European Tour Q-School – 2016 Final Stage Results

17th November 2016

England’s Nathan KIMSEY (-13) today won the Final Stage of the European Tour’s Qualifying School series at the PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain.

Nathan is just the second player to come right through from First Stage to win Q-School outright. Some achievement particularly as he hadn’t enjoyed a great 2016. He played in 11 PGA EuroPro Tour events this year, making four cuts and earning just £1,407.50. He finished 105th in the Race to Desert Springs Order of Merit.

img_6929Nathan Kimsey – Winner of the European Tour’s 2016 Q-School (Photo: @ETQSchool)

156 golfers started out on this 108 hole golfing marathon last Saturday. 52 were from Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I), exactly 33.3% of the field.

Just 30 players achieved their primary objective – a Category 16 card on the European Tour for the 2017 season (which comes with a Category 5 Challenge Tour card too).  A -5 total score was required to finish in the Top 25 and ties this year.

It was great to see 16 of these qualifiers hailing from GB&I as you can see below.

QUALIFIERS – CAT. 16 EUROPEAN TOUR / CAT. 5 CHALLENGE TOUR
1.     Nathan KIMSEY (ENG) -13
T2.   Scott HENRY (SCO) -12
T5.   Steven TILEY (ENG) -10
T5.   Eddie PEPPERELL (ENG) -10
T9.   John PARRY (ENG) -9
T9.   Matthew NIXON (ENG) -9
T11. Paul MADDY (ENG) -8
T11. Tom LEWIS (ENG) -8
T16. Stuart MANLEY (WAL) -7
T16. Ashley CHESTERS (ENG) -7
T19. Laurie CANTER (ENG) -6
T19. Mark FOSTER (ENG) -6
T19. Max ORRIN (ENG) -6
T25. Jamie RUTHERFORD (ENG) -5
T25. Gary KING (ENG) -5
T25. Richard MCEVOY (ENG) -5

I think most people were pleased to see Eddie PEPPERELL (-10) and Tom LEWIS (-8) return to the elite circuit.  Both have showed a lot of promise in recent years and hopefully can now go onto to fulfil it.

John PARRY (ENG) gave himself almost the best birthday present possible – being one of the 30 on his 30th birthday.

I was particularly pleased to see Ashley CHESTERS and Max ORRIN progress.

Ashley took his time before turning pro and after winning two European Amateur titles and competing in the 2015 Walker Cup his strategy seems to have paid dividends. Just Paul Dunne and Chesters from our winning team at Lytham will have European Tour cards next year.

Orrin, who played in the 2013 Walker Cup alongside Matt Fitzpatrick, Nathan Kimsey and Jordan Smith, turned pro three years ago and today was the result of a lot of hard work and a steady progression through the tours for him.

72 players made the 72 hole cut, which fell at Even par, going on to play the final two rounds on the Stadium Course. Those who made the 72-hole cut but failed to finish in the Top 25 receive Category 21 membership of the European Tour and Category 9 membership of the Challenge Tour. From GB&I these included: –

MADE CUT – CAT. 21 EUROPEAN TOUR / CAT. 9 CHALLENGE TOUR
T31. James ALLAN (ENG) -4
T31. James HEATH (ENG) -4
T31. Robert COLES (ENG) -4
T37. Michael HOEY (N.IRE) -3
T37. Ross MCGOWAN (ENG) -3
T37. Aaron RAI (ENG) -3
T44. Ross KELLETT (SCO) -2
T44. Oliver WILSON (ENG) -2
T44. Gary HURLEY (IRE) -2
T49. Charlie FORD (ENG) -1
T53. Robert DINWIDDIE (ENG) +1
T53. Steve WEBSTER (ENG) +1
T58. Garrick PORTEOUS (ENG) +2
T58. David LAW (SCO) +2
T58. Bradley NEIL (SCO) +2
T65. Matt FORD (ENG) +3
T70. Simon KHAN (ENG) +5
T70. Ben STOW (ENG) +5

Michael HOEY and Gary HURLEY were Ireland’s nearest challengers but both came up short in the end. Hurley threatened to make the grade on his front 9 today but sadly couldn’t maintain his early final round momentum.

Nathan Kimsey earned €16,000 for winning the Q-School with all of the 72 players who made the cut receiving declining sums right down to €750 for the non-qualifiers who finished in spots 31 to 72.

Those who failed to make the cut receive Category 15 membership of the Challenge Tour. From GB&I these included: –

MISSED CUT – CAT. 15 CHALLENGE TOUR
T80.   Craig LEE (SCO) +2
T80.   Curtis GRIFFITHS (ENG) +2
T93.   Ben EVANS (ENG) +4
T93.   Rhys DAVIES (WAL) +4
T93.   Jack HARRISON (ENG) +4
T115. Billy HEMSTOCK (ENG) +6
T115. David DIXON (ENG) +6
T115. Steve SURRY (ENG) +6
T115. Ruaidhri MCGEE (IRE) +6
T124. Daniel GAVINS (ENG) +7
T124. Kevin PHELAN (IRE) +7
T129. Oliver FARR (WAL) +7
T138. Ryan EVANS (ENG) +10
T141. Charlie BULL (ENG) +11
T144. Richard FINCH (ENG) +12
T147. Grant FORREST (SCO) +15
WD.   Peter WHITEFORD (SCO) – 3 rounds
RTD.  Kenneth FERRIE (ENG) – 2 rounds

So to differing degrees, and of course depending on where they are on the professional golf journey, everyone was a winner simply by getting this far in the process.

