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.

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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

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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

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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

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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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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.

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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 © 2015-2019, 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.

Harold Hilton

16th November 2017

Harold Hilton was born on 12th January 1869 in West Kirby, near Liverpool in England’s North West.

Following in the footsteps of his father he joined the nearby Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake when he was 8 years old. The Club, which received its patronage in 1871, is the one he was associated with all of his life and where his collection of medals are still proudly displayed to this day.

Harold Hilton (Photo: Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

It was fellow Hoylake junior member Willie More that helped him most in his formative years, encouraging him to watch better players and practice as much as he possibly could. He was of course fortunate that Johnny Ball, 8 years older than him and arguably Britain’s greatest ever amateur, was a fellow member of Royal Liverpool and clearly someone to aspire to and learn from.

Harold Hilton was one of the very best players for the 25 years between 1890 and 1915. Freddie Tait was the only player of this era he rarely got the better of. Whilst Hilton did beat Tait in stroke play he never beat him in a match play game and this drew a lot of comment at the time. Tait to a lesser degree had the same problem with Ball in match play.

His outstanding golfing achievement was winning both the 1911 Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship. He was the first player to complete this double and he did so at the age of 42. Until Matthew Fitzpatrick won in 2013 Hilton had been the last Englishman to win the U.S. Amateur.

The 1911 U.S. Amateur has gone down in history for two reasons; firstly the manner of the victory and secondly the impact it had on the growth of the game in the United States.

Harold Hilton at Apawamis CC (Photo: The Ron Watts Collection)

The 1911 U.S. Amateur took place at Apawamis Country Club in Rye, New York State. Hilton won the stroke play by two shots (76+74=150) leading 32 qualifiers into the match play stage. He then reached the 36 hole Final where he faced Brooklyn-born Fred Herreshoff (24). At lunch Hilton led 4Up and he quickly extended this to 6Up early in the afternoon round. Herreshoff fought back bravely and managed to draw level after 34-holes. The American had chances to win on both of the final two holes but putts just missed for him as Hilton struggled for halves.

Playing their 37th hole (the par 4 1st), with both players having driven into the fairway, Hilton sliced his 3-wood approach. What happened next remains uncertain. The ball either hit the rocky outcrop to the right of the green (in those days surrounded by trees and rough) or benefitted from a kind bounce on the slope before it. Either way from looking dead off the club face it ended up in the middle of the green 20 feet from the hole. In shock Herreshoff – no doubt thinking he had one hand on the trophy just moments earlier – topped his own approach short and then proceeded to take three more to get down. Despite his experience Hilton nervously two-putted for par, in the end having to hole a 3 footer to secure the Havemeyer Trophy.

Herbert Warren Wind described the ‘rock shot’ many years later in his The Story of American Golf (1948) as “the most discussed single shot ever played in an American tournament.” He went on to explain why it had motivated the next generation of U.S. golfers so much: “Americans were not at all pleased over the idea that a foreigner had carried one of our championship cups out of the country, and that men who had never cared about golf before now wanted to know the real inside story.”

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Hilton’s Rock on the 1st Hole of Apawamis CC in 2015
(Photos: Dave Donelson, Westchester Magazine)

In total Harold Hilton won four Amateur Championships:-
1900 – at Royal St. George’s GC v. James Robb SCO (8&7)
1901 – at St. Andrews v. John L. Low SCO (1 Up)
1911 – at Prestwick v. Edward Lassen ENG (4&3)
1913 – at St. Andrews v. Robert Harris SCO (6&5)

It was perhaps no coincidence that his success in the Amateur started in 1900, the first year that both Tait (who had been killed that February in the Second Boer War) and Ball (who was still serving in South Africa) were both absent.

Hilton also lost three Amateur Finals; in 1891 to John Laidlay (19th hole), 1892 to Johnny Ball (3&2) and 1896 to Freddie Tait (8&7).

