U.S. Amateur Championship – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

Sunday 19th August 2018

Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) beat Devon BLING (USA) 6&5 in the 36-hole Final of the U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

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Viktor Hovland (Photo: USGA)

The Final was effectively won around the turn on the first 18 holes when Hovland won four holes in a row. Bling bogeying 8, 9 and 10 before Hovland birdied 11. The Californian battled to the end but was always unlikely to recover such a deficit against the in form Norwegian.

Hovland is just the second Continental European to win the U.S. Amateur. Edoardo Molinari (ITA) won in 2005 at Merion Golf Club, besting Dillon Dougherty (USA) 4&3 in the Final.

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Match Play Final Results (Photo: USGA)

Click here to view the full – U.S. Amateur Championship Results

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Saturday 18th August 2018

Devon BLING (USA) beat Isaiah SALINDA (USA) by 1 Hole to win the first Semi-Final.

Devon will play Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) in tomorrow’s Final after the Norwegian overcame Cole HAMMER (USA) 3&2 in the other match.img_9822

Match Play Semi-Finals Results (Photo: USGA)

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Friday 17th August 2018

Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) lost 3&2 to Cole HAMMER (USA) in their Quarter Final match.

Cole (18), arguably the best amateur golfer in the world at the moment, came into this week having already won the Azalea Invitational, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (with partner Garrett Barber) and most impressively the Western Amateur Championship this season. He starts his college career at the University of Texas in September and is certainly one to watch.

After the match Cole said to the U.S.G.A.: “I think when I won the Azalea earlier this year, when I came out on top in a playoff against Hugo Bernard and Joe Pagdin, I felt like I belonged in amateur golf rather than just in junior golf. Actually even before that, last year at the Jones Cup, I came in third, and that’s a pretty solid finish for 17 [years old]. But this whole year has gradually been a rise to the confidence that I have now.”

As can be seen from the hole-by-hole scores below this was a hard fought contest with both players in good form. Cole was -3 for the holes played and Alex -2.

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C. Hammer v. A. Fitzpatrick Match Play Quarter Final Scores (Photo: USGA)

Fitzpatrick (19) can now look forward to starting his freshman season at Wake Forest in September with renewed confidence knowing he belongs at this level.

As this year’s eight quarter finalists each earn an exemption into the 2019 U.S. Amateur he can at least take solace in the fact he has also punched his ticket for next year’s U.S. Amateur already.

Europe’s other representative Viktor HOVLAND (NOR) continues to impress. Following his second successive 7&6 win the Oklahoma State player appears to be the man to beat. In beating Austin SQUIRES (USA) he won seven consecutive holes (2-8) and equalled the largest margin of victory in an 18 hole Quarter Final record.

Here are the full results from the Quarter Finals: –

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Match Play Quarter Finals Results (Photo: USGA)

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Thursday 16th August 2018

Match Play Round 3

For the second time on Thursday Alex FITZPATRICK required extra holes to get the win.

This time McClure MEISSNER was beaten on the 19th Hole. As with this morning’s round Alex bogeyed the par 3 17th to put himself under pressure. After three putting the 18th for a 6 and a fortunate half it was great to see the Yorkshireman birdie the 1st extra hole to end the match. 39 holes in a day is more than enough for anyone.

Mesissner is not someone I have heard too much about but having beaten both Brad DALKE and John AUGENSTEIN in the previous rounds he was clearly playing very well.

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A. Fitzpatrick v. M. Meissner Match Play Round 3 Scores (Photo: USGA)

Speaking to the U.S.G.A. after the match Alex was understandably delighted to have made the Quarter finals: “It means a lot. This tournament has been something I’ve really wanted to get in from the start of the year. I’ve worked pretty hard to get in this, and it’s nice to actually play good golf when I get here. I didn’t expect to even qualify for the stroke play, so sort of each match getting further and further is getting more exciting, and as I said, if I was to get knocked out, I still wouldn’t be disappointed because I’ve had a great week.”

In the all-Norwegian match up Viktor HOVLAND beat Kristoffer REITAN 7&6 in a surprisingly one sided game.

