December 2018 Men’s Amateur Rankings

5th January 2019

Throughout the year I analyse the two main amateur golf rankings, the SPWAR and the WAGR, to help us assess the performances of Great Britain and Ireland’s leading players.

This information is maintained on the Rankings page of the GolfBible website and is updated quarterly.

This is a short note to subscribers to flag up that the latest update covering the December 2018 Quarter period has now been added.

I also select a Player of the Quarter.

For Quarter 4 2018 I have chosen England’s Jake BURNAGE. Jake finished 3rd in the South Beach international Amateur in Florida in early December.

There are few significant events between October and December so it normally takes something exceptional at the South Beach International Amateur, now one of amateur golf’s leading events, to justify the award being made. Jake has followed in the footsteps of Ben JONES (ENG) who finished 2nd in 2017 to pick up the award last year.

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Jake Burnage (Photo: Burnage Family)

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

ME.

Copyright © 2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

South Beach International Amateur – 2018 Preview & Results

22nd December 2018 – Results

Pierceson COODY (USA), a Freshman at the University of Texas and the grandson of 1971 Masters Champion Charles Coody, won the 2018 South Beach International Amateur (SBIA) with a 272 (-11) total.

The pre-tournament weather forecast suggested conditions would be challenging for the 210 players in the field, particularly on Days 2 and 3 when very strong winds were expected. That certainly proved to be the case with winds of 25mph gusting to 50 mph recorded.

Coody made a solid start to the competition with a 67 (-3) at Normandy Shores (NS) on Day 1 before backing it up with a joint best of the day 67 (-4) at Miami Beach (MB). However, the SBIA was won in Round 3. Benefitting from his late tee time and the subsequent suspension of play due to the high winds he was able to complete his third round in the calmer conditions of this morning. His 64 (-7) at Miami Beach, which included eight birdies, was four shots better than any other player managed.

Despite taking a 6 shot lead into the final round a fast finishing Manuel TORRES (VEN) made the Texan sweat. Torres, who studies at the nearby Lynn University, shot an impressive 33 on the back nine for a 66 (-5) but was left rueing a final hole bogey.

Coody played the front nine in Round 4 in even par but started to leak oil on the back side. When he also bogeyed the last he was left signing for a 74 (+3) and relieved to hear he had secured a narrow one shot victory.

Ranked 183rd in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) at the start of the week Coody now sits 40th after the biggest win of his career.

Jake BURNAGE (ENG) was our leading performer, finishing a clear 3rd on 275 (-8). Jake shot a 64 (-6) at Normandy Shores on Day 1 to share the lead before playing very consistently throughout the remainder of the tournament; rounds of 70, 70 and 71 at Miami beach testament to that.

I assume all of those rounds on the exposed links of Saunton G.C. came in useful when the wind started to blow in South Florida. With six birdies on his card in Round 4 and Torres’ late run he probably feels a little frustrated not to have been closer to the win and certainly the runner-up spot.

Nevertheless this is notable result for Jake who now sits 44th in the SPWAR. Just a handful of points behind Harry Hall amortisation over the next few days may still see him finish as GB&I’s leading golfer by the year end. Not a bad place to be going into a Walker Cup year.

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Jake Burnage at Miami Beach G.C. (Photo: Burnage Family)

Fellow Englishmen Jake BOLTON 71 NS, 70 MB, 74 and 69 (+1) finished tied 21st and Joe PAGDIN 68 NS, 73 MB, 74 and 71 (+3) was tied 26th.

The two other GB&I players to make the cut found the going harder over the final two rounds finishing tied 62nd on +10. Max MARTIN recorded rounds of 66 NS, 75 MB, 80 and 72 and Ben JONES, who finished tied 2nd last year, 71 NS, 71 MB, 74 and 77.

74 players made the 36 hole cut on Thursday which fell at 144 (+3) with each competitor having played a round at Miami Beach G.C. (par 71) and Normandy Shores G.C. (par 70).

The remaining GB&I players in the field all missed the cut: –

145 (+4)
Sam ROOK (ENG) – 71 NS 74 MB
Charlie THORNTON (ENG) – 71 NS 74 MB
David LANGLEY (ENG) – 68 NS 77 MB

146 (+5)
Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) – 71 NS 75 MB
Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) – 67 NS 79 MB
Michael YOUNG (IRE) – 75 MB 71 NS

147 (+6)
Conor GOUGH (ENG) – 72 NS 75 MB
Conor RICHARDS (ENG) – 71 NS 76 MB
Tom MCKIBBIN (N.I.) – 74 MB 73 NS

149 (+8)
Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) – 74 NS 75 MB
Bradley BAWDEN (ENG) – 70 NS 79

150 (+9)
Thomas PLUMB (ENG) – 75 NS 75 MB 150 (+9)

152 (+11)
John GOUGH (ENG) – 70 NS 82 MB 152 (+11)

155 (+14)
Eoin LEONARD (IRE) – 74 NS 81 MB 155 (+14)

Click here to view the – SBIA 2018 Results

ME.

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17th December 2018

The 8th South Beach International Amateur (SBIA) will be played between 19th – 22nd December 2018 in Miami Beach, Florida.

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First played in 2011 it has within a few years become one of the world’s leading amateur golf competitions.

It has always attracted an International field and many of Europe’s leading amateurs will again be competing this year.

Format

The SBIA is a 72 hole stroke play competition played over four days.

18 holes are played at both Miami Beach G.C. and the nearby Normandy Shores G.C. over the first two days. Tee times between 7.30am and 12.19 pm (GMT -5 hrs).

After a top 72 and ties cut the final 36 holes are played exclusively at Miami Beach over the remaining two days.

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Miami Beach Golf Club (Photo: Miami Beach GC)

Players

A field of 210 players have paid the $385 entry fee and will contest the 2018 SBIA.

In 2017 the SBIA was ranked 5th in terms of field quality by the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR). Only the U.S. Amateur (1st), The Amateur (2nd), Western Amateur (3rd) and NCAA Division I National (4th) were stronger. It is likely to be 6th in 2018 as the World Amateur Team has been played this year too.

A review of the 2018 entries suggests it will retain its status after this latest edition.

Historically around 50% of the field has been drawn from overseas with as many as 30 countries represented.

This year the highest ranked player competing is Tyler STRAFACI (USA) who is 19th in the SPWAR. Floridian Tyler is a junior at Georgia Tech. He was medalist at the 2017 U.S. Amateur, qualified for the 2018 U.S. Open and reached the semi-finals of the 2018 Western Amateur.

There are 19 golfers from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) playing this year. The previous highest number was 13 in 2014. I’ve listed them all below with their current SPWAR: –

Bradley BAWDEN (ENG) #404
Jake BOLTON (ENG) #483
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) #121
Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) #2,949
Conor GOUGH (ENG) #338
John GOUGH (ENG) #267
Ben JONES (ENG) #123
David LANGLEY (ENG) #140
Eoin LEONARD (IRE) #295
Maxwell MARTIN (ENG) #1,053
Tom MCKIBBIN (N.I.) #1,067
Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) #191
Joe PAGDIN (ENG) #321
Thomas PLUMB (ENG) #136
Conor RICHARDS (ENG) #1,558
Sam ROOK (ENG) #510
Charlie THORNTON (ENG) #609
Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) #199
Michael YOUNG (IRE) #2,526

This event starts the countdown for me to the 2019 Walker Cup match and a high finish in Miami this week will certainly be rankings enhancing and lay down a nice early marker to the GB&I selectors.

