The Open Championship’s Silver Medal

July 2019 Update

The Silver Medal is awarded to the leading amateur at The Open Championship, provided they make the cut and complete all 72 holes.

It was first awarded in 1949 and in the 71 Championships since has been won 51 times by 45 different players. Prior to World War II amateurs were often amongst the leading competitors so a separate prize was not considered necessary.

Here’s some background on the Silver Medal and a full list of the select group of past winners.

History

The Open Championship was first played on 17 October 1860 at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland.

It is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf and the only one played outside the United States.

In July 2019 the 148th Open was played at Royal Portrush Golf Club. It was the second time the course and Northern Ireland had staged the Championship.

Amateurs In the Field

Nowadays the field is made up of 156 players. These are mainly professionals but there are always a handful of amateurs too.

Exemptions to both categories are given by The R&A based on previous wins / performances and world rankings. There are currently 27 exemption categories that provide c.110 players.

There are five amateur exemptions which are awarded to: –
– The Amateur Champion (current year).
– The European Amateur Champion (current year).
– The Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion (previous year).
– The Mark H. McCormack Medal Winner – Men’s WAGR (previous year).
– The United States Amateur Champion (previous year).

The remaining c.46 players have to play in The Open Qualifying Series (11 International events) or Regional (13 GB&I events) and Final Qualifying (4 GB events) to earn their places. Additional amateur players often come through these latter events.

Best Amateur Performances

Bobby Jones (USA) was the last amateur to win The Open Championship in 1930, his famous Grand Slam year. Jones had previously won the event in 1926 and 1927.

Prior to that The Open had been won by just two other amateurs – Englishmen John Ball (1890) and Harold Hilton (1892 and 1897).

Frank Stranahan (USA) finished runner-up in 1947 and 1953, behind Fred Daly and Ben Hogan respectively.

Reid Jack (SCO) finished tied 5th in 1959 before more recently Justin Rose (ENG) tied 4th in 1998 and Chris Wood (ENG) tied 5th in 2008.

Finally, who can forget Paul Dunne’s (IRE) performance at St. Andrews in 2015. Dunne was tied for the 54 hole lead after rounds of 69, 69 and 66 before sadly a final round 78 saw him slip down the field for an undeserved tied 30th finish.

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Alfie Plant – Winner of the 2017 Silver Medal (Photo: @GolfMonthly)

The Silver Medal Winners

In the 71 Championships from 1949 to 2019 the Silver Medal has been won by 45 players on 51 occasions (all in bold in the table below).

The Medal has not been awarded on 20 occasions during this period when no amateur was able to make the cut.

Frank Stranahan (USA) won it four times in its first five years. He was also the low amateur in 1947 before it came into existence.

Joe Carr (IRE), Michael Bonallack (ENG) and Peter McEvoy (ENG) are the only other multiple winners, having each won it twice.

Since 1972 a Bronze Medal has also been awarded to any other amateurs who complete all four rounds.

Here is the complete list of Silver Medal winners: –

Year Venue  Winner
1949 Royal St George’s  Frank Stranahan
1950 Troon  Frank Stranahan (2)
1951 Royal Portrush  Frank Stranahan (3)
1952 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Jackie Jones
1953 Carnoustie  Frank Stranahan (4)
1954 Royal Birkdale  Peter Toogood
1955 St Andrews  Joe Conrad
1956 Royal Liverpool  Joe Carr
1957 St Andrews  Dickson Smith
1958 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Joe Carr (2)
1959 Muirfield  Reid Jack
1960 St Andrews  Guy Wolstenholme
1961 Royal Birkdale  Ronnie White
1962 Troon  Charlie Green
1963 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
1964 St Andrews  Not awarded
1965 Royal Birkdale  Michael Burgess
1966 Muirfield  Ronnie Shade
1967 Royal Liverpool  Not awarded
1968 Carnoustie  Michael Bonallack
1969 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Peter Tupling
1970 St Andrews  Steve Melnyk
1971 Royal Birkdale  Michael Bonallack (2)
1972 Muirfield  Not awarded
1973 Troon  Danny Edwards
1974 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
1975 Carnoustie  Not awarded
1976 Royal Birkdale  Not awarded
1977 Turnberry  Not awarded
1978 St Andrews  Peter McEvoy
1979 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Peter McEvoy (2)
1980 Muirfield  Jay Sigel
1981 Royal St George’s  Hal Sutton
1982 Royal Troon  Malcolm Lewis
1983 Royal Birkdale  Not awarded
1984 St Andrews  Not awarded
1985 Royal St George’s  José María Olazábal
1986 Turnberry  Not awarded
1987 Muirfield  Paul Mayo
1988 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Paul Broadhurst
1989 Royal Troon  Russell Claydon
1990 St Andrews  Not awarded
1991 Royal Birkdale  Jim Payne
1992 Muirfield  Daren Lee
1993 Royal St George’s  Iain Pyman
1994 Turnberry  Warren Bennett
1995 St Andrews  Steve Webster
1996 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Tiger Woods
1997 Royal Troon  Barclay Howard
1998 Royal Birkdale  Justin Rose
1999 Carnoustie  Not awarded
2000 St Andrews  Not awarded
2001 Royal Lytham & St Annes  David Dixon
2002 Muirfield  Not awarded
2003 Royal St George’s  Not awarded
2004 Royal Troon  Stuart Wilson
2005 St Andrews  Lloyd Saltman
2006 Royal Liverpool  Marius Thorp
2007 Carnoustie  Rory McIlroy
2008 Royal Birkdale  Chris Wood
2009 Turnberry  Matteo Manassero
2010 St Andrews  Jin Jeong
2011 Royal St George’s  Tom Lewis
2012 Royal Lytham & St Annes  Not awarded
2013 Muirfield  Matthew Fitzpatrick
2014 Royal Liverpool  Not awarded
2015 St Andrews  Jordan Niebrugge
2016 Royal Troon  Not awarded
2017 Royal Birkdale  Alfie Plant
2018 Carnoustie  Sam Locke
2019 Royal Portrush  Not awarded