Here are the full Round 3 results: –

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Match Play Round 3 Results (Photo: USGA)

Match Play Round 2

It was a close run thing but Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) finally overcame Jesus MONTENEGRO (ARG) in a tight match on the 20th Hole.

Alex pared the par 5 18th to draw level before Montenegro bogeyed the 2nd extra hole to allow the man from Sheffield to progress.

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A. Fitzpatrick v. J. Montenegro Match Play Round 2 Scores (Photo: USGA)

The two other remaining Europeans in the draw are Viktor HOVLAND and Kristoffer REITAN and sadly for Norwegian fans they will play each other in the penultimate game of this afternoon’s series.

Here are the full Round 2 results from Pebble Beach: –

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Match Play Round 2 Results (Photo: USGA)

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Wednesday 15th August 2018

Match Play Round 1

Harry HALL (ENG) lost by 1 Hole to Stewart HAGESTAD (USA). Stewart, the mid-amateur selection for the 2017 U.S.A. Walker Cup team, came into the match full of confidence after recording the lowest qualifying round; a bogey free 66 in his Rd 2 at Pebble Beach yesterday. In a tight match where neither player led by more than one hole Stewart just came out on top.

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S. Hagestad v. H. Hall – Match Play Round 1 Scores (Photo: USGA)

Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) beat Ian SIEBERS (USA) 2&1. Ian handed control of the match to Alex with four bogeys in the first six holes and Alex was good enough to see it out from there. The draw was perhaps favourable to Alex but the match still had to be won.  Whilst Ian shot a 68, including 7 birdies, at Pebble Beach in Stroke Play Round 2 and qualified strongly in 7th place he is just 16 years old and therefore inexperienced at this level.

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I. Siebers v. A. Fitzpatrick – Match Play Round 1 Scores (Photo: USGA)

After a birdie on the opening hole Eoin LEONARD (IRE) appeared to lose his way on the famous cliff top holes that end Pebble Beach’s front nine, effectively handing the match to Kristoffer REITAN (NOR) with a sequence of bogeys. Reitan is an experienced international player ranked 44th in the SPWAR so there was certainly no shame in losing to him for the in-form Irishman.

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K. Reitan v. E. Leonard – Match Play Round 1 Scores (Photo: USGA)

Here are the complete Round 1 results: –

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Match Play Round 1 Results (Photo: USGA)

Medalist Daniel HILLIER (NZL) safely overcame play-off winner Jacob BERGERON (USA) 3&2.

The main upsets in Round 1 fell in the lower half of the draw which potentially could be good news for Alex Fitzpatrick. Braden THORNBERRY (USA), Collin MORIKAWA (USA) and Justin SUH (USA), all ranked in the SPWAR’s top 10, lost their games. Brad DALKE (USA), runner-up to Curtis Luck in 2016, and highly rated Junior Akshay BHATIA (USA) also lost in this part of the draw.

24-For-1 Play-Off

The sudden death play-off for the 64th and final Match Play spot started at 7.30am (3.30pm BST) on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. The hole was set at 208 yards for the play off with the flag tucked on the back left hand side of the green.

The play-off was televised in full by the U.S.G.A. and streamed on Facebook and Twitter.

Unsurprisingly given the hole set up and circumstances just two players made birdie on the par 3 from the 24 who were competing. They were Jacob BERGERON (USA), the 12th to tee off, and Peter KUEST (USA), the 24th and last.

Both Bergeron and Kuest then hit great drives into the fairway on 18, the next play-off hole. Unfortunately at that point things went crazy. Bergeron mis-hit his lay up right blocking himself out behind the big tree in front of the green whilst Kuest, going for the green, hooked his approach into the Pacific. To cut a long story short Bergeron ended up winning the hole with a 6 with Kuest could only manage an 8.

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Tuesday 14th August 2018

63 players on +3 or better secured places in the Match Play Stage of the U.S. Amateur championship today.

A further 24 players on +4 will play-off tomorrow morning on Pebble Beach’s 17th hole to determine who takes up the final qualifying spot.

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Stroke Play Qualifying Results Summary (Photo: USGA)

Daniel HILLIER (NZL) secured medalist honours from Cole HAMMER (USA) after both finished on 137 (-6). Daniel edged Cole on Pebble Beach count back. Both played the lead venue on Day 1 with Daniel recording a 67 (-4) to Cole’s 69 (-2).