In 2017 Ben JONES was our leading finisher, securing tied 2nd with an impressive -12 total. Harry HALL (ENG) -7 was tied 10th and Joe PAGDIN -4 tied 19th.

Click here to view the – SBIA 2017 Results

Courses

Both courses were designed by Arthur Hills and play to around 6,800 yards.

They are typical Florida layouts with numerous lakes coming into play throughout the 18 holes. As a result scores can be high if the wind blows – which it often does.

Normandy Shores plays to a par of 70 and Miami Beach a par of 71 during the SBIA.

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Normandy Shores G.C. (Photo: miamibeachguest.com) 

Weather Forecast

As one would expect the weather forecast looks generally good for the duration of the competition, albeit strong winds are expected to move around from day to day.

Wed 19th Dec. – Sunny / Wind 13 mph SE / Temp. Min. 20°C, Max. 27°C.
Thur 20th Dec – Thundery Showers PM / Wind 24 mph S / Temp. Min. 20°C, Max. 29°C.
Fri 21st Dec – Sunny / Wind 28 mph W / Temp. Min. 11°C / Min 22°C.
Sat 22nd Dec – Sunny / Wind 11 mph NW / Temp. Min. 8°C / Max. 21°C.

SBIA Website Links

Click here to view the – SBIA 2018 Tee Times

Click here to view the – SBIA 2018 Leaderboard

Click here to view the – SBIA website

History

Here is a list of past winners and the 36 hole cut marks for each year: –

2017 – Jacob BERGERON (USA) -3 / Cut Ev
2016 – Danny WALKER (USA) -4 / Cut +1
2015 – Jorge GARCIA (VEN) -5 / Cut +6
2014 – Gabriel LENCH (USA) -4 / Cut +3
2013 – Greg EASON (ENG) -5 / Cut +6
2012 – JuanPablo HERNANDEZ (MEX) -10 / Cut +3
2011 – Kelly KRAFT (USA) -4 / Cut +11

Following in the footsteps of Greg EASON it would be great to see a second GB&I winner in 2018.

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Men’s Home Internationals – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

14th September 2018

ENGLAND won the 2018 Men’s Home Internationals beating IRELAND 9 – 6 in today’s championship match.

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England celebrate with the Raymond Trophy (Photo: Wales Golf)

Here is a summary of the final results from this year’s tournament: –

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Final Results – 2018 Men’s Home Internationals (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox)

In the ENGLAND v. IRELAND match today the foursomes were shared 2.5 – 2.5 but in the afternoon England pulled away with some impressive singles victories.

The highlights were Andrew WILSON’s 7&6 win over the previously unbeaten Conor PURCELL and Mitch WAITE’s 2 Holes win over Robin DAWSON, both of which set the foundation for their team to build on.

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Ireland v. England Results (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

David HAGUE (ENG) and Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) both finished the tournament with 100% records, winning all 6 of their games. Tom PLUMB (ENG) was also unbeaten, winning four of his games and halving two of his foursomes.

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Host nation WALES once again fell the wrong side of the thin line that sometimes separates winning and losing. Today Scotland edged them out 8 – 7.

Scotland won the foursomes 4 -1 in the morning but were made to work hard for the additional four single wins they needed in the afternoon.

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Scotland v. Wales Results (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

Whilst it was tough going for SCOTLAND and WALES for most of the week it was possible for some of their individuals to shine.

Euan WALKER was outstanding for Scotland winning five of his six games.

Likewise Paddy MULLINS did well for Wales and can be particularly pleased with his two singles wins.

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Click here to view the full – 2018 Men’s Home Internationals Results
– click the match score to see the individual games and the game score to view the hole by hole scores.

ME.

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13th September 2018

IRELAND beat WALES 11.5 – 5.5 on Day 2 of the Men’s Home Internationals at Conwy Golf Club.

The morning foursomes went the way of the Irish 3.5 – 1.5 albeit the Robbie CANNON / JAMES SUGRUE pairing needed a birdie on the 18th to secure a half in their match so the overall series scoreline could have been closer.

Ireland won the singles 6 – 4 with Conor PURCELL, Caolan RAFFERTY and Peter O’KEEFFE (all 4&3) enjoying their biggest wins.

However, the best performance of this match arguably fell to Welshman Jake HAPGOOD. He beat in form Robin DAWSON 4&3 with both players blitzing Conwy’s back nine. Jake recorded four birdies and two eagles between the 7th and 15th holes to unsurprisingly take the game.

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Ireland v. Wales Results (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

In the second match of Day 2 ENGLAND narrowly beat SCOTLAND 8 – 7.

After the morning foursomes, which England won 4 – 1, it appeared the Scots could be in for another heavy defeat.

However, Scotland showed great heart to run out 6 – 4 winners of the singles series. Ryan LUMSDEN, Euan WALKER, Kieran CANTLEY, Stephen RODGER, Jeff WRIGHT and James WILSON were all victorious in the afternoon.

At the end of the day England won the match and that’s all that matters – unless like last year the two leading nations draw again ! The four single wins they enjoyed were all comprehensive and as such after their dominant foursomes performance there was never really a feeing that an upset might be in the air.

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Scotland v. England Results (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

ME.

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12th September 2018

IRELAND beat SCOTLAND 11.5 – 3.5 in the opening game of the 2018 Men’s Home Internationals at Conwy Golf Club.

Ireland won the morning foursomes 4 – 1. Most of the matches tipping their way due to some exceptional play on the back nine by their four final pairings. Scotland’s Euan MCINTOSH and Ryan LUMSDEN provided the only resistance in game 1.

The Irish carried their momentum into the afternoon series too winning the singles 7.5 – 2.5. Robin DAWSON (5&3), Jonathan YATES (5&4) and Tiarnon MCLARNON (4&3) enjoyed the biggest wins.

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Ireland v. Scotland Results (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

ENGLAND overcame a stubborn WALES 11.5 – 3.5 in the second match on Day 1. As you can see below the games were generally closer than in match 1 and the margin of victory somewhat flatters England who were made to work hard for many of their points.

The morning foursomes were halved 2.5 – 2.5 with Welsh pairing Matt ROBERTS and Paddy MULLINS enjoying the biggest victory of the series, 5&3.

ENGLAND composed themselves in the afternoon and in the end won nine of the ten singles. Ben JONES won his match 4&3 but otherwise the games were tight affairs. Paddy MULLINS maintained his unbeaten personal record by recording the sole singles win for the hosts.

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England v. Wales Results (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

ME.

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9th September 2018

The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals will be contested at Conwy Golf Club in Wales between 12th and 14th September.

IRELAND will travel to North Wales hoping to win the Raymond Trophy for a fifth consecutive year.

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Conwy Golf Club (Photo: Golfing Wales)

The Competition

11-man teams from ENGLAND, IRELAND, SCOTLAND and WALES play against each other annually, taking it in turns to the host the event.

Over three days all of the countries play each other once. There are five foursomes and ten singles match play games in each series.

