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

29th December 2018

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

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

The Amateur Championship

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

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

The U.S. Amateur Championship

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

Major Championships

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

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

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

Men’s International Team Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Major GB&I Amateur Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home Nation Closed Amateur Championships

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

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

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

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

Major International Amateur Events

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

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

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

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

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

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Cole Hammer (Photo: Western Amateur)

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

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

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

Australia

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

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

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

South Africa

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

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

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

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

Other GB&I Amateur Events

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

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

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

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Matt Roberts and George Gardner (Photo: George Gardner)

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

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

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

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

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

Scotland

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

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

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

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

Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

Juniors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Harrison Arnold (Photo: GolfBible)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golf Rankings and Order of Merits

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

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

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

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

Turned Pro

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

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

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, 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.

__________________________________________

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.

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.

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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 – Team USA (1)

30th November 2014

It seems early but the countdown to the 2015 Walker Cup is already underway.  On 13th November 2014, a full 304 days before the next instalment of this biennial contest starts, the USGA announced their first Walker Cup training squad.  As has become the norm in Team USA’s preparations a turn-of-the-year practice session is to be held; this time on 17th – 20th December at Frederica GC in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

The 45th Walker Cup Match will take place at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England on 12th and 13th September 2015.  For more information on the 2015 Walker Cup and Royal Lytham please click here.

Walker Cup 2015 Logo

As the USA have shown their hand first I thought I would take a closer look at their training squad and what it tells us.

Whilst neither team will be confirmed until mid-August 2015 it is interesting to note that nine of the final ten in the 2013 USA Team attended the first practice session held that year in January 2013.  Therefore the 16-man squad named two weeks ago is likely to be a very good indicator of who we may see on the Fylde Coast next September.

I have listed the USA players below in order of their current World Amateur Golf Ranking Positions (WAGR).  I have also provided some basic biographical information and their current Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR).  The differences highlighted between an individual player’s WAGR and SPWAR ranking are in themselves interesting.

The following players have accepted an invitation to attend the St. Simons Island session: –

1. Robby Shelton (Wilmer, Alabama)
b. 25/08/95 (19)  WAGR – 3  SPWAR – 8
University of Alabama – Sophomore (2014/15)
NCAA Div. 1 Championship winning team member (2013/14)
National Freshman of the Year – Phil Mickelson Award (2013/14)
Qualified for the 2014 US Open
Palmer Cup Team member (2014)

2. Will Zalatoris (Plano, Texas)
b. 16/08/1996 (18)  WAGR – 7  SPWAR – 92
Wake Forest University – Freshman (2014/15)
2014 US Junior Amateur Champion

3. Lee McCoy (Clarkesville, Georgia)
b. 05/02/1994 (20)  WAGR – 10  SPWAR – 14
University of Georgia – Junior (2014/15)
SP co-medalist at the 2014 US Amateur

4. Denny McCarthy (Rockville, Maryland)
b. 04/03/1993 (21)  WAGR – 12  SPWAR – 2
University of Virginia – Senior (2014/15)
6th at the NCAA Div. 1 Championship (2013/14)
SF at the 2014 US Amateur 
US Junior Ryder Cup Team (2010)

5. Doug Ghim (Arlington Heights, Illinois)
b. 16/04/1996 (18)  WAGR – 13  SPWAR – 60
University of Texas – Freshman (2014/15)
Runner-up at the 2014 US Amateur Public Links
SF at the 2013 US Junior Amateur

6. Beau Hossler (Mission Vejo, California)
b. 16/03/1995 (19)  WAGR – 14  SPWAR – 4
University of Texas – Sophomore (2014/15)
Western Amateur Champion (2014)
2014 World Amateur Team Champion – USA
Competed in the 2011 (age 16) and 2012 (29th) US Open Championships
USA Junior Ryder Cup (2012)

US Walker Cup 1-6

Shelton, Zalatoris, McCoy (top row l-r), McCarthy, Ghim and Hossler (bottom row l-r)

7. J. Hunter Stewart (Lexington, Kentucky)
b. 22/05/1993 (21)  WAGR – 15  SPWAR – 12
Vanderbilt University – Senior (2014/15)
Qualified for the 2014 US Open

8. Charlie Danielson (Osceola, Wisconsin)
b. 16/01/1994 (20)  WAGR – 32  SPWAR – 44
University of Illinois – Junior (2014/15)
Last 16 at 2013 US Amateur

9. Kyle Jones (Snowflake, Arizona)
b. 15/07/1993 (21)  WAGR – 39  SPWAR – 67
Baylor University – Senior (2014/15)

10. Bryson Dechambeau Clovis, California)
b. 16/09/1993 (21)  WAGR – 40  SPWAR – 9
Southern Methodist University – Junior (2014/15)
2014 World Amateur Team Champion – USA
Last 16 at the 2014 US Amateur
QFs of the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links
Palmer Cup Team member (2014)
9th at the NCAA Div. 1 Championship (2013/14)