As expected after Day 1 only Eoin LEONARD (IRE) on 145 +2 [74 SH / 71PB], Harry HALL (ENG) 146 +3 [72 PB / 74 SH] and Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) 146 +3 [72 PB / 74 SH] qualified from the seven strong Great British and Irish contingent.

Eoin qualified in some style. Standing at +5 after 27 holes he needed something special on Pebble Beach’s front nine to make the cut. Thankfully he was able to deliver a 32 including an eagle and two birdies to qualify comfortably.

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Eoin Leonard’s Front 9 Scorecard At Pebble Beach (Photo: USGA)

Eoin has been seeded 43rd, Alex 56th and Harry 52nd for the Match Play Stage based on their qualifying scores.

Norway’s Kristoffer REITAN Ev T19 and Viktor HOVLAND +1 T24 were the only other European qualifiers. Fred LACROIX (FRA) +4 T64 has the opportunity to make it 8 European qualifiers as he is one of the players contesting tomorrow morning’s 23-for-1 play-off.

Whilst Matthew JORDAN (ENG) 148 +5 [77 SH / 71 PB], Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) 148 +5 [78 SH / 70 PB], Robin DAWSON (IRE) 150 +7 [76 SH / 74 PB] and Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) 150 +7 [78 SH / 72PB] all produced improved scores at Pebble Beach in Round 2 they had simply left themselves too much to do after struggling at the tough Spyglass Hill on Day 1.

Amateur champion Jovan REBULA (RSA) also missed out on with a 148 +5 [76 SH / 72 PB].

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Monday 13th August 2018

Daniel HILLIER (NZL) and Trevor PHILLIPS (USA) lead the Stroke Play Qualifying competition at the US Amateur Championship at the end of Day 1.

Hillier, 19, shot a 67 (-4) at Pebble Beach which included 5 birdies and an eagle.

Phillips, 20, recorded a 68 (-4) at Spyglass Hill which included 6 birdies, 4 on an unblemished back 9.

Recent winners in the U.S. Isaiah SALINDA (USA) -3 (PB) 3rd, Cole HAMMER (USA) -2 (PB) T4, Akshay BHATIA (USA) -1 (PB) T12 and Michael THORBJORNSEN (USA) -1 (PB) T12 have all clearly brought their form to California.

Hammer is 18, whilst Bhatia and Thorbjornsen are just 16. All three are amongst the favourites this week.

Norway’s Kristoffer REITAN -1 (SH) T12 and Viktor HOVLAND Ev (PB) T28 are the leading European entrants after Round 1.

As you can see from the table below it was a generally disappointing day for the Great British and Irish players. Harry HALL, Alex FITZPATRICK and Eoin LEONARD now have the best chance of making the top 64 Match Play Stage. The other players will need something very special on day 2 to progress where the cut can now be expected to fall at +2 or +3 based on the first round scores.

Amateur champion Jovan REBULA (RSA) also has a lot of work to do if he is to progress.

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Stroke Play Qualifying Round 1 Scores Summary (Photo: USGA)

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Sunday 12th August 2018  

The 118th U.S. Amateur Championship starts tomorrow in Pebble Beach, California.

This year the championship is being staged at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

Administered by the United States Golf Association (U.S.G.A.) the U.S. Amateur is the most important and prestigious competition in the amateur golf calendar.

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Competition Format

On Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th August all of the contestants will play 36-holes of stroke play, one at Pebble Beach and the other at Spyglass Hill.

The Top 64 qualifiers will then progress to the match play stage of the competition. Ties for the last qualifying place will be resolved by a sudden death play-off.

18 hole match play rounds will then be played between Wednesday 15th and Saturday 18th, culminating in a 36-hole Championship Final on Sunday 19th August. Extra holes will be played to resolve any halved games.

2018 Field

A field of 312 players from 24 (2017: 29) different countries will contest this year’s Championship.

261 players are from U.S.A. with Canada (10) and Australia (8) the next best represented countries.

