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).

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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).

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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.

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.

E. Harvie Ward Jr.

18th October 2019

The story of Harvie Ward is something of a rollercoaster – great golfing achievements followed by public humiliation and self destruction before thankfully redemption and a happy ending.

Ward’s place in golfing history is founded upon him being a past winner of both the Amateur (1952) and U.S. Amateur (1955 & ’56) Championships. He is just one of 13 golfers to have achieved this feat.

Edward Harvie Ward Jr. was born on 8th December 1925 in Tarboro, North Carolina. He was a charismatic man with Hollywood good looks who lived life to the full.

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Harvie Ward at the 1948 North & South Championship (Photo: The Tufts Archive)

Ward was a successful junior and quickly became one of the U.S.’s leading amateur golfers. He was a natural who seemed to find the game relatively easy. He had a smooth three quarter length swing and an impeccable short game. He played aggressively but normally in a relaxed fashion, although when the mood took him he could also reveal a steely determination to win. This made him a popular figure amongst both his peers and the public. He also enjoyed the patronage of Bobby Jones, who saw him as his heir apparent, which only added to his appeal.

Herb Warren Wind, the American golf writer, called Ward “the most talented amateur of the decade”. In addition to his majors Ward also won the 1948 North and South Amateur, the 1949 NCAA Division I Individual Championship, representing the University of North Carolina where he earned a degree in Economics, and the 1954 Canadian Amateur.

His breakthrough win came in his first Amateur Championship in 1952 where he beat his American rival Frank Stranahan 6&5. He was runner-up in 1953 with Joe Carr getting the better of him in that year’s final.

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Harvie Ward with the Amateur trophy in 1952 (Photo: Old Sports Auctions) 

He played on the USA’s Walker Cup teams of 1953, 1955 and 1959 and won all six of his 36 hole games. The highlights were a 9&8 foursomes win alongside Jack Westland against John Langley and Arthur Perowne in 1953, a 6&5 singles win against Ronnie White in 1955 and another 9&8 singles win in 1959 against Guy Wolstenholme.

Ward had entered eight U.S. Amateurs before finally winning the Championship in 1955. He beat Bill Hyndman by 9&8 at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond. He then successfully defended the title in 1956 at Knollwood Club, near Chicago overcoming Charles Kocsis 5&4.

He was prevented from going for a hat trick of U.S. Amateur’s (and from playing in that year’s Walker Cup match) when his amateur status was revoked for 12 months by the USGA on 7th June 1957. Ward’s employer Eddie Lowery, coincidentally caddie for Francis Ouimet when he won the 1913 U.S. Open, became embroiled in a tax investigation which exposed the fact that he had paid the golfer expenses to support his participation in various amateur events. As Ward was the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and Lowery a current member of the USGA Executive Committee it was not a matter that could simply be ignored as many other amateur status cases seemed to be at that time.

The reinstated Ward won his first round match in the 1958 U.S. Amateur taking his total to 17 consecutive victories in the Championship. This broke W. Lawson Little’s previous record of 16 wins in 1934 and 1935 when he also won the Championship two years running. Tiger Woods hat trick of wins in 1994-95-96 set a new mark of 18 which is unlikely to ever be beaten.

Peaking in a very different era to the one we see today Ward opted for a flexible career in business that allowed him to continue playing amateur golf whenever he wished to. He was initially a stockbroker in Atlanta before moving to San Francisco where he was a car salesman.

In total Ward played in 11 Masters as an amateur from 1948-66, finishing in the top 24 four times. His best finish of 4th came in 1957. He was only one behind Sam Snead with 18 holes to play before Doug Ford shot a final round 66 to come through for a 3-shot win. Jones and Roberts were appalled at the treatment of Ward by the USGA and encouraged him to play in the 1958 Masters despite his ongoing ban from USGA events. Sadly his game wasn’t up to the challenge and he missed the cut. He wouldn’t play at Augusta again until his final Masters in 1966.

Ward competed in eight U.S. Opens; his best finish being sixth in 1955.

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Suzanne and Harvie Ward with the U.S. Amateur trophy (Photo: Getty Images)

Harvie Ward was one of the four participants in ‘The Greatest Match Ever Played’, contested on 11th January 1956 at Cypress Point G.C. The match was arranged between Lowery and fellow millionaire George Coleman at a pre Crosby Pro-Am Tournament cocktail party. “My two amateurs (Ken Venturi and Ward were both ‘employed’ at his Van Etta Motors car dealership business) can beat any two pros in the world. I’ll put ten thousand dollars on it.” bragged Lowery. Coleman’s response was “I’ll get Nelson and Hogan and we’ll play tomorrow.” The full story of ‘The Match’, was told in a book by Mark Frost (2007). The Pros won by 1-hole with Hogan reportedly shooting 63 (-9), Venturi 65, Ward 67 and the by then 10 year retired Nelson 67.

The 1957 ban over his amateur status had a profound impact on Ward’s life. His friendship with Lowery, who he had trusted with his finances, collapsed and he left his role at Van Etta shortly afterwards. He started to drink heavily and became something of a womaniser both of which led to the collapse of his three year old marriage to Suzanne, the couple having also adopted two children.

He successfully sought his reinstatement as an amateur via the USGA in May 1958 but much of his golfing spark had gone and he never really rediscovered his best from. With Arnold Palmer making waves in the professional game and a dominating Jack Nicklaus now emerging on the amateur side America’s golfing eyes had started to look elsewhere for their next hero. It took Ward nearly 20 years, including two more marriages, to get over how his life had changed from the heady days of the early 1950’s and he played little golf during this period of his life.  

Ward eventually turned professional in 1974 to try and earn a living and to simply get back on track. He was 48 by then and obviously was unable to compete with the youngsters on the mini-tours let alone the PGA Tour. Instead he returned to his native North Carolina to become head golf professional at Foxfire Country Club. As he helped ordinary golfers improve he gradually started to find his feet again. He went on to work at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando at the invitation of the designer Jack Nicklaus.

Ward even started to play a few events on the PGA Senior Tour at this time. The highlight of this renaissance was his win at the 1980 Senior Open, the year before it became an official USGA Championship.

He subsequently worked at Interlachen Golf Club in Winter Park, Florida before moving back home to the Pinehurst area in 1989 where he further cemented his reputation as a teaching professional. He was named “Teacher of the Year” by the PGA in 1990 during a 15 year career at Pine Needles Lodge & Country Club in Southern Pines. Notably Payne Stewart turned to Ward after his own dad, and only coach up until that point, had died. 

Harvie Ward died at his home in Pinehurst, North Carolina on 4th September 2004, aged 78, having previously been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He was survived by his fourth wife Joanne who he had met 20 years earlier during his time in Orlando.

Ward is rightly considered one of the best amateur golfers of all time but one can not help but think that is potential was ultimately not fulfilled.

ME.

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

The Amateur Championship – 2019 Preview, Reports & Results

22nd June 2019

Final

James SUGRUE (IRE) won the 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock G.C. on a near perfect day for golf.

He becomes the 8th Irish winner of the title following in the footsteps of Jimmy Bruen, Max McCready, Joe Carr, Garth McGimpsey, Michael Hoey, Brian McElhinney and most recently Alan Dunbar in 2012.

He beat Euan WALKER (SCO) by 2 Holes in a pulsating Final which went the full 36 holes.

The Mallow G.C. (County Cork) member can now look forward to playing in The Open, The Masters and U.S. Open over the next 12 months. He is additionally assured of a place in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team which will face USA at Royal Liverpool G.C. in September.

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James Sugrue and Euan Walker (Photo: Pat Cashman)

Sugrue (22) made a dream start this morning. A combination of aggressive play off the tee, good chipping and confident holing out saw him build a 5Up lead after the first nine holes.

Walker started to settle on the back nine helped in no small part by holing a 50ft putt for a winning birdie on the 10th. When he then birdied the par 5 13th to reduce the deficit to 3 Down the match was certainly back on.

After both players bogeyed the long par 3 15th Sugrue moved to 4Up after Walker bogeyed the 17th. However, the extended advantage was short lived; an untidy 18th, with Sugrue taking four to get down from the green side after a duffed chip, ended with Walker taking the home hole with a bogey to go into lunch just 3 Down.

It was the Irishman who struck first in the afternoon with a birdie on the 2nd but this was quickly given back when he bogeyed the next.

With both players now comfortable with their surroundings and the large crowd the play became much improved. Walker produced four birdies to Sugrue’s two over the next ten holes to claw his way back into the match. When Sugrue bogeyed the 16th Walker had completed the comeback – we were All Square with three holes to play.

However, the exertions of regaining parity having been 5 Down after nine holes perhaps took too much out of the Scotsman. He will no doubt be disappointed with his play over the remaining two holes.

Firstly, a poor pitch on 17 opened the door to Sugrue who bravely two-putted from the front of the green to go 1Up.

Fortune then favoured Sugrue as his drive on the 18th bounced out of a fairway bunker, finishing on the mown top, whilst Walker found heavy rough well right. Both players did well to get just over the 18th green with their seconds before Walker’s first putt failed to climb a steep bank and he ultimately ended up conceding the hole to Sugrue’s tap in bogey. The home crowd which had swelled to around 3,000 cheered loudly as Sugrue and Ireland had won by 2 Holes.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Sugrue said “It is hard to believe really. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable. Everything that comes with the win and all the crowds that were out there, it’s incredible. I’m just kind of happy I did it for the crowds, really, as I didn’t want all those people who came out to support me to see me end up losing. It’s more relief than anything else really to get over the line, especially after being three up going into the afternoon session. I’m just delighted to do it.”

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Sugrue v. Walker Final Scores (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Click here to follow the – 2019 Amateur Championship Final Live Scores

The 125th Amateur Championship will be played at Royal Birkdale and West Lancashire G.C.’s in England from 15th – 20th June 2020.

ME.

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21st June 2019

Semi-Finals

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Semi-Final Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

David MICHELUZZI (AUS) played James SUGRUE (IRE) in the first Semi-Final in a game that understandably attracted a large following at Portmarnock. After an up and down front nine the Irishman took control around the turn and saw out the match relatively comfortably.

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Micheluzzi v. Sugrue Semi-Final Scores (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

In the second Semi-Final Euan WALKER (SCO) got the better of Ben JONES (ENG). A birdie on the par 5 6th had given the Scotsman the early lead but this was soon overturned when he bogeyed both 8 and 9. Despite starting the back nine 1 Down Walker’s steadier play over the closing holes enabled him to eventually gain the upper hand.

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Walker v. Jones Semi-Final Scores (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship Semi-Final Results

Quarter Finals

The first Quarter Final between David MICHELUZZI (AUS) and Cameron SISK (USA) proved to be a tight affair with neither player ever leading by more than one hole. In the end a birdie on the 18th proved decisive for the Australian who broke the deadlock to win by 1 Hole.

