The Amateur Championship – 2016 Preview & Results

18th June 2016

UPDATE

Scott Gregory (ENG) today beat Robert MacIntyre (SCO) 2&1 in the 36-hole final of The Amateur Championship on a dry day at Royal Porthcawl GC.

Scott Gregory Amateur Champion 2016

Scott Gregory (Photo: R&A / Getty Images)

Gregory shot 72 at Royal Porthcawl and 71 at Pyle & Kenfig in the Stroke Play Qualifying. This saw him finish tied 13th with a +1 total.

Seeded 13th he then proceeded to beat Andre Nel (RSA) by 2 holes, Pierre Mazier (FRA) by 1 hole, Harry Hall (ENG) 4&3, Javier Sainz (ESP) 5&4 and Adrian Meronk (POL) to reach the Final.

Click this link to review all of the Match Play results – Amateur Championship MP Results

14th June 2016

UPDATE

The Stroke Play Qualfying stage of The Amateur Championship was completed this evening.

Click this link to view the Stroke Play Results and Seedings – Amateur Championship SP Results

The top 64 and ties cut fell at +5 with 79 players progressing to the Match Play stage which is being played exclusively at Royal Porthcawl GC.

11th June 2016

The 121st Amateur Championship starts on Monday at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig Golf Clubs in South Wales.

It is the most prestigious amateur golf event played outside of the United States and without question the highlight of the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur season.

Royal Porthcawl Amateur 2016

Royal Porthcawl GC (Photo: @Royal_Porthcawl Twitter)

Format
Entry is limited to 288 players with the event administered by the Championship Committee of The R&A.

Two qualifying rounds of stroke play, one round on each course, will be played on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th June. Tee times will start at 7.00 am and end at 3.52 pm on both days.

To view the stroke play draw click here – Amateur Championship SP Draw

The 64 players with the lowest stroke play scores, and ties for 64th place, will be seeded in line with their finishes and will advance to the match play stage. All other players will be eliminated at this point. This second stage will be played solely at Royal Porthcawl between Wednesday 15th and Saturday 18th June. Matches will be played over 18 holes except for the Final which will be over 36 holes.

Royal Porthcawl Golf ClubBridgend County South Golf Activities and Sports

Royal Porthcawl GC (Photo: welshgolfvacations website)

Players
Players from 32 countries will contest the 2016 Amateur.

The leading players that are competing, based on their Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (Nationality / SPWAR*), are: –
Matthias Schwab (AUS / 7)
Jack Hume (IRE / 9)
Grant Forrest (SCO / 13)
Harrison Endycott (AUS / 23)
Conor Syme (SCO / 24)
Antoine Rozner (FRA / 27)
Jamie Bower (ENG / 30)
Travis Smyth (AUS / 33)
Robin Sciot-Siegrist (FRA / 36)
Cameron John (AUS / 40)
Albert Venter (RSA / 43)
Craig Ross (SCO / 44)
Craig Howie (SCO / 45)
Herman Loubser (RSA / 46)
Aubrey Beckley (RSA / 49)

* All SPWARs quoted were correct as at 11th June 2016

Whilst there are some American’s playing, including 2015 Walker cup mid-amateur Mike McCoy, it remains the case that the vast majority sadly continue to skip the Championship. Without their participation it will always lack a little something despite the ‘prizes’ on offer. This year, with the Palmer Cup taking place at Formby GC in a few weeks time, I had hoped that one or two might make the extra effort to come over early.

Unfortunately Wales’ No. 1 amateur David Boote (SPWAR 29) has his Stanford graduation ceremony on Monday so is unable to play. Fellow Palmer Cup player Sam Horsfield (ENG / SPWAR 6) was always unlikely to enter but at least he now has the excuse of qualifying for the US Open at Oakmont which also takes place next week.

This latter point begs the question, even allowing for the exceptional challenges of this Olympics year, why do the R&A schedule the Amateur Championship against a professional men’s Major ? It’s hardly likely to help with media coverage and interest as the event reaches it’s climax next week is it ? 

Courses
The Championship is being staged at Royal Porthcawl and Pyle & Kenfig, two of the best courses in Wales.

Pyle & Kenfig Golf CourseAerial South Golf Activities & Sports

Pyle & Kenfig GC (Photo: welshgolfvacations website)

This will be the seventh time Royal Porthcawl has been the lead course at The Amateur Championship. It has also hosted the Curtis Cup (1964) and Walker Cup (1995 – GB&I beating a US Team including Tiger Woods 14-10).

Porthcawl plays to 7,065 yards and a par of 72 from it’s black championship tees. Pitched down to the shore it famously allows golfers to see the sea from every hole on the course but also feel the wind on most of their shots too.

