The Amateur Championship – 2021 Preview & Results

Saturday 19th June 2021

Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) won the 2021 Amateur Championship at Nairn Golf Club.

The 23 year old from Rye G.C. beat Monty SCOWSILL (ENG) on the 38th Hole of an engrossing Final.

Shepherd, a graduate of Stirling University and a resident of St. Andrews, can now look forward to competing in the 149th Open Championship at Royal St. George’s G.C. next month, the 2022 Masters Tournament at Augusta National G.C. and also the 2022 U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, near Boston.

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Laird Shepherd (Photo: The Nairn G.C.)

Play started at 8.30am and Scowsill came shooting out of the blocks building a 4Up lead after nine holes helped by four birdies in five holes from the 5th.

After further birdies at the 10th and 15th the Woodbridge G.C. man from Suffolk found himself 8Up on the 18th tee.

Shepherd then won the 18th with a par to go into lunch 7Down but perhaps having now won his first hole of the match felt that all was not yet lost.

Shepherd who started the Final as the favourite, based on rankings of SPWAR #2,850 / WAGR #846 v. Scowsill’s SPWAR #4,180 / WAGR #1,181, was certainly not going to rollover without a fight.

However, there was no sign of a Shepherd comeback or a Scowsill faltering in the opening holes of the afternoon round with the first four holes all halved.

It was on the next hole where Shepherd got his comeback underway. A birdie on the 383 yard par 4 5th reduced Scowsill’s lead to 6Up with 13 holes to play.

Two consecutive birdies on 8 and 9 reduced the lead to 4up with 9 holes to play and all of a sudden it was ‘game on’.

Despite losing the par 3 11th to a bogey Shepherd was handed the hole straight back on the next when Scowsill bogeyed.

After pars were shared on the 13th and 14th holes Scowsill finally looked as if he must have done enough – 4Up with four holes to play. Under the pressure of knowing any mistakes would probably be terminal such an advantage would surely prove too big a mountain for Shepherd to climb.

The unbelievable then happened. A combination of good play from Shepherd and badly timed mistakes from Scowsill saw the match amazingly end All Square in regulation.

At this point there was only going to be one winner and indeed that proved to be the case. A shell-shocked Scowsill three putted the 2nd extra hole to hand Shepherd the victory after he had already pared the hole.

After the match Shepherd said “Honestly, at lunch I thought this was over. I was just trying to avoid an embarrassing score line. I can’t believe this really. Monty played so well this morning. My caddie did a great job getting in my ear. So did my girlfriend (Chloe Goadby, who won the Scottish Women’s Amateur a few weeks ago) and my Dad. They were telling me not to give up. But I still couldn’t really see it happening. To win is amazing enough, but to come back like this is completely surreal.”

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Monty Scowsill v. Laird Shepherd – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Click here to view the – 2021 Amateur Championship Match Play Scores

ME.

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Friday 18th June 2021

Afternoon – Semi-Finals

Monty SCOWSILL (ENG) and Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) were the two Semi-Final winners this afternoon.

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Match Play Semi-Finals Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Scowsill, who graduated from the University of Exeter in 2019, got off to a great start in his match against James ASHFIELD (WAL) moving into a 2Up lead after a birdie on the 3rd. However some poor play on the 8th and 9th saw the Englishman lose his advantage. The back nine turned into a scrappy affair as the magnitude of the occasion possibly started to influence proceedings. However, Scowsill helped by birdies on the 10th and 15th moved back in front and despite a stumble on the 16th saw out a 2 Holes victory as Ashfield was forced to press down the last.

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Monty Scowsill v. James Ashfield – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) added Jack DYER (ENG) to his growing list of impressive wins this week which already included highly regarded England Internationals Arron Edwards-Hill and Sam Bairstow.

Shepherd took the early lead but when he went 1Down after Dyer birdied the 10th I am sure most people’s expectations were that the recent GB&I Walker Cup player would then move forward serenely to the Final. However, Shepherd proved not to be in an accommodating mood and at his competitive best birdied both the 15th and 18th, where he played two high quality shots into the home green to secure a memorable 1Hole win.

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Laird Shepherd v. Jack Dyer – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

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Morning – Quarter Finals

Here are the Quarter Final results: –

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Match Play Quarter Final Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

Looking at each of the four games in more detail: –

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Monty Scowsill v. John Paterson – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Monty SCOWSILL (ENG), the lowest ranked player left in the field at SPWAR #4,180 / WAGR #1,181, was given some early encouragement by a poor start from John PATERSON (SCO), ranked SPWAR #857 / WAGR #567, and saw out the match nicely.

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James Ashfield v. Calum Scott – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

James ASHFIELD (WAL), SPWAR #2,322 / WAGR #1,431, was clearly not in the mood to make friends this morning disposing of the home favourite 17 year old Calum SCOTT (SCO), SPWAR #319 / WAGR #655, by 2&1. If the hole-by-hole scoring is to be believed Ashfield’s double bogey on the 12th are the first shots he has dropped in his last two games. That level of consistency is going to work around a tough course like Nairn where a par will often win you a hole.