This year 96 (2017: 100) 36 hole Sectional Qualifying events were held in July across the USA, with one each in Canada and Mexico too. The introduction of a European Sectional Qualifier, like the U.S.G.A. stage for the U.S. Open Championship, remains long overdue.

This year’s average competitor age is 22.59 (2017: 22.39).

The oldest player will be Paul SIMSON (67, b. 10th May 1951) and the youngest Gaven LANE (14, b. 16th June 2004).

2015 Walker Cup player Mike McCOY will be making his 19th appearance in the Championship.

Denmark’s Nicolai HØSGAARD has chosen not to take up his exemption that came with his European Amateur Championship win at Royal Hague in late June. He is instead playing in the Boys’ Amateur Championship in Northern Ireland, aiming to secure his spot on Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup team.

There are 7 GB&I players competing. There were 9 in 2017 and 11 in 2016 at Riviera and Oakland Hills respectively.

Here is a list of the GB&I players with their exemption category or Sectional Qualifying event noted: –

Todd CLEMENTS (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR 27/6/18

Robin DAWSON (IRE) – Top 50 WAGR 27/6/18

Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR 27/6/18

Harry HALL (ENG) – Qualifier at Santa Rosa, California (23/07/17), 68 66 (-10) 1st.

Matthew JORDAN (ENG) – GB&I Walker Cup 2017 and Top 50 WAGR 27/6/18

Eoin LEONARD (IRE) – Qualifier at Westfield, New Jersey (16/07/17), 67 70 (-5) 1st.

Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR 27/6/18

2018 Stroke Play Qualifying Draw

The draw for the 36-hole Stroke Play Qualifying competition can be viewed here – U.S. Amateur Tee Times

California is 8 hours behind us so much of the action will take place overnight.

Matthew JORDAN and Robin DAWSON are in the same threesome. They will tee off at 8.01am (1st) at Spyglass on Day 1 and 1.16pm (10th) at Pebble Beach on Day 2.

Host Courses

Pebble Beach Golf Links
7,039 yards, Par 71.
Opened in 1919.
Designed by Jack Neville & Douglas Grant (1919) / Herbert Fowler (1920) / H. Chandler Egan (1928) / Jack Nicklaus (1998) / Arnold Palmer & Thad Layton (2007-2016).

Pebble Beach famously enjoys nine holes perched on the cliffs above the Pacific and is one of the world’s finest courses. An occasional criticism is that the poa-annua greens can be bumpy in the morning and late afternoon.

This will be the 12th U.S.G.A. Championship Pebble beach has staged. It has hosted four previous U.S. Amateurs; in 1929, 1947, 1961 and 1999, the latter won by David Gossett.

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Pebble Beach Golf Links (Photo: Bart Keagy)

Spyglass Hill Golf Course
7,049 yards, Par 72.
Opened in 1966.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones (1966) / Tom Fazio (R. 1996).

Spyglass starts with five opening holes set in sand dunes near to the Pacific coast before moving inland to more challenging holes amongst the Monterey pine covered hills. A top rated course in the U.S. many commentators believe it to be nearly as good as Pebble Beach.

Spyglass co hosted the U.S. Amateur in 1999 alongside Pebble Beach.

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3rd Hole, Spyglass Hill Golf Course (Photo: Pebble Beach Company)

Weather Forecast (as at 11.00pm 12th August 2018)

A cool spell of weather is forecast for next week with playing conditions expected to be virtually identical on each day.

Stroke Play Stage
Mon 13th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 12°C.
Tues 14th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 13°C.

Match Play Stage
Weds 15th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 17°C / Min 13°C.
Thurs 16th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 19°C / Min 12°C.
Fri 17th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 20°C / Min 14°C.
Sat 18th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 22°C / Min 14°C.
Sun 19th August – Sunny. Wind 8mph (W). Temp. Max. 20°C / Min 14°C.

UK Television Coverage

Sky Sports will be taking the Fox U.S. television feed, via the Red Button, over the final match play weekend.

Prizes

The 2018 U.S. Amateur Champion will receive the following: –

a) A Gold Medal and custody of the Havemeyer Trophy for the following year;

and assuming they remain amateur

b) An exemption to play in the 2019 U.S. Open coincidentally to be staged at Pebble Beach Golf Links;

c) An exemption to play in the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club;

d) An invitation to play in the 2019 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club;

e) An exemption to play in the 2019 – 2028 U.S. Amateurs; and

f) Various invitations to play in PGA Tour and European Tour events.

