, progress in the Amateur Championship and tied 23rd in the European Amateur all bode well.

He was selected as second reserve for the GB&I Walker Cup Team in August.  Having chosen not to go down the U.S. College route it will be interesting to see just how long he stays amateur.


Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Leading Amateur Events in 2015

29th October 2015 (Updated January 2016)

Based on the strengths of their fields in 2015 the leading amateur championships and tournaments according to the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR) were:

  1. United States Amateur Championship
  2. Western Amateur (USA)
  3. The Amateur Championship (GB)
  4. NCAA Division 1 Nationals (USA)
  5. World Amateur Team
  6. St. Andrews Links Trophy (SCO)
  7. European Amateur
  8. Southern Amateur (USA)
  9. European Amateur Team
  10. Northeast Amateur (USA)
  11. Australian Amateur
  12. Sunnehanna Amateur (USA)
  13. Players Amateur (USA)
  14. Lytham Trophy (ENG)
  15. South Beach International Amateur (USA)
  16. Jones Cup (USA)
  17. Spanish International Amateur
  18. Master of the Amateurs (AUS)
  19. US Collegiate (USA)
  20. Brabazon Trophy – English Open Amateur (ENG)
  21. Porter Cup (USA)
  22. Collegiate Masters (USA)
  23. Pacific Coast Amateur (USA)
  24. South Africa Stroke Amateur
  25. Nike Collegiate (USA)
  26. Olympia Fields Intercollegiate (USA)
  27. Amer Ari Invitational (USA – College)
  28. Riversdale Cup (AUS)
  29. Northern Open Amateur (SA)
  30. NCAA Div 1 SouthWest Regional (USA)
  31. European Nations (ESP)
  32. Lake Macquarie Amateur (AUS)
  33. Asia-Pacific Amateur

Other notable events in the top 100 staged in GB&I include: –

45. Irish Open Amateur
50. Scottish Open Amateur
54. English Amateur
74. Home Internationals (GB&I)
82. Scottish Amateur

The above list excludes The Walker Cup.


Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

2014 Men’s Amateur Golf – The GolfBible Top 10

30th December 2014

Here’s my top 10 achievements for the 2014 calendar year: –

1. Gunn Yang wins the US Amateur in one of the biggest surprises in the event’s history
The 20 year old South Korean was so out of form following back surgery in May 2013 that he had has his scholarship cut at San Diego State earlier in the year and had fallen to No. 776 in the WAGRs.  From 6,803 entrants he got into the field of 312 and qualified for the Top 64 match play stage.  He then knocked out favourite after favourite before defeating Canada’s Cory Connors 2&1 in the final.

Gunn Yang

Gunn Yang Holds The Havemeyer Trophy At The Atlantic Athletic Club  

2. Bradley Neil wins the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush
A fabulous win, helped by a superb short game, for Scotland’s 18 year old protege as he defeated South Africa’s Zander Lombard 2&1 in the final.  Ranked 38th in the WAGR at the start of play Neil moved up into the Top 10 and will now be looking forward to the spoils of victory in 2015.

Bradley Neil

Bradley Neil Celebrates His Life Changing Win  

3. Oliver Goss and Matt Fitzpatrick do Amateur Golf proud in the Majors
Australia’s Oliver Goss, runner up in the 2013 US Amateur to Matt Fitzpatrick, finished 49th in the US Masters.  The only amateur to make the cut, rounds of 76, 71, 76 and 75 helped to secure him the Amateur Sterling Silver Cup.   Fitzpatrick playing in his last amateur event at the US Open did equally as well. In securing the low amateur medal at Pinehurst he became the first player to double up at The Open and the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1930.

OGoss and MFitz

Oliver Goss and Matt Fitzpatrick With Their Low Amateur Prizes  

4. Jon Rahm wins the Individual title at the World Amateur Team
Spain’s Arizona State studying Rahm won the Individual title at the Eisenhower Trophy in Japan with a -23 total score, breaking Jack Nicklaus’ event record that had stood since 1960.  Rounds of 70, 64, 62 and 67 in September won praise from around the world of golf.  The USA beat Canada by 2-shots to win the Team title with a total of 534 (-38), a full 20 shots better then the previous best set by The Netherlands in 2006.

Jon Rahm

John Rahm With The World Amateur Team IndIvidual Medal  

5. Italy’s Renato Paratore qualifies for the European Tour
By winning the Portuguese International Amateur and the gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in China Paratore had secured himself a Top 10 place in the WAGR.  But that wasn’t enough for the 17 year old Italian from Rome so he topped off his year by finishing 3rd at the European Tour Final Q-School.  It will be interesting to see how he goes on the Tour in 2015.  Good news for the Italian Golf Federation so soon after the emergence of Matteo Manassero.

Renato Paratore

Renato Paratore – Gold Medal Winner

6. Thriston Lawrence wins the Lytham Trophy 
Thriston retained his South African Amateur title in March 2014 before securing the prestigious Lytham Trophy in May.  He turned Pro in June and 18 earlier this month and will be hoping to make his mark in the Pro ranks in 2015.

Thriston Lawrence

Thriston Lawrence Accepts The Lytham Trophy

7. Haydn McCullen completes a McEvoy and Carris Trophy U18 Double 
Delamere Forest’s Haydn McCullen won two of the U18 GB&I majors in 2014.  Rounds of 66, 69, 70 and 74 (-5) were good enough to beat defending champion Bradley Moore at Copt Heath GC.  Whilst at Moor Park GC rounds of 71, 75, 72 and 70 (L) ultimately led to a first hole play off victory again over Keddleston Park’s Moore.  McCullen who turned 18 in August is expected to turn Pro later this year and join Fitzpatrick and Lawrence (see above) in the ISM stable.  Moore, a year younger and now 17 will no doubt be looking forward to another winning year in Junior golf.

Haydn McCullen

Haydn McCullen With The McEvoy Trophy (l) and Carris Trophy (r) 

8. Our various Amateur Teams just kept on winning
A superb final day’s single series – 8.5 out of 10 points being won – helped Europe to a 18.5-11.5 victory in the Palmer Cup at Walton Heath GC.  Europe also retained the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy in Bangalore, India beating the Asia-Pacific team 17.5-14.5.  Later in the year GB&I then had a double win in Barsebäck, Sweden winning the Men’s St. Andrews Trophy (14-10) and the U18 Boys Jacques Leglise Trophy (12.5-11.5).  Well done to all !

2014 Team Winners

Palmer Cup, Bonallack Trophy, St. Andrews Trophy and Jacques Leglise Trophy Winners  

9. Ashley Chesters retained his European Amateur Championship  
The 24 year old Hawkstone Park player won his second consecutive European Amateur at the Duke’s Course, thus qualifying for the 2015 St. Andrews Open.

Ashley Chesters

Ashley Chesters – 2013 & 2014 European Amateur Champion 

10. Sam Horsfield continues to live up to the hype and let’s his golf do the talking  
The Florida-based but Manchester born junior won the New Year’s Invitational and Junior Players events and showed outstanding consistency in his stroke play scoring.  His name is increasingly preceded by the word ‘medalist’ and another good year in 2015 should culminate in Walker Cup selection before he heads off to college at the University of Florida.

Sam Horsfield

Sam Horsfield With The Junior Players Trophy 


Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.