My Review Of GB&I Men’s Amateur Golf In 2018

29th December 2018

As another year comes to a close it’s time to record the highlights of another busy year in Great British and Irish (GB&I) golf.

Here is a run through of the major results in 2018 and a reminder of some of the best rounds that we saw: – 

The Amateur Championship

The Amateur Championship was played at Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links in north east Scotland. Wilco Nienaber (RSA) was medalist after two great rounds of 66 and 67 (-8). However, his compatriot Jovan Rebula (RSA) was the eventual champion beating Robin DAWSON (IRE) 3&2 in the Final. With the benefit of hindsight John MURPHY’s (IRE) 6&5 win over Viktor Hovland (NOR) in round 4 is noteworthy too.

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

The U.S. Amateur Championship

Viktor Hovland (NOR) won the U.S. Amateur Championship played at Pebble Beach G.L. and Spyglass Hill G.C. He beat Devon Bling 6&5 in the Final. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) led the GB&I entry reaching the quarter finals before falling to Cole Hammer (USA) 3&2.

Major Championships

2017 USA Walker Cup player Doug Ghim secured low amateur honours at The Masters in April with rounds of 72, 76, 74 and 74 (+8).

Luis Gagne (CRI) and Matt Parziale (USA) were the low amateurs (+16, tied 48th) at a controversial U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills G.C. in June. Prior to the Championship Scotland’s Ryan LUMSDEN recorded rounds of 68 and 70 (-6) in Sectional Qualifying to earn a place in the field. 

Sam LOCKE (SCO) was the amateur star of The Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Links. A 69 and 66 (-7) secured medalist honours in the Final Qualifying event at The Renaissance G.C. 18 year old Sam then won the low amateur Silver Medal after rounds of 72, 73, 70 and 78 (+9) and a tied 75th finish. Only time will tell if his decision to turn pro immediately afterwards was a good one.

Men’s International Team Events

The Bonallack Trophy match was played in Qatar in March with Asia-Pacific beating EUROPE 16.5-15.5. Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) and Matthew JORDAN (ENG) were selected for Europe who disappointingly let a lead slip in the final day Singles.

An ENGLAND team consisting of Todd CLEMENTS, David HAGUE, Matthew JORDAN and Gian-Marco PETROZZI won the European Nations Cup at RCG Sotogrande by 20 shots over IRELAND who came second. Clements 69, 73, 71, 70 (-5) won the Individual competition by 5 shots from Alex GLEESON (IRE). 

The Arnold Palmer Cup moved to a mixed INTERNATIONAL v. USA team format this year. With little allegiance to an International team badge and 24 players on both sides my interest in it certainly waned this time around. It was no surprise to see a very strong USA thrash the International side, which included Harry HALL (ENG), Olivia MEHAFFEY (NIR), Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) and Chloe RYAN (IRE), 38.5 – 21.5.   

Finland were the surprise winners of the 2018 European Men’s Team Championship in July, beating ENGLAND 5-2 in the Final. Sweden and ENGLAND led the 36 hole stroke play qualifying at the Faldo Course, Berlin, Germany on 693 (-27). Finland were the final Flight A qualifiers on 718 (-2) but moved serenely through the match play stage to pick up the trophy.

GB&I’s loss to a largely second string Continent of Europe 15.5-9.5 in the St. Andrews Trophy match was a major disappointment. Europe won 7 of the 9 Singles on the final afternoon to run out deserving winners in Finland.

Denmark won the Men’s World Amateur Team for the Eisenhower Trophy in September. The Danish team of Nicolai Hojgaard, Rasmus Hojgaard and John Axelsen posted a -39 total to beat the USA by 1 shot in the 72 hole competition staged at Carton House GC, Ireland.

ENGLAND finally got the better of IRELAND in this year’s Men’s Home Internationals staged at Conwy G.C. in North Wales. David HAGUE (ENG) and Tiarnan MCLARNAN (IRE) were both unbeaten during the week winning all six of their games.

Other Major GB&I Amateur Events

Matthew JORDAN (ENG) dominated the Lytham Trophy in early May. Rounds of 67, 69, 70 and 66 gave him a -8 total and a hugely impressive 9 shot victory. 

The Irish Amateur Open Championship was again played at Royal County Down G.C. with Robin DAWSON (IRE) 65, 71, 69, 77 (-2) prevailing. John GOUGH (ENG) and Alex GLEESON (IRE) were four shots back in tied second.

An exciting finish to the Brabazon Trophy saw Nick POPPLETON (ENG) win a play-off against Wilco Nienaber (RSA) after both players finished on -16 at Frilford heath G.C. Andrew WILSON’s (ENG) 63 (-9) in round 3 was the round of the week.