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

The original silver Havemeyer Trophy was presented to the U.S.G.A. on March 1895 in honour of the Association’s first President Theodore A. Havemeyer. This was lost in a fire at Bobby Jones’ home club, East Lake, in 1925.

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Bobby Jones Receives the Original U.S. Amateur Trophy in 1924

A new gold trophy was produced in 1926. This was retired in 1992 with a copy of the trophy being produced and passed from champion to champion ever since.

Sadly the original gold trophy was stolen from the U.S.G.A. Museum in 2012 and has never been seen since.

The 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship

img_8417Doc Redman (Photo: U.S.G.A.)

The 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship was played at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

Doc REDMAN (USA) won beating Doug GHIM (USA) on the 37th hole of the Championship match.

In an astonishing finish Redman recovered from 2-Down with 2 holes to play. On the 35th hole Redman dropped a 60 foot eagle putt before finishing the match with a birdie on the 36th and a conceded birdie on the first extra hole.

The U.S.G.A. highlights video below is worth watching just for Redman’s putt on the 35th.

2017 U.S. Amateur Highlights (You Tube: U.S.G.A.)

The Stroke Play medalist was Hayden WOOD who broke the U.S. Amateur Championship 36-hole qualifying record with a total of 131. Wood followed his 64 at Riviera with a 67 at Bel-Air to beat the 132 shot by Hank Kim (1994), Gregor Main (2011) and Bobby Wyatt (2012).

Jack SINGH BRAR, Robert MACINTYRE and Connor SYME all qualified for the Match Play Stage. Harry ELLIS lost out in the play-off on Riviera’s famous short par 4 10th hole. His double bogey 6 in the second group out saw him fall out of contention quickly.

Connor SYME went the furthest reaching the Quarter Finals before eventually losing 2&1 to Doug GHIM.

U.S. Amateur Championship History

The U.S. Amateur is the oldest golf championship in America and this will be its 117th playing.

It was first played in 1895, the winner being Charles B. Macdonald.

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

Former US winners include Walter Travis (1900-01-03), Jerome Travers (1907-08-12-13), Bobby Jones (1924-25-27-28-30), Francis Ouimet (1914-31), W. Lawson Little (1934-35) Arnold Palmer (1954), Jack Nicklaus (1959-61), Deane Beman (1960-63), Lanny Wadkins (1970), Craig Stadler (1973), Mark O’Meara (1979), Hal Sutton (1980), Phil Mickelson (1990), Justin Leonard (1992), Tiger Woods (1994-95-96), Matt Kucher (1997), Ryan Moore (2004), Peter Uihlein (2010) and Bryson DeChambeau (2015).

British players have won the Championship on six occasions but just twice in the last 100 years – H.J. Whigham (1896-97), Findlay Douglas (1898), Harold Hilton (1911), Richie Ramsay (2006) and Matthew Fitzpatrick (2013).

Matthew Fitzpatrick (Photo: U.S.G.A.)

Italy’s Edoardo Molinari (2005) is the only player from the Continent of Europe to have lifted the Havemeyer Trophy.

Future U.S. Amateur Venues

2019 – Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, North Carolina – Courses No. 2 and 4.

2020 – Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Oregon

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

Harold Hilton

16th November 2017

Harold Hilton was born on 12th January 1869 in West Kirby, near Liverpool in England’s North West.

Following in the footsteps of his father he joined the nearby Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake when he was 8 years old. The Club, which received its patronage in 1871, is the one he was associated with all of his life and where his collection of medals are still proudly displayed to this day.

Harold Hilton (Photo: Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

It was fellow Hoylake junior member Willie More that helped him most in his formative years, encouraging him to watch better players and practice as much as he possibly could. He was of course fortunate that Johnny Ball, 8 years older than him and arguably Britain’s greatest ever amateur, was a fellow member of Royal Liverpool and clearly someone to aspire to and learn from.