He achieved an impressive Won 95, Lost 29 (76.6%) overall Amateur Championship record. Between 1887 and 1927, he appropriately started and finished at Royal Liverpool, he played more Championships (33) and matches (124) than anyone else has in history. World War I deprived him of 5 Amateurs between 1916-1919 too.

Harold Hilton also won the Open Championship in 1892 (Muirfield, 305 – 66 entrants) and 1897 (Royal Liverpool, 314 – 86 entrants). The 1892 Open was the first played over 72 holes.

Just Johnny Ball (the first to do so in 1890), Bobby Jones (1926, 1927 & 1930) and Hilton have achieved this feat as amateurs. All three were members of Royal Liverpool GC.

It is in some respects surprising that Hilton won both of his Opens before he had secured an Amateur Championship but he was a renowned stroke player. In total he played in 20 Open’s between 1891 and 1914.

It’s worth noting that Hilton also finished tied third in the 1911 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s with Sandy Herd, one shot behind Harry Vardon, who won the subsequent play-off, and Arnaud Massy. What a hat trick of wins that would have been !

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Harold Hilton’s Medals at Royal Liverpool GC (Photo: GolfBible)

It is easy to forget that many equipment changes took place around the the turn of the century. Hilton dealt reasonably well with the transition, coping better than many of his peers with new clubs such as the Driver and the rubber-cored Haskell ball which replaced the old gutta-percha one. Interestingly of the seven Majors Hilton won the first four saw him use the more exacting gutty whilst the final three were with the easier rubber-core ball.

He also won the St. George’s Challenge Cup in 1893 and 1894, a major amateur competition back in the day.

He won the Irish Open Amateur Championship three years in a row and in some style too. In 1900 he beat S.H. Fry 11&9 at Newcastle, in 1901 P. Dowie 6&5 at Dollymount and in 1902 W.H. Hamilton 5&4 at Portrush.

In October 1910 Hilton (41) played Miss Cecil Leitch (19), a future women’s champion golfer, in a two day 72 hole exhibition match at Walton Heath and Sunningdale. Hilton had publically said he or for that matter any other first class male golfer could give 9 shots to an equivalent women over 18 holes. The Ladies’ Field magazine wanting to see if he could deliver on his word arranged the match and the publicity drew large crowds to the famous courses. Helped by the 18 shots she received Leitch ended up winning 2&1 but Hilton had largely made his point particularly as had been 2 Up after the first day’s play at Walton Heath.

Hilton’s last major win came in 1914 when he won the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase at Sunningdale with a 151 total. As one of the organisers of this event he paired himself with Francis Ouimet, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and proceeded to comprehensively out play him over the 36 holes.

Hilton’s swing was ungainly and notable for the fact he started by moving onto his toes before then very noticeably re-gripping the club at the point of transition. He almost always played whilst smoking too although it is said he limited himself to 50 cigarettes a day. However, like all the greats he practiced hard and honed his style. As he said himself “(I) served a long apprenticeship in the art of learning how to control the club in the upward swing.”

As Robert Harris, the runner-up in the 1913 Amateur, said: “His cap used to fall off his head at the end of full swings, as if jerked off, but this did not indicate if the swing was pure if unduly forceful. He was a small man with a powerful physique; it was exhilarating to watch his perky walk between shots. His assiduity was his greatness.”

Harold Hilton’s Swing (Photo: ingolfwetrust.com)

Hilton also spent a lot of time thinking about the mental side of the game. He believed it was “possible to develop the habit of concentration” and believed “that the majority of good match players are inclined to be very silent men” and tend to be those that play the game “without allowing any outside influence to affect them in any way whatever.”

Hilton was also a member of West Lancashire Golf Club and was this club’s first paid Secretary in the early 1900’s. He was also Secretary of Ashford Manor Golf Club later in his life.