James SUGRUE (IRE) started nervously in his game against Koen KOUWENAAR (NED) and was 2 Down after four holes. He recovered to All Square after the Dutchman found trouble on both the 8th and 9th, two longish par fours. Birdies were exchanged on 13 and 14 with first Sugrue taking the lead before Kouwenaar immediately bounced back. A bogey on 16 by the Mallow man appeared to have opened the door to his opponent but after the 17th was halved in par he holed a 15 footer on the final green for a birdie to save the day. When Kouwenaar then bogeyed the 1st Sugrue made no mistake with his safe par delighting the home crowd.

After a tight front nine where Sandy SCOTT (SCO) and Euan WALKER (SCO) matched each other shot for shot the third Quarter Final came alive at the start of the back nine. Scott birdied the 11th and after Walker bogeyed the next the Nairn player found himself 2Up with 6 holes to play. Walker birdied the par 5 13th to reduce the deficit and then quickly moved ahead after his compatriot handed him the 14th and 16th with bogeys. Like Sugrue in the game in front Scott refused to be beaten, his birdie on 18th forcing extra holes. The recovery was to be short-lived however as Walker composed himself to take the match on the 19th.

Ben JONES (ENG) beat Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) 3&1 in the final match this morning. After the front nine finished All-Square Jones played the difficult back nine in 3-under par to win well. Birdies on the 12th, 13th and 16th holes were the difference on the day.

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Quarter Final Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Click here to follow the – 2019 Amateur Championship Quarter Final Results

ME.

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20th June 2019

Round 4

James SUGRUE (IRE) and Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) both kept Irish hopes for a home winner alive with Last 16 wins this afternoon.

Mullarney beat Matty LAMB (ENG) by 1 Hole in Round 4. Having led 5Up after 11 holes Mullarney required a par on the last to finally take care of Lamb who fought right to the end.

Euan WALKER (SCO) and Sandy SCOTT (SCO) delivered the all-Scottish quarter final by both winning close matches.

Ben JONES (ENG) will play Mullarney tomorrow, both players will be playing their fifth game having come through the Preliminary Round.

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Round 4 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Round 3

Day 2 of Match Play started badly for GB&I with medalist Tom PLUMB (ENG), Tom SLOMAN (ENG), Billy MCKENZIE (ENG) and Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) all falling to disappointing losses.

James SUGRUE (IRE) got things back on track. He was 3 Down with four holes to play before securing a memorable 1 Hole victory over Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE). Sugrue gained revenge for a Round 3 loss to the Swede at Royal Aberdeen last year.

James ROBINSON‘s (ENG) run came to an end but not without some fight. He eventually lost on the 21st hole to Sergio PARRIEGO CORNEJO (ESP).

Euan WALKER (SCO) and Sandy SCOTT (SCO) both secured wins to keep alive hopes of an all-Scottish Quarter Final match.

The final four matches of the morning series all went the way of the home player with Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE), Matty LAMB (ENG), Bailey GILL (ENG) and Ben JONES (ENG) continuing their good form.

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Round 3 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

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19th June 2019

Round 2

Despite my complaints below about the unfairness of his draw Medalist Tom PLUMB (ENG) took little time in despatching 41st seed Alejandro DEL RAY GONZALEZ (ESP) 7&5 this morning.

Tom SLOMAN (ENG) was made to work very hard for his 1 hole win over Joe PAGDIN (ENG). Sloman trailed from the start and was 3 down with 6 holes to play but managed to overturn the deficit over Portmarnock’s challenging finishing holes.

It was obvious from the Stroke Play Qualifying that no match would be over until it was over given par was often going to be good enough to take many holes coming home.

Billy MCKENZIE (ENG) handed a heavy 7&6 defeat to an out of sorts David LANGLEY (ENG), damaging the latter’s hopes of forcing his way into the GB&I Walker Cup team.

Germany’s Matthias SCHMID, back from Louisville University for the summer, provided the biggest win of Round 2, taking out Sam DONE (ENG) 9&8.

Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) produced the best comeback of the day. He was 5 Down with 6 to play but somehow managed to beat last week’s St. Andrews Links Trophy winner Jake BURNAGE (ENG) on the 20th hole.

Harry HALL (ENG) was also undone by the finishing holes; 1 Up with 3 to play fellow Walker Cup panelist James SUGRUE (IRE) came through to win by 2 holes.

The final match in the Upper Half of the draw saw surprise package James ROBINSON (ENG) comfortably dispose of Therion NEL (RSA) 4&3. Nel is currently ranked 88th in the SPWAR whilst Robinson sits 1,319th.

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Round 2 Upper Half Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

In the Lower Half of the Match Play draw Euan WALKER (SCO) showed all of his fighting qualities to come from behind to beat Eanna GRIFFIN (IRE) by 2 holes.

Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) will be disappointed not to have got past Finland’s far less experienced Jonatan JOLKKONEN.

In two tight matches Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) overcame Midlands rival Sam BROADHURST (ENG) on the first extra hole and Sandy SCOTT (SCO) beat Markus BRAADLIE (NOR) by 1 hole, the Norwegian perhaps tiring a little having also played in the Preliminary this morning.

Matty LAMB (ENG) secured his second victory of the day and in taking out Yurav PREMLALL (RSA) 3&1 ended South African interest in the Championship.

Bailey GILL (ENG) also enjoyed a good 4 &2 win over University of South Florida’s Albin BERGSTRÖM (SWE). Bergström had enjoyed an award winning Freshman season in the U.S. so will have arrived in Ireland with a lot of confidence.

Ben JONES (ENG) would have to be my ‘Player of the Day’ though, firstly beating Jayden SCHAPER (RSA / SPWAR #10) in 22 holes this morning before going all the way to the 18th green with John AXELSEN (DEN / SPWAR #151) this afternoon. I am sure his fighting spirit will not have been lost on the watching Walker Cup selectors.

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Round 2 Lower Half Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship Round 2 Draw / Scores

Preliminary Round 1

The Match Play Stage of The Amateur Championship, which is being played exclusively at Portmarnock G.C., started at 7.00am this morning.

76 players made the top 64 and ties cut.

As a result the 24 lowest scoring qualifiers had to play a Preliminary Round 1 to produce the final 12 players required to make up the 64 needed for Round 2.

Sam BROADHURST (ENG), Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE), Matty LAMB (ENG) and Ben JONES (ENG) all came through the Preliminary Round to take their place in Round 2.

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Preliminary Round 1 Results (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship Preliminary Round 1 Draw / Scores

ME.

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Every year I complain about the use by The R&A of a Preliminary Round rather than using a play-off or card count back to produce the 64 players needed for the first round proper.

This year because of the Preliminary Round medalist Tom PLUMB (ENG), who would be playing the 64th qualifier in a clean draw, has been paired with the 41st qualifier Alejandro DEL REY GONZALEZ (ESP).

Take a look at the table below which outlines how the 76 Stroke Play seeds fed through into this year’s Amateur Championship draw and how this compares with a Standard 64 player Match Play draw.

You will see most of the leading qualifiers end up playing against higher rated players than they deserve to. The only beneficiaries being those players who receive the winners of the Preliminary Round in the Lower Half of the draw.

Upper Half Draw Lower Half Draw
Amateur ‘19 Standard Amateur ‘19 Standard
1 vs 41 64 22 vs 47 43
32 vs 50 33 11 vs 36 54
16 vs 38 49 27 vs 37 38
17 vs 35 48 6 vs 34 59
8 vs 44 57 19 vs 57 vs 53 46
25 vs 39 40 14 vs 70 vs 54 51
9 vs 51 56 30 vs 75 vs 73 35
24 vs 48 41 3 vs 64 vs 60 62
4 vs 42 61 23 vs 61 vs 62 42
29 vs 49 36 10 vs 69 vs 56 55
13 vs 43 52 26 vs 76 vs 58 39
20 vs 40 45 7 vs 66 vs 55 58
5 vs 46 60 18 vs 59 vs 67 47
28 vs 33 37 15 vs 72 vs 71 50
12 vs 52 53 31 vs 65 vs 63 34
21 vs 45 44 2 vs 68 vs 74 63

ME.

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18th June 2019

Tom PLUMB (ENG) secured Stroke Play medalist honours at The Amateur today after posting an aggregate 36 hole score of 139 (-4). Plumb shot a second round 71 (-1) at Portmarnock.

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Tom Plumb (Photo: The R&A / Getty Images)

In the last group out John AXELSEN (DEN) recorded a 69 at Portmarnock to pull level with Plumb on 139 (-4). However, he lost out on count back; his 72 (I 37 / P 35) was four shots more than Plumb’s (I 33 / P 35) on the aggregate of the two back nines.  

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) was 3rd after a 69 at The Island left him on 140 (-3).

William BUHL (NOR) and Harry HALL (ENG) were tied 4th on 141 (-2).

Conditions were favourable today with sunny intervals and a modest breeze.

The best rounds of the day at Portmarnock belonged to Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE), Euan MCINTOSH (SCO) and Mason ANDERSEN (USA) who all posted 68’s (-4) to qualify.

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Caolan Rafferty’s and Euan McIntosh’s Scorecards (Photo: The R&A / Getty Images)

The average Round 2 score at Portmarnock was 75.33 (+3.33).

Blake WINDRED (AUS) recorded the lowest round at The Island on Day 2 with a bogey free 67 (-4). Unfortunately his 82 at Portmarnock yesterday was never going to be recoverable.

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Blake Windred’s Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Getty Images)

The average Round 2 score at The Island was 74.16 (+3.16).

24 of the 26 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup squad players were competing. 12 of the group made it through to the Match Play Stage. These were Thomas PLUMB (ENG) -4, Sandy SCOTT (SCO) 2nd, Harry HALL (ENG) -2, Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) -1, Joe PAGDIN (ENG) Ev, Bailey GILL (ENG) +1, Euan MCINTOSH (SCO) +1, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) +2, Euan WALKER (SCO) +2, Jake BURNAGE (ENG) +2, James SUGRUE (IRE) +3 and Ben JONES (ENG) +4.

14 other GB&I players qualified, namely, David LANGLEY (ENG) -1, Jake BOLTON (ENG) -1, Eanna GRIFFIN (IRE) Ev, Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) +1, James ROBINSON (ENG) +1, Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) +1, Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) +1, Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) +2, Sam DONE (ENG) +2, Billy MCKENZIE (ENG) +2, Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) +4, Jack AINSCOUGH (ENG) +4, Sam BROADHURST (ENG) +4 and Matty LAMB (ENG) +4.

As predicted the top 64 and ties Match Play cut fell at 147 (+4) with a total of 76 players progressing. The 24 lowest scoring qualifiers will therefore be involved in a Preliminary Round to establish the final 64 players.