Harold Hilton was one of the very best players for the 25 years between 1890 and 1915. Freddie Tait was the only player of this era he rarely got the better of. Whilst Hilton did beat Tait in stroke play he never beat him in a match play game and this drew a lot of comment at the time. Tait to a lesser degree had the same problem with Ball in match play.

His outstanding golfing achievement was winning both the 1911 Amateur Championship and the U.S. Amateur Championship. He was the first player to complete this double and he did so at the age of 42. Until Matthew Fitzpatrick won in 2013 Hilton had been the last Englishman to win the U.S. Amateur.

The 1911 U.S. Amateur has gone down in history for two reasons; firstly the manner of the victory and secondly the impact it had on the growth of the game in the United States.

Harold Hilton at Apawamis CC (Photo: The Ron Watts Collection)

The 1911 U.S. Amateur took place at Apawamis Country Club in Rye, New York State. Hilton won the stroke play by two shots (76+74=150) leading 32 qualifiers into the match play stage. He then reached the 36 hole Final where he faced Brooklyn-born Fred Herreshoff (24). At lunch Hilton led 4Up and he quickly extended this to 6Up early in the afternoon round. Herreshoff fought back bravely and managed to draw level after 34-holes. The American had chances to win on both of the final two holes but putts just missed for him as Hilton struggled for halves.

Playing their 37th hole (the par 4 1st), with both players having driven into the fairway, Hilton sliced his 3-wood approach. What happened next remains uncertain. The ball either hit the rocky outcrop to the right of the green (in those days surrounded by trees and rough) or benefitted from a kind bounce on the slope before it. Either way from looking dead off the club face it ended up in the middle of the green 20 feet from the hole. In shock Herreshoff – no doubt thinking he had one hand on the trophy just moments earlier – topped his own approach short and then proceeded to take three more to get down. Despite his experience Hilton nervously two-putted for par, in the end having to hole a 3 footer to secure the Havemeyer Trophy.

Herbert Warren Wind described the ‘rock shot’ many years later in his The Story of American Golf (1948) as “the most discussed single shot ever played in an American tournament.” He went on to explain why it had motivated the next generation of U.S. golfers so much: “Americans were not at all pleased over the idea that a foreigner had carried one of our championship cups out of the country, and that men who had never cared about golf before now wanted to know the real inside story.”

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Hilton’s Rock on the 1st Hole of Apawamis CC in 2015
(Photos: Dave Donelson, Westchester Magazine)

In total Harold Hilton won four Amateur Championships:-
1900 – at Royal St. George’s GC v. James Robb SCO (8&7)
1901 – at St. Andrews v. John L. Low SCO (1 Up)
1911 – at Prestwick v. Edward Lassen ENG (4&3)
1913 – at St. Andrews v. Robert Harris SCO (6&5)

It was perhaps no coincidence that his success in the Amateur started in 1900, the first year that both Tait (who had been killed that February in the Second Boer War) and Ball (who was still serving in South Africa) were both absent.

Hilton also lost three Amateur Finals; in 1891 to John Laidlay (19th hole), 1892 to Johnny Ball (3&2) and 1896 to Freddie Tait (8&7).

He achieved an impressive Won 95, Lost 29 (76.6%) overall Amateur Championship record. Between 1887 and 1927, he appropriately started and finished at Royal Liverpool, he played more Championships (33) and matches (124) than anyone else has in history. World War I deprived him of 5 Amateurs between 1916-1919 too.

Harold Hilton also won the Open Championship in 1892 (Muirfield, 305 – 66 entrants) and 1897 (Royal Liverpool, 314 – 86 entrants). The 1892 Open was the first played over 72 holes.

Just Johnny Ball (the first to do so in 1890), Bobby Jones (1926, 1927 & 1930) and Hilton have achieved this feat as amateurs. All three were members of Royal Liverpool GC.

It is in some respects surprising that Hilton won both of his Opens before he had secured an Amateur Championship but he was a renowned stroke player. In total he played in 20 Open’s between 1891 and 1914.

It’s worth noting that Hilton also finished tied third in the 1911 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s with Sandy Herd, one shot behind Harry Vardon, who won the subsequent play-off, and Arnaud Massy. What a hat trick of wins that would have been !