In 1912 he played a leading role in designing the highly regarded Old Course at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset. The 16th hole is still named ‘Hilton’s’ in memory of his involvement with the Club.

He turned his hand to writing about the sport as he came to the end of his playing career. As well as a frequent contributor he was the first editor of Golf Monthly magazine (from 1911) before taking on the same role at Golf Illustrated, then a weekly paper (from 1913).

He wrote three books My Golfing Reminiscences (1907), The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf (with Garden C. Smith, 1912) and Modern Golf (1913). The fact that he wrote his autobiography in 1907 is probably down to opportunity but also reveals that at 38 he probably thought his best playing days were behind him. It was in 1903 that he also started to suffer with rheumatism and sciatica. His confidence in his own game was such that he chose not to even enter The Open in 1906, 1907 (at Hoylake), 1908 or 1910. History of course shows how wrong he was to nearly retire from competitive golf.

‘Hoylake’ – the chain smoking Harold Hilton depicted by ‘Spy’ (Sir Leslie Ward)

Hilton died aged 73 on 5th May 1942 at his home in Westcote, near Stow on the Wold in Gloucestershire. He had a heart attack but had been suffering with Parkinson’s Disease for some time prior to this.

Harold Hilton was admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the game.

In 1992 John L.B. Garcia wrote Harold Hilton His Golfing Life and Times. It was published in a limited edition of 750 copies by Grant Books.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club inaugurated the Harold Hilton Medal for amateur golfers over the age of 30 in 1997 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of their member’s famous home Open Championship victory. It is played in early June annually.

The Harold Hilton Medal (Photo: Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

Whilst small in stature, he was just 5 foot 6 inches tall, Harold Hilton is unquestionably one of the giants in the history of British golf.

It is amazing that Royal Liverpool produced first Johnny Ball and then just a short while afterwards Harold Hilton, two of the leading players of the time and looking back a 100 years later two of the biggest names in the history of amateur golf.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Amateur Championship – 2016 Preview & Results

18th June 2016

UPDATE

Scott Gregory (ENG) today beat Robert MacIntyre (SCO) 2&1 in the 36-hole final of The Amateur Championship on a dry day at Royal Porthcawl GC.

Scott Gregory Amateur Champion 2016

Scott Gregory (Photo: R&A / Getty Images)

Gregory shot 72 at Royal Porthcawl and 71 at Pyle & Kenfig in the Stroke Play Qualifying. This saw him finish tied 13th with a +1 total.

Seeded 13th he then proceeded to beat Andre Nel (RSA) by 2 holes, Pierre Mazier (FRA) by 1 hole, Harry Hall (ENG) 4&3, Javier Sainz (ESP) 5&4 and Adrian Meronk (POL) to reach the Final.

Click this link to review all of the Match Play results – Amateur Championship MP Results

14th June 2016

UPDATE

The Stroke Play Qualfying stage of The Amateur Championship was completed this evening.

Click this link to view the Stroke Play Results and Seedings – Amateur Championship SP Results

The top 64 and ties cut fell at +5 with 79 players progressing to the Match Play stage which is being played exclusively at Royal Porthcawl GC.

11th June 2016

The 121st Amateur Championship starts on Monday at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig Golf Clubs in South Wales.

It 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.

Royal Porthcawl Amateur 2016

Royal Porthcawl GC (Photo: @Royal_Porthcawl Twitter)

Format
Entry is limited to 288 players with the event administered by the Championship Committee of The R&A.

Two qualifying rounds of stroke play, one round on each course, will be played on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th June. Tee times will start at 7.00 am and end at 3.52 pm on both days.

To view the stroke play draw click here – Amateur Championship SP Draw

The 64 players with the lowest stroke play scores, and ties for 64th place, will be seeded in line with their finishes and will advance to the match play stage. All other players will be eliminated at this point. This second stage will be played solely at Royal Porthcawl between Wednesday 15th and Saturday 18th June. Matches will be played over 18 holes except for the Final which will be over 36 holes.