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship SP Qualifying Results

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s Match Play here are the Stroke Play Qualifying hole-by-hole statistics for Portmarnock G.C. which may assist with strategy: –

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ME.

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17th June 2019

Geoff LENEHAN (IRE) and Tom MCKIBBIN (N.I.) played the first tee shots of the 124th Amateur Championship at 7.00am this morning at Portmarnock G.C. and The Island G.C. respectively.

On a breezy but dry day on the east coast of Ireland the scoring was relatively high. Just 17 players in the field of 288 recorded an under par score.

Anton ALBERS (GER) was the low man at Portmarnock in Round 1 of the Stroke Play Qualifying with a 4-under par 68.

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Anton Albers’ Round 1 Scorecard (Photo: The R&A / Getty Images)

There was a total of six under par rounds at Portmarnock. Sandy SCOTT (SCO), who recorded a 71 (-1), provided one of them.

The average score at Portmarnock in Round 1 was 77.47 (+5.47).

Ayoub SSOUADI (MOR) and Harry HALL (ENG) both recorded 67’s (-4) at The Island to share the Day 1 lead with the German.

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Ayoub Ssouadi’s and Harry Hall’s Round 1 Scorecards (Photo: The R&A / Getty Images)

A total of 11 under par rounds were posted at The Island. Tom PLUMB (ENG) 68 (-3), James ROBINSON (ENG) and Tom SLOMAN (ENG) both 69 (-2), Curtis KNIPES (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG) and Joe PAGDIN (ENG) all 70 (-1) led the way for Great Britain & Ireland.

The average score at The Island in Round 1 was 75.14 (+4.14).

The projected top 64 and ties match play cut mark looks like being 147 (+4). This is based on the fact that after Round 1 27 players are tied 52nd on +2. 31 of these 78 players played at Parmarnock and 47 at The Island.

Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) I +3, Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) P +3, Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) P +3, David HAGUE (ENG) P +3, Euan WALKER (SCO) P +3, Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) P +4, Tom MCKIBBIN (IRE) I +4, Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) P +4, Akshay BHATIA (USA) P +4, Jayden SCHAPER (RSA) P +4, James SUGRUE (IRE) P +5, Conor PURCELL (IRE) I +5, Ben JONES (ENG) P +5, Euan MCINTOSH (SCO) I +5, Wilco NIENABER (RSA) P +5, Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) P +6, Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL) I +6, Josh MCMAHON (ENG) P +6, Jamie STEWART (SCO) P +7, John MURPHY (IRE) I +7, Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) I +8 and Blake WINDRED (AUS) P +10 are therefore amongst the more notable players who can afford few mistakes tomorrow.

ME.

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14th June 2019

The 124th Amateur Championship starts on Monday 17th June at Portmarnock Golf Club and The Island Golf Club. Both courses are located a short distance to the north east of Dublin city centre in Ireland.

The Amateur is the most prestigious amateur golf event played outside of the United States and without question the highlight of the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur season.

Format

288 players will play two stroke play qualifying rounds, one round on each course, on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th June.

Click here to view the – 2019 Amateur Championship SP Qualifying Tee Times

The 64 players with the lowest 36 hole scores, and ties for 64th place, will advance to the match play stage and be seeded in line with their qualifying finishes. A preliminary round will be used if more than 64 players qualify. [I would prefer there to be a play-off or an aggregate count back so there can be a clean draw made.]

The match play stage will then be played solely at Portmarnock between Wednesday 19th and Saturday 22nd June.

Matches will be played over 18 holes except for Saturday’s Final which will be contested over 36 holes. Extra sudden death holes will be used in all games if necessary.

An Aerial View Of Portmarnock Golf Club (Photo: Portmarnock G.C.)

Players

The 288 players are drawn firstly from a number of exempt categories covering various Championship performances and representative team selections. Thereafter places are allocated to those players ranked 1st – 2,000th in the WAGR as at 15th May 2019. The lowest non-exempt WAGR player in the field is currently Islam HABEBUL (ENG) at #939.

Looking at the current SPWAR, my preferred amateur ranking, there are 19 of the top 50 players competing. These are Jayden SCHAPER (RSA) 9th, Conor PURCELL (IRE) 10th, Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) 12th, Blake WINDRED (AUS) 14th, Wilco NIENABER (RSA) 19th, David MICHELUZZI (AUS) 22nd, Euan WALKER (SCO) 25th, Harry HALL (ENG) 27th, Jake BURNAGE (ENG) 29th, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) 32nd, Alejandro DEL REY GONZALEZ (ESP) 33rd, Keita NAKAJIMA (JAP) 34th, Tom PLUMB (ENG) 38th, David LANGLEY (ENG) 39th, Yurav PREMLALL (RSA) 41st, Ben JONES (ENG) 43rd, Bailey GILL (ENG) 45th, Matthias SCHMID (GER) 47th and Stefano MAZZOLI (ITA) 49th.

Players from 34 different countries will contest the 2019 Amateur Championship.

England have 54 players in the field, Ireland 22, Scotland 18 and Wales 5.

Outside of the home nations the best represented countries are USA (27), France (24), Germany (16), Spain (16), Sweden (12), Italy (11), Australia (11), Denmark (9), South Africa (8) and Finland (8).

Whilst there are a large number of Americans playing it again remains the case that the vast majority of their leading players continue to skip the Championship. It is disappointing but perhaps understandable that most of them prefer to play in the Northeast Amateur Invitational at Wannamoisett C.C. in Providence, Rhode island – an event that starts on Wednesday 19th June. Without their participation The Amateur will always lack a little something despite the Major exemptions on offer. The best American this year is Cole MADEY (SPWAR 54) albeit Akshay BHATIA (SPWAR 101) is a notable junior.

Stewart HAGESTAD (USA), Daniel HILLIER (NZL) and Chun An “Kevin” YU (TPE) all qualified for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and were sadly all late withdrawals.

12 Reserves were called upon since the original draw was made on 20th May.

Portmarnock G.C.’s Promotional Video For The Amateur Championship (3:13)

Host Courses

This is only the second time that The Amateur has been staged outside Great Britain. Portmarnock hosted the Championship 70 years ago in 1949 with Max McCready overcoming Willie Turnesa 2&1 in the Final.

Situated on its own peninsula Portmarnock G.C., which was opened in 1894, will play to 7,422 yards and a par of 72. Whilst the front nine is longer by 150 yards it is the strong finishing holes for which the links are renowned.

The Island G.C. was founded in 1890 and as its name suggests was originally only accessible by ferry boat. It plays to 7,019 yards from the back tees and has a par of 71.

13th hole, The Island Golf Club (Photo: The Island G.C.)

Weather Forecast (as at Monday 16th June)

The weather forecast looks resonable, with little rain and a fairly consistent south westerly wind expected: –

Mon 17th June – Sunny. Wind 17 mph SW. Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 10°C.
Tue 18th June – Sunny. Wind 10 mph SW. Temp. Max. 18°C / Min 9°C.
Wed 19th June – Showers PM. Wind 12 mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 9°C.
Thu 20th June – Cloudy. Wind 13 mph W. Temp. Max. 15°C / Min 7°C.
Fri 21st June – Sunny. Wind 12 mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 9°C.
Sat 22nd June – Cloudy. Wind 13 mph SE. Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 11°C.

Click here to view the – Latest BBC Weather Forecast For Dublin

Players will tee off between 7.00am and 3.52pm on Monday and Tuesday so changes in the weather and wind speed may have a role to play in the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Prizes / Exemptions

A momento is presented by The R&A to the leading player in the stroke play qualifying competition, with a tie decided on the lowest aggregate score for the second nine holes on both courses (or six or three or one).

The winner of the match play stage will become the Champion Amateur Golfer for the year and is awarded the Championship Trophy and a Gold Medal. The runner-up receives a Silver Medal and each losing semi-finalist a Bronze Medal.

The winner of The Amateur Championship will be exempt into next month’s 148th Open Championship being staged at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

Traditionally, the champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National G.C. and also exempted into the 2020 U.S. Open Championship which is being held at Winged Foot G.C. in Mamaroneck, New York.

Finally, there is an informal rule that any GB&I player who wins the Amateur Championship in a Walker Cup year will be automatically selected for our team.

2018 Amateur Championship

Jovan REBULA (RSA) won the 2018 Amateur Championship beating Robin DAWSON (IRE) 3&2 in the 36 hole Final played at Royal Aberdeen G.C.

He was the first South African winner since Bobby Cole in 1966.

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Jovan Rebula (Photo: The R&A / Mark Runnacles / Getty Images)

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Match Play Results

Fellow South African Wilco NIENABER was medalist in the preceeding Stroke Play Qualifying. He shot a 66 at Murcar Links and a 67 at Royal Aberdeen G.C. for a 133 (-8) total.

The top 64 and ties match play cut fell at +6 with 77 players progressing. There were 30 GB&I qualifiers amongst this number.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

A Short History of The Amateur

The Amateur Championship was first played in April 1885 at Royal Liverpool G.C. Allan Macfie (SCO) was the first champion beating Horace Hutchinson (ENG) 7&6 in the Final.

Up until the Second World War it was a hugely prestigious event and in many of these early years was afforded a much higher standing in the game than The Open. Players like Johnny Ball (ENG), Harold Hilton (ENG) and Freddie Tait (SCO) were all amateurs and as good if not better than most of the professionals of the day.

With only modest rewards available in the professional game many of the better players simply stayed amateur. The great American Bobby Jones, who won The Amateur in 1930 on the way to his Grand Slam, remains the most well known career amateur.

Even after the war players remained amateur for much longer and famous names like Frank Stranahan (USA), Joe Carr (IRE), Sir Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) all built their reputations on Amateur Championship wins.

With the growth and transformation of the professional game from the early 1980s onwards both the better players and the media increasingly started to turn their backs on the amateur game.

Save for exceptional cases like Gary Wolstenholme (ENG) all continuity has been lost over the last 30 years and most of the young golfing stars of today rarely play any more than 2 or 3 Amateurs before being lured into the pro ranks by the huge rewards on offer.

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The Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: Dominik Holyer) 

Past Winners

The greatest player in the history of The Amateur is Johnny Ball. The Hoylake man won the Championship a record 8 times between 1888 and 1912.

Only three other players have won the competition more than twice; Sir Michael Bonallack (5), Harold Hilton (4) and Joe Carr (3). Bonallack amazingly won it three years in a row between 1968-1970. The last person to retain The Amateur was Peter McEvoy in 1977 and ’78.