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Harold Hilton’s Medals at Royal Liverpool GC (Photo: GolfBible)

It is easy to forget that many equipment changes took place around the the turn of the century. Hilton dealt reasonably well with the transition, coping better than many of his peers with new clubs such as the Driver and the rubber-cored Haskell ball which replaced the old gutta-percha one. Interestingly of the seven Majors Hilton won the first four saw him use the more exacting gutty whilst the final three were with the easier rubber-core ball.

He also won the St. George’s Challenge Cup in 1893 and 1894, a major amateur competition back in the day.

He won the Irish Open Amateur Championship three years in a row and in some style too. In 1900 he beat S.H. Fry 11&9 at Newcastle, in 1901 P. Dowie 6&5 at Dollymount and in 1902 W.H. Hamilton 5&4 at Portrush.

In October 1910 Hilton (41) played Miss Cecil Leitch (19), a future women’s champion golfer, in a two day 72 hole exhibition match at Walton Heath and Sunningdale. Hilton had publically said he or for that matter any other first class male golfer could give 9 shots to an equivalent women over 18 holes. The Ladies’ Field magazine wanting to see if he could deliver on his word arranged the match and the publicity drew large crowds to the famous courses. Helped by the 18 shots she received Leitch ended up winning 2&1 but Hilton had largely made his point particularly as had been 2 Up after the first day’s play at Walton Heath.

Hilton’s last major win came in 1914 when he won the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase at Sunningdale with a 151 total. As one of the organisers of this event he paired himself with Francis Ouimet, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and proceeded to comprehensively out play him over the 36 holes.

Hilton’s swing was ungainly and notable for the fact he started by moving onto his toes before then very noticeably re-gripping the club at the point of transition. He almost always played whilst smoking too although it is said he limited himself to 50 cigarettes a day. However, like all the greats he practiced hard and honed his style. As he said himself “(I) served a long apprenticeship in the art of learning how to control the club in the upward swing.”

As Robert Harris, the runner-up in the 1913 Amateur, said: “His cap used to fall off his head at the end of full swings, as if jerked off, but this did not indicate if the swing was pure if unduly forceful. He was a small man with a powerful physique; it was exhilarating to watch his perky walk between shots. His assiduity was his greatness.”

Harold Hilton’s Swing (Photo: ingolfwetrust.com)

Hilton also spent a lot of time thinking about the mental side of the game. He believed it was “possible to develop the habit of concentration” and believed “that the majority of good match players are inclined to be very silent men” and tend to be those that play the game “without allowing any outside influence to affect them in any way whatever.”

Hilton was also a member of West Lancashire Golf Club and was this club’s first paid Secretary in the early 1900’s. He was also Secretary of Ashford Manor Golf Club later in his life.

In 1912 he played a leading role in designing the highly regarded Old Course at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset. The 16th hole is still named ‘Hilton’s’ in memory of his involvement with the Club.

He turned his hand to writing about the sport as he came to the end of his playing career. As well as a frequent contributor he was the first editor of Golf Monthly magazine (from 1911) before taking on the same role at Golf Illustrated, then a weekly paper (from 1913).

He wrote three books My Golfing Reminiscences (1907), The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf (with Garden C. Smith, 1912) and Modern Golf (1913). The fact that he wrote his autobiography in 1907 is probably down to opportunity but also reveals that at 38 he probably thought his best playing days were behind him. It was in 1903 that he also started to suffer with rheumatism and sciatica. His confidence in his own game was such that he chose not to even enter The Open in 1906, 1907 (at Hoylake), 1908 or 1910. History of course shows how wrong he was to nearly retire from competitive golf.

‘Hoylake’ – the chain smoking Harold Hilton depicted by ‘Spy’ (Sir Leslie Ward)

Hilton died aged 73 on 5th May 1942 at his home in Westcote, near Stow on the Wold in Gloucestershire. He had a heart attack but had been suffering with Parkinson’s Disease for some time prior to this.

Harold Hilton was admitted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the game.

In 1992 John L.B. Garcia wrote Harold Hilton His Golfing Life and Times. It was published in a limited edition of 750 copies by Grant Books.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club inaugurated the Harold Hilton Medal for amateur golfers over the age of 30 in 1997 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of their member’s famous home Open Championship victory. It is played in early June annually.