The winner is the country with the highest number of match points. 1 point is awarded for a win, 0.5 for a half and 0 for a loss. Ties are resolved by considering the number of individual game points secured in the three matches played.

2018 Players

The four national golf unions have selected the following players to represent their countries this year.

I have also included the current Team (total) and Individual Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR) below.

ENGLAND – Team SPWAR 1,432
Jack BURNAGE (93)
Bailey GILL (176)
David HAGUE (99)
Ben JONES (105)
David LANGLEY (169)
Joe LONG (201)
Tom PLUMB (147)
Nick POPPLETON (190)
Tom SLOMAN (64)
Mitch WAITE (40)
Andrew WILSON (148)

IRELAND – Team SPWAR = 3,300
Robbie CANNON (908)
Robin DAWSON (14)
Alex GLEESON (122)
Tiarnan MCLARNON (406)
Ronan MULLARNEY (265)
Peter O’KEEFFE (354)
Mark POWER (240)
Conor PURCELL (37)
Colin RAFFERTY (82)
James SUGRUE (374)
Jonathan YATES (498)

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The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Ayrshire Golf Blog)

SCOTLAND – Team SPWAR = 3,620
Kieran CANTLEY (448)
Matthew CLARK (483)
Stuart EASTON (187)
Calum FYFE (259)
Jim JOHNSTON (562)
Ryan LUMSDEN (80)
Euan MCKINTOSH (156)
Stephen ROGER (406)
Euan WALKER (113)
James WILSON (227)
Jeff WRIGHT (699)

WALES – Team SPWAR = 13,944
Oliver BROWN (2,041)
Ben CHAMBERLAIN (976)
Archie DAVIES (981)
Jacob DAVIES (1,438)
Jake HAPGOOD (395)
Kieron HARMAN (1,698)
Paddy MULLINS (1,572)
Matt ROBERTS (797)
Lewys SANGES (1,095)
Gaelan TREW (2,217)
Tom WILLIAMS (734)

Just 14 of the 44 players competed last year at Moortown. England have 8 new players in their 2018 line up, Ireland 6, Scotland 9 and Wales 7.

I think ENGLAND have got to start as slight favourites this year but I certainly wouldn’t bet against IRELAND making it five in a row.

Venue – Conwy Golf Club

Founded in 1890 the Conwy (Caernarvonshire) Golf Club is the third oldest club in Wales.

The course was originally laid out by Jack Harris with more recent alterations completed by Frank Pennink.

One of the best links courses in Great Britain it has hosted many amateur and professional tournaments in the past. It’s next big appointment is the Curtis Cup match which it will stage in 2020.

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Conwy Golf Club Scorecard (Photos: Conwy Golf Club)

The courses measures 6,936 yards from the Blue Championship tees, playing to a par of 72. It is relatively flat with it’s exposed coastal position meaning the prevailing westerly wind is always a major factor particularly as the design has holes going in all directions.

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Conwy Golf Club Course Map (Photos: Conwy Golf Club)

2018 Weather Forecast (as at 9.00am Sunday 9th September)
Wed. 12th Sept. – Light Rain / Temp. Min 9º / Max 15º / Wind 11mph NW
Thurs. 13th Sept. – Sunny / Temp. Min 10º / Max 16º / Wind 11mph W
Fri 14th Sept. – Cloudy / Temp. Min 11º / Max 16º / Wind 15mph SW

2017 Men’s Home Internationals

IRELAND won the 2017 Men’s Home Internationals at Moortown Golf Club in Leeds.

They secured the Raymond Trophy after halving the deciding match with ENGLAND 7.5 – 7.5. This was good enough for the Irish to pip the home nation by a half point in total match points earned, 26.5 against 26.0.

The win was a record breaking fourth consecutive victory in the event for the men in green.

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The 2017 Ireland Team (Photo: Leaderboard Photography) 

WALES beat SCOTLAND 9.5 – 5.5 on the final day to consign the Scots to the wooden spoon.

Click here to view the detailed – Men’s Home Internationals Results

Here is the final Points Table with the ‘Countback’ information at the bottom: –

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2017 Men’s Home Internationals Points Table (Photo: England Golf Event Microsite)

Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) and Josh HILLEARD (ENG) delivered the best individual records during the week, both winning five of their six games.

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Western Amateur Championship – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

4th August 2018

Final

In what he subsequently described as the “biggest day in my golf career, no question” Cole HAMMER beat Davis RILEY by 1 Hole to become the 116th Western Amateur champion at Sunset Ridge C.C.

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Cole Hammer With The George R. Thorne Trophy (Photo: Western Amateur)

Birdies on holes 3, 6 and 9 and an eagle on 7 helped Cole into a 4Up lead after 9 holes. Whilst Davis fought back admirably, particularly with late birdies on 15 and 16, the young Texan was still able to hold his nerve and see out the match.

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Hole-By-Hole Final Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

By playing 76 holes of match play over the four rounds Cole tied the Championship record with Justin Leonard (1992) and David Chung (2010) for most holes played.

In an outstanding performance Hammer led from the front for virtually the hole Championship. He was of course co-medalist in the earlier stroke play qualifying; an achievement which included a new course record 61 in Round 3.

He is just the sixth 18 year-old champion, joining a select group that includes Tiger Woods and last year’s winner Norman Xiong, who also completed the ‘double’.

Like most of the field Hammer will now move on to the U.S. Amateur Championship in California. In September he will start his freshman year at the University of Texas.

Semi-Finals

In the morning Cole HAMMER needed 20 holes to overcome Brandon WU. The scoring was excellent in this match with Wu birdieing the last to take the match back down the 1st. Hammer was 5-under the card and Wu 4-under after the 18 holes. Hammer birdied the 2nd to progress.

The second Semi-Final was tighter with far less birdies recorded. Davis RILEY, a rising Senior at the University of Alabama, pulled away on the back-nine to secure a 4&2 win over a slightly out of sorts Tyler STRAFACI.

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Semi-Final Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

Click here to view the detailed Western Amateur Championship – Match Play Results

ME.

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3rd August 2018

Round 2

In a relatively poor quality match Cole HAMMER was fortunate to get through against Spencer RALSTON where both players struggled to match their scoring prowess of previous days.

Brandon WU overcame John AUGENSTEIN on the 19th hole of their match. Wu was 2Down as he stood on the 17th tee. He won that hole with a par 3 before a birdie on the 18th and a par on 19 saw him complete a memorable comeback.

Two late birdies helped Tyler STRAFACI to a 2Up win against Kaiwen LIU.

Davis RILEY enjoyed another big win in the final Quarter-Final benefiting from some loose early play from Hayden SPRINGER before powering away with four birdies. This is the second time in the last three years that the Alabama man has reached the final day.

Here are the full Round 2 results: –

Round 2 Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

Round 1

Cole HAMMER birdied the 20th hole to overcome Davis SHORE in Round 1.

Hammer’s Co-medalist Sam STEVENS wasn’t so lucky being beaten easily by Kaiwen LIU.

There were surprise early defeats for highly fancied Collin MORIKAWA and Isaiah SALINDA.

Here are the full Round 1 results: –

Round 1 Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

ME.

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2nd August 2018

Cole HAMMER (Texas, USA) and Sam STEVENS (Kansas, USA) shared medalist honours after completion of the final 36 holes of stroke play on Thursday.

