The Western Amateur Championship – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

4th August 2018

Final

In what he subsequently described as the “biggest day in my golf career, no question” Cole HAMMER beat Davis RILEY by 1 Hole to become the 116th Western Amateur champion at Sunset Ridge C.C.

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Cole Hammer With The George R. Thorne Trophy (Photo: Western Amateur)

Birdies on holes 3, 6 and 9 and an eagle on 7 helped Cole into a 4Up lead after 9 holes. Whilst Davis fought back admirably, particularly with late birdies on 15 and 16, the young Texan was still able to hold his nerve and see out the match.

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Hole-By-Hole Final Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

By playing 76 holes of match play over the four rounds Cole tied the Championship record with Justin Leonard (1992) and David Chung (2010) for most holes played.

In an outstanding performance Hammer led from the front for virtually the hole Championship. He was of course co-medalist in the earlier stroke play qualifying; an achievement which included a new course record 61 in Round 3.

He is just the sixth 18 year-old champion, joining a select group that includes Tiger Woods and last year’s winner Norman Xiong, who also completed the ‘double’.

Like most of the field Hammer will now move on to the U.S. Amateur Championship in California. In September he will start his freshman year at the University of Texas.

Semi-Finals

In the morning Cole HAMMER needed 20 holes to overcome Brandon WU. The scoring was excellent in this match with Wu birdieing the last to take the match back down the 1st. Hammer was 5-under the card and Wu 4-under after the 18 holes. Hammer birdied the 2nd to progress.

The second Semi-Final was tighter with far less birdies recorded. Davis RILEY, a rising Senior at the University of Alabama, pulled away on the back-nine to secure a 4&2 win over a slightly out of sorts Tyler STRAFACI.

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Semi-Final Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

Click here to view the detailed Western Amateur Championship – Match Play Results

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3rd August 2018

Round 2

In a relatively poor quality match Cole HAMMER was fortunate to get through against Spencer RALSTON where both players struggled to match their scoring prowess of previous days.

Brandon WU overcame John AUGENSTEIN on the 19th hole of their match. Wu was 2Down as he stood on the 17th tee. He won that hole with a par 3 before a birdie on the 18th and a par on 19 saw him complete a memorable comeback.

Two late birdies helped Tyler STRAFACI to a 2Up win against Kaiwen LIU.

Davis RILEY enjoyed another big win in the final Quarter-Final benefiting from some loose early play from Hayden SPRINGER before powering away with four birdies. This is the second time in the last three years that the Alabama man has reached the final day.

Here are the full Round 2 results: –

Round 2 Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

Round 1

Cole HAMMER birdied the 20th hole to overcome Davis SHORE in Round 1.

Hammer’s Co-medalist Sam STEVENS wasn’t so lucky being beaten easily by Kaiwen LIU.

There were surprise early defeats for highly fancied Collin MORIKAWA and Isaiah SALINDA.

Here are the full Round 1 results: –

Round 1 Results (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

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2nd August 2018

Cole HAMMER (Texas, USA) and Sam STEVENS (Kansas, USA) shared medalist honours after completion of the final 36 holes of stroke play on Thursday.

They both posted an unbelievable 261 (-23) total for the 72 holes. This was the lowest stroke play total score in the long history of the Western Amateur; the previous best being Aron Price’s 265 (-15 in relation to par) at Point O’ Woods Golf & Country Club in 2004.

Hammer, a rising freshman at the University of Texas, posted rounds of 65, 68, 61 and 67. The 61 (-10) in today’s morning round represented a new course record for the Sunset Ridge Country Club.

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Cole Hammer’s Scorecard (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

Stevens, a former Oklahoma State player, was far more consistent recording scores of 65, 66, 65 and 68. He earned a share of first by holing a 50-foot putt on his final qualifying hole.

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Sam Steven’s Scorecard (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

The leading 16 stroke play finishers – known as the ‘Sweet 16’ – now move onto the match play stage of the competition.

Amongst the other leading qualifiers were Isaiah SALINDA USA (-20), who won last week’s Pacific Coast Amateur, Collin MORIKAWA USA (-19), a 2017 Walker Cup and the SPWAR No. 2-ranked player, Brandon WU USA and Min Woo LEE AUS (both -18)

The final spot went to Davis SHORE (Tennessee, USA) who having finished the stroke play on -11 successfully negotiated a 6-for-1 play-off by making a birdie on the third extra hole.