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Laird Shepherd v. Sam Bairstow – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

St. Andrews-based Laird SHEPHERD (ENG), currently ranked SPWAR #2,850 / WAGR #846, showed great determination in overcoming Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG), SPWAR #90 / WAGR #141, having been 3Down after six holes and 1Down after 14.

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Jack DYER (ENG), ranked SPWAR #42 / WAGR #168, was the last player Olly HUGGINS (ENG), SPWAR #96 / WAGR #137, needed to give a head start to. Having been ‘handed’ a 4UP lead after four holes it would have been a major surprise if the confident and in form Dyer had done anything other than see out this match easily.

ME.

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Thursday 17th June 2021

Afternoon – Round 3

Here are the Round 3 results: –

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Match Play Round 3 Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

Looking at the hole-by-hole scores for each Last 16 match: –

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Ben Quinney v. Monty Scowsill – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Ben QUINNEY (ENG) was left to rue a couple of bogeys on 13 and 14 as Monty SCOWSILL‘s consistency on the back nine eventually wore him down.

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John Paterson v. Josef Hacker – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

This was an all US college match up with both players returning Juniors in September. 21 year old John PATERSON (SCO), who is at Colorado University, produced plenty of birdies in overcoming Jersey-based Josef HACKER (ENG), who is studying at Jacksonville University.

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Jack Bigham v. James Ashfield – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

James ASHFIELD (WAL) enjoyed his second 4&3 victory of the day, this time over Jack BIGHAM (ENG) who appears to have played reasonably well himself. I am sure Ashfield would have beaten most of the remaining players this afternoon with his impressive 5-under for 15 holes performance.

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Calum Scott v. Harley Smith – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Nairn’s very own Calum SCOTT (SCO) was again taken to the 19th hole today but was once more up to the task. 15 year old Harley SMITH (ENG) perhaps lacked the experience to close out the match having taken the lead on the 17th.

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Laird Shepherd v. Arron Edwards-Hill – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Stirling graduate Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) who has had to overcome some serious back and knee injuries in recent years used all of his links golf experience to get passed Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG). With Shepherd having played only a few events in recent years I am sure Edwards-Hill would not have been expecting a near flawless performance to be coming his way this afternoon.

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Ryan Tattan v. Sam Bairstow – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) appeared to have his match won against Ryan TATTAN (ENG) when he birdied the 8th and 9th to go 3Up. He then lost three holes in a row before recovering with a pitch-in eagle on the 15th to regain the advantage. It looks like a great finish with both players battling all the way to the clubhouse.

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Callan Barrow v. Olly Huggins – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

Olly HUGGINS (ENG), who holed an 8 foot birdie putt on the 18th hole on Tuesday evening to qualify for the Match Play Stage and had already endured two close games, will be relieved to have conserved some energy by pulling away from Scottish Open Amateur champion Callan BARROW (ENG) down the back nine.

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Robert Moran v. Jack Dyer – Hole-By-Hole Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Jack DYER (ENG) continues to look like the class act in the field and wasn’t overly troubled by Irishman Rob MORAN. Moran backed up his recent win in the ISPS Handa Ulster Men’s Stroke Play Championship with a good run at Nairn but Dyer was just too good for him today.

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Morning – Round 2

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Match Play Round 2 Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

Josef HACKER (ENG), Jack BIGHAM (ENG) and Callan BARROW (ENG) enjoyed the biggest wins in Round 2 this morning.

Harley SMITH (ENG) beating Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) by 2&1 was perhaps the biggest surprise of the series.

ME.

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Wednesday 16th June 2021

After a course record 62 yesterday and medalist honours there was an inevitability about Matthew CLARK‘s (SCO) 5&4 defeat to Mason ESSAM (ENG) in Round 1 of the Match Play Stage of The Amateur Championship. The fact Essam played beautifully and putted the lights out was probably irrelevant. That ladies and gentleman is golf.

Jack BIGHAM (ENG) and Connor WILSON (SCO) arguably produced the best two wins of the day. Bigham beat Archie DAVIES (WAL) who had finished the US college season strongly for East Tennessee State whilst Wilson took the even bigger scalp of Mark POWER (IRL), hot off the back of his Walker Cup heroics for GB&I.

Calum SCOTT (SCO) demonstrated that he is likely to be a force to be reckoned for a little while longer by beating the former Boys’ Amateur champion and 2019 Walker Cup player Conor GOUGH (ENG) 3&2. Conor is not the player he was a few years ago but nevertheless this was another impressive step forward for the Nairn man.

Ominously for the remaining players the highly rated English group of Haider HUSSAIN (ENG), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG), Callan BARROW (ENG), Olly HUGGINS (ENG) and Jack DYER (ENG) are all safely through to the last 32.

Here are the full Round 1 results: –

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Match Play Round 1 Results (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

ME.