James Mason’s Plant Golf Review of Royal Porthcawl GC

Neighbouring Pyle & Kenfig has co-hosted The Amateur with Royal Porthcawl on two previous occasions, 1988 and 2002.

P&K has a total yardage of 6,860 from it’s blue championship tees. It is a par 71 course of two different halves; an inland parkland start gives way to a final 9 played across a road amongst sand dunes nearer to the coast.

James Mason’s Plant Golf Review of Pyle & Kenfig GC

The Amateur Championship has been played at Royal Porthcawl on six previous occasions. The winners then were: –

1951 – Dick Chapman (USA)
In the first Amateur to be held in Wales and with comedian Bob Hope in the field Chapman beat fellow American Charles Coe 5&4. Chapman had lost in two Finals in the previous four years so was certainly deserving of his eventual win.

1965 – Sir Michael Bonallack (ENG)
Sir Michael made a terrible start to the Final against Clive Clark, finding himself 7 down after 8 holes. At lunch he won the jackpot on the club’s fruit machine before completing his comeback to win 2 and 1.

1973 – Dick Siderowf (USA)
Siderowf, a 34 year New York stockbroker, beat England’s Peter Moody (24) 5&3. He went on to win The Amateur again in 1976, this time at St. Andrews.

1980 – Duncan Evans (WAL)
Playing in heavy rain on a flooded course Evans (21), who had beaten a 16 year-old Ronan Rafferty in the semis, became the first Welshman to win the Amateur in front of a home crowd. His 73 in round 1 of the final was particularly memorable given the conditions. He beat South Africa’s David Suddards 4&3 on a day that gradually improved weather wise.

1988 – Christian Hardin (SWE)
Hardin beat South Africa’s Ben Fouchee 1Up in the Final.

2002 – Alejandro Larrazábal (ESP)
Caddied by his brother Pablo, now a successful European Tour golfer, Alejandro beat Wales’ Martin Sell 1Up.

Weather Forecast
As at Saturday 11th June, 17.00pm the weather forecast looks reasonably positive: –

Mon 13th June – Light Rain PM. Wind 7 mph S. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 13°C.
Tue 14th June – Light Cloud. Wind 13 mph W. Temp. Max. 15°C / Min 12°C.
Wed 15th June – Light Showers. Wind 9 mph W. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Thu 16th June – Sunny. Wind 10 mph NW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Fri 17th June – Sunny. Wind 9 mph NW. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 12°C.
Sat 18th June – Sunny. Wind 8 mph W. Temp. Max. 16°C / Min 13°C.

Just like at The Open players will tee off between 7.00am and 3.52pm on Monday and Tuesday so the weather may very well play a part in the stroke play qualifying scoring.

Betting Odds
SkyBET released their Amateur Championship ‘Outright Winner’ Odds on Monday 6th June.

As they are removed from their website when play starts I have taken photos of the original odds so we can look back at them once the results are known.

Amateur 2016 skyBET 1Amateur 2016 skyBET 2Amateur 2016 skyBET 3Amateur 2016 skyBET 4

Ireland’s Jack Hume was the 28-1 initial favourite with SkyBET when they released their original odds.

The current SkyBET odds can be accessed here – Amateur Championship Outright Winner.

Prizes
The winner of The Amateur Championship will be exempt into next month’s 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon.

They will also be exempt into the 2017 US Open Championship, which is for the first time being played at the stunning Erin Hills in Wisconsin.

_ hole at Erin Hills a (Hurdzan/Fry and Ron Whitten design) daily fee golf course in Erin, Wisconsin. September, 2010. PM shoot. Photo by Paul Hundley.

Erin Hills Golf Course (Photo: http://www.erinhills.com)

Traditionally, the Amateur Champion is also invited to compete in the following year’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

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

Up until the Second World War it was a hugely prestigious event and in a many of these early years was afforded a much higher standing in the game than The Open. Players like Johnny Ball (ENG), Harold Hilton (ENG) and Freddie Tait (SCO) were all amateurs and better than most of the professionals of the time.

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

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

With the growth and transformation of the professional game from the early 1980s onwards both the better players and the media increasingly started to turn their backs on the amateur game. Save for exceptional cases like Gary Wolstenholme (ENG) all continuity has been lost over the last 30 years and most of the young golfing stars of today rarely play any more than 2 or 3 Amateurs before being lured into the pro ranks by the huge rewards on offer. With the sports media facing their own challenges most of their resources sadly have to be directed towards the superstar players and the Major Championships leaving the amateur game scrambling for any coverage it can get.

Past Winners
The greatest player in the history of The Amateur is Johnny Ball. The Hoylake man won the Championship a record 8 times between 1888 and 1912.