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the only Silver Medal winners to go on and become ‘The Champion Golfer of the Year’ too.

Hal Sutton (1983 P.G.A. Championship), José María Olazábal (1994 and 1999 Masters) and Justin Rose (2013 U.S. Open) are other Silver Medal winners to have subsequently secured a major Championship.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

How Did The 2014 European Tour Q-School Graduates Get On ?

28th October 2015

On 20th November 2014 27 players from 12 different countries were celebrating having secured their full 2015 European Tour cards.

Two players, Tom Murray and Daniel Woltman, had even managed to come through all three stages of the gruelling Q-School process.

Of the 27 graduates, six were existing 2014 European Tour members whilst 11 would be rookies (R) in the 2015 season.  One of the latter group was Italy’s Renato Paratore, who at 17 years and 341 days, was the third youngest qualifier in the history of the event and the youngest since 1982.

With the UBS Hong Kong Open and the 2015 regular season now completed I thought I would have a closer look at how they have all got on.

The minimum goal for every European Tour player has to be retaining their card for the following season.  That means finishing in the Top 110 in the Race To Dubai (R2D) Rankings.  England’s Ben Evans finished in 110th spot with points / prize money of €250,211.  In other words the bar is quite high.

I have listed each of the 27 players below and shown their finishing position in the Final Qualifying Stage last year in brackets.  I have graded each of them on their achievements and regular season R2D Rankings.  Prior to the four Final Series tournaments, the first of which starts in Turkey this week, the points equate directly to Euro-denominated prize money.

A+ – Outstanding, they have exceeded all expectations

Anirban Lahiri IND (17) (R) 
R2D – 1,447,461 (10th) / Events 18
Wins in Malaysia and India in February meant Anirban got the job done early. His T5 at the US PGA Championship and subsequent President’s Cup appearance have put him on the world map.  No rookie has earned this amount of money in the history of the Tour before and the season still has a few weeks to run.

Matthew Fitzpatrick ENG (11) (R)
R2D – 1,435,826 (11th) / Events 28
Recently turned 21 Matt has the golfing world at his feet. His win at the British Masters was great for the event and British golf. When coupled with his 7 other Top 10s this season he will no doubt give Anirban a run for the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of The Year award as the Final Series unfolds in the coming weeks.

 

A – a superb season with card retained and well placed to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship (Top 60)

Rikard Karlberg SWE (9) (R)
R2D – 597,058 (45th) / Events 23
Two weeks in September largely glossed over an average season for Rikard. He won the Italian Open then finished T5 at the Porsche European Open in Germany.

B – very good; card comfortably retained and excellent prize money earned

Eduardo De La Riva ESP (7)
R2D – 452,780 (67th) / Events 23
Another player who pulled out a couple of great results in the final weeks of the season. Eduardo finished T2 at The KLM Open and T3 at the Portugal Masters a couple of weeks ago.

Pelle Edberg SWE (21)
R2D – 440,646 (69th) / Events 25
Pelle retained his card with three strong performances this season; 4th at the Omega European Masters, 2nd at the D+D REAL Czech Masters and finally a 3rd at the Porsche European Masters.

Andrew Dodt AUS (10)
R2D – 434,990 (70th) / Events 17
Andrew won the True Thailand Classic back in February to get the job done early.

Renato Paratore ITA (3) (R)
R2D – 251,218 (109th) / Events 29
A steady start to the year with lots of cuts made but in the second half of the season the young Italian become more inconsistent, albeit with some better finishes. A great achievement for an 18 year old to retain his card so well worthy of a B grade.

C – a good outcome; card retained with nice prize money earned

Joakim Lagergren SWE (16)
R2D – 341,155 (83rd) / Events 23
A T3 at the Hero Indian Open, a T3 at the Italian Open and an impressive and nicely timed T4 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship were more than good enough for the young Swede.

Mikko Korhonen FIN (1)
R2D – 310,506 (89th) / Events 21
The winner of last year’s Q-School comfortably retained his card with a steady if unspectacular season which saw him pick up a modest cheque at most of the events he entered.