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Tuesday 15th June 2021

Experienced Scottish International Matthew CLARK, a 39 year old TSB bank manager, has played many great rounds in his illustrious amateur career. Today’s bogey free course record 62 (-9) at Nairn to secure medalist honours in the Amateur Championship may very well be the best of the lot.

A delighted Clark, who has never qualified before, said “I hit a lot of good golf shots, played conservatively and avoided the bunkers, which you need to do around this golf course. It’s a nice place to get a course record, but I think you’d give the 62 up to hold the trophy on Saturday. That’s what we’ve all come here for and they’ll be gunning for the guy who did something good today, so let’s see how it goes.”

img_5329 Matthew Clark’s Stroke Play Qualifying Scorecard (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

Aron Snær JÚLÍUSSON (ICL) 65 and Jack DYER (ENG), Gregor TAIT (SCO), Luke HARRIES (WAL), Joe SULLIVAN (ENG) and Rory BROWNE (ENG) all 67 clearly enjoyed the calmer conditions in Round 2.

Round 1 leader Calum SCOTT (SCO) did what he needed to posting a 72 to finish on -3 and 5th.

57 year old Derek PATON (SCO) was by some distance the oldest qualifier finishing on 147 (+5) to secure the 57th seed.

With a Round 2 card countback being used for the first time to ensure a clean 64 player match play draw could be made there was always the potential for some late drama and so it proved. Four of the last six players on the course, John CLEARY (IRL), Olly HUGGINS (ENG), Ryan TATTAN (ENG) and Tom STAGG (ENG), all finished strongly – Cleary and Tattan both eagled the 18th – to jump the right side of the 148 (+6) qualifying line. Huggins produced the best comeback in the field following up is opening 80 with a 68 to scrape through.

Nine players on +6 missed out due to the countback rule; the most unfortunate being Jack BROOKS (ENG), Jacob DAVIES (WAL), Jamie MANN (SCO) and Stuart EASTON (SCO) who all lost their places as the final two groups came in.

The average score in Round 2 was 72.65, four shots better than in Round 1. With the westerly wind less of a factor it was no surprise to see all of those four shots being saved on the front nine.

Here is a list of all the Stroke Play qualifiers with their final scores: –

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Final Stroke Play Qualifying Leaderboard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

Click here to view the – 2021 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

ME.

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Monday 14th June 2021

17 year old home favourite Calum SCOTT (SCO) played the opening shot of the 126th Amateur Championship. Little did he know at 7.00am that 14 hours later he would be leading the Stroke Play Qualifying having only played another 66 shots on his way to a bogey free round of 67 (-4).

img_5316Calum Scott’s Round 1 Scorecard (Graphic: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)  

By the close of play just four competitors from the other 143 had managed to record an under par round. Jack DYER (ENG) finished the day on -3 with 15 year old Florida-based Frank KENNEDY (ENG), Liam O’NEILL (IRL) and Max KENNEDY (IRL) two shots further back after 70’s.

The prevailing westerly wind blew hard today which meant the opening seven holes became a battle with the players having to limit the damage whilst hoping for better things when they turned for home with the wind in their sails.

Josh GREER epitomised these struggles but also demonstrated his strong mental approach. He started and finished with triple bogey 7’s in a front nine of 43. Lesser players would have perhaps given up but not the Australian; he played the back nine in 31 with five birdies and left Nairn with a respectable 74 in 25th place.

The average score in Round 1 was 76.66, 5.66 over par. On the front nine it was 39.93, 4.93 shots over par. Coming home it was 36.73, even with the more favourable conditions still 0.73 over par.

The leading 25 players after 18 holes are shown below: –

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Round 1 Stroke Play Qualifying Leaderboard (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox Scoring)

ME.

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Sunday 13th June 2021

The 126th Amateur Championship will be played at The Nairn G.C. near Inverness in Scotland on 14th – 19th June 2021.

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.

The 2021 Championship was originally due to be co-hosted by The Nairn G.C. and Nairn Dunbar G.C. but due to the continuing impact of COVID-19 and the likelihood of international travel restrictions remaining in place The R&A took the decision, as they did last year, to play the Championship solely at Nairn with a reduced field.

Format

The normal field of 288 players has been reduced to 144 players this year. It was 120 last year at Royal Birkdale G.C. when the Championship was played in late August and there was less light available.

Two stroke play qualifying rounds will be completed on Monday 14th June and Wednesday 15th June.

Nairn member Calum SCOTT (SCO), will hit the first shot of the Championship at 7.00am. With an 11 minute gap between tee times the final group will go out at 3.52pm on each of the opening days.

Click here to view the – 2021 Amateur Championship SP Qualifying Tee Times

The 64 players with the lowest 36 hole scores will advance to the match play stage.