They both posted an unbelievable 261 (-23) total for the 72 holes. This was the lowest stroke play total score in the long history of the Western Amateur; the previous best being Aron Price’s 265 (-15 in relation to par) at Point O’ Woods Golf & Country Club in 2004.

Hammer, a rising freshman at the University of Texas, posted rounds of 65, 68, 61 and 67. The 61 (-10) in today’s morning round represented a new course record for the Sunset Ridge Country Club.

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Cole Hammer’s Scorecard (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

Stevens, a former Oklahoma State player, was far more consistent recording scores of 65, 66, 65 and 68. He earned a share of first by holing a 50-foot putt on his final qualifying hole.

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Sam Steven’s Scorecard (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

The leading 16 stroke play finishers – known as the ‘Sweet 16’ – now move onto the match play stage of the competition.

Amongst the other leading qualifiers were Isaiah SALINDA USA (-20), who won last week’s Pacific Coast Amateur, Collin MORIKAWA USA (-19), a 2017 Walker Cup and the SPWAR No. 2-ranked player, Brandon WU USA and Min Woo LEE AUS (both -18)

The final spot went to Davis SHORE (Tennessee, USA) who having finished the stroke play on -11 successfully negotiated a 6-for-1 play-off by making a birdie on the third extra hole.

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‘Sweet 16’ Qualifiers (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

World No. 1 Braden THORNBERRY (Mississippi, USA) was a casualty. He has now missed out on ‘Sweet 16’ status on each of this four appearances. In fact 2018 was the first time he had made it through to Day 3 of the stroke play.

Click here to view the Western Amateur’s – Stroke Play Results

ME.

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1st August 2018

Spencer RALSTON (Georgia, USA) leads the Western Amateur after completion of the second 18 holes of stroke play at Sunset Ridge. His rounds of 63 and 66 gave him a 36 hole tournament record total of 137 (-13).

44 players made the 36-hole cut, which fell at -5, and will now play a final 36 holes of stroke play tomorrow. The cut mark was 4 shots lower than the previous record set last year.

Unfortunately English pair Billy MCKENZIE and Ben JONES were amongst those to miss out. McKenzie recorded scores of 71 and 69 (-2) to lie tied 68th whilst Jones’ 74 and 72 (+4) saw him sitting in tied 132nd when the first cut fell.

After Thursday’s two rounds the field will be trimmed to 16 for match play.

ME.

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29th July 2018

The 116th Western Amateur Championship starts on Tuesday at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Illinois in the Unites States.

The Western Amateur is one of the world’s leading amateur golf tournaments. Only the U.S. Amateur Championship and the Amateur Championship could be considered more prestigious.

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Sunset Ridge C.C. (Photo: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

The Championship is run by the Western Golf Association (WGA). The WGA were established in 1899 and appropriately set up their headquarters in the town of Golf, Illinois. In addition to the Western Amateur the WGA also run the Western Junior Championship (since 1914) and the BMW Championship, the second oldest professional tournament in the U.S.A.

The event sits uncomfortably in the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur golf calendar, coming at the height of the European season. Despite the small number of GB&I entries normally seen the event is of such standing that it is always worthy of our full attention.

Field

156 players are exempted or invited to compete. Free to choose whichever ranking it wishes the WGA uses the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) to assess exemptions.

In 2017 more players in the Top 200 of the SPWAR competed in the Western Amateur (99) than in both the U.S. Amateur (93) and the Amateur Championship (73). That is despite the two major Championships having much larger fields, 312 and 288 players respectively.

Ben JONES (England) and Billy MCKENZIE (England) are the only entries from Great Britain and Ireland this year.

Last year saw David BOOTE (Wales), Liam JOHNSTON (Scotland) and Connor SYME (Scotland) compete. None of them were able to make the top 16 match play stage.

2018 Draw

Click here to view the Western Amateur’s – Stroke Play Rounds 1 & 2 Draw

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Sunset Ridge C.C. (Photo: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

This year the match play stage will be streamed live for the first time ever on GolfChannel.com, the Golf Channel mobile app and thewesternamateur.com.

For more information including the scoring links which will go live from Tuesday please take a look at the Championship website – www.thewesternamateur.com

Format

Not only is the field often the strongest in amateur golf the current format, which was first adopted in 1961, is arguably the best of any amateur tournament in the world. It certainly offers a thorough examination for the players.

All of the field start by playing 18 holes of stroke play on each of the first two days.

A 36 hole cut to the low 44 scores and ties is then made.

The remaining players then play a further 36 holes of stroke play on Day 3.

At the end of 72 holes the low 16 finishers progress to the match play stage. A sudden death play off is used to separate those players tied for 16th place.

The “Sweet Sixteen” then play match play over the final two days of competition, the finalists having to play two matches on each day.

2018 Venue

Sunset Ridge Country Club is located on Chicago’s North Shore, the course being 25 miles from the city centre.

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Sunset Ridge C.C. was designed by William Diddel in 1923 and renovated by Rick Jacobson in 2004-05. The Club is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year.

As you will have seen from the above photos the course is tight with trees and water adjacent to most fairways. It plays 6,800 yards from the Championship tees and is protected by well bunkered fast greens, often sloping from back to front. It is clearly a strategic course where accurate driving to set up attacking approach shots to the right green segments is required.

Sunset Ridge C.C., Holes 1 -9 Aerials (Video: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

Sunset Ridge C.C., Holes 9-18 Aerials (Video: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

The Western Amateur will be staged at the following clubs over the next four years: –
2019 – Point O’Woods G.&C.C., Benton Harbor, Michigan
2020 – Crooked Stick G.C., Carmel, Indiana
2021 – Glenview G.C., Golf, Indiana
2022 – Exmoor C.C., Highland Park, Illinois

History and Past Winner’s

The Western Amateur was founded in 1899 and the 2018 event will be its 116th playing. It is the third-oldest amateur championship in the world.

As the photos below show the trophies certainly match the history and prestige of the event.

Virtually all of the great names in U.S. golf have competed in and in many cases won the Western Amateur.

There has never been a GB&I winner albeit Florida-based Sam HORSFIELD (England) went close in 2016 at Knollwood C.C. Sam won the stroke play qualifying by 9 shots (63, 75, 67, 64 / -15) before losing to Dylan MEYER (U.S.A.) 3&1 in the Final.

In 2017 the Western Amateur was played at Stokie C.C. in Glencoe, Illinois. Norman XIONG (U.S.A.) won the stroke play qualifying with rounds of 72, 67, 66 and 65 (-14) before going on to beat Doc REDMAN (U.S.A.) in the match play final on the 22nd hole.

Xiong, who played in the subsequent Walker Cup and recently left Oregon after his second year to turn pro, was the 25th medalist to win the tournament and the first since Chris Williams (U.S.A.) in 2012.

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Norman Xiong – The 2017 Western Amateur Champion (Photo: Western Amateur)

Here’s a selection of former winners: –

Last 5 Years

2017 Norman Xiong – Skokie C.C.
2016 DylanMeyer – Knollwood Club
2015 Dawson Armstrong – Rich Harvest Farms
2014 BeauHossler – The Beverly C.C.
2013 JordanNiebrugge – The Alotian Club

Others

Jamie Lovemark – 2005 (youngest winner at 17 years, 6 months and 8 days).
Ryan Moore – 2004.
Tiger Woods – 1994.