Only three other players have won the competition more than twice; Sir Michael Bonallack (5), Harold Hilton (4)and Joe Carr (3). Bonallack amazingly won it three years in a row between 1968-1970. The last person to retain The Amateur was Peter McEvoy in 1977 and ’78.

France’s Romain Langasque beat Scotland’s Grant Forrest 4&2 in last year’s final staged at Carnoustie and Panmure in Angus, Scotland.

The last 10 winners of The Amateur Championship have been: –

2015 Romain Langasque (FRA) – Carnoustie GL
2014 Bradley Neil (SCO) – Royal Portrush GC
2013 Garrick Porteous (ENG) – Royal Cinque Ports GC
2012 Alan Dunbar (IRE) – Royal Troon GC
2011 Bryden Macpherson (AUS) – Hillside GC
2010 Jin Jeong (KOR) – Muirfield
2009 Matteo Manassero (ITA) – Formby GC
2008 Reinier Sexton (NED) – Trump Tunberry
2007 Drew Weaver (USA) – Royal Lytham & St. Annes GC
2006 Julien Guerrier (FRA) – Royal St. George’s

A great honour for all of the players listed above but perhaps when one reviews where most of them are now another clear reminder that golf is an incredibly tough game and career to pursue at the professional level.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Amateurs In The 2016 Masters

10th April 2016

UPDATE

Bryson DECHAMBEAU lived up to his star billing and won the Silver Cup. Rounds of 72, 72, 77 and 72 saw him finish on +5 and a creditable Tied 22nd.

Bryson DeChambeau Masters 2016

Bryson DeChambeau Receives The Silver Cup (Photo: Jon-Michael Sullivan)

France’s Romain LANGASQUE shot the lowest ever round by a European Amateur in Rd 4 – his 68, followed rounds of 74, 73, and 83. He finished on +10 for Tied 42nd.  As the only other amateur to make the cut he won the Silver Medal.

Derek BARD (76, 77), Sammy SCHMITZ (81, 75), Cheng JIN (79, 78) and Paul CHAPLET (83, 82) all missed the cut.

______________________________________________

3rd April 2016

There will be six amateurs competing at this week’s Masters. The 2016 intake will take the total number of amateurs who have competed in the tournament to 415.

Masters 2016 Journal

The Masters Tournament – 2016 Journal

Listed below are all of the potential eligibility routes to The Masters for amateurs and the 2016 beneficiaries (where applicable): –

Current U.S. Amateur champion (honorary, non-competing after one year*)
Bryson DECHAMBEAU (United States) won the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields C.C. last August.

DeChambeau was just the fifth golfer in history to win the Individual title at the NCAA Division I Championship and follow it up with the U.S. Amateur Championship a few months later.

He has made a big noise in golf since becoming U.S. Amateur champion and it will be interesting to see how he goes at the Masters. He plans to turn pro at the RBC Heritage Classic at Hilton Head the week immediately after his Augusta experience.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 1 / WAGR 3.

Bryson DeChambeau US Amateur 2015

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo: USGA)

Current U.S. Amateur runner-up
Derek BARD (United States) lost the U.S. Amateur final 7&6 to DeChambeau but gained the consolation of an invitation to The Masters.

Bard is a Junior at the University of Virginia. He has won once this season at the U.S. Collegiate in October and more recently has had two Top 5’s in March; at the Palmetto Invite (71-65-71, -3 5th) and the Linger Longer Invitational (68-71-71, -6 4th).

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 13 / WAGR 25.

Derek Bard

Derek Bard (Photo: USGA)

Current British Amateur champion (honorary, non-competing after one year*)
Romain LANGASQUE (France) won the 2015 Amateur Championship at Carnoustie last June.

The 20 year old Amateur champion seems to be going from strength to strength in recent weeks winning the Spanish Amateur, coming second at the Barclays Kenya Open on the European Challenge tour and then earlier this week defeating DeChambeau 4&3 in The Georgia Cup challenge match.

He also plans to turn pro straight after the Masters – few would doubt he is ready.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 5 / WAGR 7.

Romain Langasque Amateur 2015 Photo 2

Romain Langasque (Photo: Getty Images)

Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion (since 2014)
Cheng JIN (China) won the 2015 Asia-Pacific at the Clearwater Bay G.&C.C. in Hong Kong last October. A first round 62 (-8) set him up for a famous victory.

Jin was 18 on 6th March but has been making a name for himself for a few years now. He won a PGA Tour China pro tournament in 2014 and has impressed when given invitations to play in both Asia and European Tour events in recent months.

He will become the second Chinese player to compete in The Masters and no one would be surprised to see him making the cut like Tianlang Guan did back in 2013.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 16 / WAGR19.