Prior to Jovan Rebula’s win in 2018 the previous 10 winners of The Amateur Championship were: –

2017  Harry Ellis (ENG) – Royal St. George’s G.C.
2016  Scott Gregory (ENG) – Royal Porthcawl G.C.
2015  Romain Langasque (FRA) – Carnoustie G.L.
2014  Bradley Neil (SCO) – Royal Portrush G.C.
2013  Garrick Porteous (ENG) – Royal Cinque Ports G.C.
2012  Alan Dunbar (IRE) – Royal Troon G.C.
2011  Bryden Macpherson (AUS) – Hillside G.C.
2010  Jin Jeong (KOR) – Muirfield
2009  Matteo Manassero (ITA) – Formby G.C.
2008  Reinier Sexton (NED) – Trump Tunberry

A great achievement and honour for all of the players listed above. However, it’s also another reminder of how incredibly tough golf is and that wins in the biggest events are no guarantee of success in the professional game.

Click here to view a complete list of – Amateur Championship winners

ME.

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

Frank Stranahan

28th April 2019

Frank Richard Stranahan is one of golf’s greatest amateurs and, alongside his friend Arnold Palmer, a player who crucially helped regenerate The Open Championship in the post World War II years.

He was a slightly controversial figure in his day with his love of fitness, questionable temperament and ‘spoilt rich kid’ attitude leading to a number of minor incidents which blighted his golfing legacy to a small degree.

Stranahan was born on 5th August 1922 in Toledo, Ohio to Robert and Page Ellyson Stranahan. They had seven children in total. Robert and his brother Frank were the co- founders of the Champion Spark Plug Company. The Stranahan’s became multi-millionaires on the back of the growth in the automobile industry and Frank, named after his Uncle, was born into a life of luxury.

When young Frank started to take an interest in golf, a game his father already played to a high standard, he was enrolled at the Inverness Club in Toledo. Byron Nelson, one of the best players in the world and conveniently the club pro at Inverness between 1940-44 was one of his teachers.

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Frank Stranahan Aged 16 (Photo: Toledo Blade) 

He won the Ohio Amateur Championship in 1941 and played golf at the University of Miami before serving as a bomber pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II (1943-45). Upon his return he focussed full time on being the best golfer he could be.

Given the financial advantages he enjoyed his amateur status was often called into question with his role as a Champion ‘salesman’ very much seen as a position of convenience. In an interview with Sports Illustrated in 1998 he said “I’m sure the players were jealous. They had every right to be. My dad was bankrolling me, and I could play every week without worrying.” His often blatant arrogance and reputation as a playboy in his youth no doubt didn’t endear him to his fellow competitors.

He won 51 amateur tournaments and six PGA Tour events. He played amateur golf between 1936 and 1954, competing in over 200 tournaments across three continents. He played in many pro events as an amateur winning four of his PGA Tour titles without picking up a cheque.

He first came to prominence at the 1947 Masters when he tied Byron Nelson for second, two shots behind the winner, Jimmy Demaret. The following year he ran into controversy at The Masters when he was barred by Clifford Roberts, then Chairman of Augusta National, from competing due to repeatedly playing more than one ball into the greens in practice. Stranahan always denied this. Curt Sampson, in his book ‘The Masters: Golf, Money and Power in Augusta, Georgia’ tells the story of how Stranahan was set up by Roberts who was upset that he had dated his blonde secretary the year before and how Bobby Jones refused to intervene on his behalf. Stranahan brought a ticket and stayed to watch the tournament without further incident. He was low amateur in 1946 (tied 20th), 1947, 1950 (tied 14th) and 1953 (tied 14th) and played in a total of twelve Masters.

Frank Stranahan

Frank Stranahan (Photo: Unknown / USGA Archives)

He had little success at the U.S. Open. His best finishers were tied 13th in 1947 and tied 10th in 1958.

Stranahan won the 1948 and 1950 Amateur Championships. He beat Charlie Stowe 5&4  at Royal St. George’s and compatriot Dick Chapman 8&6 at St. Andrews respectively. It was some turnaround as his previous visits to Great Britain hadn’t exactly gone according to plan. In the 1946 Amateur Championship he fired his caddie on the sixth hole for giving him a wrong line to the hole. Then in 1947, after his Scottish opponent holed a short putt for a four before conceding Stranahan his by tapping his ball into the hole, the American claimed the hole on the ground that he had only played three shots. He also reached the final in 1952 at Prestwick but was beaten 6&5 by fellow American E. Harvie Ward.

He has the best overall Amateur Championship record in the history of the event for those playing a minimum of 30 matches. Stranahan played in a total of 9 Championships and 50 matches. He won 43 of these and lost just 7, an impressive 86% win record.

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Frank Stranahan With The Amateur Championship Trophy in 1950

Amongst his more notable amateur triumphs Stranahan won the Canadian Amateur Championship (1947,’48), the Mexican Amateur (1946,’48,’51), the Western Amateur (1946,’49,’51,’52), North and South Amateur (1946,’49,’52) and the All-American Amateur at Tam O’Shanter (1948,’49,’50,’51,’52,’53).

He also played on three victorious U.S. Walker Cup teams in 1947, 1949 and 1951, posting an overall individual record of W3-L2-H1, with a W2-L1 mark in Singles.

He most wanted to win the United States Amateur Championship. However, it always alluded him. The closest he came was in 1950 when he lost to Sam Urzetta on the 39th hole at Minneapolis Golf Club; it remains the joint longest Final in the history of the event.

He turned pro in September 1954, aged 32, shortly after losing 3&1 to a 24-year-old Arnold Palmer in the U.S. Amateur’s Round of 16. The Championship at the Country Club of Detroit was his 11th and final attempt to capture the title.

In a 10 year pro career his most notable win came at the 1958 Los Angeles Open. In his combined amateur-pro career he won six times, came runner-up seven times and posted 67 top-10s. Past his very best when he finally took the plunge most of Stranahan’s better performances in the pro game came as an amateur.

With finance and time never a problem Stranahan took instruction with many coaches over the years and as a result he developed a repution as a mechanical, technical player. His swing was far from natural and not at all attractive it was said.

Frank first got into body building and healthy living as an aspiring high school American Football player. When his attentions turned to golf he continued with his fitness programme becoming known as the ‘Toledo Strongman’.  Arnold Palmer nicknamed him ‘Muscles’. The extent of his interest is clear when one learns he was a nationally ranked powerlifter in his weight class between 1945 to 1954. He travelled with weights and argued passionately for the benefits it brought his game at a time when most of his peers were still concerned that it would reduce their flexibility. Gary Player described Frank as his “fitness mentor, friend and inspiration”.

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Frank Stranahan Competing In Over 70’s Body Building Competitions (Photo: Toledo Blade)

He swore by a vegetarian diet and never drank coffee or alcohol. He never smoked either which was also unusual for much of his lifetime.

After he retired from competitive play in 1964 he studied at Harvard University before  earning a master’s degree in business from the prestigious Wharton School and pursuing a new career in investment banking with his own Stranahan Investments with offices in New York and Palm Beach, Florida, where he primarily lived from 1968 onwards. He lost much of his inherited fortune in the Black Monday stock market crash of October 1987.

Stranahan took up running in his late ‘40s and as with everything else in his life dedicated himself fully to his new interest. He ran 102 marathons, including Boston, Chicago and New York, and often chose to jog in Central Park and Florida in the early hours of the morning.

His private life was marred in sadness. Stranahan married Ann Williams in Chicago in July 1953 and under his tutelage she became a first rate amateur golfer too. She finished runner-up in the 1960 Canadian Women’s Amateur, competed nationally and won 25 local tournamants. However she died aged just 45 in April 1975 from cancer. They had three sons but two of them also died young; Frank Jr. died from bone cancer in August 1966 aged 11, having already had a leg amputated, and Jimmy in 1977 from a drug overdose at college in Houston,Texas when he was only 19. Stranahan’s youngest son Lance was his only survivor.

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Frank And Ann Stranahan With Frank Jnr (Photo: Toledo Blade) 

In his later years in Florida he chose to live modestly in minamilist fashion with next to no furniture and with all of his golfing mementoes removed from display. He simply spent his time running and lifting weights. In 1997 he won the over-70 division of the National Physique Committee Gold Cup Classic bodybuilding competition. On his 78th birthday he was videoed dead-lifting 265 pounds (which can still be viewed on You Tube).

Stranahan sadly started to suffer from dementia in his late 80’s and died after a brief illness on Sunday 23rd June 2013 in West Palm Beach, Florida aged 90.

ME.

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

Johnny Goodman

18th December 2018 

Johnny Goodman was the last amateur to win a major Championship, securing the 1933 U.S. Open. A relative unknown nowadays he holds a record which is unlikely to ever be broken.

He was the underdog who came good but never got the recognition or financial rewards he deserved.

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Johnny Goodman (Photo: omaha.com)

John George Goodman was born on 28th December 1909 in South Omaha, Nebraska, the fifth child of Lithuanian immigrants, William and Rose Goodman. His father worked in the local slaughterhouses and faced with horrific working conditions and poverty drifted into alcoholism. Shortly after his wife died in late 1924 giving birth to their 13th child (who also died) William chose to desert his family and the home he owned.

Abandoned at 15 and ultimately left to fend for himself it’s fair to say Johnny’s prospects appeared poor. The game of golf and the generosity of friends proved to be his saviour.

By accident Johnny had become a caddie at the nearby Omaha Field Club a few years earlier when he was 11. Playing on the railway which criss-crossed the golf course he had found a stray golf ball. Whilst selling it to a passing player he had learnt that more money was available for carrying bags at the Club. Within days he was earning on the weekends and given his natural intelligence and hard work soon became the best caddie at the Club. In 1922, reflecting this status, he was handed the bag of Walter Hagen by the caddie-master when the reigning Open champion arrived in Omaha on an exhibition tour with Australian Joe Kirkwood.

After briefly sleeping rough his friend Matt Zadalis persuaded his family to take him in and the skills he had developed as a caddie in dealing with adults quickly made him a respectful and welcome house guest. Whilst he continued to take his studies seriously his attendance at school became more sporadic. The need to earn, to feed and clothe himself, took priority and over the next few years he secured jobs as a Western Union messenger, a printing factory assistant and even occasionally as a cleaner in the slaughterhouses. To his credit he later did night classes to catch up and completed his high school diploma on time in June 1927.

He had continued to caddie in the spring and summer months and having cobbled together a set of clubs began discretely practising on the Omaha Field course. It wasn’t long before he became proficient and at 15, having won the 1925 Metropolitan Golf Tournament, could rightly call himself one of the best golfers in Omaha.

Like most sports fans at the time Bobby Jones was his hero and understandably given the era Johnny was taken with the amateur ideal. Given his hand to mouth existence at home he had no aspirations to turn professional and to be treated as a second class citizen at the golf course like most professionals still were. He was happy to continue travelling to events in the cheaper boxcars used to transport livestock and mail on the trains if it meant he could continue to have the sanctuary of golf clubhouses.