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‘Sweet 16’ Qualifiers (Photo: Western Amateur / Event-Net Scoring)

World No. 1 Braden THORNBERRY (Mississippi, USA) was a casualty. He has now missed out on ‘Sweet 16’ status on each of this four appearances. In fact 2018 was the first time he had made it through to Day 3 of the stroke play.

Click here to view the Western Amateur’s – Stroke Play Results

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1st August 2018

Spencer RALSTON (Georgia, USA) leads the Western Amateur after completion of the second 18 holes of stroke play at Sunset Ridge. His rounds of 63 and 66 gave him a 36 hole tournament record total of 137 (-13).

44 players made the 36-hole cut, which fell at -5, and will now play a final 36 holes of stroke play tomorrow. The cut mark was 4 shots lower than the previous record set last year.

Unfortunately English pair Billy MCKENZIE and Ben JONES were amongst those to miss out. McKenzie recorded scores of 71 and 69 (-2) to lie tied 68th whilst Jones’ 74 and 72 (+4) saw him sitting in tied 132nd when the first cut fell.

After Thursday’s two rounds the field will be trimmed to 16 for match play.

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29th July 2018

The 116th Western Amateur Championship starts on Tuesday at Sunset Ridge Country Club in Northfield, Illinois in the Unites States.

The Western Amateur is one of the world’s leading amateur golf tournaments. Only the U.S. Amateur Championship and the Amateur Championship could be considered more prestigious.

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Sunset Ridge C.C. (Photo: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

The Championship is run by the Western Golf Association (WGA). The WGA were established in 1899 and appropriately set up their headquarters in the town of Golf, Illinois. In addition to the Western Amateur the WGA also run the Western Junior Championship (since 1914) and the BMW Championship, the second oldest professional tournament in the U.S.A.

The event sits uncomfortably in the Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur golf calendar, coming at the height of the European season. Despite the small number of GB&I entries normally seen the event is of such standing that it is always worthy of our full attention.

Field

156 players are exempted or invited to compete. Free to choose whichever ranking it wishes the WGA uses the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) to assess exemptions.

In 2017 more players in the Top 200 of the SPWAR competed in the Western Amateur (99) than in both the U.S. Amateur (93) and the Amateur Championship (73). That is despite the two major Championships having much larger fields, 312 and 288 players respectively.

Ben JONES (England) and Billy MCKENZIE (England) are the only entries from Great Britain and Ireland this year.

Last year saw David BOOTE (Wales), Liam JOHNSTON (Scotland) and Connor SYME (Scotland) compete. None of them were able to make the top 16 match play stage.

2018 Draw

Click here to view the Western Amateur’s – Stroke Play Rounds 1 & 2 Draw

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Sunset Ridge C.C. (Photo: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

This year the match play stage will be streamed live for the first time ever on GolfChannel.com, the Golf Channel mobile app and thewesternamateur.com.

For more information including the scoring links which will go live from Tuesday please take a look at the Championship website – www.thewesternamateur.com

Format

Not only is the field often the strongest in amateur golf the current format, which was first adopted in 1961, is arguably the best of any amateur tournament in the world. It certainly offers a thorough examination for the players.

All of the field start by playing 18 holes of stroke play on each of the first two days.

A 36 hole cut to the low 44 scores and ties is then made.

The remaining players then play a further 36 holes of stroke play on Day 3.

At the end of 72 holes the low 16 finishers progress to the match play stage. A sudden death play off is used to separate those players tied for 16th place.

The “Sweet Sixteen” then play match play over the final two days of competition, the finalists having to play two matches on each day.

2018 Venue

Sunset Ridge Country Club is located on Chicago’s North Shore, the course being 25 miles from the city centre.

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Sunset Ridge C.C. was designed by William Diddel in 1923 and renovated by Rick Jacobson in 2004-05. The Club is celebrating its 95th anniversary this year.