It is worth noting that in all of these Categories each player is ranked according to their final Q-School finishing position. These rankings within each Category can be critical in determining actual participation in events on the respective Tours.

European Tour QS

The full European Tour Leaderboard and Results links are here:-

European Tour – Final Stage Q-School Leaderboard (with detailed scores)
European Tour – Final Stage Q-School Results (with prize money)

Appendix 1 – 2016 Qualifying School Articles

For further background information on the 2016 European Tour Q-School series please take a look at my previous articles: –

European Tour Q-School – 2016 Final Stage Preview (10/11/16)
European Tour Q-School – 2016 Second Stage Results (07/11/16)
European Tour Q-School – 2016 Second Stage Preview (14/10/16 & 03/11/16)
European Tour Q-School – 2016 First Stage Results (07/10/16)
European Tour Q-School – 2016 First Stage Preview (11/09/16)

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Walker Cup 2015 – Match Briefing

9th September 2015

The United States of America (USA) will start as firm favourites to win the Walker Cup when the 2015 match is played this coming weekend.

The 45th match in the biennial series is being played at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club, just south of the famous seaside town of Blackpool in Lancashire, England.

However, with plenty of links experience, a good knowledge of the Lytham course, a little bit of rain and wind forecast and the support of thousands of home fans who’s to say Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) can’t pull off an upset.  Recent matches on these shores – at Ganton, Royal County Down and Royal Aberdeen – have all been close and no one should be surprised if this one follows suit.

Walker Cup 2015 Logo

Match Format
Over the two days there will be 26 matches played in the following order: –
Saturday Day 1 – Four foursomes (AM) and eight singles (PM).
Sunday Day 2 – Four foursomes (AM) and ten singles (PM).

With one point awarded for each win and a half point for a draw the winning team will be the first to achieve 13.5 points.

Teams
Both teams were finalised in late August following the playing of the United States Amateur Championship.  The two Teams that will contest the Walker Cup are: –

Great Britain & Ireland
Ashley Chesters   (England)         26
Paul Dunne           (R. Ireland)      22
Ewen Ferguson    (Scotland)        19
Grant Forrest        (Scotland)        22
Jack Hume           (R. Ireland)      21
Gary Hurley          (R. Ireland)      22
Jack McDonald    (Scotland)        22
Gavin Moynihan   (R. Ireland)      20
Jimmy Mullen       (England)        21
Cormac Sharvin   (N. Ireland)      22

WC 2015 Team GB&I

Back Row (l-r) – E Ferguson, A Chesters, C Sharvin, J Mullen and G Hurley
Front Row (l-r) – J McDonald, G Forrest, J Hume, [P McGinley], N Edwards (Captain), P Dunne and G Moynihan 

United States of America
Bryson DeChambeau  (California)           21
Scott Harvey                (North Carolina)   37
Beau Hossler               (California)           20
Denny McCarthy         (Maryland)           22
Lee McCoy                  (Georgia)             21
Mike McCoy                (Iowa)                   52
Maverick McNealy       (California)          19
Jordan Niebrugge       (Wisconsin)         22
Robby Shelton             (Alabama)           19
Hunter Stewart            (Kentucky)           22

WC 2015 Team USA

Back Row (l-r) M McCoy, L McCoy, B Hossler, S Miller (Captain), J Niebrugge, S Harvey, B DeChambeau, R Zalzneck
Front Row (l-r) – R Shelton, H Stewart, D McCarthy and M McNealy

Captains
The GB&I team will be captained, for the third consecutive time, by Nigel Edwards, a four time player (2001-03-05-07) whilst the USA team will be captained for the first time by John “Spider” Miller, who competed in 1999 at Nairn, Scotland.

Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club
One of the most famous links courses in the world, Royal Lytham was founded in 1886.  It was laid out in 1897 but then re-designed in 1919 by the great Harry S. Colt.  It is a strategic, heavily bunkered course where accuracy nearly always overcomes length.

137852880RM00087_141st_Open

An Aerial View Of Royal Lytham & St. Annes GC

Off the blue championship tees Royal Lytham is a 7,118 yard par 70.  The front nine plays 3,437 yards, a par 34, whilst the longer back nine, being 3,681 yards, is a par 36.

Royal Lytham Clubhouse

18th Hole, Clubhouse and Dormy House – Royal Lytham & St. Annes GC

Match History
The Walker Cup is contested by ten male amateur players from both the USA and GB&I. The former team is selected by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the latter by The R&A.

The first official Walker Cup match was played in 1922.  It was the brainchild of George Herbert Walker, the maternal grandfather of President George H.W. Bush.  Walker was the President of the USGA in 1920 and offered to donate the trophy that is still played for today.  It should be noted that it was the American press that christened the trophy the Walker Cup rather than the far more modest Mr. Walker.

The USA leads the series W35-L8-D1.  However, in recent years the match has been more even – each side winning five of the last ten matches since 1995.  Having said that the USA are building up some momentum again winning four of the last five.

Weather Forecast
This far out there still remains some uncertainty about this weekend’s forecast.

Updated – as at 16.00 on 11th Sept. 2015: –
Sat. 12th Sept. – AM Showers / PM Cloudy. Wind 16 mph (NE). Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 13°C.
Sun. 13rd Sept. – AM / PM Cloudy. Wind 12 mph (NW). Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 11°C.

Watch It Live
The opportunity to watch some of the best amateur golfers in the world up close shouldn’t be missed for those that can make it to Lytham. There is free public car parking close to the course and day tickets costing £30 can be acquired on the gate.