Cheng Jin Asia-Pacific 2015

Cheng Jin (Photo: APAC)

Past Asia-Pacific champions invited to the following year’s Master’s include: –
2009 Chang-Won Han (Korea)
2010 Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
2011 Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)
2012 Tianlang Guan (China)
2013 Chang-Woo Lee (Korea)
2014 Antonio Murdaca (Australia)

Current Latin America Amateur champion (since 2015)
Paul CHAPLET (Costa Rica) won the 2016 Latin America Amateur in January at the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominicon Republic.

Despite winning the Costa Rican National Junior Championship in both 2014 and 2015 16 year old Chaplet was something of a surprise winner of the 2016 Latin American Amateur.  The second youngest player in the field he was ranked 834th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the start of play in January.

He will easily be the youngest player at this year’s Masters.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 380 / WAGR 441.

img_5639

Paul Chaplet (Photo: LAAC)

Matias Dominguez (Chile) won the inaugural Latin America Amateur at Pilar G.C. in Argentina, thus gaining entry to the 2015 Masters.

Current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion
Sammy SCHMITZ (United States) won the U.S. Mid-Amateur (over 25’s) at John’s Ireland Club in Florida last October. A hole-in-one on a par 4 normally gets the job done. It certainly did for Schmitz (35) on the final hole of last year’s championship.

Schmitz was a 3-time All-American at St. John’s University before moving to Florida to pursue his pro ambitions. It didnt work out so he regained his amateur status and now works in the healthcare industry back home in River Falls, Minnesota.

Current Amateur Rankings – SPWAR 509 / WAGR 2,535.

Sammy Schmitz 2016 US Mid-Amateur

Sammy Schmitz (Photo: USGA)

The first 12 players, including ties, from the previous year’s Masters
Last year none of the 7 amateurs who competed made the cut so no one has taken advantage of a return trip.

The 2015 amateur scores were: –
Corey CONNERS (Canada)            80 69
Byron METH (United States)           74 76
Anthonio MURDACA (Australia)     78 73
Matias DOMINGUEZ (Chile)           76 76
Scott HARVEY (United States)        76 81
Bradley NEIL (Scotland)                 78 79
Gunn YANG (South Korea)             85 74

The first 4 players, including ties, from the previous year’s other Majors, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the U.S. P.G.A. Championship  

No amateurs were able to take advantage of this exemption criteria last year although at The Open Championship at St. Andrews they were queuing up to try.

The low amateur at the 2015 U.S. Open was Brian Campbell (United States) +5 T27.

The low amateur at the Open Championship was Jordan Niebrugge (United States) -11 T6. Oliver Schniederjans (United States) and Ashley Chesters (England) -9 T12 as well as Paul Dunne (Ireland) -6 T30 were also noteworthy.

No amateurs compete in the U.S. P.G.A. Championship.

Prior to this year the Current U.S. Public Links champion also earned a berth. The U.S.G.A. decided to discontinue the Championship in 2015 and as a result Byron Meth was the last player to gain an exemption via this route.

* Honorary, non-competing after one year invitations are awarded to the U.S. Amateur and British Amateur champions. In other words they are invited to play in the tournament the following year after their Amateur victory (so long as they remain amateurs) but then are also invited annually to attend the tournament as guests of the Club.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Georgia Cup – 2016 Preview & Results

29th March 2016

UPDATE – France’s Romain Langasque, the 2015 Amateur champion, beat Bryson DeChambeau, the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion 4 & 3 in today’s Georgia Cup match.

Georgia Cup 2016

Bryson DeChambeau and Romain Langasque (Photo: Marc Langasque)

27th March 2016

The Georgia Cup is an 18-hole match play competition played the week before The Masters between the reigning United States (US) and British Amateur champions.

Both Amateur champions are always in town in late March ahead of The Masters for which their respective wins gain them honorary invitations, albeit only one year competing.

Georgia Cup

The Georgia Cup (Photo: David Burke)

The match was established by The Golf Club of Georgia (GCOG) and was first contested in 1998. Craig Watson, the recently appointed Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup captain, was the British Amateur representative in that first match. He lost to Matt Kutcher, obviously now a well known PGA Tour pro, 3 & 1.

Located in Alpharetta the GCOG has two Alfred Hills-designed courses, the Lakeside (L) and the Creekside (C). Both have hosted the event in the past but since 2006 the Lakeside has taken precedence.

The 2016 Georgia Cup is being played at 1.00pm (6.00pm GMT) on Tuesday 29th March. It is a charitable event with funds being raised for the Georgia State Golf Association Foundation which primarily provides educational scholarships for children.