Matthew Jordan and Nick Poppleton (Photos: Angie McGlue and GolfBible)

John MURPHY (IRE) won the The St. Andrews Links Trophy in June. Rounds of 70 66 71 71 gave him a -9 total before he went on to beat Jannik de Bruyn (GER) on the first hole of their play-off.

Royal Hague G.C. staged the European Amateur Championship with Nicolai Hojgaard (DEN) coming out on top after rounds of 71, 69, 68 and 73 (-7). Robin DAWSON (IRE) and Mitch WAITE (ENG) were amongst four players to finish tied 2nd, one shot further back.

James WILSON (SCO) beat Tom SLOMAN (ENG) in a play-off at the Welsh Open Stroke Play Championship after they had both finished on 284 (Ev) around Pyle & Kenfig G.C. 

Victor Veyret (FRA) found the Kings Course at Gleneagles to his liking when he won the Scottish Men’s Open Championship in late August. Scores of 69, 65, 67 and 67 (-12) helped him to a 6 shot victory over Conor PURCELL (IRE). 

Home Nation Closed Amateur Championships

Tom THURLOWAY won the English Men’s Amateur at Formby G.C. overcoming Joe LONG 6&5 in the Final. Tom’s win came just a week after he picked up the Walton Heath Trophy after rounds of 69, 68, 69 and 73 (-9). Two great wins in a short space of time.

Euan MCINTOSH won the Scottish Men’s Amateur at Blairgowrie beating Jamie STEWART 3&2 in the Final.

Robbie CANNON won the Irish Amateur Close Championship at the European Club. He beat Eoin LEONARD 2&1 in their Final match. 

Tom WILLIAMS won the Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship in August at Machynys G.C. beating Kieron HARMON 2&1 in the Final. It was a second win for Williams who had earlier in the year won the U21 Bernard Darwin Salver at Rye G.C.

Major International Amateur Events

Home favourite Vitor Londot Lopez (-15) won the Portuguese International Amateur at Montado in February. Ben JONES (ENG) 71, 68, 73, 64 (-12) and Bailey GILL (ENG) 71, 67, 68, 70 (-12) finished tied 2nd.

The Spanish International Amateur at La Manga was dominated by English players. Firstly, Jake BURNAGE, the only player to record an under par total, won the stroke play qualifying with rounds of 73 and 70 (-3). Billy MCKENZIE went on to beat Alex FITZPATRICK 3&2 in the 36 hole Final.

Andrea Romano (ITA) won the Italian International Amateur in March with rounds of 69, 70, 72 and 69 (-3) at Donnafugata Golf Resort. Jake BOLTON (ENG) 71, 74, 69, 70 (+1) finished tied 3rd and Charlie THORNTON (ENG) 63, 71, 77, 74 (+2) was tied 5th.

Hubert Tisserand (FRA) 69 68 71 72 (-5) won the French International Amateur at Chantilly in late May. Josh MCMAHON (ENG) and Bradley BAWDEN (ENG) were tied 5th on -1.

Arguably the best amateur performance of the year came from Cole Hammer (USA) in the Western Amateur Championship, played at Sunset Ridge G.C. near Chicago. Having secured medalist honours with rounds of 65, 68, 61 ,67 (-23) – the unblemished 3rd round included 10 birdies – he beat Davis Riley (USA) in the match play final by 1 hole.

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Cole Hammer (Photo: Western Amateur)

En route to winning the Pacific Coast Amateur at The Olympic Club, San Francisco in July Isaiah Salinda (USA) shot a 62 (-9) in round 3 which included 10 birdies. 

Justin Suh (USA) won the North East Amateur by 6 shots with rounds of 63, 65, 67 and 66 (-15) at the par 69 Wannamoisett C.C.

The South Beach International Amateur, now one of the amateur game’s biggest events with a strong field of 210 players, was won in Miami Beach in December by Pierceson Coody (USA). Jake BURNAGE (ENG) was the best of the 19 GB&I players in the field, finishing a creditable 3rd after recording scores of 64, 70, 70 and 71 (Ev) in very windy conditions. 

Australia

David HAGUE (ENG) and Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) took the early season plaudits with strong performances down under in the opening months of 2018.

Hague reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Amateur, where he lost to the eventual champion Keita Nakajima (JAP), before finishing 2nd at the Avondale Amateur where rounds of 70, 73, 69, 67 gave him a -5 total.

Petrozzi went one better at the end of the tour winning the New South Wales Amateur. Having qualified in tied 4th place after rounds of 68 and 70 (-6) he worked his way through the match play stage before overcoming Jediah Morgan (AUS) on the 37th hole.

South Africa

Sam LOCKE (SCO) finished tied 5th on -18 at the South African Stroke Championship in a low scoring event dominated by Oliver Gillberg (SWE) whose rounds of 67, 62, 64 and 68 (-27) at Pecanwood Golf Estate were exceptional.

Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) -7 tied 6th and Andrew WILSON (ENG) -4 8th at the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Glendower G.C. The event was easily won by James du Preez (RSA) -14 who shot a 64 in Round 3 to give him a comfortable lead heading into the final round.  

The Sanlam South African Amateur Championship was played at Durban C.C. in late February.  David LANGLEY (ENG) 67, 70 (-7) was medalist with Calum FYFE (SCO) 70, 71 (-3) runner-up. However, it was Fyfe’s fellow Scotsmen John PATERSON and Euan WALKER who made the bigger impact at the business end of the tournament both reaching the semi-finals before losing to Chris Woollam (RSA) and champion Deon Germishuys (RSA), who eventually required 39 holes to get the job done.

Kyle McClatchie’s (RSA) performance at the 2018 Gauteng North Open Amateur is also worth recording. Rounds of 65, 72, 64 and 62 (-25) unsurprisingly gave him a 7 shot victory. McClatchie, who also won the Brabazon Trophy in 2017, turned pro shortly afterwards but has surprisingly struggled to make much of an impact to date.

Other GB&I Amateur Events

Mitch WAITE (ENG) alerted us to the good season he was going to enjoy by winning the Hampshire Salver in mid-April. He overcame a sluggish start in the Day 1 Selborne Salver at Blackmoor by blitzing North Hants 65, 65 (-8) in the Day 2 Hampshire Hog and coming through the field to win the72 hole title.

James WILSON (ENG) won the Battle Trophy at Crail G.C. in April with a 283 (-5) total. His victory was set up by a 63 in round 3, 7 shots better than any other player could manage.

The Berkshire Trophy was shared between George GARDNER (ENG) and Matt ROBERTS (WAL) but only after the Englishman finished with a final round 65 to reach the -9 winning total.

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Matt Roberts and George Gardner (Photo: George Gardner)

Sam BROADHURST (ENG) 69, 64, 66, 65 (-16) produced some low scoring at Middlesbrough G.C. to win the North of England Youth Championship.

Charlie THORNTON (ENG) won the North of England Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Alwoodley G.C. in October with rounds of 71, 73, a memorable 65 and 74 (-1). 

A strong final day helped James BIGGS (ENG) 71, 74, 68, 68 (+1) secure the Lagonda Trophy at The Gog Magog G.C.

Ryan DIXON (ENG) 72, 69, 71, 70 (-6) won the U21 Welsh Open Youths Championship at Wenvoe Castle G.C.

Owen BENSON (ENG) beat David LANGLEY in a play-off at Moor Park G.C. to win the Tillman Trophy after they had both finished on 278 (-10).

Scotland

Matthew CLARK 74, 70, 64, 66 (-10) won the East of Scotland Open in early July beating a fast finishing Euan MCINTOSH who applied pressure with a final round 64 to post a -8 total.

MCINTOSH didn’t have to wait long for his win though. Rounds of 69, 64, 66 and 64 (-9) enabled him to pick up the North East Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

Kyle GODSMAN won the North of Scotland Open Amateur with rounds of 75, 64, 74 and 70. Kyle’s 64 included two bogeys on an afternoon where no other player in the field managed to break 70 around the tough Nairn G.C. course.

John PATERSON shot rounds of 69, 70, 67 and 68 (-14) at Haggs Castle G.C. to win the Cameron Corbett Vase.

Ireland

Robert BRAZILL beat Alex GLESSON by 1 hole in the final of the prestigious West of Ireland Amateur in April.

South Africa’s Christo Lamprecht 66, 68, 69, 71 (-14) won the East of Ireland Amateur Open at County Louth G.C., holding off Mark POWER (IRE) (-12) to secure the title.

Caolan RAFFERTY beat Rowan LESTER on the 20th hole of the final to win the South of Ireland Amateur at Lahinch Old in July.

Ian LYNCH won the North of Ireland Amateur at Royal Portrush. After Matthew MCCLEAN 67, 68 (-8) had earned medalist honours Lynch went on to beat Kieran BABBAGE (ENG) 2&1 in the Final.

Tiarnan MCLARNAN shot a final round 66 (-6), -7 for his final 11 holes, to pip Robert BRAZILL for the Mullinger Scratch Trophy in August. 

Juniors

Conor GOUGH (ENG) enjoyed a superb season and was undoubtedly the star performer in GB&I Boys’ golf. He won the Fairhaven Trophy in May (69, 75, 70, 69 -5) and the U16 McGregor Trophy in July (72, 71, 70, 68 (-7), birdieing four of his last 6 holes including his last two. If that wasn’t enough he topped them both by winning the Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and Portstewart G.C.’s. Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) was medalist in the stroke play qualifying before Gough (ENG) beat Jose Luis Ballester 3&1 in the Final. Joe PAGDIN (ENG) and Jensen HULL (ENG) were the two losing semi-finalists.