Royal Porthcawl Golf ClubBridgend County South Golf Activities and Sports

Royal Porthcawl GC (Photo: welshgolfvacations website)

Players
Players from 32 countries will contest the 2016 Amateur.

The leading players that are competing, based on their Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (Nationality / SPWAR*), are: –
Matthias Schwab (AUS / 7)
Jack Hume (IRE / 9)
Grant Forrest (SCO / 13)
Harrison Endycott (AUS / 23)
Conor Syme (SCO / 24)
Antoine Rozner (FRA / 27)
Jamie Bower (ENG / 30)
Travis Smyth (AUS / 33)
Robin Sciot-Siegrist (FRA / 36)
Cameron John (AUS / 40)
Albert Venter (RSA / 43)
Craig Ross (SCO / 44)
Craig Howie (SCO / 45)
Herman Loubser (RSA / 46)
Aubrey Beckley (RSA / 49)

* All SPWARs quoted were correct as at 11th June 2016

Whilst there are some American’s playing, including 2015 Walker cup mid-amateur Mike McCoy, it remains the case that the vast majority sadly continue to skip the Championship. Without their participation it will always lack a little something despite the ‘prizes’ on offer. This year, with the Palmer Cup taking place at Formby GC in a few weeks time, I had hoped that one or two might make the extra effort to come over early.

Unfortunately Wales’ No. 1 amateur David Boote (SPWAR 29) has his Stanford graduation ceremony on Monday so is unable to play. Fellow Palmer Cup player Sam Horsfield (ENG / SPWAR 6) was always unlikely to enter but at least he now has the excuse of qualifying for the US Open at Oakmont which also takes place next week.

This latter point begs the question, even allowing for the exceptional challenges of this Olympics year, why do the R&A schedule the Amateur Championship against a professional men’s Major ? It’s hardly likely to help with media coverage and interest as the event reaches it’s climax next week is it ? 

Courses
The Championship is being staged at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig, two of the best courses in Wales.

Pyle & Kenfig Golf CourseAerial South Golf Activities & Sports

Pyle & Kenfig GC (Photo: welshgolfvacations website)

This will be the seventh time Royal Porthcawl has been the lead course at The Amateur Championship. It has also hosted the Curtis Cup (1964) and Walker Cup (1995 – GB&I beating a US Team including Tiger Woods 14-10).

Porthcawl plays to 7,065 yards and a par of 72 from it’s black championship tees. Pitched down to the shore it famously allows golfers to see the sea from every hole on the course but also feel the wind on most of their shots too.

James Mason’s Plant Golf Review of Royal Porthcawl GC

Neighbouring Pyle & Kenfig has co-hosted The Amateur with Royal Porthcawl on two previous occasions, 1988 and 2002.

P&K has a total yardage of 6,860 from it’s blue championship tees. It is a par 71 course of two different halves; an inland parkland start gives way to a final 9 played across a road amongst sand dunes nearer to the coast.

James Mason’s Plant Golf Review of Pyle & Kenfig GC

The Amateur Championship has been played at Royal Porthcawl on six previous occasions. The winners then were: –

1951 – Dick Chapman (USA)
In the first Amateur to be held in Wales and with comedian Bob Hope in the field Chapman beat fellow American Charles Coe 5&4. Chapman had lost in two Finals in the previous four years so was certainly deserving of his eventual win.

1965 – Sir Michael Bonallack (ENG)
Sir Michael made a terrible start to the Final against Clive Clark, finding himself 7 down after 8 holes. At lunch he won the jackpot on the club’s fruit machine before completing his comeback to win 2 and 1.

1973 – Dick Siderowf (USA)
Siderowf, a 34 year New York stockbroker, beat England’s Peter Moody (24) 5&3. He went on to win The Amateur again in 1976, this time at St. Andrews.