Gunn Yang GC3

Gunn Yang – 2015 Georgia Cup Winner (Photo: GCOG)

Following last year’s win for Gunn Yang (KOR) over Bradley Neil (SCO) the match is tied between the British and US champions 9 – 9. Yang’s win ended a run of three straight British wins. All of the previous results can be seen in the Appendix below.

This year’s match, the 19th, looks like being a little bit special, bringing together as it does Bryson DeChambeau (USA) and Romain Langasque (FRA).

Bryson DeChambeau achieved the rare double in 2015 of winning both the NCAA Division I Championship (Individual) and the US Amateur Championship. Ahead of turning pro, which he plans to do immediately after The Masters, he has been playing in various professional tournaments gaining experience on both the European and PGA Tours. It is my view that he is the No. 1 amateur golfer in the world at the current time. He has coped with huge expectation in 2016 and to his credit delivered many noteworthy performances with the ‘big boys’.  His T18 (-12) at the Dubai Desert Classic and last week’s T27 (-6) at the Arnold Palmer Invitational being the highlights of his year to date.

Bryson DeChambeau US Amateur 2015

Bryson DeChambeau – 2015 US Amateur champion (Photo: USGA)

In most years a player of DeChambeau’s calibre would be the strong favourite to lift the Georgia Cup. What makes this match so appetising is that his opponent is also one of the world’s very top amateurs and better still is also bang in form.

France’s Romain Langasque will also be turning pro after his Masters debut. He arrives in Georgia on the back of a string of great results – T2 at the European Nations Cup at Sotogrande, 1st at the Spanish Amateur (where he showed some great match play skills) and 2nd last week at The Barclays Kenya Open, the European Challenge Tour’s season opener.

Romain Langasque Amateur 2015 Photo 2

Romain Langasque – 2015 Amateur champion (Photo: Getty Images)

Whilst The Georgia Cup always presents an interesting match up I do have a feeling that this year’s contest may be on a different level to previous years. I for one can’t wait to see how the two of them get on and hope you will also take the time to follow the match on Tuesday.

Appendix

The previous results are shown below (with the Amateur titles won shown in brackets): –
1998 (L) – Matt Kuchar (US) def. Craig Watson (British) – 3 & 1
1999 (L) – Sergio Garcia (British) def. Hank Kuehne (US) – 5 & 4
2000 (L) – David Gossett (US) def. Graeme Storm (British) – 3 & 2
2001 (C) – Mikko Ilonen (British) def. Jeff Quinney (US) – 6 & 4
2002 (C) – Michael Hoey (British) def. Bubba Dickerson (US) – 4 & 2
2003 (L) – Ricky Barnes (US) def. Alejandro Larrazabal (British) – 4 & 2
2004 (C) – Gary Wolstenholme (British) def. Nick Flanagan (US) – 4 & 2
2005 (C) – Ryan Moore (US) def. Stuart Wilson (British) – 2 & 1
2006 (L) – Brian McElhinney (British) def. Edoardo Molinari (US) – 3 & 2
2007 (L) – Richie Ramsay (US) def. Julien Guerrier (British) – 2 & 1
2008 (L) – Colt Knost (US) def. Drew Weaver (British) – 2 & 1
2009 (L) – Danny Lee (US) def. Reinier Saxton (British) – 2&1
2010 (L) – Matteo Manassero (British) def. Byeong-hun An (US) – 5&4
2011 (L) – Peter Uihlein (US) def. Jin Jeong (British) – 4&2
2012 (L) – Brydon Macpherson (British) def. Kelly Kraft (US) – 2&1
2013 (L) – Alan Dunbar (British) def. Steven Fox (US) – 1Up
2014 (L) – Garrick Porteus (British) def. Matthew Fitzpatrick (US) – 3&2
2015 (L) – Gunn Yang (US) def. Bradley Neil (British) – 3&2

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

My Top 15 In 2015 – A Review Of Men’s Amateur Golf

24th December 2015

Every amateur golf season seems to be memorable for some reason but as I look back on 2015 I can’t help but think this year has been extra special.

We have seen exciting Championships, notable Major and Tour performances by amateurs and to cap it all off a stunning Walker Cup success for Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I).  It is not easy for amateur golf to usurp the pro game in the media but during 2015 it has managed to do it quite frequently.

By way of an annual review I have drawn up a ‘My Top 15 in 2015’ list. I am not looking to re-invent the world rankings but simply note those players that have impacted me most to tell the story of the year. I also make no apologies for a little GB&I bias here.

1. BRYSON DECHAMBEAU (USA)

Some people say Miguel Ángel Jiménez is the ‘most interesting man in golf’.  I never thought it myself and I certainly don’t at the end of 2015.