11. Rico Hoey (Rancho Cucamonga, California)
b. 19/09/1995 (19)  WAGR – 41  SPWAR – 18
University of Southern California – Sophomore (2014/15)
Palmer Cup Team member (2014)

12. Maverick McNealy (Portola Valley, California)
b. 07/11/1995 (19)  WAGR – 53  SPWAR – 99
Stanford University – Sophomore (2014/15)
Competed at the 2014 (29th) US Open
[Named, like his siblings, after a car by his father Scott, the co-founder and former long-time CEO of Sun Microsystems]

US Walker Cup 7-12

Stewart, Danielson, Jones (top row l-r), Dechambeau, Hoey and McNealy (bottom row l-r)

13. Byron Meth (San Diego, California)
b. ??/??/1993 (21)  WAGR – 73  SPWAR – 110
University of the Pacific – Senior (2014/15)
2014 US Amateur Public Links Champion
Last 16 in the 2014 US Amateur 

14. Scott Harvey (Greesboro, North Carolina) *
b. 30/05/1978 (36)  WAGR – 79  SPWAR – 69
2014 US Mid-Amateur Champion
2014 Cardinal Amateur Champion
Property Manager and former Mini-Tour Professional.

15. Nathan Smith (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) *
b. 06/08/78 (36)  WAGR – 80  SPWAR – 160
2014 US Amateur QF
2003 (aged 25), 2009, 2010 and 2012 US Mid-Amateur Champion 
US Walker Cup Team 2009, 2011 and 2013
Investment adviser

16. Mike McCoy (West Des Moines, Iowa) *
b. 21/11/1962 (52)  WAGR – 184  SPWAR – 76
2013 US Mid-Amateur Champion
Insurance Executive

US Walker Cup 13-18

Meth, Harvey, Smith (top row l-r), McCoy, Schniderjans and Campbell (bottom row l-r)

If you will forgive me for stating the obvious the USA Team is again going to be very strong with a foundation of elite amateurs, with both major Am / Pro championship experience and victories as well as sound current College playing records.  However, in GB&I’s favour is home advantage and the challenge of links golf which will be a new experience to many of the USA team.  May be a bit of September wind and rain will help too.

The USGA have a policy of including a minimum of two mid-amateurs (aged 25 or over) in their team.  Whilst some commentators argue that this weakens their team it is clear from the squad selections that it will be continued in 2015.  Of course Captain Miller also played his one Walker Cup in 1999 as a mid-amateur in his late 40’s. What was a surprise was why it was felt necessary to include three mid-amateurs (denoted with a *) in the squad.  The inclusion of the 2013 US Mid-Amateur Champion Mike McCoy, now 52, in particular looks a little odd given his rankings.

Looking at the current WAGR’s notable omissions from the practice team were Ollie Schniederjans (WAGR – 1), Brian Campbell (WAGR – 8), Sam Burns (WAGR – 12), Xander Schauffele (WAGR – 26) and Jack Maguire (WAGR – 37).  In other words the USA team could still be improved or in reality may have been stronger.  I say this as we can probably now assume that in the case of Schniederjans and Campbell they must have already indicated an intention to turn Pro next Summer prior to the match.  In the case of Burns, Schauffele and Maguire they clearly still have work to do in convincing the Selection Committee of their merits.  Miller doesn’t seem overly keen at this stage on giving youth an opportunity at Lytham.  Burns, 18, has been overlooked as has well ranked Cameron Young (WAGR – 32), Scottie Scheffler (WAGR – 33) and Davis Riley (WAGR – 41).

Mid-amateur Nathan Smith is the only member of the current squad who played in the 2013 Walker Cup at the National Golf Links of America (he also played in 2011).  Jordan Niebrugge (WAGR – 64) could add some more experience from the victorious 2013 team but clearly needs to show some better form to get pack in the picture.  Of course, that is exactly what he did in 2013 as he was the player who forced himself onto the team last time through outstanding play.

In theory selection for the December 2014 USA practice squad means nothing but, as noted above, in practice it has in the past proven to be a good indicator.  There is still plenty of golf to be played next year so only time will tell how close the Selection Committee have got it on their first stab.  Another unknown in the USA selection equation is who will succeed the current Selection Committee Chairman Dan Burton who steps down from post in February 2015 ?  Only time will tell if a new person leads to a different approach and new names being put forward.

Finally, look out for my early thoughts on a possible ‘GB&I Squad’ which will be coming soon.

ME.

Copyright © 2014, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.