The Harold Hilton Medal (Photo: Royal Liverpool Golf Club)

Whilst small in stature, he was just 5 foot 6 inches tall, Harold Hilton is unquestionably one of the giants in the history of British golf.

It is amazing that Royal Liverpool produced first Johnny Ball and then just a short while afterwards Harold Hilton, two of the leading players of the time and looking back a 100 years later two of the biggest names in the history of amateur golf.

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

U.S. Amateur Championship – 2015 Preview & Results

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

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo: USGA)          

 _______________________________________________________

16th August 2015

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

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

Olympia Fields US Amateur 2015 Logo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olympia Fileds CC Club House

 Olympia Fields Country Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olympia Fields NC Aerial

Olympia Fields Country Club – North Course

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

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

Twitter – @USGA / #USAmateur

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

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

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

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

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

US Amateur 2015 Infographic

The USGA’s 2015 U.S. Amateur Infographic

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

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

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

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

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

Gunn Yang

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

ME.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Charles B. Macdonald – A Short Profile

14th November 2014

Charles Blair Macdonald, a player, administrator and architect, was one of the leading figures in the establishment of golf in the United States.

As he was born on this day in 1855 I thought I would find out a bit more about him.  Here are the 10 key facts I discovered in a golfing life well led.

Charles B Macdonald

Charles B. Macdonald (1895)

1. Charles B. Macdonald was born on 14th November 1855  in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.  His father was Scottish and his mother Canadian.  He soon moved to Chicago where he grew up.

2. In 1872 at age 16, he was sent to St. Andrews University in Scotland where he started to play golf.  He took lessons from Old Tom Morris and played matches on the Old Course.

3. He returned to Chicago in 1874 and became a successful stockbroker.  Consumed with work he rarely played golf until his late 30’s.  He moved to Wall Street in New York in 1890 as his career progressed.

4. He built the first 18-hole course in the United States.  The first golf club, St. Andrews Golf Club, outside New York was established in 1888 by a small group of Scottish immigrants.  Macdonald brought the game to Chicago, establishing the Chicago Golf Club in 1892 and building a modest 9-hole course with the support of several business associates.  In 1893 he expanded it to 18-holes thus creating the first full length course in the US.  In 1895 the Club decided to move and Macdonald built a new 18-hole course at Wheaton, where they remain to this day.  The old course is now the site of a 9-hole club, Downers Grove.

5. He was a driving force in the founding of the United States Golf Association (USGA).  In Autumn 1894 he helped arrange a meeting of the leading clubs of the day to establish a national body – delegates from the Chicago GC, St. Andrew’s GC, The Country Club, Newport CC, and Shinnecock Hills GC attended.  The result was the formation of the USGA, whose primary purpose would be to administer a national championship.  Macdonald was named Vice President of the organisation.

6. He won the first U.S. Amateur championship, held in 1895 at the Newport Country Club.  He beat Charles Sands 12 & 11 in the final.  This remains the record winning margin.

7. He is often described as the “father of American golf course architecture”, as he went on to build many notable early courses.  His experience in Scotland enabled him to introduce a more sophisticated design approach with clear strategic thinking evident in his work.  In 1908/09 he part-funded, designed and built the National Golf Links Of America in Southampton, New York.  The course hosted the inaugural Walker cup in 1922 and more recently the 2013 match.  He continued to tweak the National for the rest of his life and it remains to this day one of the premier courses in the world of golf.  He subsequently started to collaborate with Seth Raynor and the two of them designed many other notable courses.

The National Links of America (Photo: Larry Lambrecht)

8. In 1928, Macdonald published ‘Scotland’s Gift: Golf’ a cornerstone book in any high quality golf library.  In it he discusses the spread of golf in the United States from its humble beginnings in the late 1880s to 1927, when there were more than 4,000 courses in the country.  He also talks about some of his golf courses and his design philosophy.

9. He died aged 83 on 21st April 1939.  The 75th anniversary of his passing was earlier this year.

10. In 2007 Macdonald was inducted as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, in the Lifetime Achievement category.

ME.