Event Coverage
Internet (GB&I) – News and score links will be available here on the R&A’s website – Walker Cup
Internet (USA) – Other news can be found on the USGA website – www.walkercup.org
Twitter – @RandA / @WalkerCup / #WalkerCup, not forgetting @GolfBible !
Television – BBC2 (GB&I) / ESPN (US) – Sat. 12th Sept. 2.00 – 6.45pm / Sun. 13th Sept. 1.30 – 6.00pm (GMT)

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Walker Cup 2015 – The GB&I Team (5)

20th August 2015

The R&A Selection Committee meets tomorrow to finalise the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team for the 45th Walker Cup match.  The team is scheduled to be announced on Monday 24th August following the conclusion of the U.S. Amateur Championship.

The match will be played at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England on 12th and 13th September 2015.

Walker Cup 2015 Logo

This is the fifth GB&I Team update I have written and you may wish to read through the others to follow the story so far.  Just click here to do so – Walker Cup Home Page.

Since my fourth update on 12th July the Open Championship, the English, Scottish and Welsh Close Amateurs, the International European Amateur and the Boys and Mens Home Internationals have been played.  This week the U.S. Amateur and Irish Close are being contested.

The Selectors – Captain Nigel Edwards, Andy Ingram (WAL), Garry Hay (SCO) and Michael Burns (IRE) – will also have had the benefit of seeing some of the leading contenders at close quarters at the Squad Session that took place at the host course, Lytham, on 21st and 22nd July.  However, only they and the players invited know what happened there.

So let’s look at some of the objective evidence that the Selectors will no doubt have in front of them.  First and foremost that means the two Amateur World Rankings which should clearly show us who has been playing well in recent times.

The R&A and USGA oversee the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) and update them weekly on a Wednesday.  So let’s start with the WAGR rankings released yesterday covering the 12 month period to 16th August 2015.  I am going to focus on the Top 25 as it is hard to see the Selectors wanting to dip lower than this. WAGR 190815 WC

WAGR as at 19/08/15 – Top 25 GB&I players (click to enlarge)

If the WAGR was used in isolation then based on the current rankings the players highlighted above in yellow would be selected.  The above table also shows each player’s WAGR moves since the start of the year.

Let’s now have a look at the Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR), generally accepted as being the most thorough and accurate of the two amateur listings.  This ranking covers a 24 month period and includes many more events.

SPWAR 190815 WC

SPWAR as at 19/08/15 9.41am PST – Top 25 GB&I players (click to enlarge)

I have maintained the yellow highlighting from the WAGR list above but highlighted in green the new players that make the SPWAR GB&I Top 10, namely Jack McDonald and Ben Taylor.  Again the above table also shows each player’s SPWAR moves since the start of the year.

As has been the case for some time Ben Taylor (WAGR 181 / SPWAR 52) and Graeme Robertson (WAGR 52 / SPWAR 144) are outliers in the GB&I ranking analysis when you consider both lists.  The WAGR doesn’t like Ben and likewise the SPWAR doesn’t rate Graeme.

Finally let’s have a look at the GolfBible Combined Ranking (GBCR) which brings together both rankings by simply averaging out the WAGR and SPWAR results.

GBCR 190815 WC

GBCR as at 19/08/15 – Top 25 GB&I Players (click to enlarge)

The Top 10 GB&I players in my combined ranking are clearly shown above as are their 2015 movements on this list.

I also think the Selectors should consider course form.  We have the benefit of being able to review the scoring and results from The Lytham Trophy in 2014 and 2015.  Whilst not comprehensive, as this early season event is not available to our US College based players, it is still a useful reference point.  The Lytham is one of the world’s most prestigious events and this year it had the 14th strongest field in amateur golf.

Lytham Form Extract - 19th August 2015

   2014 and 2015 Lytham Trophy Scores and Form (click to enlarge) 

The above table shows how the leading players who competed at Lytham got on.  Just four players made the cut in both years and it shows very clearly that Gary Hurley, Dermot McElroy and Jack McDonald have performed very well here over the last two years.  As we all know different courses suit different players and turning up positively is half the battle in golf.

So without further a do here are the ten players plus two reserves that I believe should be selected for the 2015 GB&I Walker Cup Team (in the order in which I would select them): –

1. Paul Dunne (IRE) 22 – SPWAR 9  / WAGR 33 (WC SQUAD)
A superb Open Championship performance followed by a T11 at the International European Amateur in Slovakia and qualification for the US Amateur Match Play stage this week.  Paul has played consistently well this year with the above results backing up his 5th place finish at the NCAA Division 1 National Championship, a Brabazon T9 and a European Team Stroke Play (SP) Qualifier T8.

2. Ashley Chesters (ENG) 26 – SPWAR 8 / WAGR 6 (WC SQUAD)
A T12 finish at The Open, which could have been even better save for a poor finish to his Rd. 1, must be the highlight of Ashley’s season.  He has also enjoyed good results at the Welsh Amateur (T2), The Amateur (last 16) and the Brabazon Trophy (T7).  Importantly he has also demonstrated good match play form contributing well at the European Amateur Teams (W5/H0/L1), for England against Spain (4/0/0) and at last week’s Home Internationals (3/1/2).

WC Team 1 190815

Paul Dunne, Ashley Chesters, Grant Forrest and Gavin Moynihan (clockwise)

3. Grant Forrest (SCO) 22 – SPWAR 25 / WAGR 40 (WC SQUAD)
Back from San Diego, where he ranked 84th in the Golfstat US college player rankings (2nd only to Paul Dunne in GB&I terms) for the 2014/15 season Grant delivered a superb Amateur Championship performance, finishing runner up to Romain Langasque.  Whilst he would have liked to go further in the recent Scottish Close Amateur (a match play event) and at this week’s US Amateur there can be no questioning his contribution to Scotland’s 2015 European Amateur Team Championship victory (5 points out of a possible 6).