As you will have seen from the above photos the course is tight with trees and water adjacent to most fairways. It plays 6,800 yards from the Championship tees and is protected by well bunkered fast greens, often sloping from back to front. It is clearly a strategic course where accurate driving to set up attacking approach shots to the right green segments is required.

Sunset Ridge C.C., Holes 1 -9 Aerials (Video: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

Sunset Ridge C.C., Holes 9-18 Aerials (Video: Sunset Ridge C.C.)

The Western Amateur will be staged at the following clubs over the next four years: –
2019 – Point O’Woods G.&C.C., Benton Harbor, Michigan
2020 – Crooked Stick G.C., Carmel, Indiana
2021 – Glenview G.C., Golf, Indiana
2022 – Exmoor C.C., Highland Park, Illinois

History and Past Winner’s

The Western Amateur was founded in 1899 and the 2018 event will be its 116th playing. It is the third-oldest amateur championship in the world.

As the photos below show the trophies certainly match the history and prestige of the event.

Virtually all of the great names in U.S. golf have competed in and in many cases won the Western Amateur.

There has never been a GB&I winner albeit Florida-based Sam HORSFIELD (England) went close in 2016 at Knollwood C.C. Sam won the stroke play qualifying by 9 shots (63, 75, 67, 64 / -15) before losing to Dylan MEYER (U.S.A.) 3&1 in the Final.

In 2017 the Western Amateur was played at Stokie C.C. in Glencoe, Illinois. Norman XIONG (U.S.A.) won the stroke play qualifying with rounds of 72, 67, 66 and 65 (-14) before going on to beat Doc REDMAN (U.S.A.) in the match play final on the 22nd hole.

Xiong, who played in the subsequent Walker Cup and recently left Oregon after his second year to turn pro, was the 25th medalist to win the tournament and the first since Chris Williams (U.S.A.) in 2012.

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Norman Xiong – The 2017 Western Amateur Champion (Photo: Western Amateur)

Here’s a selection of former winners: –

Last 5 Years

2017 Norman Xiong – Skokie C.C.
2016 DylanMeyer – Knollwood Club
2015 Dawson Armstrong – Rich Harvest Farms
2014 BeauHossler – The Beverly C.C.
2013 JordanNiebrugge – The Alotian Club

Others

Jamie Lovemark – 2005 (youngest winner at 17 years, 6 months and 8 days).
Ryan Moore – 2004.
Tiger Woods – 1994.

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Tiger Woods (Photo: Western Amateur)

Justin Leonard – 1992 and 1993 (1991 Runner-Up).
Phil Mickelson – 1991.

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Phil Mickelson (Photo: Western Amateur) 

Chris DiMarco – 1988.
Scott Verplank – 1985.
Hal Sutton – 1979 and 1980. 
Bobby Clampett – 1978
Andy Bean – 1975
Curtis Strange – 1974.
Ben Crenshaw – 1973.
Andy North – 1971.
Lanny Wadkins – 1970. 
Steve Melnyk – 1969. 
Tom Weiskopf – 1963.
Jack Nicklaus – 1961. 
Tommy Aaron – 1960.
Dr. Ed Updegaff – 1957 and 1959. 
Charles Coe – 1950. 
Frank Stranahan – 1946, 1949, 1951 and 1952 (4).
Marvin Ward – 1940, 1941 and 1947. 
Charles Yates – 1925.
Don Moe – 1929 and 1931.
Francis Ouimet – 1917.
Chick Evans – 1909, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923 (8). 
H. Chandler Egan  – 1902, 1904, 1905 and 1907 (4).  

Bobby Jones first played in 1917 when he was just 15. He reached the match play stage before losing in Round 1 (32) to Daniel ‘Ned’ Sawyer. He played for the second time in 1920 where he was medalist before losing to Chick Evans in the semi-finals (36 holes in those days).

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

The Open Championship’s Silver Medal

2nd May 2018

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 69 Championships since has been won 50 times by 44 different players.

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 2018 the 147th Open will be played at Carnoustie Golf Links. It will be the eighth time this famous course in Angus, Scotland will have 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 69 Championships from 1949 to 2017 the Silver Medal has been won by 44 players on 50 occasions (all in bold in the table below).

The Medal has not been awarded on 19 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

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 © 2014-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.