He developed a sound posture and a repeatable swing where he hit the ball late, more on the upswing than driving the club into the ground at impact. What started off as a draw became a power fade as he practiced more and sought greater consistency. As a small and slender man of 5ft 8” he never hit the ball far but the closer he got to the hole the deadlier he became; there were few who could pitch and putt better.

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Johnny Goodman (Photo: Lester Jones Collection)

The next step up the golfing ladder should have been the Nebraska Amateur Championship but ambitiously in June 1926 Johnny went for the regional Trans-Mississippi Championship in St. Louis. Playing in his first major competition Goodman showed his potential, first breaking Hagen’s course record in qualifying before falling to the more experienced Johnny Dawson 2&1 in the semi-finals. Despite the loss his performance made headline news back in Omaha. As he said himself: “One day I woke up and I was famous”.

Whilst his appearance, at least in his early playing years, often left a little to be desired he now realised he needed to look the part every day even if his finances made that hard to achieve. More importantly he now also understood that controlling his emotions on the course would help his scoring. Observers noticed how mentally strong he was and how he played with a competitive focus few others could match.

Goodman won the Trans-Mississippi Championship the following year at Broadmoor C.C. in Colorado Springs beating James Ward 2&1 in the Final. He would go on to become a 3-time Trans-Mississippi champion; wins in 1931 and 1935 bookending a loss in the 1934 final.

Goodman won the Nebraska Amateur Championship in 1929 and went on to retain it in 1930 and 1931. However, his sights were increasingly set at a national rather than state level. He didn’t have to wait long to make his mark.

At the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach Golf Links, in one of the great upsets in the history of the game, he beat medalist Bobby Jones 2&1 in Round 1 of the match play stage. Disappointingly but perhaps not surprisingly he lost in Round 2 by the same scoreline in the afternoon to a 19 year old Lawson Little, who was just setting out on his own path to greatness.

The event started ominously for Goodman. Upon arrival in California he had been summoned to a USGA meeting to explain a new Spalding sporting goods store assistant’s role he had recently started amid concerns about his amateur status. His $8 per week salary appeared to be nothing to him when compared with some of the employment and writing arrangements other leading amateurs, like Jones and Chick Evans, were benefiting from. At the time the USGA appeared happy to show a little more flexibility to the more affluent gentleman players who met their concept of the perfect amateur. Unfortunately “Boxcar Johnny” fell very much at the other end of the spectrum; just the kind of player who they could make an example of and who they felt should be earning a living as a pro. Thankfully he was able to dissuade the Committee of any major impropriety and take up his place in the field. Although relations weren’t subsequently helped when he removed the star player from the field and attendances (and takings) over the final days were decimated. The USGA introduced a seeded match play draw the following year which perhaps played a part in helping Jones complete his 1930 grand slam.

Johnny’s trip to the Monterey Peninsula ended well. The victory over Bobby Jones caught the attention of a watching Bing Crosby who invited Johnny to play a $100 per hole 9 hole cash game at Pebble Beach the day after the Final. Goodman won $500 off the entertainer and with the Wall Street Crash and the onset of the Great Depression just days away the timing couldn’t have been better.

After a disappointing Round 1 defeat in the 1930 U.S. Amateur Goodman was struggling to balance the competing priorities in his life. “Amateur golf is a rich man’s game, and I am far from rich. I am forced to make a living, and find it impossible to combine competitive golf with business.” However, he had no where to go. He was a man of the amateur era, one who believed the U.S. Amateur to be the greatest Championship in the world and who harboured strong Walker Cup hopes. Professional golf was no real solution at the time as the tour was still embryonic and only a handful were making a living on it. Whilst the retirement of Bobby Jones and the continuing Depression saw amateurism lose some of its attractiveness, save for the very wealthiest in society, Johnny chose steadfastly to continue along this path. However, with his fiancé Josephine Kersigo and her family to consider he did decide to take a job selling insurance in early 1931, offered to him by Pete Lyck, a friend from the Omaha Field Club.

Goodman looked odds on for a place in the 1932 USA Walker Cup team after he qualified and then finished 14th and the leading amateur in that year’s U.S. Open. However, revealing the snobbery of the time, some regional prejudice and perhaps an implied accusation of professionalism, the USGA overlooked Johnny, neither naming him to their 10 man team or as an alternate. Many of those selected for the match at Brookline were either past their best or clearly did not have the recent playing record of the man from Omaha. The accompanying outcry from the nation’s golf correspondents finally led to the USGA making a statement. The Selection Committee, despite making their public announcement three days after the U.S. Open had finished, explained that their decision had actually been made before the Championship. Showing maturity beyond his years Johnny largely kept his own counsel and vowed to do his talking on the course. As the USA team comfortably beat GB&I 8-1 in Boston the selection soon became a moot point anyway.

The disappointment fuelled a run at the 1932 U.S. Amateur which started at Baltimore C.C. just ten days after the Walker Cup match finished. Gaining some redemption for his snub Goodman beat Francis Ouimet in the semi-final and was the last U.S. player left standing. However, despite being 2Up with 9 holes to play in the Final, he sadly failed to deliver the ultimate coup de grâce he had hoped for, losing 2&1 to Canadian Ross Somerville in their 36 hole match.

The 1933 U.S. Open took place at North Shore C.C. at Glenville, Illinois, a long, tight course made tougher by the baked fairways from a hot early summer. Rounds of 75, 66 – the joint lowest in Championship history at the time – and 70 gave Goodman a 6-shot lead heading into the final round. After a good start to Rd 4 his game deserted him on the final four holes of the front nine which he played in +4. Nevertheless to his credit he collected himself; playing the back nine in +1 he recorded a final round of 76. Thankful for a bogey 5 by his nearest challenger Ralph Guldahl on the 72nd hole Goodman ended up winning the Championship by 1-shot. Showing their continued disdain for the social standing of Johnny the USGA refused to formally present the famous trophy to their new 23 year old champion. Unusually there are no photos of USGA President Herbert H. Ramsey or any other official presenting the trophy to Goodman – reports said he simply lifted it off a presentation table himself.

Johnny Goodman – 1933 U.S. Open Pathe News

This win in June 1933 saw Johnny Goodman became the last member of a select group which already included Jerry Travers, Francis Ouimet, Chick Evans and Bobby Jones – amateurs to beat the pros and win the U.S. Open Championship. 85 years later he remains the last amateur to win a major Championship.

In the light of his U.S. Open win Goodman refused to turn Pro. He continued with his insurance job turning down numerous touring, publishing and sponsorship opportunities that came his way. “Golf is a game for me, not a business” he said.

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Johnny Goodman With the U.S. Open Championship Trophy (Photo: USGA Museum)

The Masters was first played in late March 1934. Despite being the reigning U.S. Amateur champion it appears Johnny Goodman was not invited to compete by Bobby Jones, although he may simply have not been able to afford the time or cost of the trip. Ironically it was Goodman’s defeat of Jones at Pebble Beach in 1929 that created the time for him to visit the newly opened Cypress Point G.C. So taken with the course was Jones that he immediately decided that its designer Dr. Alistair MacKenzie would be handed control of any new course that he may build in the future. That course proved to be Augusta National. Despite clearly being one of America’s leading players in the 1930’s Goodman ended up playing in just one Masters. In 1936 he shot rounds of 80, 81 and 79 to finish 43rd. Perhaps Goodman didn’t take to the course and chose not to play in the event again.

Johnny finally made his Walker Cup debut aged 24 at St. Andrews in May 1934. Captain Francis Ouimet played him No. 1 for the U.S. team and he didn’t disappoint, taking to links golf quickly. Paired with fellow rookie Lawson Little in the Day 1 Foursomes they beat a fading Cyril Tolley and Roger Wethered 8&6, Wethered in particular struggling throughout the 36 hole match. On Day 2 Goodman beat the British Captain and reigning Amateur champion, a 55 year old Hon. Michael Scott 7&6. The USA won the match 9.5-2.5 with golf writer Bernard Darwin describing Goodman’s play as “appallingly good.”

The following week Goodman crossed Scotland to play at Prestwick G.C. in the Amateur Championship. A straight knockout in those days the Omaha man reached the Quarter Finals where he succumbed to young Englishman Leslie Garnett 3&1. Johnny’s Foursomes partner Lawson Little went on to beat James Wallace by a record breaking 14&13 score. Little recorded twelve 3’s on the 23 holes played in the Final.

At the 1936 Walker Cup, played at Pine Valley G.C., Goodman was one of four returning USA players and again played at No. 1. Paired with Albert “Scotty” Campbell he won his Foursomes 7&5 against Hector Thomson and Harry Bentley. On Day 2 he again beat Thomson this time 3&2 in the Singles, maintaining his 100% win record and leading the USA to a famous 9-0 victory. There were no points awarded for halved matches in those days so it was not quite the whitewash it appeared.

The 1937 U.S. Amateur was played at Alderwood C.C. in Portland, Oregon. It would prove to be Johnny Goodman’s crowning glory. In his 1Up semi-final win against Bud Ward he one putted 15 greens. ‘Cinderella Man’ Ray Billows, known for his relaxed temperament (as well as finishing second), waited for him in the Final. Johnny stumbled down the home straight again but finished strongly to ultimately win by 2 holes. Finally accepted by the USGA, President John G. Jackson happily made the trophy presentation to a man who had now achieved the American double.

Just 11 players have won the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open – Francis Ouimet (1914 / 1913 respectively), Jerome Travers (1907 / 1915), Chick Evans (1916 / 1916), Bobby Jones (1924 / 1923), Johnny Goodman (1937 / 1933), Lawson Little (1934 / 1940), Arnold Palmer (1954 / 1960), Gene Littler (1953 / 1961), Jack Nicklaus (1959 / 1962), Jerry Pate (1974 / 1976) and Tiger Woods (1994 / 2000). Goodman is the last player to win the U.S. Amateur after the U.S. Open.

The 10th Walker Cup match, played on 3-4 June 1938 at St. Andrews, again featured Johnny Goodman, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion. The U.S. team first travelled to Troon to play in the Amateur. An ‘unlucky’ draw saw Goodman beat Ray Billows 4&2 in Round 2 before falling 3&2 to Charles Kocsis in Round 4, both U.S. teammates. Unfortunately any form he had deserted him in his Walker Cup matches as he lost on both days as GB&I won for the first time 7-4. Hector Thomson got revenge for his 1939 defeat comfortably winning their repeat Singles 6&4. With World War II interrupting proceedings the next match would not be played until 1947 and hence this proved to be Johnny’s last involvement.

Back home Johnny Goodman remained well known and respected. He featured on the cover of the popular Time Weekly Newsmagazine on 6 June 1938 under the heading ‘The King of Swings’ and in a story about him being the natural successor to Bobby Jones. To my knowledge Jones, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only other golfers to grace the cover of this famous U.S. magazine.