California’s 22 year old Bryson DeChambeau ticks a few more boxes for me – be it the name, the ‘Hogan cap’, the thick gripped irons all at the same 7-iron length or the ball dipping in water and epsom salts to ensure they each have a perfect centre of gravity.  It is easy to be different, it is another to win different – which is what he’s being doing.

Bryson, let’s call him that because I am sure we all will be soon – as in Tiger and Rory – won both the U.S. Amateur Championship and the NCAA Division I Individual Title in a memorable breakout season.  Not many people do that same season double – to be precise just Jack Nicklaus (1961), Phil Mickelson (1990), Tiger Woods (1996) and Ryan Moore (2004) have done it before him.

He beat Derek Bard 7&6 in the 36-hole U.S. Amateur final at Chicago’s Olympia Fields, having already secured the NCAA title by finishing 1-shot ahead of Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan with a 280 (-8) total at the Concession CC in Florida.

Bryson DeChambeau US Amateur 2015

Bryson DeChambeau – 2015 U.S. Amateur Champion (© USGA)

Despite a saw neck at Royal Lytham he won two and halved one of his three matches at The Walker Cup in September too.

With Southern Methodist University (SMU) kicked out of the 2016 NCAA’s due to historic recruiting violations DeChambeau has recently left college – not finishing his Physics Major – and started to compete in professional events as he looks forward to taking up his Masters invitation in April.  In November he tied 2nd at the Australian Masters at Huntingdale GC on 278 (-6), 2-shots behind home favourite Peter Senior.

2. MARCUS KINHULT (SWE)

Marcus Kinhult won the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley by 1-shot from Davis Shore in late April then followed it up with the Lytham Trophy just a week later.  The latter he won by a staggering 8-shots in tough conditions.

Marcus Kinhult Lytham Trophy

Marcus Kinhult – Winner of the 2015 Lytham Trophy  (© GolfChannel.com)

In June he led the Nordea Masters on the European Tour after 36 holes in Sweden before finishing tied 33rd.  He showed that was no fluke in July by then finishing tied 10th at the Omega European Masters in the week of his 19th birthday.

To put the icing on the cake – not only to a fine year but sadly to his amateur career – Marcus recently strolled through European Tour Final Q-School finishing 17th and turning Pro immediately.

Currently 951st in the Official World Golf Rankings it will be interesting to watch his progress in the coming years.

3. ROMAIN LANGASQUE (FRA)

The highlight of Romain Langasque’s year was clearly his Amateur Championship victory at Carnoustie.  He beat Scotland’s Grant Forrest by 4&2 in the Final.

Playing a global schedule he also enjoyed six other top 6 finishes during the year in Argentina, South Africa and Great Britain.  He won the Southern Cross Invitational in March in Argentina and the Mouchy Cup back home in France.

His season tailed off a little as he struggled to take advantage of a number of pro tournament invites that came his way.  He did make the cut at The Open Championship which in any other year would have been a notable achievement for an amateur.

4. CORMAC SHARVIN (IRE)

Cormac enjoyed a great year and in a hard fought contest is probably my top GB&I amateur of 2015, just pipping Paul Dunne, Jimmy Mullen and Marco Penge.

Cormac Sharvin Reflects on the Walker Cup and his 2015 (© BBC Sport)

His victories at the Brabazon Trophy (English Amateur Open) and unbeaten Walker Cup (P3 W3 L0 H0) were clearly the highlights.  I really enjoyed his ‘heart on the sleeve’ performance at the Walker Cup which has tipped the balance in his favour.

His overall consistency, with Top 5 finishes at the Lytham Trophy, Irish Amateur Open and Scottish Amateur Open really impressed me.

5. MARCO PENGE (ENG)

Marco Penge Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship

Marco Penge – 2015 Carrick Neill Scottish Open Strokeplay Champion (© Kenny Smith)

By any measure 2015 was a superb season for 17 year old Marco Penge.  He certainly won more events than any other GB&I amateur golfer.

He destroyed three Junior U18 fields, easily winning the Faldo Series Wales Qualifier (+2, to win by 6 shots), the McEvoy Trophy (-12, to win by 8 shots) and the Sir Henry Cooper Masters (-14, to win by 7 shots).

He capped the year off by winning the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play (-6), his first Men’s win against a strong field at Moray GC.

He also got to the quarter finals of the English Men’s Amateur and reached the semi-finals of the British Boys, eventually losing to the winner, Marcus Svensson.  If he had won the Boys or another late season Men’s event he may well have had to be picked for the Walker Cup.  However, late season injuries saw him tail off and drift out of that picture.

Marco is clearly a great prospect. The question is what does he do in 2016 ?  Push on to a full Men’s schedule or continue to play both Junior and Men’s, incorporating leading Junior events for which he will still be eligible.  There is nothing like winning and having the chance to win to gain experience and breed confidence.