1980 – Duncan Evans (WAL)
Playing in heavy rain on a flooded course Evans (21), who had beaten a 16 year-old Ronan Rafferty in the semis, became the first Welshman to win the Amateur in front of a home crowd. His 73 in round 1 of the final was particularly memorable given the conditions. He beat South Africa’s David Suddards 4&3 on a day that gradually improved weather wise.

1988 – Christian Hardin (SWE)
Hardin beat South Africa’s Ben Fouchee 1Up in the Final.

2002 – Alejandro Larrazábal (ESP)
Caddied by his brother Pablo, now a successful European Tour golfer, Alejandro beat Wales’ Martin Sell 1Up.

Weather Forecast
As at Saturday 11th June, 17.00pm the weather forecast looks reasonably positive: –

Mon 13th June – Light Rain PM. Wind 7 mph S. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 13°C.
Tue 14th June – Light Cloud. Wind 13 mph W. Temp. Max. 15°C / Min 12°C.
Wed 15th June – Light Showers. Wind 9 mph W. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Thu 16th June – Sunny. Wind 10 mph NW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Fri 17th June – Sunny. Wind 9 mph NW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Sat 18th June – Sunny. Wind 8 mph W. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 13°C.

Just like at The Open players will tee off between 7.00am and 3.52pm on Monday and Tuesday so the weather may very well play a part in the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Betting Odds
SkyBET released their Amateur Championship ‘Outright Winner’ Odds on Monday 6th June.

As they are removed from their website when play starts I have taken photos of the original odds so we can look back at them once the results are known.

Amateur 2016 skyBET 1Amateur 2016 skyBET 2Amateur 2016 skyBET 3Amateur 2016 skyBET 4

Ireland’s Jack Hume was the 28-1 initial favourite with SkyBET when they released their original odds.

The current SkyBET odds can be accessed here – Amateur Championship Outright Winner.

Prizes
The winner of The Amateur Championship will be exempt into next month’s 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon.

They will also be exempt into the 2017 US Open Championship, which is for the first time being played at the stunning Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

_ hole at Erin Hills a (Hurdzan/Fry and Ron Whitten design) daily fee golf course in Erin, Wisconsin. September, 2010. PM shoot. Photo by Paul Hundley.

Erin Hills Golf Course (Photo: http://www.erinhills.com)

Traditionally, the Amateur Champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

A Short History of The Amateur 
The Amateur Championship was first played in April 1885 at Royal Liverpool GC. 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 a 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 better than most of the professionals of the time.

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 Stranhan (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. With the sports media facing their own challenges most of their resources sadly have to be directed towards the superstar players and the Major Championships leaving the amateur game scrambling for any coverage it can get.

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.

France’s Romain Langasque beat Scotland’s Grant Forrest 4&2 in last year’s final staged at Carnoustie and Panmure in Angus, Scotland.

The last 10 winners of The Amateur Championship have been: –

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
2006 Julien Guerrier (FRA) – Royal St. George’s

A great honour for all of the players listed above but perhaps when one reviews where most of them are now another clear reminder that golf is an incredibly tough game and career to pursue at the professional level.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

‘The Doctor’ – Dr. William Tweddell

21st March 2016

On Friday 20th June 1930 Bobby Jones shot rounds of 74 and 75 at Hoylake to win The Open Championship and secure the second leg of his famous Grand Slam. Despite being only 28 he must have been exhausted. 36-holes on the final day and the mental exertions of winning as the favourite would have taken their toll on anyone. Nevertheless the following day he left the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool and drove himself 120 miles south to Blackwell Golf Club in Worcestershire.

Dr. William (‘Bill’) Tweddell was the reason why.

WT Amateur 1927 Hoylake

Dr. William Tweddell – 1927 Amateur Champion (Photo: Getty images)

Tweddell was born on 21st March 1897 in the prosperous town of Whickham in County Durham, a few miles west of Newcastle under Tyne. He started playing golf when he was 7, playing on the nearby coast at South Shields. Tweddell developed an upright back swing with arched wrists which was far from elegant but that enabled him to score. He was also said to be a slow player but one who had good concentration and a sound temperament, which meant that on his day he could be a match for anyone.