A Round 2 card countback will be used for the first time to ensure a clean 64 players advance. Ties for 64th place will not advance as they have done previously and as a result there will be no preliminary round and a standard match play draw will be made. The card count back approach was due to be used in 2020 but the decision was rescinded when the Stroke Play Qualifying competition had to be reduced to 18 holes due to bad weather.

The Match Play stage will then be played between Wednesday 16th and Saturday 19th June.

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

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The Nairn G.C. 2nd Hole and Clubhouse (Photo: The Nairn G.C.) 

Players

The 144 competitiors were firstly drawn from a number of exempt categories covering various historic Championship performances and representative team selections.

Thereafter places were allocated to those players ranked 1st – 2,000th in the WAGR as at Week 19 2021, i.e. the Wednesday 19th May release, and then via WHS Handicap index at the date of entry.

I take no pleasure in saying this but the COVID-19 international travel restrictions and the early playing of the Walker Cup mean this is undoubtedly the weakest field that has ever assembled for an Amateur Championship.

92% of the field are from the home nations; England have 70 players in the field (49%), Scotland 36, Ireland 16 and Wales 9.

There are just 12 overseas players from a total of six countries with Iceland providing six of these. 34 countries were represented in 2019 highlighting the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the reduction in field size.

At the start of play just three of the field were in the WAGR top 100 and just 14 in the top 250. 26 of the players competing do not even have a WAGR ranking. With Sandy SCOTT (SCO) #7 withdrawing on the eve of the competition the highest ranked player in the field is now Jack COPE #29.

Jack DYER (ENG) and Mark POWER (IRL), who reached the semi-finals in 2020, are the only two from the sixteen players selected for the 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Team and earlier Squad that will be teeing off.

The defending champion Joe LONG (ENG) will be using his exemption to appear in the 2021 U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines G.C. which starts on 17th June. Last year’s runner up Joe HARVEY (ENG) does return.

Based on the SPWAR, in my opinion the most accurate ranking of amateur golfers, the favourites this year should be Jack DYER (ENG) #54, Mark POWER (IRL) #60, Callan BARROW (ENG) #82, who reached the quarter finals at Birkdale and recently won the Scottish Open Amateur at Southerness, Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) #90, Olly HUGGINS (ENG) #97, Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG) #98, Archie DAVIES (WAL) #99, Jack COPE (ENG) #101, who won the St Andrews Links Trophy last weekend, Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) #105 and Dan BRADBURY (ENG) #113.

Fraser FOTHERINGHAM and Calum SCOTT (SCO) are both members of The Nairn G.C. Only time will tell if home advantage proves to be a benefit for the two of them or a distraction as higher expectations locally can often weigh heavily on the shoulders.

Sadly Calum’s brother Sandy, who played in the 2019 Walker Cup match and was selected for the recent one at Seminole before having to withdraw, was due to play but ultimately missed out again due to his longstanding wrist injury which has now prevented him from playing competitively since last October.

One of the last player to make the field was Louis SANDERS (ENG) who got the nod at 12.30pm on Sunday afternoon. Louis plays out of Copt Heath G.C. in Warwickshire, the home club of amateur legend Peter McEvoy and less importantly my good self.

Another Warwickshire player who is competing is Kenilworth’s Warren Bladon; the 1996 winner is the only former champion in the field.

As we all know Championships are not won on paper or via rankings. The 126th Amateur Championship looks a particularly open one to me and, even more so than normal, virtually any of the players could win it if they have a good week, hole a few putts and benefit from some kind bounces at the right time.

Host Course

The Nairn G.C. is located in The Highlands, around 160 miles north of Scotland’s capital Edinburgh.

The most notable features are the gorse and the Moray Firth which is visible from every hole and in play, for a particularly wild shot, on the opening seven. As these holes play into the prevailing westerly wind such a shot occurs more often than one may think possible at first sight.

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The Nairn G.C. Course Map (Photo: The Nairn G.C. / Strokesport Ltd)

Nairn was established by an Edinburgh born lawyer Robert Findlay in 1887 with Old Tom Morris, James Braid, Ben Sayers, Braid again and finally architect C.K. Cotton in the 1970’s all having a hand in the development of the course over the years.

The course was lengthened ahead of the 1999 Walker Cup match which GB&I memorably won 15-9.

The Championship course measures 6,832 yards and has a par of 71.

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The Nairn G.C. Scorecard (Photo: The Nairn G.C.)

Weather Forecast (as at Sunday 13th June)

The weather forecast for the week ahead is positively tropical for this part of the world with the only exception being the strong winds which are forecast for Monday, particularly around lunchtime: –

Mon 13th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 20-40 mph W. Temp. Min. 8°C / Max. 16°C.
Tues 14th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 12 mph S. Temp. Min. 12°C / Max. 16°C.
Wed 15th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 16 mph SW. Temp. Min. 10°C / Max. 18°C.
Thu 16th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 12 mph W. Temp. Min. 7°C / Max. 16°C.
Fri 17th – Sunny Intervals. Wind 11 mph W. Temp. Min. 8°C / Max. 15°C.
Sat 18th – Light Cloud. Wind 14 mph S. Temp. Min. 9°C / Max. 15°C.