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Tiger Woods (Photo: Western Amateur)

Justin Leonard – 1992 and 1993 (1991 Runner-Up).
Phil Mickelson – 1991.

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Phil Mickelson (Photo: Western Amateur) 

Chris DiMarco – 1988.
Scott Verplank – 1985.
Hal Sutton – 1979 and 1980. 
Bobby Clampett – 1978
Andy Bean – 1975
Curtis Strange – 1974.
Ben Crenshaw – 1973.
Andy North – 1971.
Lanny Wadkins – 1970. 
Steve Melnyk – 1969. 
Tom Weiskopf – 1963.
Jack Nicklaus – 1961. 
Tommy Aaron – 1960.
Dr. Ed Updegaff – 1957 and 1959. 
Charles Coe – 1950. 
Frank Stranahan – 1946, 1949, 1951 and 1952 (4).
Marvin Ward – 1940, 1941 and 1947. 
Charles Yates – 1925.
Don Moe – 1929 and 1931.
Francis Ouimet – 1917.
Chick Evans – 1909, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923 (8). 
H. Chandler Egan  – 1902, 1904, 1905 and 1907 (4).  

Bobby Jones first played in 1917 when he was just 15. He reached the match play stage before losing in Round 1 (32) to Daniel ‘Ned’ Sawyer. He played for the second time in 1920 where he was medalist before losing to Chick Evans in the semi-finals (36 holes in those days).

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2018, 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.

The St. Andrews Links Trophy – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

Sunday 10th June 2018

Play-off

John MURPHY (IRE) beat Jannik DE BRUYN (GER) on the first play-off hole to win the 2018 St. Andrews Links Trophy.

John becomes the third Irish golfer to win the title following in the footsteps of Alan Dunbar (2009) and Conor O’Rourke (2016).

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John Murphy (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust / Kenny Smith Photography)

Murphy looked second favourite after his approach to the 1st hole on the Old Course ended up 25 feet away after De Bruyn had left himself just 6 feet. However, the Irishman sank his birdie putt and perhaps unsurprisingly in the circumstances the German was unable to match him.

The St. Andrews Links Trust tweeted a video of the winning putt with a short interview with their winner.

This was a great win for the man from Kinsale who has just completed his sophomore year at University of Louisville in the United States. He rose to 143rd in the SPWAR, jumping 616 places, as reward for the biggest win of his career.

Here are the full – 2018 St. Andrews Links Trophy Results

Round 4

Round 4 started at 12 noon with the leaders setting off at 2.56pm.

Jannik DE BRUYN (GER) shot the best final round, his second 68 of the day. Whilst his morning round had included two bogeys this afternoon he produced a clean card with four birdies. He posted 278 (-9) and waited patiently in the clubhouse to see if it would hold up.

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Jannik De Bruyn Round 4 Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust / Intelligent Golf)  

John MURPHY (IRE) also recorded the same score as he did in the morning. His 71 meant he was the only player to catch De Bruyn on -9 and that a play-off would be required to decide the winner.

Jake BURNAGE (ENG) shot final day rounds of 70 and 69 to finish tied 3rd with Haydn BARRON (AUS) on 279 (-8), just one shot back.

Englishman Burnage was bogey free in the afternoon but his morning 70 was something of a rollercoaster. Without wishing to be dismissive of his seven birdies it included, with the benefit of hindsight, a painful double bogey 6 on 12 and bogeys on 15 and 16. Nevertheless this represented another very good result for the Devonian No. 1 and a welcome return to form. He was the leading GB&I player in one of the world’s best amateur events.

Compatriot Laird SHEPHERD finished well with a 70 to secure a tied 5th place result on 280 (-7). Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) was next best for GB&I. His 281 (-6) score was good enough to secure tied 8th.

Round 3

Round 3 started at 7.00am with Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) going out alone. The two leading players, Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) -8 and John MURPHY (IRE) -7, teed off at 9.56am.

36 holes on the Old Course lay ahead as the 45 qualifying players set out to determine the winner of the 2018 St. Andrews Links Trophy.

Joey SAVOIE (CAN) 67 and John MURPHY (IRE) 71 shared the 54 hole lead on -8.

Overnight leader Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) shot 75, faltering late on with a double bogey on the 15th and a bogey on 17.

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) shot the best third round score. His blemish free 66 included an eagle on the par 5 5th and birdies on 9, 12, 13 and 14.

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Sandy Scott’s Round 3 Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust / Intelligent Golf)  

Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) also shot 67, with defending champion Matthew JORDAN (ENG) and fellow Englishman Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) 68 delivering the next best GB&I scores.

Jannik DE BRUYN (GER) moved up to -6 after a 68 in Round 3.

For those interested here is a link to today’s tee times – 2018 St. Andrews Trophy Round 3 and Round 4 Start Sheet

ME.

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Saturday 9th June 2018

The star of Day 2 was Laird SHEPHERD (ENG). The Stirling University student knows St. Andrews well and demonstrated it around the Old Course today. With a supportive wind on the way out he completed his front 9 in just 30 shots and held it together nicely on the way home. His 65 (-7) helped him move to the top of the 36 hole leaderboard on 135 (-8).

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Laird Shepherd’s Round 2 Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust / Intelligent Golf) 

There were a number of great rounds today reflecting the generally benign conditions in Fife. John MURPHY (IRE) shot 66, Christo LAMPRECHT (RSA) – winner of the East of Ireland Amateur earlier this week – 67, David HAGUE (ENG) 67, Joey SAVOIE (CAN) 67 and Jamie LI (ENG) 68, all moving into the top 10 as a result.

Stuart EASTON (SCO) 67, Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) 68, Therion NEL (RSA) 68 and Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) 68 all knew they needed good rounds to make the cut and impressively delivered.

However, the bounceback prize has to go to Joao GIRAO (POR). After a disappointing 80 on the New Course yesterday, from which there was never going to be a way back, he at least went down fighting delivering a 66 which included 7 birdies.

First round leader Olly HUGGINS (ENG) found the going harder today – his 75, and 142 (-1) total, was at least good enough to ensure he made the cut.

The top 40 and ties 36 hole cut eventually fell at even par with 45 players making it through to the final day.

ME.

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Friday 8th June 2018

Olly HUGGINS (ENG) leads the St. Andrews Links Trophy after an impressive 67 (-4) on the New Course.

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Olly Huggins’ Round  1 Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust / Intelligent Golf) 

Five players, Matias HONKALA (FIN), Jake BOLTON (ENG), Luca Filippi (RSA), Tom PLUMB (ENG) and Euan WALKER (SCO), shot 68 (-3).

46 players are on Even par or better highlighting how tight the leaderboard is.

ME.

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4th June 2018

144 golfers from 26 different countries will tee off on Friday 8th June in the 30th St. Andrews Links Trophy.

This event has become one of the ‘Majors’ in men’s amateur golf helped by venue and timing.

St Andrews Clubhouse

R&A Clubhouse, St. Andrews (Photo: R&A Website)

Competition Format

The Links Trophy is a 72 hole scratch stroke play competition played over the St. Andrews Links in early June.

After various National Golf Union and St. Andrews Links Trust nominations the field is determined by World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) as at 3rd May 2018 rather than handicap as is normally the case.