A few weeks later an in form Jensen HULL won the Men’s Waterford Trophy by 5 shots after scores of 70, 70, 67 and 68 (-5).

Barclay BROWN (ENG) won the U18 Carris Trophy 73, 68, 68, 71 (-8) memorably overtaking a faltering Gregory De Leo (ITA) -7 with two birdies on his last two holes. In November the Sheffield man also secured The Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf Championship. Rounds of 73, 70 and 72 (-1) helped him to a 5 shot win in Spain.

Tom MCKIBBIN (NIR) won the inaugural Faldo Series Major Champions Invitational in March, played at Bella Collina in Florida, with scores of 68, 67 and 69 (-12).

A few weeks later Joe PAGDIN (ENG) came close in the men’s Azalea Invitational in South Carolina. Rounds of 73, 67, 67, 66 (-11) earned him a place in a play-off with Cole Hammer (USA) and Hugo Bernard (CAN) before the American birdied the first play-off hole.

Harrison ARNOLD (ENG) survived the wet weather at Copt Heath G.C. to win the Peter McEvoy Trophy. Reduced to 36 holes a second round 67 was good enough to sweep him to the title with a 139 (-3) score.

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Harrison Arnold (Photo: GolfBible)

Laurenz SCHIERGEN (GER) won the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters by 10 shots at Nizels after rounds of 71, 65, 67 and 71 (-14). Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) -4 and Thomas SPREADBOROUGH (ENG) -1 were the only other boys to shoot under par.

After a mass exodus to the professional ranks (see below) 2018 was always going to be a tough year for Welsh golf but Archie DAVIES looks like being a leading light for the next generation. His 3 shot victory at Belvoir Park in late June at the Irish Boys Amateur Open Championship with rounds of 69, 70, 68 and 69 (-8) was certainly encouraging.

Hugh ADAMS (ENG) 72, 71, 67 (Ev) won the U14 Reid Trophy in August. The youngster from Hagley in the West Midlands beat Angel Ayora (ESP) on the fourth play off hole at Reading G.C.

Harry GODDARD (W4 L1 H1) led England to victory over Ireland in the Boys’ Home Internationals played at Royal Dornoch G.C. in early August. 

The Jacques Leglise Trophy was played in Finland with GB&I comfortably beating the Continent of Europe 15.5 – 9.5 at Kytäjä Golf. English pair Conor GOUGH and Robin WILLIAMS were unbeaten, winning two and halving two of their games.

The Junior Ryder Cup was played at Disneyland Paris in September. The EUROPE team, including Annabell FULLER (ENG), Conor GOUGH (ENG) and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) in their ranks, fought bravely on the final day before narrowly losing 11.5 – 12.5 to the USA.

Another English junior to breakthrough during the year was Yorkshire’s Ben SCHMIDT. Runner Up to Gough at the McGregor Trophy Ben went on to win the Lee Westwood Trophy at Rotherham G.C. (65 66 70) after a play-off with Alex IRELAND (ENG) and the English Boy’s County Champion of Champions event at Woodhall Spa 70 72 (-4) in September. He certainly looks like a player to watch in the future.

Golf Rankings and Order of Merits

Viktor Hovland (NOR) will end the year as the #1 ranked player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking, in my opinion the world’s most accurate ranking of amateur golfers. Following his performance at the South Beach International last week Jake BURNAGE (ENG) #43 has just passed Harry HALL (ENG) #44 to take the leading GB&I player title, albeit they have an almost identical number of points. Ireland’s Conor PURCELL is not very far behind them in 3rd place either.

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Scratch Players Ranking – GB&I Top 50 As At 29/12/18  (Photo: SPWAR)

Justin Suh (USA) currently heads the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Braden Thornberry (USA) won the McCormack Medal as the leading player in the WAGR at the end of August. GB&I’s leading player in the WAGR at the end of the year is Conor GOUGH (ENG) who is 19th.

Mitch WAITE (ENG), Alex GLEESON (IRE), Euan MCINTOSH (SCO) and Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) respectively won the four home nation Orders of Merits. 

Turned Pro

As is always the case many of our leading amateurs took the plunge into the professional ranks during the year. Todd CLEMENTS (ENG), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Harry ELLIS (ENG), Craig HOWIE (SCO), Matthew JORDAN (ENG), Paul MCBRIDE (IRE), Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG), Nick POPPLETON (ENG), Mitch WAITE (ENG), Andrew WILSON (ENG) and Jonathan YATES (IRE) were some of the names we waved goodbye to this year.

Click here for more information on all of the – 2018 Results

ME.

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