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

Tee times between 7.00am and 3.52pm mean changes in the weather can have a material impact on the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Prizes / Exemptions

A momento is presented by The R&A to the leading player in the stroke play qualifying competition, with any ties decided on the lowest second round score (or final nine, six or three or one if necessary).

The winner of the match play stage will become the The Amateur Champion receiving 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 the 149th Open Championship being staged at Royal St. George’s G.C. in Kent, England in July 2021. As The Open was cancelled last year there will be two Amateur champions in the field, Joe LONG joining this year’s winner.

Traditionally, the champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National G.C. and also exempted into the 2022 U.S. Open Championship which will be held at The Country Club in Brookline, near Boston.

2020 Amateur Championship

23 year old Joe LONG (ENG) won the 2020 Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. to become the 51st Englishman to lift the famous silver trophy.

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Joe Long (Photo: Richard Heathcote / The R&A / R&A via Getty Images)

Joe beat his namesake and Gloucestershire teammate Joe HARVEY (ENG) 4&3 in the 36 hole Final.

It was the first all-England final since Graeme Storm defeated Aran Wainwright 7&6 at Royal County Down in 1999. The last English champion was Harry Ellis who won at Royal St George’s in 2017.

Long shot a 74 (-3) in the stroke play qualifying, which was reduced to 18 holes due to bad weather, to finish tied 30th. In reaching the Final he had to overcome three of England’s leading players Olly HUGGINS, Barclay BROWN and Jake BOLTON.

Click here to view the – 2020 Amateur Championship Match Play Scores

A then 16 year old Ruben LINDSAY (SCO), who was the reigning Scottish Boys’ Amateur champion, shot a 67 (-4) to win the 18 hole Stroke Play Qualifying competition.

2020 was the first time that The R&A had been unable to complete the 36 hole Stroke Play Qualifying since introducing it in 1983. Round 1 was abandoned late in the afternoon on Day 1 after heavy rain and strong winds made the course unplayable.

As a result 68 players progressed to the Match Play Stage with the cut coming at scores of 76 (+5) or better.

Click here to view the – 2020 Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifying Results

A Short History of The Amateur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Amateur Championship Trophy (Photo: The Nairn G.C.) 

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 Joe Long’s win in 2020 the previous 10 winners of The Amateur Championship were: –

2019  James Sugrue (IRL) – Portmarnock G.C.
2018  Jovan Rebula (RSA) – Royal Aberdeen G.C.
2017  Harry Ellis (ENG) – Royal St. George’s G.C.
2016  Scott Gregory (ENG) – Royal Porthcawl G.C.
2015  Romain Langasque (FRA) – Carnoustie G.L.
2014  Bradley Neil (SCO) – Royal Portrush G.C.
2013  Garrick Porteous (ENG) – Royal Cinque Ports G.C.
2012  Alan Dunbar (IRL) – Royal Troon G.C.
2011  Bryden Macpherson (AUS) – Hillside G.C.
2010  Jin Jeong (KOR) – Muirfield

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

Click here to view a complete list of – Past Amateur Championship Winners

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The St. Andrews Links Trophy – 2021 Preview & Results

6th June 2021

Play-Off

Jack COPE won the 2021 St Andrews Links Trophy after coming through a sudden death play-off on the Old Course’s 1st and 18th holes against Robin WILLIAMS and George BURNS.

Speaking to the tournament organisers Jack said “I was committed to every shot I hit out there over those four holes. I probably played the best I played all week tee to green. I guess that was a nice time to really peak. I love the home of golf. I particularly like the Old Course, mainly because I normally score alright round there which helps. Just walking over that bridge, taking photos, thinking about all the players who have won here and played here. This is very special to me.”

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Jack Cope With The St Andrews Links Trophy (Photo: Cope Family)

Cope and Williams parred the 1st to eliminate the Scotsman Burns.

The English pair then halved the 18th in birdie and the 1st in par before Cope prevailed with a birdie on the 18th, the fourth extra hole they played. Cope’s drive to 25 feet on the home hole this time proving to be decisive.

Round 4

Reigning English Amateur champion Jack COPE shot a bogey free final round of 67 to take the early clubhouse lead on Sunday evening. Cope had entered the final day tied 13th on -2 and five shots behind the overnight leader Charlie THORNTON.

As the later players came in Robin WILLIAMS and George BURNS both birdied their 18th hole for 70’s to join Cope on 280 (-8).

John GOUGH recorded a 66 in the final round, the best score of the three rounds played on the Old Course this weekend.

Here are the final results which include the play-off: –

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Round 4 Leaderboard (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

Click here to view the – 2021 St Andrews Links Trophy Results

Round 3

Charlie THORNTON (-8) leads Scott WORMLEIGHTON (-7) and Sam BAIRSTOW, Callan BARROW, Robin WILLIAMS and George BURNS (-6) with 18 holes to play on the Old Course.