This year Round 1 will be played on the New Course – the Jubilee Course was used last year – with Round 2 on the Old Course.

Following a top 40 and ties cut on Saturday the leading players will play a final 36 holes on the Old Course on Sunday.

The New Course plays 6,625 yards to a par of 71. The front nine is 3,270 yards long with a par of 36 whilst the tougher back nine is 85 yards longer but with a par of 35.

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New Course Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust)

The Old Course is 6,721 yards off the white tees and has a par of 72. Both nines have a par of 36 and have similar yardages – the front is 3,336 yards long whilst the back is a little longer at 3,385 yards.

Old Course Scorecard (Photo: St. Andrews Links Trust)

The winner will be the player who returns the lowest 72 hole score. In the event of a tie a sudden death play-off will be held over holes 1 and 18.

Ties for other places are decided by the lowest score for the last 18 holes or the last 9 or 6 or 3 or 2 or 1 hole if necessary.

The Field

The 2018 St Andrews Links Trophy start sheets can be viewed here – Round 1 (New) and Round 2 (Old).

The Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) placed the Links Trophy 8th in its 2017 Amateur Tournament Ranking based on the strength of it’s field. It was 6th in the same ranking in 2016.

18 of the 20 members of the 2018 GB&I St. Andrews Trophy squad will be competing at St. Andrews this week. Harry HALL (ENG) and Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) are the exceptions; both were competing in U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying today in the United States. Many of the Squad have been drawn together in the opening rounds to help the selectors follow their play closely.

The attraction of St. Andrews always ensures a strong overseas entry. Australia, Canada and South Africa are particularly well represented in 2018 with Hugo BERNARD (CAN), Christo LAMPRECHT (RSA), David MICHELUZZI (AUS), Wilco NIENABER (RSA), Dylan PERRY (AUS) and Matt SAULEZ (RSA) all strong challengers.

Weather Forecast (updated on Wednesday 6th June)

The current weather forecast appears perfect for golf – dry with minimal chance of rain.

Friday 8th June – Cloudy. Wind 13 mph E. Temp. Max. 15°C / Min 9°C.
Saturday 9th June – Cloudy. Wind 11 mph E. Temp. Max. 15°C / Min 10°C.
Sunday 10th June – Cloudy. Wind 11 mph E. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 9°C.

Tee times in Rounds 1 and 2 start at 7.00am and end at 3.10pm so as with any links course the draw could play a big part in proceedings.

Prizes

The winner receives The St Andrews Links Trophy and a cheque for £500.

The runner-up and third place finisher also receive commemorative medals.

Reducing cash prizes are awarded to the top 10 finishers in all.

In addition to the main prizes The Ian Forbes Memorial Cup is awarded for the best aggregate score on the first two days of the event.

2017 Event

Royal Liverpool’s Matthew JORDAN won the 2017 St. Andrews Links Trophy. Following an outstanding run of form the victory almost certainly secured his place in last year’s Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.

Matthew Jordan (Photo: Kenny Smith)

Rounds of 70, 68, 69 and 70 took Matthew to a finishing total of 277 (-11).

J.R. GALBRAITH (IRE) shot 66, 71, 70 and 71 (-10) to secure second place with Ben FERGUSON (AUS) finishing 3rd on -9.

Other GB&I players to finish in the top 10 included Laird SHEPHERD (-8) 4th, David BOOTE (-8) 6th, Liam JOHNSTON (-6) 7th , Gian-Marco PETROZZI (-5) 8th and Jack DAVIDSON (-5) 9th.

Click here to view the – 2017 St Andrews Links Trophy Results

Click here to view the – 2016 St. Andrews Links Trophy Results 

Past Winners

Click here to view a full list of the – St Andrews Links Trophy Past Winners

Only Craig WATSON (1992 and 1998), the current Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup captain, and Barclay HOWARD (1994 and 1996) have won the title twice.

The most famous winner is Justin ROSE who won in 1997.

Interestingly given the normally cosmopolitan nature of the fields the Links Trophy has only been won by players from outside GB&I on three occasions – Australia’s Stuart BOVIER (1990), Daan HUIZING from The Netherlands (2012) and FedericoZUCCHETTI from Italy (2015).

Huizing, who had won the 2012 Lytham Trophy by 11 shots just a few weeks earlier, set a scoring record of -23 in 2012 (65 New, 64, 68 and 67 all Old) and won by an astonishing 14 shots.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

The Brabazon Trophy – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

Sunday 3rd June 2018

Nick POPPLETON (ENG) today won the 2018 Brabazon Trophy after a sudden death play-off with Wilco NIENABER (RSA).

Both players had started the day on 6-under, 3 shots back of overnight leader Jeong Weon KO (FRA).

Nick shot two rounds of 67 on the final day recording just two bogeys while Wilco posted a 65 and 69. Both players posting an impressive aggregate score of -10 for their final two rounds, played in glorious sunshine on Frilford Heath’s Red Course.

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 Nick Poppleton (Photo: Golf Bible)

Play-Off

The play-off took place on the 9th hole of Frilford’s Red Course. The 9th is a 180 yard par 3 played over a valley to an elevated green that slopes from back to front and is protected by two short bunkers. The flag was in the front right portion of the green.

Nick teed off first and finished short right in front of the bunker. Wilco followed him and finished in roughly the same area, a little closer to the bunker. Nick chipped up and watched in anguish as his well judged shot hit the flag and stayed out. Wilco followed and saw his chip finish an inch to the right of the hole. Both tapped-in quickly and returned to the tee to try again.

Despite now playing the hole for the fourth time on the day both players again missed the green short right. Nick was further away, perhaps as much as 30 feet. This time his chip ran up perfectly and dropped into the hole beside the flag. A magnificent shot played under the most extreme pressure. Wilco then chipped up from just in front of the green and amazingly lipped out, the ball finishing stone dead. The gallery had seen four difficult chips to a raised green and from reasonable distance in the play-off; three hit the hole and one stayed on the lip. It was some exhibition of the skills these elite amateurs have.

Nick had won the 2018 Brabazon Trophy in some style on the second extra hole. It was a great win for the likeable Yorkshireman.

Wilco should be disappointed he lost. This was my first viewing of him and he certainly looked the part, a professional in all but name. He hits the ball miles, has a beautiful short game and his temperament was first class. He clearly has a big future in the game, a prediction I wouldn’t normally make but feel confident of doing so with him. I am sure he will learn from this loss.

Click here to view the final – 2018 Brabazon Trophy Results

Round 4

I set off with the Wilco NIENABER and Jack COPE pairing this afternoon, keeping a close eye on Nick POPPLETON who was playing ahead of them with David LANGLEY.

Not for the first time this season I would end up watching a relatively comfortable leader grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

Wilco seemed very relaxed and despite leaking most of his tee shots to the right took advantage of his power and beautiful short game. He seemed to escape with pars or earn birdies on most of the holes on the front nine. The exception being the downhill 500 yard 6th where he eagled after a long drive and iron shot to 10 feet. When he followed it with a birdie on the 7th he was 5-under for his final round and -18 for the Championship, leading Nick by 4 shots.

Jack was playing very well but simply couldn’t get anything to drop on the greens on the front nine. Up ahead Nick was continuing his good form and was 3-under on the front nine for his own round.