4. Gavin Moynihan (IRE) 20 – SPWAR 22 / WAGR 29 (WC SQUAD)
Gavin, a member of the 2013 Team, has found a little more consistency since winning the Irish Amateur.  He made the Last 32 at The Amateur, finished 2nd at the Brabazon and recently came 3rd at the European Amateur.  Now fully deserving of his second Walker Cup selection.

5. Gary Hurley (IRE) 22 – SPWAR 21 / WAGR 26 (WC SQUAD)
Whilst I picked Gary in July I expressed some concerns about his recent form and scheduling – where in particular he chose to miss The Amateur and Brabazon.  He had a strong winter overseas (South African Amateur T5, Spanish International Amateur 2nd, Argentina Stroke Play T8 and Southern Cross Invitational 3rd) and followed it up back home in the early summer  (Lytham Trophy T19 and Irish Amateur T25).  However, I felt he needed one more result – therefore it was great to see him finish 2nd at the European Amateur to cement his spot.  He has a proven Foursomes partnership with Paul Dunne and will be confident at Lytham having finished 4th and 19th at the 2014 and 2015 Lytham Trophy events.

6. Cormac Sharvin (IRE) 22 – SPWAR 26 / WAGR 20 (WC SQUAD)
Consistently high finishes this season – Lytham Trophy (T2), Irish Amateur (2nd) and Scottish Amateur (3rd) – culminating in a superb Brabazon Trophy victory in late June.  Cormac’s dropped a few places since last month in my list but is still fully deserving of his selection.

WC Team 2 190815

Gary Hurley, Cormac Sharvin, Jack McDonald and Sam Horsfield (clockwise)

7. Jack McDonald (SCO) 21 – SPWAR 42 / WAGR 70 (WC SQUAD)
Jack reached the semi-finals of The Amateur losing on the 19th hole to the eventual champion Romain Langasque.  He missed the Brabazon but made the cut at the conflicting Challenge Tour event in Scotland. He was the highest GB&I finisher in the European Amateur Team Championship SP Qualifier (T4) and alongside Forrest largely delivered the Championship to Scotland (also delivering 5 out of 6 possible points).  Whilst not at this best at last week’s Home Internationals (2/1/3) he does have good Lytham form to fall back on – finishing 13th and 15th at the Lytham Trophy in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

8. Sam Horsfield (ENG) 18 – SPWAR 45 / WAGR 23 (WC SQUAD)
How can you select someone for Lytham who has never played on a links course and hardly knows any of his team mates ?  Not easily but Sam hasn’t really given the selectors any choice.  His rankings are high across the board and he is competing week in week out against the best fields in amateur golf.  My only question mark would be his match play experience and record.  I said last time that for me he needed to do well in both the Western Amateur and US Amateur to force his way in.  He has done.  He made the 16-man Match Play Stage of the Western losing in the Quarter Finals to Aaron Wise and this week has done the same at the US Amateur and at the time of writing is comfortably through to Rd. 2.

9. Jack Hume (IRE) 21 – SPWAR 34 / WAGR 42 (WC SQUAD)
Jack has done well in recent weeks.  He finished T19 on -13 at the European Amateur (which could have been better after a -12 first 36 holes) and contributed well to Ireland’s Home Internationals victory last week (3/1/2).  Additionally at Royal Portrush Jack was unbeaten in Singles playing at No. 1 (2/1/0) but his foursomes partnership with Gavin Moynihan failed to spark (1/0/2), which is a slight concern.  Earlier this season Hume finished T6 at the St. Andrews Links Trophy and followed it up with a T3 at The Brabazon Trophy.

10. Ewen Ferguson (SCO) 19 – SPWAR 55 / WAGR 34
Ewen has played very well this year, winning twice in Scotland and following it up with good results at the Irish Open Amateur (T3), Scottish Open Amateur (T4), Amateur Championship (T7 / 64s) and Brabazon (T11).  He was invited to the Walker Cup squad session in July on the back of this.  A strong match play track record both in the Boys’ Amateur, which he won in 2013, and for Scotland, where he has played foursomes with Forrest, means he must be there or thereabouts.  A surprise Rd. 3 loss at the Scottish Close Amateur had perhaps left him needing something in the final weeks.  However, he chose to skip the European Amateur and Home Internationals and therefore had a lot riding on the US Amateur which clearly didn’t work out.  Let’s hope he doesn’t regret these scheduling decisions on Monday morning as he is now right on the cusp for me.

WC Team 3 190815

Jack Hume, Ewen Ferguson, Dermot McElroy and Jimmy Mullen (clockwise)  

Reserves

11. Dermot McElroy (IRE) 22 – SPWAR 84 / WAGR 165
‘Horses for courses’ – anyone who has followed my postings know how highly I rate Dermot’s T7 and T10 finishes at the 2014 and 2015 Lytham Trophy events in the context of this team selection.  He has also played consistently well since Lytham – Irish Amateur (5th), Brabazon Trophy (11th) and European Team (SP T8 / 2 out of 3 points in the MP). His 2015 Home Internationals record (3/0/3) was a bit mixed where it really needed to be perfect.  Of course he also won the West of Ireland earlier in the year.  He has just fallen short for me and his non-invitation to the recent Squad Session suggested the Selectors hadn’t been persuaded either.  His case obviously hasn’t been helped by the fact there are already potentially five other Irish players (above him) in the Team.  His knowledge of the course and many of the team make him an ideal reserve though.