Wormleighton produced the best Round 3 score, matching Callan Barrow’s 67 on the Old yesterday.

Scottish pair Liam WALDRON (-4) and Ruben LINDSAY (-2) moved up the leaderboard with morning rounds of 69 and 68 respectively.

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Round 3 Leaderboard (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

ME.

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5th June 2021

Charlie THORNTON recorded a 71 in Round 2 on the Old Course to maintain his 1-shot lead on 137 (-7).

Richard KNIGHTLY matched the leader’s score to also stay in second place. He is now joined on 136 (-6) by Dubai-based Englishman Josh HILL who went out in 32 to post a 68.

There were six other 68’s in Round 2 of the St Andrews Links Trophy but the best rounds of the day were 67’s (-5) from Darren HOWIE and Callan Barrow. Howie’s highlight being a front nine 30 which included a hole-in-one on the 8th.

img_5219 Darren Howie’s Round 2 Scorecard (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

Scotland’s Rory FRANSSEN and George BURNS are joined in tied 3rd by 2021 GB&I Walker Cup player Jack DYER on 139 (-5).

With 36 holes to play on Sunday there is clearly an opportunity for a player well down the leaderboard currently to come from well back to take the title.

50 players ultimately made the top 40 and ties 36-hole cut.

Here is a summary of the leading players and those that made the cut: –

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Round 2 Leading Scores (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

ME.

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4th June 2021

Teeing off at 7.40am Yorkshire’s Charlie THORNTON produced seven birdies in his 66 (-6) on the Jubilee Course to secure the opening round lead at the 2021 St. Andrews Links Trophy.

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Charlie Thornton’s Round 1 Scorecard (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

George GRIFFITHS, Richard KNIGHTLY and Matthew HIBBS all fired 67’s to finish the day tied for 2nd place, one shot back of our leader.

Griffiths enjoyed a particularly memorable round with a hole-in-one on the 17th.

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George Griffith’s Round 1 Scorecard (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

Pre-Championship favourites Jack DYER (-4), Dan BRADBURY (-1), Arron EDWARD-HILL (-1) and Olly HUGGINS (Ev) are all well placed to mount an attack over the weekend.

Here is the top 25 leaderboard after Round 1: –

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Round 1 Leading Scores (Graphic: St. Andrews Links / OCS Software)

ME.

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2nd June 2021

144 golfers will tee off on Friday 4th June in the 32nd St. Andrews Links Trophy.

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

I will add the live score link to this article once it becomes available and provide daily reports on play over the weekend.

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.

The field is primarily determined by reference to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) as at 29th April 2021 and finished off with various National Golf Union and St. Andrews Links Trust nominations.

This year Round 1 will be played on the Jubilee Course – sometimes the New Course is used – 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 Jubilee Course plays 6,847 yards to a par of 72. The front nine is 3,257 yards long with a par of 36 whilst the tougher back nine is 333 yards longer but to the same par.

The Old Course has been set up at 7,201 yards for the event and has a par of 72. Both nines have a par of 36 and have similar yardages – the front is 3,555 yards long whilst the back is a little longer at 3,646 yards.

The winner will be the player who returns the lowest 72 hole aggregate score.

In the event of a tie a sudden death play-off will be held over holes 1 and 18 on the Old Course.

Ties for other places will be 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

Click here to view the – 2021 St Andrews Links Trophy Rd 1 and Rd 2 Tee Times

Due to the early playing of the Walker Cup and COVID-19 travel restrictions the field is much weaker than has previously been seen.

Whereas we normally see over 20 countries represented only a handful of overseas players have been able to make the journey in 2021.

The impact of the R&A’s decision to agree to play the Walker Cup in early May is going to be seen very clearly in men’s amateur events this summer.

There are just 15 of the leading 30 GB&I players in today’s Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) competing. This excludes the seven international class amateurs who have turned pro since the Walker Cup team was announced on 30th March. Extending the same analysis to the top of the current tree there are only 10 of the top 20 and just 3 of the top 10 playing in St. Andrews this week.

The highest ranked players in the SPWAR are Jack DYER (ENG) #75, Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) #114, Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG) #119, Dan BRADBURY (ENG) #125, Olly HUGGINS (ENG) #131, Callan BARROW (ENG) #144, winner of last week’s Scottish Open Men’s Championship, and Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) #148.

The highest ranked Irish, Scottish and Welsh players are Marc BOUCHER #351, Calum SCOTT #404 and Matt ROBERTS #1,427.

Perhaps the most interesting entry is Paul HOWARD (ENG). Paul turned pro in March 2015 shortly after a successful tour of Australia where he won the New South Wales Amateur. He went on to win on the PGA EuroPro Tour in June 2015 and then the European Challenge Tour in August 2017. He has clearly now regained his amateur status and I assume must have received one of the nominations from either England Golf or the St. Andrews Links Trust as he currently has no ranking. Best wishes to Paul on his return to elite amateur competition.

