60. Scott Harvey Wins The George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational

29th June 2017

Last weekend Scott HARVEY won the George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational Tournament (GCT).

I don’t overly concern myself with the US Walker Cup team but as you know the mid-amateur situation intrigues me.

The GCT is a 54 hole mid-amateur and senior amateur event that was first held in the United States in 2012.

What makes it particularly interesting is the fact that it is staged annually on the North Course at the Los Angeles Country Club, the host venue of the 2017 Walker Cup.

The GCT mid-amateur prize was won by Mike MCCOY in 2013 and 2014. Mike played in the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Scott HARVEY won in 2016.

Scott Harvey (Photo: USGA)

This year Scott HARVEY retained his title after a 3 hole play-off with Nathan SMITH and Patrick CHRISTOVICH. Harvey birdied 2 of the extra holes.

In regulation play Harvey shot rounds of 78, 67 and 70 for a 215 (+4) total.

In a report by John Steinbreder in Global Golf Post (USA) Harvey said “I am extremely honoured to be champion again. The Thomas is an incredible tournament filled with great golfers and played on a course I absolute love. Obviously, I hope this boosts my chances to player again in September in the Walker Cup.”

Well it certainly won’t have done any harm as John “Spider” Miller was in attendance and saw the win for himself.  Miller said to Steinbreder “I wanted to take another look at the mid-ams as well as the course. I also felt it was important to support the tournament and the Club.”  

In summary it’s looking increasing like the USGA will have every reason to select both Harvey and Stewart HAGESTAD for the forthcoming Walker cup match.

View the – George C. Thomas Invitational Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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59. Harry Ellis Wins The Amateur Championship

25th June 2017

England’s Harry ELLIS yesterday won the Amateur Championship on the 38th hole at Royal St. George’s G.C.

Ellis, who was 4 down with 5 holes to play, showed remarkable courage and nerve to overcome Australian Dylan Perry’s apparently unassailable lead.

In doing so the 21 year old from Southampton also guaranteed himself a spot in Great Britain & Ireland’s 2017 Walker Cup team. The selectors have been clear in recent years that a home winner of the Amateur Championship, in a Walker Cup year, would rightly have to be included in our team.

 Harry Ellis (Photo: @RandA)

Harry will also receive exemptions into the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale GC. and the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills GC., as well as an invitation to the 2018 Masters at Augusta National GC. In addition there will also be other European Tour and PGA Tour invitations available to him if he wishes to pursue them.

In what is becoming a recurring theme this year Harry is another player performing well and winning who was not included in the initial 19-man Walker Cup squad. However, to be fair to the R&A selectors I don’t think many people would have included him back in January 2017.

This is Ellis’ second major amateur victory. In 2012, aged just 16, he became the youngest player to win the English Amateur Championship. This led to both Boys and Men’s representative honours for England in 2012 and 2013.

He moved to Florida State University in January 2014, his start date deferred due to the tragic death of his mum Tracy in 2013 from cancer aged just 50.

Understandably he found his Freshman year difficult and his golf suffered. With Florida State having a strong line up Ellis decided to take a red jacket Sophomore year, playing no competitive College golf. In 2015/16 he returned to the golf squad but found it hard to get any game time. In his four tournaments he had an average score of 75.58. His patience and hard work were finally rewarded in 2016/17, his Junior season, where he was required to play a leading role for the Seminoles. He played 39 rounds, the joint highest in the Florida state line up, and delivered a 71.62 stroke average (the second best) which strongly contributed to the team reaching the NCAA Division 1 National Championships. He finished the season ranked 53rd in the Golfstat US College rankings and as a result was selected for Europe’s Arnold Palmer Cup team.

Despite his strong season in the United States it still appeared at the start of last week that Harry would come up short in the Walker Cup selection debate.

You may recall I wrote an article suggesting this – ‘54. Will Any Of Our US College Players Make The Walker Cup Team ?’. There appeared little reason to change this view after Europe’s comprehensive defeat to the U.S.A. in the Arnold Palmer Cup a couple of weeks ago where Harry had one foursomes win (with Harry Hall) to show for his four matches.

He needed to deliver a knock out blow in the coming weeks to force his way in to the Walker Cup picture. It’s one thing needing it, it’s another delivering it.

How quickly things can change. Despite only flying back into the country 10 days ago and without the links practice that many of his fellow GB&I players will have enjoyed over the last 6 weeks he managed to deliver that knockout blow in some style. Harry Ellis – 2017 Amateur Champion.