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Johnny Goodman – Time Magazine, 6th June 1938

Shortly afterwards Johnny married Josephine in Omaha, Lawson Little acting as his best man, and with little money moved in with his mother in law.

However, on the golfing front his play started to drift and he was never to contend in a big event again.

The Pearl Harbour attack just a few days before Johnny’s 32nd birthday in December 1941, which led to the United States’ entering World War II, changed more than just the golfing landscape. Goodman found himself called up to serve in the Quartermaster Corps and ended up being posted to India.

Once the War was over Johnny settled back into family life. He left the insurance world and started working for his brother in law John Atkins who had become a successful beer distributor and club owner in Omaha. 1947 proved to be a pivotal year in his life. Firstly he and Josephine had a son, Johnny Goodman Jr. and then he was involved in a serious car crash, badly breaking his right arm. Any hope of resurrecting his top level golf career was lost in the crash.

The Goodman’s eventually decided a change of scene was needed and in 1950 the family moved to South Gate in Southern California. He used his knowledge and trade connections to obtain a sales job for Canada Dry.

Unfortunately a restructuring led to Johnny losing this job eventually and he started to drink more than he should. In 1959 he became ill and very nearly died from complications brought about by cirrhosis of the liver.

He survived and having adopted a healthier lifestyle started to play more golf. He enjoyed playing with Johnny Jr. and shortly afterwards turned Pro to take up a teaching position at the Bellflower Golf Center in California.

On the 8th August 1970 Johnny Goodman died in his sleep aged 60. Just a few days earlier he had travelled back to Omaha Field and played a round at his old club with his nephew Jack Atkins. It was his goodbye to the game he loved. He was buried in Omaha in a nondescript grave without headstone. More recently a municipal golf course in the southwest of the City has been named in his honour.

Johnny Goodman earned next to nothing for his golfing exploits and faced discrimination throughout most of his career. However, his story is one of the more interesting ones and his U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open wins mean he has his place in the record books forever and should perhaps be better remembered by the golfing world.

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Amateur Championship – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

Saturday 23rd June 2018

Jovan REBULA (RSA) is the 2018 Amateur champion.

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Jovan Rebula (Photo: The R&A / Mark Runnacles / Getty Images)

He is the first South African winner since Bobby Cole in 1966 and can now look forward to playing in the 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie Links, the 2019 Masters at Augusta National and the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

He beat Robin DAWSON, 22, (IRE) 3&2 in today’s 36 hole Final at Royal Aberdeen G.C.

Following his win 20 year old Jovan spoke to The R&A: “It’s unreal. It’s really something that is hard to describe. I feel like many have been in this position before but its an unreal feeling. It hasn’t sunk in quite yet but hopefully tomorrow morning I can wake up and I will feel a little different.

“I’m shattered. It’s been a long week and especially today. I should have finished maybe a couple of holes earlier, but it’s been awesome. A very tiring week. I’m standing here right now and there’s so much adrenaline pumping through me.

“I had my friend Matt (Saulez) on the bag and he has been unbelievable for me this week. He’s been the foundation to me, keeping me calm, and we just have an awesome time out there. It’s just so much fun.”

It was cloudy with a modest north westerly breeze blowing when the morning round started at 8.30am; conditions which remained throughout the day, save for a slight increase in the wind speed later in the day.

Here’s The R&A film of the opening tee shots.

Both players made a steady start halving the first five holes. The South African then birdied 6 before being gifted 7 and 8 when Dawson bogeyed. The remainder of the morning round was up and down with Rebula eventually taking a 1-Up lead into lunch.

A poor front nine in the afternoon round by Dawson allowed Rebula to extend his lead to 5-Up by the turn. Both players settled and halved the opening three holes of the back nine in par. Then the nerves seemed to kick in particularly for the South African whose mind may have started to wander given his strong position. Double bogeys on the 13th and 15th gave Dawson some encouragement.

However, hopes of a big turnaround over the last few holes like last year were quickly extinguished on 16 when Rebula got up and down from a green side bunker to close out the match 3&2.

Here are the full hole by hole scores from today’s Final.

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Jovan Rebula v. Robin Dawson Final Scoreboard (Photo: R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Final Scores

With Wilco NIENABER also winning the Stroke Play Qualifying the Championship proved to be a very successful one for the South African’s.

It was the fifth time a South African had made the Final but just the second time they had claimed the Gold Medal: –
2014 – Zander Lombard Lost 2&1
1997 – Trevor Immelman Lost 3&2
1988 – Ben Fouchee Lost 1 Hole
1980 – David Suddards Lost 4&3
1966 – Bobby Cole Won 3&2

It wasn’t long before his Uncle Ernie passed on his congratulations to Jovan too.

ME.

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Friday 22nd June 2018

Playing conditions proved to be far more amenable today. Whilst cloudy, with temperatures struggling to rise above 13°C, the north westerly wind was much more manageable at 15mph.

Semi Finals

Jovan REBULA (RSA) beat Mitch WAITE (ENG) 6&4. Waite has enjoyed a very good year and Championship but like compatriot Tom Sloman this morning was unable to find his game in this afternoon’s semi final. Rebula was again not made to work very hard for his victory.

Rebula, the 20 year old nephew of Ernie Els, plays for Auburn University in Alabama and finished tied 21st in the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship in late May. He joined up with the South African touring party for the recent St. Andrews Links Trophy but missed the cut by 1-shot.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Jovan said: “My game was really solid and I kept the ball in play all day. I took advantage on the holes you need to attack, played it clever out there and I’ve got a good feel of the golf course at this stage. I’m honestly having so much fun. I’m not even looking at my opponents beforehand. I just take it easy and spend time with my mates. They’ve been a great support structure. Also, they keep me motivated and it’s awesome having one of my good friends (Matt Saulez) on the bag too. I’ve been working hard towards this so being able to reach the final is such a big thing and hopefully I can take it a step further tomorrow.”

Tomorrow he will play Robin DAWSON in the 36 hole Final over the Balgownie Links at Royal Aberdeen G.C., their match starting at 8.30am.

Dawson was too good for Conor PURCELL this afternoon winning 3&2. Purcell handed Dawson the initiative with bogeys on the 1st and 3rd and despite fighting all the way to the end couldn’t get close to his fellow Irishman.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Robin said:“It feels good. I’m somewhat relieved to make it this far and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m a bit tired now so it’ll be good to get a good sleep tonight and get set for tomorrow. Today was great but it wasn’t easy (playing against fellow countrymen). They are both good friends of mine from being in Ireland teams in the past but we had a couple of good friendly matches out there today. It was nice. I had a good strategy in place and was just hitting decent shots. My swing was good and I was in my own little world at times out there, which was great. To get the chance to play in one major, never mind three, is great. I would love that opportunity but there is still a lot of golf to play tomorrow.”

Dropping very few shots in his two matches today Robin should go in to the Final with great confidence. The winner of the Irish Amateur in May is seemingly in complete control of his game.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Semi Final Results

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Quarter Finals

The Quarter Finals started at 8.15am with Tom SLOMAN (ENG) taking on Jovan REBULA (RSA) in Match 1. Unfortunately it proved to be a game too far for Sloman who will be disappointed that he didn’t make the South African work harder for his 2&1 victory. Neither player was at their best this morning in a poor quality affair.

England’s other quarter finalist Mitch WAITE faired better beating Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE) 3&2. As is becoming the norm for Waite it was far from straight forward. He was 3-Up after 7, before slipping to AS after 12 and then recovering to win comfortably on the 16th.

Conor PURCELL recorded an eagle and 4 birdies in a great 3&2 win over David MICHELUZZI (AUS). Micheluzzi, the highest ranked player left in the field, was simply unable to live with the Irishman’s superb play in the middle of their match.

In perhaps the highest quality Quarter Final Robin DAWSON overcame fellow Irishman John MURPHY 2&1. The Waterford man had the upper hand throughout but was certainly made to work hard for the win.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Quarter Final Results

ME.

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Thursday 21st June 2018

It was a dry but cool day in Aberdeen, temperatures not rising much above 13°C. The wind was the big story. Like yesterday it was primarily from the north west but today it consistently blew at 25mph with occasional gusts reported of up to 45mph.

This made playing conditions particularly challenging. With hole-by-hole scoring now available (click the score or result in the middle of each game to reveal) it was clear to see how tough the links played today.

Round 4

Round 4 proved to be the end of the line for Wilco NIENABER (RSA). In a tight match where neither player led by more than 1 hole Tom SLOMAN (ENG) was handed a 1-Up win when the 18 year old South African missed a relatively short par putt on the last hole.

Fellow South African Jovan REBULA was behind for virtually all of his match before two bogeys on the last two holes by Ben HUTCHINSON ensured there would be Boks representation in the Quarter Finals. Rebula won by 1 hole.

Match 3 arguably proved to be the most exciting in the last 16 with Bristol’s Mitch WAITE attempting to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory before thankfully saving the day against Timo VAHLENKAMP. As you can see from the scorecard below the German made a strong comeback over the last 8 holes but a three putt on the 19th meant it was all in vein.

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Mitch Waite v. Timo Vahlenkamp Rd 4 Scoreboard (Photo: R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE) again didn’t have to work very hard to progress. Luca FILIPPI (RSA) struggled this afternoon and easily fell to a 4&3 defeat.

Conor PURCELL (IRE) was the first of three Irish to make the last 8 at The Amateur Championship. The Charlotte 49ers via Dublin golfer reeled off five birdies in 6 holes from the 11th to blow away Adam BLOMMÉ (SWE).

Robin DAWSON was next up. He beat Elis SVÄRD 6&5 as the relatively inexperienced Swede finally bowed out having enjoyed a very good Championship.

John MURPHY, who seems to have transformed himself into a world beater in the last two weeks, was the third Irishman to make it through to the Quarter Finals. He beat a clearly out of sorts Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) 6&5.

Murphy talking to The R&A afterwards said: “I feel a lot more confident coming off the back of winning the St. Andrews Links Trophy. I feel I can win against the top ranked players in the world and I don’t think I would have felt that way without the victory last week. I’m feeling good and every part of my game is clicking. I was the 14th Reserve so when I got the call to say I was playing here at Balgownie I was delighted.”

There were a number of one sided matches this afternoon as perhaps the physical and mental exertions of the last four days started to affect some of the remaining competitors.

In the other last 16 game David MICHELUZZI played well to beat Paul PEREDA (MEX) 5&4. The experienced Australian seems to be making very comfortable progress, largely under the radar, and must now be one of the favourites for the title.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 4 Results

Round 3

The highlight of this morning’s golf was the final match, played between relatively unknown Tom FORSTER (ENG) and WAGR Number 5 Viktor HOVLAND (NOR).

Forster, who is studying in the USA at NCAA Division II college Carson-Newman, is clearly not a respecter of reputations as he gave Hovland, one of the star players at Oklahoma State, the 2018 NCAA Division I champions, a game to remember.