Whilst it doesn’t overly affect the field quality it should be noted that most of the Irish players are staying at home to play in the Ulster Men’s Stroke Play Championship which starts on Monday 7th June at Royal County Down GC and that the Arnold Palmer Cup match starts on 11th June at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois.

Weather Forecast (as at Wednesday 2nd June)

The current weather forecast looks great with a dry championship currently expected.

Friday 4th June – Sunny Intervals. Wind 12 mph SW. Temp. Min. 9°C / Max. 15°C.
Saturday 5th June – Sunny Intervals. Wind 11 mph SW. Temp. Min. 11°C / Max. 18°C.
Sunday 6th June – Sunny Intervals. Wind 13 mph W. Temp. Min. 10°C / Max. 17°C.

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

Prizes

The winner receives The St Andrews Links Trophy, a commemorative medal and vouchers to the value of £500.

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

Reducing voucher 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 Championship.

2020 St. Andrews Links Trophy

The 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2019 St. Andrews Links Trophy

Jake BURNAGE (ENG) from Saunton G.C. won the 2019 St. Andrews Links Trophy.

Burnage recorded a 268 (-20) total and completed a memorable comeback, having started the final day 6 shots back of the 36-hole leader Matty LAMB (ENG), who ultimately had to settle for 2nd place on -19. Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) finished 3rd on -17.

It was a surprise to many that the Devonian links specialist was subsequently overlooked for the GB&I Walker Cup team that played USA at Royal Liverpool G.C. just two months later.

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Jake Burnage and Family (Photo: Burnage Family)

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Final 2019 Results (Photo: St Andrews Links Trust / Intelligent Golf)

Click here to view the complete – 2019 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 former 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 Federico ZUCCHETTI 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 © 2014-2021, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

Scottish Men’s Open Championship – 2021 Preview & Results

30th May 2021

Callan BARROW (ENG) shot rounds of 63, 67, 64 and 67 for a 261 (-15) total to win the Scottish Men’s Open Amateur Championship at Southerness G.C.

Barrow took control of the Championship with a 64 on Sunday morning; a round which included one eagle and seven birdies.

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Callan Barrow (Photo: Scottish Golf)

Barrow, a member of Royal Lytham & St Annes G.C., said in an interview with Scottish Golf “It’s been a good few years so to finally get a big win is amazing. The last three days have been incredible. My game’s been pretty solid. The putter has probably been the hottest thing in the bag which was needed round here.”

James WILSON (ENG) finished 2nd on -12, Stuart EASTON (SCO), who had taken a 1-shot lead into the final day, came in 3rd on -7 and Lewis IRVINE (SCO) and Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) tied 4th on -6.

Wilson’s 62 (-7) in Round 1 which included eight birdies proved to be the low round of the Championship.

Irvine, from Kirkhill G.C. had a final day to remember. Rounds of 64 (-5) and 66 (-3) saw him come from a long way back for a career best top 5 finish.

44 players made the 36 hole cut on Saturday evening which fell at 140 (+2). In form Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG) was the most notable player to miss out.

There were two holes in one recorded. Patrick KEELING (IRL) on the 15th in Round 1 and Joe HARVEY (ENG) on the 17th in Round 3 took the happy memories away from Dumfrieshire.

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Final Results (Graphic: Scottish Golf)

ME.

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24th May 2021

The 54th Scottish Men’s Open Stroke Play Championship starts on Friday 28th May at Southerness Golf Club in Dumfries.

This is the first major British or Irish amateur championship in 2021.

Due to COVID-19 protocols no caddies or spectators will be allowed on site.

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Southerness Golf Club (Photo: Southerness Golf Club)

Format

This open amateur competition consists of 72 holes of stroke play.

18 holes will be played on both Friday 28th and Saturday 29th May.

A 36 hole cut will then take place with only the leading 40 competitors and ties qualifying for the final two rounds which will be played on Sunday 30th May.

In the event of a tie for the Championship there will be a sudden death play off. All other ties will be resolved via card count back.

Field

144 competitors will start the 2021 Championship.

The Championship is returning to its traditional late May / early June time slot following a misguided move in 2018 and 2019 to late August which led to a noticeable drop off in field quality.

However, the impact of ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions and the early Walker Cup means that Scottish Golf are not going to see a material uplift in the standard of the field this year. The former means few foreign players have entered. The latter has pushed back the US College schedule and changed the priorities of many leading GB&I players. The NCAA National Championships are now being played in Arizona directly opposite this event. The fact the Walker Cup has already been played also means that many GB&I players have already turned pro or are planning to do so shortly so have no motivation to play.

Additionally, the Irish Challenge event on the European Challenge Tour is being played at Portmarnock Links between 27-30 May which has drawn a number of the leading Irish amateurs.

Jake DYER ENG (SPWAR #73) is the highest ranked player and only GB&I Walker Cupper competing at Southerness.