As a quick Walker Cup aside we should of course note that one man’s success is another man’s failure. Ellis wasn’t in the now 21-man Squad and whilst nearby wasn’t a probable pick before his stunning Amateur Championship victory. Harry Ellis has therefore just cost some one else there place in the 2017 GB&I Team.

When you look at Harry’s recent story – from personal tragedy to the ups and downs of (College) golf – you can quickly see how mentally strong he must be. Few players in the world would have been able to battle to the very end yesterday – after 10 rounds in six days – and win. He is now fully deserving of his Walker Cup spot and the spoils of victory that will come his way.

Well done Harry.

Appendix – Other GB&I Amateur Championship Performances

Two other US college golfers did very well at The Amateur. Ireland’s Paul MCBRIDE (Wake Forest) reached the Quarter Finals whilst Ryan LUMSDEN (Northwestern) fell in Round 4. McBride now has a very good chance of making our 2017 Walker Cup team

Robert MACINTYRE and Jack SINGH BRAR also reached Round 4 further strengthening their Los Angeles 2017 claims.

Here’s a look at how all of the leading GB&I players got on: –

Match Play Stage

Final

Harry ELLIS (ENG) – Champion / Won 38th hole v. Dylan Perry AUS)

Quarter Finals

Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) – Lost 2 holes to Harry Ellis (ENG)

Round 4

Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) – Lost 2 holes to Jarle Kaldestad Volden (NOR)
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – Lost 1 hole to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Paul McBride (IRE)
Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG) – Lost 4&3 to Alejandro Tosti (ARG)

Round 3

George BAYLIS (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Robert MacIntyre (SCO)
Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – Lost 1 hole to Ryan Lumsden (SCO)
Craig HOWIE (SCO) – Lost 20th hole to Kristoffer Ventura (NOR)
David LANGLEY (ENG) – Lost 4&3 to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Zach Murray (AUS)
Caolan RAFFERTY* (IRE) – Lost 25th hole to Alejandro Tosti (ARG)
Tom SLOMAN (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Matias Honkala (FIN)
Jordan SUNDBORG (ENG) – Lost 6&5 to Stefano Mazzoli (ITA)

Round 2

David BOOTE (WAL) – Lost 3&2 to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL) – Lost 2&1 to Hurly LONG (GER)
Robin DAWSON (IRE) – Lost 5&3 to Ryan Lumsden (SCO)
Sean FLANAGAN (IRE) – Lost 2&1 to Jack Singh Brar (ENG)
Evan GRIFFITH (WAL) – Lost 4&2 to Hayden Springer (USA)
Matthew JORDAN (ENG) – Lost 2&1 to Jordan Seiple (USA)
Chris MACLEAN (SCO) – Lost 1 hole to Tom Sloman (ENG)
Llewellyn MATTHEWS (WAL) – Lost 3&1 to Luca Cianchette (ITA)
Conor O’ROURKE (IRE) – Lost 3&2 to Min Woo Lee (AUS)
Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) – Lost 3&1 to Alejandro Tosti (ARG)
Craig ROSS (SCO) – Lost 1 hole to Danile O’Loughlin (ENG)
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) – Lost 2&1 to Charlie Strickland (ENG)
Euan WALKER (SCO) – Lost 3&2 to Jordan Sundborg (ENG)

Round 1

JR GALBRAITH (IRE) – Lost 3&2 to Casper Simberg (FIN)
Tim HARRY (WAL) – Lost 19th hole to Kim Koivu (FIN)
Josh HILLEARD (ENG) – Lost 5&4 to George Baylis (ENG)
Conor PURCELL (IRE) – Lost 3&1 to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Connor SYME (SCO0 – Lost 1 hole to David Langley (ENG)
William WHITEOAK (ENG) – Lost 2 holes to Tom Sloman (ENG)

Stroke Play Stage

*Caolan Rafferty achieved medalist honours in the Stroke Play Qualifying Competition. He shot 70 at Royal St. George’s GC on Day 1 and a new course record 62 at Prince’s on Day 2 for a 132 (-10) total.

The Match Play qualifying cut fell at 141 (-1).

Notable players, mainly in the context of the Walker Cup, to miss this cut included: –

Bradley MOORE (ENG) Ev
Alfie PLANT (ENG) Ev
Jamie STEWART (SCO) Ev
Jack DAVIDSON (WAL) +1
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) +2
Colm CAMPBELL (IRE) +3)
Dan BROWN (ENG) +5
Peter O’KEEFFE (IRE) +5
Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) +6
James WALKER (ENG) +6
Marco PENGE (ENG) +7
Alex GLEESON (IRE) +7
Harry HALL (ENG) +8
Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +12
Barry HUME (SCO) +12.