After school he joined the Army, serving with the Durham Light Infrantry in World War I. He became a Lieutenant and won the MC and Bar at Passchendaele.

Once demobbed he went on to study Medicine at Aberdeen University. He played golf for the University in 1922, ’23 and ’24, often at Murcar Links and Royal Aberdeen. Dr. Tweddell later became the first President of the Scottish Universities Golfing Society, which was established in October 1906.

Having qualified he moved to a Manchester G.P. practice before quickly changing course and settling in The Black Country. He served the communities of Wordsley and Kingswinford (interestingly, at least for me, the place I was born and brought up) for the rest of his working life, living happily in the area. A Roman Catholic Tweddell married Dorothy Hillman at the Oratory Church in Birmingham on 2nd May 1930. They left the church through an arch of golf clubs held by guests.

The couple had three children William (like his father known as Bill), Mary-Ann and Michael. Bill also qualified as a Doctor and practiced in Wordsley and Kingswinford too. He was also Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. Club Doctor between 1981 and 1994. Dr. Tweddell Jnr. died on 8th December 2015 aged 84. His daughter is the mother of Ben Robinson, the Worcestershire golfer currently studying at Louisiana Tech on a golf scholarship [Ben turned Pro in June 2016]. Michael’s son Matt Tweddell graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 2014 and now plays golf professionally, mostly in Asia.

Dr. Tweddell joined Stourbridge Golf Club in late 1926 on his arrival in the area. Established in 1892 and located in Pedmore it was his most convenient option at the time. He continued to play well into his 70s, where his sons eventually joined him, and occasionally still posted scores below his age. He was Club Captain in 1928 and President between 1955-7.

Clearly Tweddell’s new working and golfing life in the West Midlands suited him as in 1927 he earned his greatest golfing achievement. He won The Amateur Championship at Hoylake, beating home player D. Eustace Landale 7&6 in the Final.

He played in 24 of the 29 Amateur Championships held between 1921 and 1955 (World War II). He played 77 matches in total, winning 54 and losing 23.  His win percentage of 70.13% is the 9th best for players who competed in at least 20 Amateurs. However his studies, his career and his family were important to him and he seems to have always viewed golf as just a sport to be enjoyed. His relaxed approach and friendly personality made him popular amongst his peers. He had a few good runs and over such an extended period met and competed against many of the great players from the first half of the 20th Century.

He had one other very real opportunity to win The Amateur. In 1935 he lost at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the first time this course had hosted the Championship, to the defending champion and reigning US Amateur champion W. Lawson Little. Herbert Warren Wind writing in ‘The Story of American Golf’ about the Final said about Tweddell:

“He was a consistent low 70s shooter although, at first glance, he looked like a golfer who would have his work cut out to break 85. His arm action was stiff, and on his irons especially he aimed far to the right of his target and allowed for lots of draw. In 1935 he was playing hardly any tournament golf and might not have entered the Amateur had the week of the Championship not coincided with the vacation the doctor’s doctor had ordered him to take. Tweddell lost to Little but it is difficult not to think of him as the hero of their exciting match.”

Little, according to Warren Wind “was odds on favourite to take the final….by 7 and 6, 8 and 7 or some similarly secure margin” but ended up only winning the 36-hole Final by 1-hole.

WT and Lawson Little Amateur 1935

Tweddell with Little at the 1935 Amateur Championship (Photo: Historic Images)

Tweddell played in The Open Championship just once although it was a good one to view first hand – 1927 at St. Andrews with Bobby Jones the winner. He probably felt some obligation as Amateur champion as he appears to have made no effort to do so before or after. Jones won with a 285 total whilst The Doctor was well down the field on 306. He later admitted “I really am unable to play my game, or what I call my game, when I know that Bobby Jones is playing on the same course. Since I watched him at St. Andrews winning the British Open, I have had an inferiority complex.”  