6. PAUL DUNNE (IRE)

Paul Dunne finished his time at UAB with a 5th place result at the NCAA Division I Individual Championship with a 283 (-5) total.  However, a final round 73 (+1) meant this was a famous title he perhaps let slip – whilst easy to say a 70 would have tied him with DeChambeau.

He was the first name on my Walker Cup team sheet which tells you how good he is.

Paul followed a tied 9th finish at the Brabazon and a tied 8th in the European Team Stroke Play (SP) Qualifier with a memorable Open Championship performance at St. Andrews (his tied 30th telling only a little of the full story, having won the Final Qualifier at Woburn for the second successive year).  He then tied 11th at the International European Amateur in Slovakia and reached the quarter-finals of the US Amateur Match Play stage in late August. 

He finished the season by turning Pro where he quickly settled in; a tied 19th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and a tied 25th at the British Masters being the early highlights.  To cap a great year he then played his way through every stage of the European Tour Q-School to secure a 2016 card.

Earlier this week the Irish Golf Writers’ Association voted Paul their Men’s Amateur Player Of The Year, an award he also won in 2014.

Perhaps he should be higher in my 2015 list but without a win I have chosen to scale him back.

7. JIMMY MULLEN (ENG)

Devon’s Jimmy Mullen became just the fourth GB&I player – after Andrew Oldcorn, Paul Casey and Luke Donald – to deliver a maximum four points in a Walker Cup match.  He continued his strong foursomes partnership with Ashley Chesters (perhaps unlucky not to be on this list himself) successfully leading GB&I out on both days at Royal Lytham.  He also beat Denny McCarthy twice in singles.  That’s the same Denny McCarthy that subsequently finished tied 9th at the Web.com Tour Q-School to secure his 2016 playing privileges in the U.S.

WC Jimmy Mullen Kneeling

Jimmy Mullen (Photo: Getty Images / The R&A)

Earlier in the year Mullen won the Welsh Open Stroke Play Championship and finished tied 3rd at The Duncan Putter.

He turned Pro in late September and unsurprisingly made an encouraging pro debut at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (tied 30th).  He finished the year with a good run at the European Tour Q-School, winning his Second stage qualifier at El Saler before sadly coming up short in the Final.

8. JON RAHM (ESP)

Jon Rahm Rodriguez (21), who is now a Senior at Arizona state, has sat on or near the top of the Amateur Rankings throughout most of 2015.   He continued to shine on the US College circuit – with four wins and eight top 5’s – and was rewarded with the 2015 Mark McCormack Award for being the top amateur player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) at the end of August.  That in itself will gain him entry into both the 2016 U.S. Open and Open Championships.

Jon Rahm Arizona Waste Management

Jon Rahm competing in the 2015 Waste Management Open in Arizona (© PGA Tour).

He also received the prestigious 2015 Ben Hogan Award in the summer; voted for by the Golf Coaches Association of America and awarded in their view to the best college player in the U.S.

However, what made this year particularly special was his two top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour – tied 5th at the Waste Management and tied 10th a few weeks ago in the Mayakoba Classic.  It was that first result that drove his amateur rankings standing – rightly or wrongly it earned him way more points than DeChambeau got for winning either the U.S. Amateur or the NCAA Division I title.

9. MAVERICK MCNEALY (USA)

Stanford’s Maverick McNealy had an astonishing 6 wins and 9 top 5’s in the 2014/15 US College season.  He won both the Nicklaus Award (given to the top player in NCAA Division I) and the Haskins Award (given to the most outstanding U.S. collegiate golfer) as a result.

Maverick McNealy

Maverick McNealy – Winner of the 2015 Haskins Award (© Haskins Award)

There seems to be no stopping him in the first half of 2015/16 too.  Junior McNealy has already won three times and finished in the top 10 in the other event he has played this academic year.  He is now just 2 wins behind the Stanford record of 11, held jointly by Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers.

I can see Maverick turning out to be the Matt Fitzpatrick of U.S. golf in the next few years – a baby-faced assassin.  He is a player who still looks very young and has not filled out and as a result is under-estimated by nearly everyone who watches and plays against him.  Just like Fitzpatrick one can see him moving seamlessly from the amateur to paid ranks in due course.

10. CHENG JIN (CHN)

Cheng Jin Asia-Pacific 2015

Cheng Jin – 2015 Asia Pacific Amateur Champion (© APAC)

The new Guan Tianlang ?  Cheng Jin is certainly the latest child prodigy to come out of China and make a global name for themselves.

He won the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship after a first round course record 62 and as a result will tee it up in the 2016 Masters Tournament.