12. Jimmy Mullen (ENG) 21 – SPWAR 123 / WAGR 90 (WC SQUAD)
Not quite the Home internationals I had hoped for for the normally strong Mullen / Chesters partnership (0/1/2) which is not really what Jimmy needed. Having said that the partnership is nearly as well established as the Dunne / Hurley one and Mullen was unbeaten in Singles (1/2/0).  He just hasn’t done enough to make the Team for me.  Having said that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in it and, if not, he would certainly make a very sound Reserve.

Finally, I could also make a case, in alphabetic order, for David Boote (WAL), Bradley Moore (ENG), Marco Penge (ENG), Alfie Plant (ENG), Graeme Robertson (SCO) or Ben Taylor (ENG) making up the Reserve positions.  However, I would be surprised if any of these were to make the actual Team after following their performances this year and based on their current rankings.

I particularly like the idea of Moore and Penge being invited to attend – possibly as the reserves – as the Walker Cup dates don’t fall kindly for these two outstanding young players.  2015 has probably come too soon and 2017 may come too late for both of them.  With neither planning to go to a US College they may need some persuading to hang around for the next Walker Cup match – what better way than seeing the event at close quarters this year.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

U.S. Amateur Championship – 2015 Preview & Results

UPDATE – Bryson DeChambeau (USA) won the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship, beating Derek Bard 7&6 in the 36-hole Final.

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo: USGA)          

 _______________________________________________________

16th August 2015

The U.S. Amateur Championship starts tomorrow at Olympia Fields Country Club, just south of Chicago in Illinois.

Administered by the United States Golf Association (USGA) the U.S. Amateur is without question the most important and prestigious competition in amateur golf.

Olympia Fields US Amateur 2015 Logo

Field
A field of 312 players from 23 different countries will contest this year’s Championship.

The average competitor age is 22.16.  The oldest player being Pat Tallent (62, b.12th August 1953) and the youngest Ricky Castillo (14, b. 19th February 2001).

This year entries were received from 7,047 players.  66 of these were exempt into the final field based on their past performances in USGA Championships or via their standing in the Top 50 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) as at 24th June.  The remainder of the field progressed to Olympia Fields via 97 36-hole Sectional Qualifying events played across the United States in June and July.

There are nine GB&I players in the field: –

Tom Bayliss (ENG) – Sectional Qualifier (Medalist – Hobe Sound GC)
Paul Dunne (IRE) – USGA Special Exemption
Ewen Ferguson (SCO) – Top 50 WAGR
Grant Forrest (SCO) – Top 50 WAGR
Sam Horsfield (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR, 2015 US Open Qualifier
Gary Hurley (IRE) – Top 50 WAGR
Nick Marsh (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR
Cormac Sharvin (NI) – Top 50 WAGR
Henry Smart (ENG) – Sectional Qualifier (Medalist – Cedarbrook CC / Old York Road CC)

Six of the above are well known GB&I Internationals.  Equally well known is Sam Horsfield, a top US-based amateur whose family moved to Florida when he was five.  Tom Bayliss is from Kent and has been working on his golf in Florida ahead of turning Pro later this year.  Henry Smart is the London-born Assistant Coach of the College of Charleston Men’s Golf Team.

With the GB&I Walker Cup team due to be provisionally selected on Friday 21st August and formally announced on Monday 24th August the U.S. Amateur may be of critical importance to some of the players competing. Likewise the U.S. Team is due to be finalised on 24th August and with five spots still to be confirmed some of their players will be feeling the pressure to.

The draws for the 36-hole stroke play qualifying competition can be viewed here – US Amateur SP Draw.

Competition Format
On Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th August all of the contestants will play 36-holes of stroke play, one on each of Olympia Fields’ two courses.

Olympia Fileds CC Club House

 Olympia Fields Country Club

The Top 64 qualifiers from this will then move forward to the match play stage of the competition.  Ties for the last qualifying place are resolved by a hole-by-hole play-off.  18 hole match-play rounds will be played between Wednesday 19th and Saturday 22nd August, culminating in a 36-hole Championship Final on Sunday 23rd August.

Olympia Fields Country Club
Olympia Fields is one of America’s leading golf clubs.  The club hosted the U.S. Open in 1928 (Johnny Farrell defeating Bobby Jones) and 2003 (Jim Furyk) and the U.S. Senior Open in 1997 (Graham Marsh).

The stroke play qualifier will be played on Olympia Fields’ North and South Courses.  The North Course alone will stage the match play rounds.

North Course
Architect – Willie Park Jnr (1923). Renovated by Mark Mungeam (1997, 2003).
7,234 yards Par 70.
Front 9 – 3,712 yards (36) / Back 9 – 3,522 yards (34).
Course Rating 76.8 / Slope Rating 150

South Course
Architect – Tom Bendelow (1915). Renovated by Steve Smyers (2007).
7,037 yards Par 70.
Front 9 – 3,640 yards (35) / Back 9 – 3,397 yards (35).
Course rating 75.5 / Slope Rating 147

The North Course is clearly the tougher and one can expect this to be reflected in the stroke play qualifying scores.