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Tom Forster v. Viktor Hovland Rd 3 Scoreboard (Photo: R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

As you can see from the above scoreboard Forster led 4-Up after 13 holes, Hovland in all kinds of trouble in the wind. Thankfully the Norwegian recovered his senses just in time and with a little help from an increasingly nervous Forster escaped with a 1 hole victory.

Round 3 started at 7.30am with Wilco NIENABER (RSA) playing US-based Perry COHEN (SUI) in Match 1. The stroke play medalist started well and quickly built a 3-Up lead after 8 holes. However, some loose play around the turn and improvement by Cohen saw the match All Square with just the 18th to play. In the end a par down the last was good enough to secure the win for the South African protégé.

Tom SLOMAN (ENG) enjoyed a tight match with Jeff WRIGHT (SCO). A bogey on the 17th by the battling Scotsman finally letting in the big man from Somerset, who would hold on down the last for a 1 hole win.

Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) overcame Rowan LESTER 2&1 in Match 3. The Irishman was leading 1-Up after 15 but sadly stumbled down the last 3 holes.

Ben JONES (ENG) had an horrific start in his match and was quickly 5-Down to Timo VAHLENKAMP after just 7 holes. The German youngster ran out a surprisingly easy winner 7&5 in the end.

Mitch WAITE (ENG) beat Stuart EASTON (SCO) by 1 hole in a rollercoaster match.  Waite was 2-Up after 4 before then falling 3-Down after 11. Easton then lost his way, recording four bogeys in a row, allowing the man from Bristol to pull 1-Up after 15. Both players then steadied themselves before halving the last in double-bogey 6, Waite moving on.

James SUGRUE (IRE) lost 3&2 to Christoffer PÅLSSON (SWE) in what appears to have been a poor quality Match 7. The Irishman bogeyed or failed to finish 11 of the 16 holes contested.

Matthew JORDAN (ENG) looked comfortable early on against Conor PURCELL (IRE) but let things slip. Purcell, who plays out of Portmarnock, the 2019 host course, drew level after Jordan bogeyed the 18th and then completed the coup de grâce with a 40 foot chip in on their first extra hole.

Scotland bowed out of the Championship later in the morning when their remaining player Sandy SCOTT lost 3&1 to Mexico’s Paul PEREDA.

Match 13 saw Robin DAWSON (IRE) take on Spain’s Victor PASTOR. Dawson struggled on the front nine but played the back nine superbly in 3-under to run out the winner by 2 holes.

In a very similar match Dawson’s compatriot John MURPHY played the back nine very well to overcome Lee WALKER (USA) 4&2 having earlier been 2-Down after 8 holes.

Jovan REBULA (1 Hole) and Luca FILIPPI (4&3) were the winners in the two all-South African matches beating  Malcolm MITCHELL and Therion NEL respectively.

There were also wins for Adam BLOMMÉ (SWE), the ever impressive Australian David MICHELUZZI and giant killer Elis SVÄRD (SWE).

At the end of the morning our 14 GB&I players had been reduced to just 6.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 3 Results

ME.

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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Round 2

Wilco NIENABER (RSA) started his Round 2 match against Niclas WEILAND at 9.15am. Showing no signs of faltering, as often happens with the medalist, he quickly despatched the Swede 5&4.

Malcolm MITCHELL (RSA), David MICHELUZZI (AUS), Paul PEREDA (MEX) and Victor HOVLAND (NOR) are amongst the other highly ranked overseas players who are through to Round 3. However, it was a surprise to see Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA) lose, albeit he took Adam BLOMMÉ (SWE) to the 21st in the longest match of the Championship so far.

GB&I contributed 26 players to the 64 that started Round 2. We finished the day down to 14.

The Irish party are doing well. Rowan LESTER will be pleased with his performance; he beat fellow St. Andrews Trophy squad member David HAGUE (ENG) 6&5. James SUGRUE beat Australian Kyle MICHEL on the 19th hole whilst Conor PURCELL overcame Pablo RODRIGUEZ-TABERNERO TORRES (ESP) 2&1 to progress. Robin DAWSON took control of his match against David RAVETTO (FRA) from the start and ran out a comfortable 4&2 winner. Finally, John MURPHY made it 5 for the ‘Green Army’ coming from being behind early on to beat Oliver FARRELL (ENG) 4&2.

Scotland have three representatives in Round 3. Jeff WRIGHT showed great determination to take out compatriot Euan MCINTOSH on their first extra hole; Euan having qualified strongly and played well for most of this match too. Stuart EASTON beat Australian Will HEFFERNAN by 1 hole before Sandy SCOTT took care of Claudio CONSOL (GER) 3&2.

Of the 13 Round 1 winners just four could do the business again. One of these was Thomas FORSTER who surprised Daniel HILLIER (NZE) 2&1. The Englishman was joined by Tom SLOMAN, who beat Jediah MORGAN (AUS) by 1 hole, and Mitch WAITE, who enjoyed the biggest win of the afternoon, 6&4 against German Alexander HERRMANN. Wins for Ben HUTCHINSON, Ben JONES and Matthew JORDAN took the English qualifiers up to 6. Hutchinson beat Jamie LI (ENG) 5&3, Jones recorded a good 2 holes win against Matt SAULEZ (RSA) whilst Jordan ended up having to go to the 20th to finally despatch Finland’s battling Matias HONKALA.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 2 Results

 

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The Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: Dominik Holyer) 

Round 1

Game 1 of the Match Play Stage between Eetu ISOMETSÄ (FIN) and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) teed off at Royal Aberdeen G.C. at 7.00am. It was raining, with a north westerly wind appearing for the first time.

It was a game that Williams would disappointingly go on to lose 3&2.

Of the 30 qualifying GB&I players 8 were required to play in this preliminary Round 1 which consisted of 13 matches.

John PATERSON (SCO), Jack COPE (ENG), Oliver FARRELL (ENG) and Thomas FORSTER (ENG) were successful with the last three all requiring extra holes to overcome stubborn opponents. Cope ended up beating compatriot Max O’HAGAN, who had led for much of their match, on the 20th hole.

Callan BARROW (ENG) lost 4&3 to Top 100 SPWAR ranked Mexican Paul PEREDA.

Australia-based Scot Robbie MORRISON lost by 1 hole to experienced German Claudio CONSUL.

The 13 winners of these Round 1 matches fed into the bottom of the Round 2 draw and would therefore be required to play again in the afternoon.

The rest of the field will certainly have been pleased to see Takumi KANAYA (JAP), Alvaro ORTIZ (MEX) and Matias SANCHEZ (AUS) all surprisingly fall at this first step.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship MP Round 1 Results

ME.

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Tuesday 19th June 2018

18 year old Wilco NIENABER (RSA) shot a 67 (-4) at Royal Aberdeen G.C. today to secure medalist honours at the 2018 Amateur Championship. His impressive 133 (-8) total included 11 birdies and just three bogeys.

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Wilco Nienaber’s Stroke Play Scores (Photo: R&A / Golfbox)

In an interview quoted on The R&A website Wilco said: “When I heard I was going to play The Amateur Championship this year I was really excited. To finish at the top after the qualifying is great. I made good decisions from the tee, stuck to my game plan and hit the greens. When I missed a green I got up and down – I kept the momentum going and didn’t really make a lot of bogeys. The match play stage is a different game but winning this or finishing at the top makes me feel like I can beat the other guys, which is really nice. So we will see what happens this week.”

Watch Wilco’s interview with GolfWeek’s Alistair Tait after the stroke play qualifying prize presentation: –

Two shots further back was Victor HOVLAND (NOR) who finished second in the stroke play qualifying on 135 (-6). Hovland shot a 65 (-5) at Murcar Links today, the best score on this course over the two days.

Sam MEEK (CAN), who recorded rounds of 69 and 69 for a 138 (-3) total, finished third to claim the final stroke play qualifying prize.

MATT SAULEZ (RSA) and Blake WINDRED (AUS) joined Wilco in shooting 67 at Royal Aberdeen today. This was the best score at the lead host course during the stroke play stage.

Harry HALL (ENG) recorded a second successive 70 today to finish on 140 (-1). His tied 5th result was the best of all of the GB&I players in the field.

Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) Ev and Mitch WAITE (ENG) +1 finished 8th and tied 9th respectively.

At the end of play the top 64 and ties match play cut fell at +6 with 77 players progressing.

There were 30 GB&I qualifiers in total including 2018 winners John MURPHY (IRE) +2, Matthew JORDAN (ENG) +3, Robin DAWSON (IRE) +3 and Billy MCKENZIE (ENG) +4.

With the wind dropping on Day 2 and the sun shining for the most part the scores were much improved. Murcar Links (par 70) saw it’s average score drop to 73.94 from yesterday’s 77.30 (-3.36) whilst Royal Aberdeen’s (par 71) fell from 76.86 to 73.98 (-2.88). Clearly those that played at the tougher Murcar Links yesterday had a slight disadvantage over the two days of qualifying.

Click here to view the – 2018 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

Amongst the leading players to miss out were Joe PAGDIN (ENG) +7, Dylan PERRY (AUS) +7, Andrew WILSON (ENG) +7, Calum FYFE (SCO) +8, Euan WALKER (SCO) +8, John AXELSON (DEN) +8, Angel HIDALGO (ESP) +8, Christo LAMPRECHT (RSA) +8, Clayton MANSFIELD (RSA) +9, Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) +9, Sam LOCKE (SCO) +9, Nick POPPLETON (ENG) +9, Alex GLEESON (IRE) +10, Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) +10, Jake BURNAGE (ENG) +11, Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) +13, Bailey GILL (ENG) +14, Jamie STEWART (SCO) +16, Garrick HIGGO (RSA) +17, Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) +17 and John PAK (USA) +18. 

ME.

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Monday 18th June 2018

Wilco NIENABER (RSA) shot a 66 (-4) at Murcar Links to lead the 36 hole Stroke Play Qualifying after Round 1 of the 123rd Amateur Championship.

David MICHELUZZI (AUS) and Sam MEEK (CAN) are second having both posted 69’s (-2), the best round of the day, at Royal Aberdeen G.C.

Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) was the only GB&I player to post an under par score; his 69 (-1) at Murcar Links leaving him in tied 4th place.

Euan MCINTOSH (SCO), who hit the first tee shot at Royal Aberdeen at 7.00am this morning, shot 71 (Ev) and finished the day tied 7th alongside Harry HALL (ENG) whose 70 (Ev) at Murcar Links looked like being much better for most of his round.

On a windy but sunny day in Scotland the average score was higher at Murcar Links (77.30 / +7.30 in relation to par) than at Royal Aberdeen (76.86 / +5.86).