Wilco was a bit lose around the turn dropping shots on 8 and 11 but doing well to get one back on the 12th where his towering approach from the deepish rough was judged perfectly.

After a solid par on the strategic right-to-left dogleg 13th, where he hit an iron off the tee and a nice approach to the difficult back pin position, the South African Number 1 was -4 for the round and -17 for the event. He was leading Nick by 3 shots.

As the small gallery walked up the 354 yard par 4 – what appeared to be the tightest, most penal hole on the course – we discussed how Wilco would surely play an iron. Jack, who had birdied the 12th and was therefore playing first, did just that and found the centre of the fairway, leaving himself a wedge in.

This was the point at which the Championship was undoubtedly lost.

Wilco, who was confidently being advised and caddied for throughout by a Golf RSA coach / manager, proceeded to smash his drive well into the gorse, again long right. This was not a surprise; he had done the same thing on most of the proceeding holes, the difference being they had all been much wider, allowing short ‘recovery’ shots to be played to the green. Aggressive play is great and clearly Wilco’s preferred approach but certain situations – e.g. when you have a 3 shot lead with 5 holes to play and are facing a hole bordered by gorse on both sides – require a bit more subtlety and the removal of big numbers from the potential equation.

If I had been caddying for him neither his woods, or for that matter his long irons, would have gone within 100 yards of the tee box. After all this is a lad that probably hits his 7-iron 200 yards. Surprisingly he hit his provisional with his driver too. To be fair this time he came up 20 yards short of the green. His chip was poor by the high standards of earlier in his round and before he knew it he was writing down 6 on his scorecard. He may not of known it at the time but his lead was now just 1 shot.

On the 421 yard 15th Wilco smashed his ball to within 30 yards of the green. Even allowing for the perfect playing conditions this was a massive hit. However, he couldn’t get up and down for birdie. Playing from the semi-rough he misjudged the lack of spin he would be able to generate and ran well past the hole.

As he putted out Nick was waiting on the nearby 16th with his caddie, friend and professional Alex Stubbs.

This was the point where the Championship was won.

England Golf had pushed the tee up for the final round and as such the hole was playing as a drivable 295 yard par 4. Nick hit a superb drive that found a path up the narrow right side of the green to a pin perched on the right ledge. When he holed the 15 foot putt for eagle he led by 1 shot.

With the green clear Jack found the putting surface whilst Wilco bounced into the left hand bunker. Jack proceeded to three putt for par whilst Wilco played a superb long bunker shot to a few feet but to everyone’s surprise missed his short birdie putt.

I quickly scampered after the Yorkshireman who by this time was finishing off on the 17th. Nick held his nerve to par in. He did give himself a 20 footer on the last for the outright win but the putt lipped out.

Wilco missed a relatively short downhill putt on 17 to draw back level. Hitting driver – perfectly justifiable given he was now chasing – on the 324 yard par 4 18th he flirted with the members car park before coming up just short of pin high on the left hand side. His chip was well played but ran out four feet passed the hole which was on the right edge of the green. To his credit he bravely slotted the downhill right to lefter for birdie, thus gaining a chance for redemption in a play-off.

With four groups still to come in it took almost an hour before the play-off could commence.

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The Leading Brabazon Trophy Scorecard (Photo: England Golf / GolfBox)

As can be seen from the above screenshot England’s Bailey GILL and Jack COPE (-13 / tied 3rd), Andrew WILSON (-11 / tied 6th), Mitch WAITE (-11 / tied 6th), Arun SINGH BRAR (-9 / 8th), Max MARTIN, David LANGLEY and Ben JONES (-8 / all tied 9th) all enjoyed Top 10 finishes.

Jack COPE (ENG) seemed to gain confidence from Wilco’s back nine difficulties coming home in 33 with four birdies and one bogey. His -13 total and tied 3rd finish helped him win The George Henriques Salver, a prize awarded to the leading GB&I player in the Championship under the age of 20. Arun SINGH BRAR (-9) finished second in these supplementary standings.

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Jack Cope (Photo: GolfBible)

Round 3

Play commenced at 7.30am with the leaders, Messrs. Ko and Waite, heading off at 9.09am. Unfortunately they recorded a 73 and 72 respectively from which they were unable to recover in the afternoon despite posting much improved rounds of 68 and 69.

However, the two main stories from Round 3 concerned South African protege Wilco NIENABER (RSA) and Darlington’s Andrew WILSON.

Wilco started on the 10th being one of the leading players. His halves of 33 and 32 included six birdies and one eagle. His -13 total after 54 holes gave him a 2 shot lead over Nick POPPLETON who had also impressed with his own 6 birdie 67 to move into second on -11.

Andrew started on the 1st at 8.15am and shot a sparkling best of the tournament course record 63 which he told me could have been better; a bogey on three and with four birdie opportunities all passed up over the closing holes. He was now right in the mix but would need to go low again in the afternoon.

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Andrew Wilson’s 3rd Round Scorecard (Photo: England Golf / GolfBox)

ME.

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Saturday 2nd June 2018

Round 2

Jeong Weon KO (FRA) leads Mitch WAITE (ENG) by 1 shot at the end of Round 2. Ko shot a 69 to move onto -9 whilst Waite posted a joint best of the day 67 (-5), including 7 birdies, to move on to -8.

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Jeong Weon Ko (Photo: Leaderboard Photography / England Golf)

Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG), whose season has been interrupted with health issues, is pleasingly in a three way tie for third on -7; he’s joined by Stuart EASTON (SCO) and Ferdinand MUELLER (GER).

Thomas BEASLEY (ENG) was the other player to shoot 67 on Day 2. His bogey free round included 4 birdies in his last 6 holes. Thomas will start the final day on -2 and in tied 28th place.

The cut fell at -1 with 46 players progressing.

With 21 players within 5 shots of the lead Sunday’s 36 holes should provide an exciting race to the title.

ME.

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Friday 1st June 2018

Round 1

Round 1 was concluded by early afternoon with the scoring bar lowered even further.

Jeong Weon KO (FRA), Nick POPPLETON (ENG) and Jay BEISSER (ENG) all posted 66’s (-6) on Day 2 to tie the Round 1 lead.

Beisser birdied every par 3 and par 5 to hand in an unusual card made up solely of 2’s and 4’s.

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The Leading Round 1 Scorecards (Photo: England Golf / GolfBox)

Frederic LACROIX (FRA) joined Wilco NIENABER (RSA), Jack COPE (ENG) and Ferdinand MUELLER (GER), yesterday’s clubhouse leaders, by recording a 67 (-5). The four of them are all tied for fourth at this early stage.

Round 1 scoring has been good with 42 players under par from the 155 who started the event.

England Golf have announced that the 36 hole cut will now be set at the top 45 and ties, rather than the normal top 60 and ties; the higher level having also been reaffirmed yesterday after the suspension in play.

With 59 players tied 45th or better and 78 players at tied 60th or better after Round 1, and with only another 18 holes to be played before the cut is made, I assume a fear of having too big a field for the final 36 holes on Sunday has driven this decision.

After disappointing first rounds Matt SAULEZ (RSA) 74 +2, Chris WOOLLAM (RSA) 74 +2, Sam LOCKE 75 (SCO) +3, Andrew WILSON (ENG) 75 +3, Lewis GEORGE (ENG) 76 +4  and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) 77 +5 are amongst the more notable players that will require a strong bounce back tomorrow to make the final day.