Olympia Fields NC Aerial

Olympia Fields Country Club – North Course

Weather Forecast (as at 12.00 Noon 16th August 2015)
Mon 17th August – Mostly Clear. Wind 5 mph (E). Temp. Max. 33°C / Min 19°C.
Tues 18th August – Thundery. Wind 10 mph (N). Temp. Max. 31°C / Min 19°C.
Weds 19th August – Thundery. Wind 8 mph (NE). Temp. Max. 28°C / Min 20°C.
Thurs 20th August – Cloudy. Wind 15 mph (NE). Temp. Max. 26°C / Min 14°C.
Fri 21st August – Clear.  Wind 8 mph (NE). Temp. Max. 26°C / Min 14°C.
Sat 22nd August – Sunny. Wind 5mph (N). Temp. Max. 29°C / Min 16°C.
Sun 23rd August – Thundery. Wind 5mph (N). Temp. Max. 26°C / Min 19°C.

Event Coverage
News and score links will be available from the USGA’s website – U.S. Amateur Championship Home Page.

Twitter – @USGA / #USAmateur

Fox Sports are televising the match play stage of the Championship in the United States and Sky Sports will be picking up this feed, probably on the red button if there is no GB&I interest, between Thursday 20th and Sunday 23rd.

Prizes
The 2015 U.S. Amateur Champion will receive the following: –

a) A Gold Medal and custody of the Havemeyer Trophy for the ensuing year.
b) An exemption to play in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont C.C.
c) An exemption to play in the 2016 Open Championship at Royal Troon G.C.
d) A likely invitation to play in the 2016 Masters at Augusta National G.C.
e) An exemption to play in the 2016 – 2025 U.S. Amateurs; and no doubt
f) Invitations to play in a variety of European Tour and PGA Tour competitions.

A Silver Medal is awarded to the runner-up and Bronze Medals to the two semi-finalists.

The original silver Havemeyer Trophy was presented to the USGA on March 1895 in honour of the Association’s first President Theodore A. Havemeyer. This was lost in a fire at Bobby Jones’ home club, East Lake, in 1925.  A new gold trophy was produced in 1926.  This was retired in 1992 with a copy of the trophy being produced and passed from champion to champion ever since. Sadly the original gold trophy was stolen from the USGA Museum in 2012 and has never been seen since.

US Amateur 2015 Infographic

The USGA’s 2015 U.S. Amateur Infographic

Championship History
The U.S. Amateur is the oldest golf championship in America and this will be its 115th playing.  It was first played in 1895, the winner being Charles B. Macdonald.

It has always been decided by match play save for an 8 year period between 1965 and 1972 when the winner was determined solely by stroke play.

Former US winners include Jerome Travers (1907-08-12-13), Bobby Jones (1924-25-27-28-30), Francis Ouimet (1914-31), Arnold Palmer (1954), Jack Nicklaus (1959-61), Deane Beman (1960-63), Lanny Wadkins (1970), Craig Stadler (1973), Mark O’Meara (1979), Hal Sutton (1980), Phil Mickelson (1990), Justin Leonard (1992), Tiger Woods (1994-95-96), Matt Kucher (1997) and Peter Uihlein (2010).

British players have won the Championship on six occasions but just twice in the last 100 years – H.J. Whigham (1896-97), Findlay Douglas (1898), Harold Hilton (1911), Richie Ramsay (2006) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (2013). Italy’s Edoardo Molinari (2005) is the only mainland European to have lifted the Havemeyer Trophy.

In something of a shock last year South Korea’s Gunn Yang won the title beating Canada’s Corey Conners 2 and 1 in the final.  He became the second Korean to win the Championship, following in the footsteps of Byeong-Hun An in 2009, the youngest ever winner at just 17 years old.  An of course is now making a name for himself in the professional ranks and last May won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.  Yang is defending his title this week, hoping to become the first man since Tiger Woods to retain the U.S. Amateur.

Gunn Yang

Gunn Yang – the 2014 U.S. Amateur Champion (Photo: USGA)

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Walker Cup 2015 – The GB&I Team (4)

12th July 2015

The 45th Walker Cup match starts at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in two months time on 12th September 2015. Both teams will be finalised on or around the 24th August 2015 following the completion of the US Amateur Championship at Olympia Fields CC in Illinois.

Walker Cup 2015 Logo

Since my last GB&I Team update quite a lot has happened.

First of all Golfing World released a video interview with Captain Nigel Edwards filmed at The Lytham Trophy in which he ran through his own selection criteria.  The words he used were “strong performances”, “great attitude”, “good putters” and “embrace the situation” and “embrace something very much out of their comfort zone”.  Watch the full video here:

More importantly three major events have been played – The Amateur Championship, The Brabazon Trophy and this week the European Amateur Team Championships.  The latter – which Scotland won – are particularly important as it has seen nearly all of the main protagonists playing the same course and in some cases competing directly against each other.

On 23rd January 2015 The R&A announced an initial 20-man GB&I Walker Cup squad.  Since then three members of that squad, Paul Howard (ENG), Ben Stow (ENG) and most recently Bradley Neil (SCO) have chosen to turn Pro thus excluding themselves from this amateur match against a team from the United States.  Chris Selfridge (IRE), whilst not in the initial Squad, has also turned Pro.  If he had produced the form he has since shown as a Pro in the amateur ranks he may very well have been in the selection shake-up too.  Rhys Pugh (WAL), who played in the 2011 and 2013 matches, has also graduated from College and turned Pro.  Barring miracles at the Open Championship it is unlikely that any more amateurs will turn Pro before the Walker Cup is contested.

Before looking at the GB&I Team it is perhaps worth reminding ourselves of the competition’s format.  A total of 26 matches will be played; singles and foursomes. Four foursomes and eight singles matches are played on the first day. On the second and final day there are again four foursome matches but there are two additional single matches, so that all team members play in the final session of the competition.  The point in raising this is the foursomes angle simply can’t be ignored when picking the Team.