After 18 holes there are 60 players on +3 or better, with a further 31 on +4, implying that the top 64 and ties cut will be around +7.

The final stroke play round will start at 7.00am tomorrow morning with each competitor playing on the other host course.

ME.

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17th June 2018

Unsurprisingly Chun An YU (CTP), who played the first two rounds of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, has withdrawn from this year’s Amateur Championship.

Other late withdrawals include William BUHL (USA), Falko HANISCH (GER) – winner of the 2016 Boys’ Amateur Championship at Muirfield -, Noah COMBS (USA), Yuxin LIN (CHN), Zach MURRAY (AUS) and Raphael GEISSLER (GER).

Click here to view the final – 2018 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Draw

ME.

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15th June 2018

The 123rd Amateur Championship starts on Monday 18th June at Royal Aberdeen G.C. and Murcar Links G.C. in north east Scotland.

The Amateur is the most prestigious amateur golf event played outside of the United States and without question the highlight of the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur season.

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Royal Aberdeen Golf Club (Photo: Royal Aberdeen G.C.)

Format

288 players will play two stroke play qualifying rounds, one round on each course, on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th June.

As in previous years tee times will commence at 7.00am and end at 3.52pm on both days.

The 64 players with the lowest 36 hole scores, and ties for 64th place, will advance to the match play stage and be seeded in line with their qualifying finishes.

The match play games will be played solely at Royal Aberdeen between Wednesday 20th and Saturday 23rd June.

Matches will be played over 18 holes except for Saturday’s Final which will be over 36 holes.

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5th hole, Murcar Links Golf Club (Photo: Albrecht Golf Guide)

Players

The 288 players are drawn firstly from a number of exempt categories covering R&A and U.S.G.A. Championship performances and representative teams. Thereafter places are allocated to those players ranked 1st – 2,000th in the WAGR as at 16th May 2018 and, if required, by reference to exact handicaps.

Players from 38 different countries will contest the 2018 Amateur Championship.

Outside of the home nations the best represented countries are France (31 players), U.S.A. (23), Australia (20), Germany (14), Spain (13), Sweden (13), South Africa (10), The Netherlands (9) and Italy (8).

Whilst there are a large number of Americans playing it sadly remains the case that the vast majority of their leading players continue to skip the Championship. It is a sad state of affairs that most of them prefer to play in the Northeast Amateur Invitational at Wannamoisett C.C. in Providence, Rhode island – an event that starts on Wednesday 20th June. Without their participation The Amateur will always lack a little something despite the Major exemptions on offer. The best American this year is John PAK (SPWAR 52).

Harry ELLIS, the defending champion, has not entered the Championship. He has been playing in the U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills this week and is expected to turn pro immediately afterwards. Last year’s runner up Dylan PERRY (AUS) is back for another go at claiming the title that eluded him last year.

KristofferREITAN (NOR) 40 and Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) 51 had both entered the Championship but both withdrew when they qualified for the U.S. Open. Chun An YU (CTP) 28 is also currently playing in New York but remains entered. It will be interesting to see if he is at Murcar Links on Monday for his 1.02pm tee time. Good on him if he is.

Looking at the the current SPWAR top 50 the leading players, in addition to Yu, competing are Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) 9, Matthew JORDAN (ENG) 12, Christo LAMPRECHT (RSA) 17, Garrick HIGGO (RSA) 24, Wilco NIENABER (RSA) 26, Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) 27, Matt SAULEZ (RSA) 29, Lorenzo SCALISE (ITA) 31, David MICHELUZZI (AUS) 33, Joey SAVOIE (CAN) 37, Malcom MITCHELL (RSA) 42 and Alvaro ORTIZ (MEX) 45.

From a GB&I perspective Robin DAWSON (IRE) 57, Jake BURNAGE (ENG) 67, Harry HALL (ENG) 68, Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) 73, David HAGUE (ENG) T74, Alex GLEESON (IRE) T74, Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) 91, Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) 95, Sandy SCOTT (SCO) 115, Ben JONES (ENG) 124, Andrew WILSON (ENG) 128, John MURPHY (IRE) 145, Bailey GILL (ENG) 177, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) 189 and Nick POPPLETON (ENG) 194 will all arrive with high hopes given their current good form.

With the nine-man GB&I St. Andrews Trophy team due to be announced in mid-July a good Amateur Championship by any of the home players will undoubtedly resonate with the selectors.

Finally, Spain’s Alejandro LARRAZABEL is an interesting entry. Alejandro won The Amateur in 2002 at Royal Porthcawl G.C. and has recently been reinstated to the amateur game. He will be the only past winner in the field.

Host Courses

For the first time in it’s history the Amateur Championship is being staged at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links in Scotland.

Royal Aberdeen was founded in 1780 and is the 6th oldest golf club in the world. Originally known as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen the club’s name was changed in 1815 to Aberdeen Golf Club. In 1903 the ‘Royal’ title was conferred on the club by His Majesty King Edward VII.

The club has hosted many prestigious championships, including seven Scottish Amateurs, two Boys’ Amateur Championships, the Boys’ Jacques Léglise Trophy and perhaps most memorably the 2011 Walker Cup, when GB&I defeated the United States by a single point.

In 2005, it hosted the Senior Open which was won by five-time Open champion Tom Watson. In 2014, the Scottish Open was held there for the first time with Justin Rose coming out on top.

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Royal Aberdeen – Balgownie Links Indicative Scorecard (Photo: mygolfdays.com)

The Balgownie Links at Royal Aberdeen is a classic links with the outgoing holes played through the undulating dunes on the coast before the return on an inland plateau with numerous blind shots and hidden ditches coming into play.

Neighbouring Murcar Link’s was established in 1909 and lies to the north of the Royal Aberdeen course.

Murcar hosted the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play competition on the European Tour in 2016. Previously it had staged the European Girls Team Championship (2009), the Scottish Amateur Stroke Play (2009) and the European Boys Team Championship (2013).

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Murcar Links Indicative Scorecard (Photo: mygolfdays.com)

Weather Forecast (last updated Sunday 17th June)

The weather forecast looks good, with very little rain and a consistent and south westerly wind expected: –

Mon 18th June – Sunny. Wind 17 mph SW. Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 7°C.
Tue 19th June – Sunny. Wind 15mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 10°C.
Wed 20th June – Showers. Wind 11mph W. Temp. Max. 13°C / Min 8°C.
Thu 21st June – Light Cloud. Wind 15mph NW. Temp. Max. 14°C / Min 9°C.
Fri 22nd June – Light Cloud. Wind 10mph SW. Temp. Max. 14°C / Min 10°C.
Sat 23rd June – Light Cloud. Wind 11mph SW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 11°C.

Click here to view the – Latest BBC Weather Forecast For Aberdeen

Players will tee off throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday so changes in the weather and wind speed early in the week may impact the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Prizes / Exemptions

A momento is presented by The R&A to the players finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the stroke play qualifying competition, with any ties determined by a second round count back.

The winner of the match play stage will become the Champion Amateur Golfer for the year and is awarded the Championship Trophy and a Gold Medal. The runner-up receives a Silver Medal and each losing semi-finalist a Bronze Medal.

The winner of The Amateur Championship will be exempt into next month’s 147th Open Championship down the coast at Carnoustie Golf Links.

Traditionally, the champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National G.C.

Finally, they will also be exempt into the 2019 U.S. Open Championship which is being held at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

2017 Amateur Championship

England’s Harry ELLIS won the 2017 Amateur Championship on the 38th hole at Royal St. George’s G.C.

4 Down with five holes to play the odds were well and truly against the then 21 year old Hampshire player. However, his opponent Dylan PERRY (AUS) bogeyed four of the last five holes to let Ellis back in.

On the second extra hole Perry got into trouble and Ellis was able to secure the famous trophy with another par, his seventh in a row.

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Harry Ellis (Photo: @RandA / Getty Images)

This was Ellis’ second major amateur victory. In 2012, aged just 16, he became the youngest player to win the English Amateur Championship.

Following in the footsteps of fellow Hampshire player Scott Gregory, Ellis said in his post round press conference: “I can’t believe what I have just done but you should never give up and never give in. I just kept giving myself chances down the stretch and luckily played much better than I had all day. It has always been a dream to play in Majors and I get to play in three now. My game is in a good place so hopefully I can do something .”

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship Match Play Results

Here is the Golfing World / R&A highlights film of the 2017 Amateur Championship: –

A Short History of The Amateur

The Amateur Championship was first played in April 1885 at Royal Liverpool G.C. Allan Macfie (SCO) was the first champion beating Horace Hutchinson (ENG) 7&6 in the Final.

Up until the Second World War it was a hugely prestigious event and in many of these early years was afforded a much higher standing in the game than The Open. Players like Johnny Ball (ENG), Harold Hilton (ENG) and Freddie Tait (SCO) were all amateurs and as good if not better than most of the professionals of the day.

With only modest rewards available in the professional game many of the better players simply stayed amateur. The great American Bobby Jones, who won The Amateur in 1930 on the way to his Grand Slam, remains the most well known career amateur.

Even after the war players remained amateur for much longer and famous names like Frank Stranahan (USA), Joe Carr (IRE), Sir Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) all built their reputations on Amateur Championship wins.

With the growth and transformation of the professional game from the early 1980s onwards both the better players and the media increasingly started to turn their backs on the amateur game.

Save for exceptional cases like Gary Wolstenholme (ENG) all continuity has been lost over the last 30 years and most of the young golfing stars of today rarely play any more than 2 or 3 Amateurs before being lured into the pro ranks by the huge rewards on offer.

Past Winners

The greatest player in the history of The Amateur is Johnny Ball. The Hoylake man won the Championship a record 8 times between 1888 and 1912.

Only three other players have won the competition more than twice; Sir Michael Bonallack (5), Harold Hilton (4) and Joe Carr (3). Bonallack amazingly won it three years in a row between 1968-1970. The last person to retain The Amateur was Peter McEvoy in 1977 and ’78.

Prior to Ellis’ win in 2017 the last 10 winners of The Amateur Championship have been: –

2016  Scott Gregory (ENG) – Royal Porthcawl GC
2015  Romain Langasque (FRA) – Carnoustie GL
2014  Bradley Neil (SCO) – Royal Portrush GC
2013  Garrick Porteous (ENG) – Royal Cinque Ports GC
2012  Alan Dunbar (IRE) – Royal Troon GC
2011  Bryden Macpherson (AUS) – Hillside GC
2010  Jin Jeong (KOR) – Muirfield
2009  Matteo Manassero (ITA) – Formby GC
2008  Reinier Sexton (NED) – Trump Tunberry
2007  Drew Weaver (USA) – Royal Lytham & St. Annes GC

A great achievement and honour for all of the players listed above. However, it’s also another reminder of how incredibly tough golf is and that wins in the biggest events are no guarantee of success in the professional game.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.