The standout names in this year’s field are all English – Sam BAIRSTOW (#165), Callan BARROW (#206), Jack BROOKS (#252), Jack COPE (#230), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (#111), Joe HARVEY (#232), Olly HUGGINS (#128) and Haider HUSSAIN (#140).

Jack Brooks, the world’s most active amateur golfer, is preparing for the Championship as only he knows how – by playing in the 72-hole Lagonda Trophy at Gog Magog GC in Cambridgeshire on Wednesday and Thursday. He will finish up around 6.30pm before travelling the 312 miles up to Dumfrieshire. He tees off at 1.10pm on Friday afternoon.

The highest ranked Irish, Scottish and Welsh players competing are Hugh FOLEY (#717), Calum SCOTT (#397) and Luke HARRIES (#2,028).

Tee Times and Scores

Click here to view the – 2021 Scottish Men’s Open Championship Tee Times / Scores

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12th Hole, Southerness Golf Club (Photo: Southerness Golf Club)

Southerness Golf Club

Southerness is a flat links course set on the Solway Coast near Dumfries in the south west corner of Scotland.

It was designed by Philip Mackenzie Ross and laid out by Messrs. Sutton and Sons of Reading in 1946. The Club is therefore celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The championship tees enable the par 69 course to be stretched to a demanding 6,728 yards.

A number of prestigious amateur Championships have been staged on the course over the years. It has previously hosted the Scottish Amateur Open Stroke Play in 2002 and 2013 with Barry Hume and Garrick Porteous coming out on top in those years.

The Club have posted a nice aerial video on their website ahead of the Championship which gives a good feel for the examination that awaits the players this week.

Prizes

The Winner receives the distinctive Championship Trophy and a silver gilt medal.

Silver and bronze medals are also awarded to the runner-up and third place finisher(s).

Weather Forecast

The weather forecast is reasonably good. Whilst there is likely to be little sun the players will be pleased to see the winds are forecast to be weak throughout the weekend.

Fri 28th May – Light Rain / Wind 8 mph S / Temp. Min. 9°C / Max. 13°C,
Sat 29th May – Light Cloud /  Wind 7 mph S / Temp. Min. 9°C /Max. 17°C
Sun 30th May – Sunny Intervals / Wind 9 mph SE / Temp. Min. 11°C / Max. 19°C

Rounds 1 and 2 will see players tee off the 1st from 7.00am right through until 3.20pm.

2020 Results

The 2020 Scottish Men’s Open Championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2019 Results

Jake BOLTON (ENG) won the 2019 Championship at The Duke’s Course in St. Andrews with a 272 (-12) total.

Jake shot rounds of 64, 68, 76 and 64 to secure the title by 1-shot. His final round included birdies on 16 and 18.

Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG) finished 2nd on -11, Matthew CLARK (SCO) -8 3rd and Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) -7 4th.

img_1793.jpg Jake Bolton (Photo: Mark Bolton)

Click here to view the full – 2019 Scottish Men’s Open Championship Results

Past Winners

The Scottish Men’s Open Amateur was first contested in 1967 and has an impressive list of past winners. Here are some of them: –

2011 – Andy Sullivan (ENG)
2009 – Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)
2004 – Richie Ramsay (SCO)
2003 – Gary Wolstenholme (ENG)
1997 – Barclay Howard (SCO)
1996 – Alastair Forsyth (SCO)
1995 – Stephen Gallacher (SCO)
1992 – Dean Robertson (SCO)
1991 – Andrew Coltart (SCO)
1985 – Colin Montgomerie (SCO)
1981 – Philip Walton (IRE)
1980 – Gordon Brand Jr (ENG)
1975 and 1984 – Charlie Green (SCO)
1971, 1974 and 1979 – Ian Hutcheon (SCO)
1970 – Dale Hayes (RSA)
1968 – Ronnie Shade (SCO)
1967 – Bernard Gallacher (SCO)

A full list of the past winners can be viewed here – Scottish Open Amateur Winners

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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

24th December 2017

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

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

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

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JANUARY

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY

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

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

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

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

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

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Liam Johnston (Photo: Ernest Blignault)

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

Ben AMOR (ENG) turned Pro in February.

MARCH

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

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

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

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

APRIL

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

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

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

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Charlie Strickland with Peter McEvoy (Photo: @GolfBible)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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David Hague (Photo: Kevin Diss)

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

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

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

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

Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) turned Pro in May 2017.

JUNE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark Power (Photo: Castleroy GC)

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

Kevin LE BLANC (IRE) turned Pro in June.

JULY

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

 

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 Alfie Plant (Photo: GolfBible)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_4962Jake Burnage (Photo: GolfBible)

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

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

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

AUGUST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER

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

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

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The USA Walker Cup Team (Photo: GolfBible)

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

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

OCTOBER

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

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

NOVEMBER

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

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

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

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

DECEMBER

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

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

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

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

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

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.