So let’s look at the players who are available and will most likely make up the GB&I team.  Inevitably as the match draws closer the 10-man GB&I team is starting to take shape.

Putting aside the softer team attributes the Selection Committee will be looking for (and of which I have next to no knowledge) and simply taking an objective assessment of 2015 performances and possible foursome pairings I believe there are now just 14 players who have a chance of making the GB&I Team. I have split them into Certainties, Probables and Possibles and ranked them all in the order in which I would currently select them: –

Certainties

1. Paul Dunne (IRE) – SPWAR 10 / WAGR 81 (WC SQUAD)
His recent qualification for the 2015 Open Championship – for the second year running winning the Woburn Final Qualifier – has capped an excellent run of recent results.  A win would have been nice to see but his 5th place finish at the NCAA Division 1 National Championship, Brabazon T9 and European Team Stroke Play (SP) Qualifier T8 have all been impressive.

2. Cormac Sharvin (IRE) – SPWAR 12 / WAGR 19 (WC SQUAD)
Consistently high finishes this season – Lytham Trophy (T2), Irish Amateur (2nd) and Scottish Amateur (3rd) – culminating in a superb Brabazon Trophy victory in late June mean Cormac must have already done enough.

3. Ashley Chesters (ENG) – SPWAR 16 / WAGR 14 (WC SQUAD)
The Englishman has been towards the top of the GB&I standings for some time now. Whilst his play at the Lytham Trophy (127th MC) was unhelpful he has generally enjoyed a fine early summer with good results at the Welsh Amateur (T2), the Amateur (last 16) and the Brabazon Trophy (T7). He also demonstrated good match play form contributing well for England against Spain at Burnham & Berrow as well as at this week’s European Team event (5 points out of a possible 6).  He also plays in The Open Championship this week following last year’s successful defence of his European Amateur crown.

4. Grant Forrest (SCO) – SPWAR 15 / WAGR 53 (WC SQUAD)
Back from San Diego, where he ranked 84th in the Golfstat US college player rankings (2nd only to Paul Dunne in GB&I terms) for the 2014/15 season Grant delivered a superb Amateur Championship performance.  He finished T7 in the SP before progressing all the way through the match play (MP) before losing 4&2 to Frenchman Romain Langasque in the Final.  In the R&A’s flagship event this will surely be enough to secure his place at Lytham even before his strong contribution to Scotland’s effort at the European Amateur Team Championship (5 points out of a possible 6).

5. Gavin Moynihan (IRE) – SPWAR 24 / WAGR 57 (WC SQUAD)
As a 2013 team member – and one of the few to come away from the National Golf Links of America with some credit – Mr. Edwards will have been keen from the start to see Gavin in his 2015 team.  Like the thoroughbred he is Gavin has found some form at just the right time winning the Irish Amateur (albeit at Royal Dublin, a course he could play blindfolded) and following it up with two good performances at the Amateur (Last 32) and the Brabazon (2nd).  A little inconsistent this year but given his Walker Cup experience he has probably done enough to be selected now.  It is this match experience that places him above McDonald and Ferguson.

6. Jack McDonald (SCO) – SPWAR 34 / WAGR 82 (WC SQUAD)
His semi-final defeat at The Amateur on the 19th hole to the eventual champion Romain Langasque must have resonated with the selectors – it certainly did with me.  Coupled with his 13th and 15th place results at the Lytham Trophy in 2014 and 2015 respectively he has made himself very selectable.  He missed the Brabazon but made the cut at the conflicting Challenge Tour event in Scotland.  He was the highest GB&I finisher in the European Amateur Team Championship SP Qualifier (T4) and alongside Forrest largely delivered the Championship to Scotland (also delivering 5 out of 6 possible points).  He appears to be sprinting through the finishing line.

7. Ewen Ferguson (SCO) – SPWAR 43 / WAGR 43
A two time winner this season in Scotland with consistent form behind him, including a Irish Amateur T3, Scottish Amateur T4, Amateur Championship T7 / 64s and Brabazon T11.  A strong match play track record both in the Boys’ Amateur, which he won in 2013, and for Scotland means he is just about worthy of a place in my Certainties. A good finish to the season will secure his spot and no doubt a nice foursome pairing with Grant Forrest in the match itself.

Probable

8. Jimmy Mullen (ENG) – SPWAR 96 / WAGR 102 (WC SQUAD)
Rankings don’t tell the full story for Mr. Mullen who has an excellent MP record and is increasingly a strong proven foursomes partner for Ashley Chesters.  After reaching the last 16 of the US Amateur last year he also progressed to the last 32 of the Amateur this.  He also has a recent win to his name, the 2015 Welsh Amateur which he won by a street.  If he and Chesters deliver in the Home Internationals I think he has a very good chance of being selected.

9. Gary Hurley (IRE) – SPWAR 33 / WAGR 28 (WC SQUAD)
Gary looked a certainty for selection after starring overseas during the winter (South African Amateur T5, Spanish International Amateur 2nd, Argentina Stroke Play T8 and Southern Cross Invitational 3rd) and then producing solid early season form back home (Lytham Trophy T19 and Irish Amateur T25).  However, his / the decision to play in the Palmer Cup rather than the Amateur, as well as missing the Brabazon Trophy, has opened the door to others and appears to me to have put unnecessary pressure on his selection.  He just makes it into my current Team largely on the back of his proven Foursomes partnership with Paul Dunne.  Whilst he has course form with 4th and 19th places at the 2014 and 2015 Lytham Trophies he may need to help himself with a result or two in the next few weeks to stay on the Team.