John Parry ENG (6)
R2D – 301,681 (92nd) / Events 26
John picked up a number of top 20 finishes and cheques, often at lower profile events, to retain his card.

Matt Ford ENG (4) (R)
R2D – 262,333 (105th) / Events 28
A 2nd place in the Africa Open back in March set up Matt’s season but it still took a brave T7 in Hong Kong last week for him to get the job done.

Chris Paisley ENG (22)
R2D – 254,681 (108th) / Events 21
An exceptional 3rd place at the BMW International Open in late June provided the foundation for Chris’s successful year.

Borja Virto ESP (19) (R)
R2D – 17,138 / Events 12 – excluded from the final R2D ranking
Focussed on the Challenge Tour (playing 17 events) and last week won The Foshan Open in China. This moved him up to 3rd on the Road To Oman Rankings (with €135,432) and, with the top 15 qualifying, effectively secured his 2015 European Tour card before next week’s finale.  Achieved the goal but in a roundabout way – therefore worthy of a C grade.

European Tour QS

D – a good effort but sadly fell short of the required standard and are therefore back to Q-School

Jason Scrivener AUS (18) (R)
R2D – 223,944 (117th) / Events 21
A solid finish to the year and a brave T3 at the UBS Hong Kong Open were sadly not enough for Jason to recover a slow start. Without a win you simply can’t start playing in July.

Adrian Otaegui ESP (5)
R2D – 222,735 (118th) / Events 26
Adrian made 16 cuts but couldn’t quite deliver the high end result(s) that gets you over the line. Lots to build on though.

Richard McEvoy ENG (8)
R2D – 178,021 (127th) / Events 25
A T5 at the Omega European Masters and a T7 at the Hero Indian Open were the highlights over a disappointing year for the 36th year old Englishman.

Pedro Oriol ESP (20)
R2D – 170,666 (130th) / Events 19
Like countryman Otaegui, Pedro made 16 cuts but with a best cheque of €34,042 for a T31 finish at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open just couldn’t make sufficient money to retain his card.

Lasse Jensen DEN (24)
R2D – 138,114 (144th) / Events 21
Another player who learned the lesson that consistency doesn’t always work on the European Tour. 13 cuts but few top 20s left Lasse well short.

Alessandro Tadini ITA (25)
R2D – 119,293 (148th) / Events 21
11 cuts but few high finishes, save for a good early season start in Africa, saw Alessandro struggle to break through in 2015.

Ricardo Gonzalez ARG (2)
R2D – 105,691 (160th) / Events 22
The 46 year old 4-time European tour winner from the Argentine is now sadly well past his best.

Paul Maddy ENG (13) (R)
R2D – 98,010 (162nd) / Events 26
Well off the pace in 2015 with Paul’s only notable performance coming in The South African Open in January (T5).

E – sadly came up a long way short and will enter the 2015 Q-School with only modest confidence

Tom Murray ENG (14) (R)
R2D – 67,897 (184th) / Events 21
Top 10s at the Nordea Masters and Madeira Open showed promise. His recent Challenge Tour win at the Volopa Irish Challenge in Northern Ireland means Tom, ranked 26th (€56,040), will go into the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final next week with all to play for and the possibility of avoiding a return to Q-School.

Andrea Pavan ITA (23)
R2D – 65,340 (187th) / Events 21
Andrea made 8 cuts but struggled to feature in the latter stages of any of these tournaments.

Chris Lloyd ENG (15)
R2D – 63,944 (188th) / Events 23
7 cuts made but only one in a first tier event; a T41 finish at the French Open is all Chris can take out of the season.

Daniel Woltman USA (26) (R)
R2D – 55,604 (195th) / Events 19
A T33 at the French Open was the highlight of Daniel’s year.

Cyril Bouniol FRA (27) (R)
R2D – 31,234 (208th) / Events 19
Cyril made 6 cuts but was unable to produce any finishes of note.

U – made little impact on the main Tour and ultimately failed to play sufficient events.

Espen Kofstad NOR (12)
R2D – 26,895 / Events 4 – excluded from the final R2D ranking
Another injury plagued season for Espen damaged his playing time. He will have a medical exemption for the 2016 season.

Another year where the harsh realities of the European Tour are clearly shown by a review of the results of the Q-School graduates.  Just 12 of the 27 players retained their card through their play on the Main Tour with Borja Virto also achieving it via the Challenge Tour.

Once again the vast majority of the successful players relied on no more than a handful of strong weeks.  The competition is so strong that only the really good golfers can hope to consistently deliver Top 20s.  Having looked at all of the results it makes me admire Matt Fitzpatrick’s season all the more, and even he has had a number of missed cuts.

Who would be a professional golfer – the game’s hard enough without all this pressure ?

ME.

~ The R2D Rankings used are the final regular season ones dated 25th October 2015.  They exclude Brooks Koepka who withdrew from the European Tour / R2D earlier this week.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.