More recently at the Thailand Golf Championships Darren Clarke described him as “the best 17 year old I’ve seen since Rory McIlroy – seriously impressed.”  Cheng Jin finished the event, won by Jamie Donaldson, tied 11th.

11. EWEN FERGUSON (SCO)

Ewen, who turned 19 in July, enjoyed a fine season culminating in his selection for the GB&I Walker Cup team.  Not originally in the Walker Cup squad at the start of 2015 he simply played his way on to the roster by being one of GB&I’s most consistent performers during the year.

He started off with a string of good finishes on Scottish Golf’s early season tour of South Africa before returning home to win the Scottish Champion of Champions and Craigmillar Park Open events.

He followed that up with a tied 3rd at the Irish Amateur Open, a tied 4th at the Scottish Open Amateur, a satisfactory Amateur Championship and a tied 11th at the Brabazon Trophy.  Finally, he was also a member of the Scottish Team that won the European Amateur Team Championship in Sweden.

12. JORDAN NIEBRUGGE (USA)

Very much like Danish Pro Thorbjørn Olesen a pretty ordinary year was made special by a great week in St. Andrews.  Olesen did very little all year but then won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.  Niebrugge did very little all year but then came through on the last day to finish tied 6th on -11 in The Open Championship – a stunningly good result in a Major for an amateur.

Jordan Niebrugge Open 2015

Jordan Niebrugge – Open Championship 2015 Silver Medal Winner (© Getty Images / The R&A)

I also think Jordan should be congratulated for coming over to Great Britain after the U.S. college season and playing our leading amateur events.  He may not have got the results he was looking for – save for The Open which he also chose to and had to qualify for – but hopefully the experience will stand him in good stead for the future.

He was selected for the U.S. Walker Cup team at Royal Lytham, largely on the back of his Open result.  Surprisingly he proved to be largely anonymous, losing all three of his matches comfortably.

13. BEN TAYLOR (ENG)

Ben deserves recognition for his contribution to Louisiana State University’s (LSU) 2015 NCAA Division I victory in June.  Ben, ending his college career at the Championship, sunk the winning 8-foot putt in the final match against the University of South Carolina.  He was conceded the winning putt in LSU’s semi-final match against Georgia too after hitting a 6-iron close.  It was LSU’s first national title since 1955.

Ben Taylor NCAA

Ben Taylor – Louisiana State University, 2015 NCAA Div. I Champions (© LSU Men’s Golf Team)

This was Ben’s second National Title.  He won the 2012 Division II Championship with Nova Southeastern as a freshman – earning himself the Nicklaus Award for Div. II Player of the Year in the process – before transferring up a league to LSU.

Unfortunately he wasn’t able to deliver the results back home in the summer, both individually and for England, that were necessary to secure a place on the GB&I Walker cup team – but he must have been close.  He did finish tied 7th in both the Amateur Championship Stroke Play Qualifier and the Brabazon Trophy.  He secured an impressive quarter final win over Cormac Sharvin at the European Team’s but followed it with a disappointing late loss to Greig Marchbank in the semi’s that let in Scotland.  He also qualified for The Open Championship but unlike many of his amateur peers failed to really get going at St. Andrews.

14. PHILIP BARBAREE (USA)

For me amateur golf is all about winning tournaments and championships.  Philip Barbaree won the 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur in such style he simply had to be included in my 2015 list.  The victory assisted him in becoming the world’s undisputed No. 1 Junior in 2015 – well at least in the eyes of our American friends.

In the 36 hole final at Collation River Plantation Club, South Carolina, Barbaree found himself 5 down with 8 holes to play against Andrew Orischak.  Watching his comeback (and sadly Orischak’s collapse) – he won on the 37th hole after being one down on the 18th second time around – was amongst the most exciting and interesting golf I saw on TV all year.

Barbaree also won the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rolex Tournament of Champions by a record 14-shots and finished tied 6th at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, the event won by Marcus Kinhult.

15. BRADLEY MOORE (ENG)

As the unofficial chairman of the Bradley Moore Fan Club it would be remiss of me not to include him in my 2015 list.

The highlight of another very solid year was his victory in the Carris Trophy, the English Boys’ U18 Open Amateur Stroke Play, at Little Aston.

Bradley Moore Carris Trophy 2015

Bradley Moore – Winner of the 2015 U18 Carris Trophy (© Leaderboard Photography)

In addition to many other good junior performances 2015 also saw Bradley step up to the Men’s circuit; his 8th place in the Lytham Trophy, progress in the Amateur Championship and tied 23rd in the European Amateur all bode well.

He was selected as second reserve for the GB&I Walker Cup Team in August.  Having chosen not to go down the U.S. College route it will be interesting to see just how long he stays amateur.

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.