10. Ben Taylor (ENG) – SPWAR 38 / WAGR 223 (How ?)
Ben’s strong performance in the MP stage of the NCAA Division I Nationals, where he helped his college, Louisiana State, to the Championship title closing out both the semi-final and final matches will not have been lost on the selectors.  Riding a wave of confidence he has played well at both the Amateur and Brabazon, finishing T7 in both stroke play events.  An impressive QF win over Cormac Sharvin at the European Team’s but followed it with a disappointing late loss to Greig Marchbank in the SF that let Scotland in.  His qualification for The Open Championship gives him an opportunity to move forward again next week.  His maturity and US experience may be useful to the Team too.

[Potential foursomes partnerships – Chesters & Mullen / Dunne & Hurley / Forrest & Ferguson / Sharvin & McDonald]

Possibles

11. Dermot McElroy (IRE) – SPWAR 67 / WAGR 139
‘Horses for courses’ – I simply can’t get out of my head Dermot’s T7 and T10 finishes at the 2014 and 2015 Lytham Trophy events.  He has also played consistently well since Lytham – Irish Amateur (5th), Brabazon Trophy (11th) and European Team (SP T8 / 2 out of 3 points in the MP).  Of course he also won the West of Ireland earlier in the year.  It was only at the last minute that I dropped him into Possibles from Probables when I decided to give Hurley the benefit of the doubt due to his longstanding foursomes partnership with Dunne.

12. Jack Hume (IRE) – SPWAR 26 / WAGR 48 (WC SQUAD)
A much needed T6 at the St. Andrews Links Trophy followed by a T3 at The Brabazon Trophy for Hume.  A bit like compatriot Hurley Jack had appeared to go off the boil a little following some strong Winter results, notably in Argentina.  Only out of the Team because I am currently undecided about his foursomes partnership with Moynihan.  For me he still has some work to do in the coming weeks but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Team in September.

13. Nick Marsh (ENG) – SPWAR 41 / WAGR 42 (WC SQUAD)
Nick has unfortunately drifted from the centre of the team photo to the periphery in recent months after looking odds on at the start of the year.  A solid if unspectacular season to date with the highlights a 2nd in the West of England (at Saunton where he won last year’s English Closed Amateur) and a T4 at the Welsh Amateur.  Notably lightly utilised by England at the European Team’s this week.  Like Hume and McElroy Nick now needs to force his way back in in the coming weeks.

14. Sam Horsfield (ENG) – SPWAR 74 / WAGR 10 (WC SQUAD)
How do you solve a problem like 18 year old Sam Horsfield ?  Undoubtedly a hugely promising talent but beyond qualifying for the US Open last month – which in turn meant he didn’t play as originally planned in The Amateur Championship – he hasn’t frankly achieved a great deal this season, admittedly due partly to school commitments.  When coupled with his lack of links experience and next to no contact with any of the other potential team members to date calls for his selection become increasingly difficult to accept.  Despite being the highest ranked GB&I player in the WAGR at the time of writing (I am not sure how or why ?) his selection would be a very brave call at this point.  To force his way in now he surely needs to either impress beyond believe at the forthcoming Squad weekend (which I assume he is still attending ?) or go deep in the US Amateur.  Finally, I see he has not entered the English Amateur at Alwoodley and Pannal GC’s which starts just a few days after the Lytham squad session preferring to return to the US for the Western Amateur – wherever he plays a strong result is required sooner rather than later.

From my short list of 14 players 11 (as shown in brackets above) were in the initial Walker Cup Squad.  Ferguson, McElroy and Taylor have forced their way into the shake up.  To differing degrees, and perhaps a little prematurely, I believe David Boote (WAL), Jamie Savage (SCO), Tomasz Anderson (ENG), Daniel Brown (ENG), Adam Chapman (ENG) and Graeme Robertson (SCO), who were all in the Squad, have already played themselves out of, or if you prefer not sufficiently well to get in to, the final selection picture (or at least mine !).

Daniel Brown finished 19th and 6th at the Lytham Trophy in 2014 and 2015 respectively so perhaps shouldn’t be completely discounted but unfortunately he hasn’t done enough elsewhere since his very good 2014 Amateur championship performance at Royal Portrush to get on the radar.

Scotland’s Greig MarchbankConnor SymeDaniel Young and Craig Ross, are unlucky not to have been mentioned somewhere above based on their 2015 results but in the case of the last two their non-selection by the Scottish Golf Union for the European Team event makes it hard to see a way in for them.  Ross may also move up the world rankings today if he can hold onto his 54-hole lead at the Chiberta Grand Prix in France. [NB: Craig did win so may now be on the cusp of the Possibles too.]

As mentioned above the Squad are formally meeting up at Lytham on 21st and 22nd July 2015.  No further Squad announcements have been made since January so it will be interesting to see who actually turns up for that gathering.

In terms of forthcoming major Championships that are still to be played and will be being watched carefully – we have the English, Scottish and Welsh Amateurs (27th July), the European Amateur (4th August), the Men’s Home Internationals (11th August) and the US Amateur (15th August).  So there is still plenty of golf to be played before any decisions have to be made.  As always the Men’s Home Internationals, being played at Royal Portrush, and being fresh in the mind of the selector’s will be material to the final decisions.

One thing writing this article has highlighted to me beyond doubt is that now we are getting to decision time picking the GB&I team is, I guess as always, not going to be straight-forward.  There maybe some surprises and disappointments come August.

* The SPWAR and WAGR used in this article were correct as at 11th July 2015 and 8th July 2015 respectively.

Notes
Walker Cup background information and my previous articles on it can be found by clicking here – 2015 Walker Cup

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.