ME.

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Thursday 31st May 2018

Round 1

Play started at 8.00am but was brought to a premature close around 3.00pm by thunderstorms which left the Frilford Heath course flooded.

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The Practice Putting Green (Photo: Frilford Heath G.C.)

74 players managed to complete their first rounds before play was abandoned. The leaders in the clubhouse being Wilco NIENABER (RSA), Jack COPE (ENG) and Ferdinand MUELLER (GER) who all shot 67’s (-5).

Sadly Todd CLEMENTS (ENG), one of the highest ranked competitors, had to withdraw before his 9.05am tee time with a back injury. In an event already lacking some of the field depth seen in previous years this was a blow from a ranking perspective.

England Golf have now decided to complete Round 1 tomorrow before playing Round 2 on Saturday.

The Top 60 and Ties cut will still take place after 36 holes meaning the leading players will now have to play 36 holes on Sunday.

ME.

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28th May 2018

The English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the Brabazon Trophy will be played at Frilford Heath Golf Club this week.

The 72nd playing of this event takes place between Thursday 31st and Sunday 3rd June on the Oxfordshire Club’s Red Course.

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Frilford Heath Golf Club (Photo: Frilford Heath G.C.)

Format

The competition consists of 72 holes of stroke play golf with 18 holes being played each day.

A 36 hole cut will take place with only the leading 60 competitors and ties progressing to the two weekend rounds.

In the event of a tie for the Championship on Sunday, there will be a sudden death play off.

Field

156 competitors will start the 2018 Championship. Whilst England dominates the entries players from 12 other countries are also represented.

The start sheet for Rounds 1 and 2 can be viewed here – 2018 Brabazon Trophy Start Sheet

78 players were exempted into the field based on their previous accomplishments with 78 coming through a qualifying process.

Callan BARROW (-2) of Royal Lytham & St. Annes G.C. was the medalist at neighbouring Fairhaven in the North Qualifier, pipping Lincolnshire’s Sam DONE on count back. Click here to view the full North Qualifier Results

Cameron PHILLIPS (-6) from Hindhead G.C. led the qualifiers at Camberley Heath G.C. in the South Qualifier. Click here to view the full South Qualifier Results

13 of the 20 recently announced Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) St. Andrews Trophy Squad will be competing at the Brabazon. These are Todd CLEMENTS (ENG), Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG), Calum FYFE (SCO), David HAGUE (ENG), Ben JONES (ENG), Matthew JORDAN (ENG), Sam LOCKE (SCO), Billy MCKENZIE (ENG), Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG), Jamie STEWART (SCO), Euan WALKER (SCO), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) and Andrew WILSON (ENG).

Of those missing the event Harry HALL (ENG), Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) and Sandy SCOTT (SCO) were unable to enter due to the conflicting NCAA Division I National Championships which is currently being played in Oklahoma.

Rowan LESTER (IRE) and Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) are playing in the East of Ireland Amateur Championship. The two leading Irish players Robin DAWSON (IRE) and Alex GLEESON (IRE) appear to be taking the week off.

To put the event in context the 2017 Brabazon was ranked the 17th most important amateur competition in the world last year based on the strength of it’s field by the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR). Unfortunately a scheduling clash with the East of Ireland Championship means a much lower event ranking can be expected in 2018.

Prizes

The Winner receives the magnificent gold Brabazon Trophy shown in the photo below.

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The Champion’s Prize and Brabazon Trophy (Photo: GolfBible)

Prize vouchers will be awarded to those players finishing in the top six.

Two other prizes are connected to the Brabazon Trophy competition. The George Henriques Salver is awarded to the leading GB&I player in the Championship under the age of 20. The Philip Scruton Jug is awarded later in the year to the player returning the best aggregate scores in The Brabazon Trophy and The Berkshire Trophy (which will be played on 23rd and 24th June).

Frilford Heath Golf Club

Frilford’s first course, the Red, was designed by J.H. Taylor, the five times Open Champion, in 1908 and opened in the following year. Club professional J.H. Turner undertook some later tweaks but it largely remains as originally planned.

This predominantly heathland course measures around 7,000 yards depending on which tees are selected. A par of 72 is split 36-36, albeit as you can see from the scorecard below the hole configurations are different on the two nines.

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Red Course Scorecard (Photo: Frilford Heath G.C.)

Weather Forecast

The weather forecast (as at Wednesday 30th May) is broadly positive for all four competition days, albeit the modest winds are expected to move around from day to day.

Thu 25th May – Thundery Showers / Wind 8 mph E / Temp. Min. 15°C, Max. 21°C.
Fri  26th May – Light Rain / Wind 11 mph SW / Temp. Min. 13°C, Max. 21°C.
Sat  27th May – Sunny / Wind 9 mph W / Temp. Min. 10°C / Min 21°C.
Sun 28th May – Cloudy / Wind 8 mph NE / Temp. Min. 13°C / Max. 23°C.

It is worth remembering that Rounds 1 and 2 will see players tee off the 1st from 8.00am right through until 2.35pm.

The 2017 Brabazon Trophy

South Africa’s Kyle MCCLATCHIE celebrated his 20th birthday by winning the 2017 English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Woodhall Spa Golf Club.

Kyle shot rounds of 70, 66, 75 and 71 for a 282 (-10) total and a 1-shot victory. He was the fifth South African to win the Brabazon Trophy, following in the footsteps of Neville Sundelson (1974), Richard Kaplan (1986), Craig Rivett (1989T) and Charl Schwartzel (2002).

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Kyle McClatchie (Photo: Ernest Blignault)

Jamie STEWART (SCO), Jake BURNAGE (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) all finished on -9 to tie for second place.

Jamie Stewart had a superb weekend shooting the lowest two scores on both days. He followed a 67 (-6) with a 68 (-5) in the final round.

Matthew JORDAN (ENG) (-7) finished 5th, Dan BROWN (ENG) (-5) 6th and David BOOTE (WAL) (-4) 7th.

Click here to see the full – 2017 Brabazon Trophy Results

Click here to see the full – 2016 Brabazon Trophy Results

History, Past Winners and Records

The English Amateur International Trophy competition was first played in 1947.

In 1957 the official title was changed to the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

The current trophy was donated by Lord Brabazon of Tara in 1948 and the event has come to be widely known as the Brabazon Trophy.

Click here to view the full list of – Brabazon Trophy Past Winners

The first player to successfully defend the title was Ronnie WHITE who won at Birkdale in 1950 and nearby Formby in 1951.

Shortly afterwards Philip SCRUTTON won the Brabazon three times in four years (1952, ‘54 & ‘55).

Sir Michael BONALLACK has four wins to his name. The first came at Royal Cinque Ports in 1964 and the last at Hillside in 1971. At Moortown in 1969, with play-offs having been discarded at this time, he shared the title with Rodney FOSTER.

Other well known British winners of the Brabazon include Gordon Brand Jnr, Sandy Lyle (2), Peter MCEVOY, Ronan Rafferty and Ronnie SHADE (3).

Other notable European winners include well known pros Ignacio GARRIDO (1992) and Peter HANSON (1998).

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.