Tweddell was selected for England’s match against Scotland in 1928 (won), 1929 (halved) and 1930 (won). He also played in the Home Internationals in 1935, which only started in 1932 (England, Ireland and Scotland tied).

Dr. Tweddell’s second most noteworthy contribution to golf lies in The Walker Cup, although it can hardly be described as successful. He was playing captain of Great Britain & Ireland in both 1928 and 1936, albeit he chose not to play himself in the latter match. In 1928 at Chicago G.C. Tweddell paired himself with T. Phil Perkins in the Foursomes, another West Midlander and the reigning Amateur champion. They lost 7&6 in their 36-hole match with George Von Elm and Jesse Sweetser. In the Singles Tweddell lost again to Von Elm, this time 3&2. Perkins lost 13&12 to US Captain Bobby Jones – the 26 year old setting the event’s record defeat. At the end of play the 1928 match was lost 11-1.

Bobby Jones and WT Walker Cup 1928 in Chicago

Bobby Jones and Dr. William Tweddell – 1930 Walker Cup at Chicago (Photo: USGA) 

The 1936 Walker Cup match was played at the relatively new and extremely difficult Pine Valley in New Jersey – an inexperienced GB&I team lost 9-0 to USA despite arriving early and practicing on site for 8 days beforehand. Three matches were halved but back then points were only allocated for victories. The record books therefore show the 1936 match as the only whitewash in the history of the competition.

Despite playing in a golfing era closely depicted by cigarette cards he featured only sparingly presumably reflecting his modest playing schedule and relative low profile.

 

In 1956 Dr. Tweddell captained a British Seniors team in a match against America and Canada played in Bermuda.

His contribution and standing in the game was rewarded when in 1961-62 Dr. Tweddell, by then 64, was elected Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrew’s.

So back to the match at Blackwell. The story goes that Tweddell invited his opposing Walker Cup captain Bobby Jones to play an exhibition match in the Midlands over dinner in 1928. When the date in 1930 had been agreed Tweddell made arrangements for the match to take place at Blackwell G.C., a local club he had been made an honorary member of following his Amateur victory 3 years earlier. Blackwell was (and still is) a much sterner test than Stourbridge, located 5 miles to the north so this decision was entirely understandable, albeit I can imagine it didn’t go down well at his home Club. Tweddell was no fool and paired himself with Jones. They took on two leading local golfers, Stanley Lunt from Moseley and Eric Fiddian, another Stourbridge amateur. Lunt went on to win the English Amateur in 1934 whilst Fiddian was the 1927 British Boys champion and went on to play in the Walker Cup’s of 1932 and ’34. Jones, perhaps not surprisingly arrived late given the exertions of the day before and the lengthy drive – sadly for him the M6 and M5 were still to be built. A photo was taken (see below) before the match quickly got underway. It was a relaxed affair with Jones and Tweddell eventually running out 3&2 winners. Jones enjoyed the course and particularly the par 3 13th hole that it is said he later used as a blueprint for the famous 12th at Augusta.

Blackwell Match 1930

Tweddell, Jones, Lunt and Fiddian at Blackwell G.C. (Photo: Blackwell G.C.)

Dr. William Tweddell was an amateur golfer in the truest historical sense. He died on 5th November 1985 but there seems to have been little celebration of his life in the golfing world at the time.  That’s a shame as his victory in the 1927 Amateur Championship and role in the formative years of The Walker Cup certainly place him above the rank and file. What I particularly like about him, and you can see for yourself, is that in all the old photos I can find he seems to have a broad smile on his face. It seems obvious looking at these as to why he was such a popular character.

At the end of the day any friend of Bobby Jones is a friend of mine.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.