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship SP Results

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship MP Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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58. Matthew Jordan Wins The St. Andrews Links Trophy

13th June 2017

On the 1st March Matthew JORDAN shot 92 (+20) in the first round of the Spanish International Amateur at El Saler. He inevitably missed the cut the following day despite shooting a respectable 74 in round 2.

Things were not going according to plan for the man from Royal Liverpool GC.

He had spent much of November and December in Spain practicing and had been expecting to come out strong in 2017. After all he had broken through in 2016 and posted a number of good results both at home and abroad.

In December he flew to Miami to play in the South Beach International Amateur. He made the cut but his +1 score was only good enough for a tied 51st finish.

In January he represented England in the Quadrangular Match at Costa Ballena in Spain where the team finished a disappointing 3rd despite a more encouraging individual W4 L1 H1 performance.

Unfortunately Matthew then found out that his entry to the Portuguese International Amateur had been incorrectly processed and as such there was no place for him in the field.

He needed his luck to change and what better way than to play in a competition you like and have done well in before – the Hampshire Salver. Matthew finished 8th in the two day aggregate event at Blackmoor and North Hants in April. Not as good as his tied 3rd in 2016, where he won the Hampshire Hog on the Sunday, but nevertheless a step in the right direction.

Despite this return to form it’s hard to believe the England selectors, having understandably overlooked him for the European Nations Cup in late March, spent too long considering whether to include him in their 6-man team for the mixed international against Spain at the end of April. A return to El Saler, the match venue and scene of the 92, wouldn’t have helped.

How the picture has changed.

Amazingly within the space of a few months it’s now a question of who the same England selectors will pick alongside Matthew for the European Men’s Team Championship in Austria in July.

I also think we can now say his place in the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team is assured. How can it not be ?

This is because Matthew has delivered a superb sequence of results in the heart of our season that have lifted him from 552nd (5/04/17) in the SPWAR to 26th (13/06/17) and which culminated in him winning the prestigious St. Andrews Links Trophy last weekend.

Matthew Jordan (Photo: Kenny Smith)

Just look at this playing record since mid-April: –

1st – St Andrews Links Trophy (9-11 June)

2nd – Scottish Open Amateur (2-4 June)

5th – Brabazon Trophy (25-28 May)

T4  – Irish Open Amateur (11-14 May)

T7  – Lytham Trophy (5-7 May)

8th – Hampshire Salver (15-16 April)

Whilst the main story has to be Matthew’s there were also a number of other noteworthy performances in Scotland.

JR GALBRAITH (IRE) finished 2nd at St. Andrews on -10. He led after a round 1 66 and consolidated his position with three rounds of 71, 70 and 71. This came on the back of an 8th place (-2) finish at the Scottish Open Amateur the week before.

Similarly Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) has also enjoyed his time in Scotland. He finished 4th (-8) at the Links Trophy having recorded a tied 9th (Ev) result the week before at Western Gailes.

Both Galbraith (SPWAR 70) and Shepherd (SPWAR 146) have moved up the rankings as a result of these performances. Whilst, at least for me, they both still have some work to do if they are to be selected for our Walker Cup team they at least now have the platform to do it.

A number of other Walker Cup hopefuls finished in the top 20 at the Links Trophy too (results shown after countback applied) : –

David BOOTE (WAL)                    73 69 69 69  -8  6th

Liam JOHNSTON (SCO)               71 71 69 71  -6  7th

Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG)   72 71 71 69  -5  8th

Jack DAVIDSON (WAL)               71 73 70 69  -5  9th

Robin DAWSON (IRE)                 69 71 74 70  -4  11th

Craig HOWIE (SCO)                     69 72 69 74  -4  14th

Colm CAMPBELL (IRE)              72 68 70 74  -4  17th

Dan BROWN (ENG)                    72 72 72 69  -3  18th

In particular Boote, Davidson, Howie and Johnston all tightened their grip on a Walker Cup place after another solid week’s work. 

Click here to view the – 2017 St Andrews Links Trophy Results

Click here to view the – Golf Bible St Andrews Links Trophy Preview and Daily Reports

The Walker Cup picture seems to be getting clearer but there’s still plenty of golf to be played, starting next week with the big one – The Amateur Championship. Will the existing form players continue their runs or will a new name take the opportunity to breakthrough ?

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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57. USA Win The 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup Match

13th June 2017

USA beat Europe 19.5 – 10.5 to win the Arnold Palmer Cup (APC) at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Team USA (Photo: @GolfChannel)

The APC is a team golf competition played annually between American and European college golfers. USA now lead the all-time match series W11 – L9 – H1.

The 2017 match was clearly lost by Europe on Day 2 when USA managed to win the Singles 9.5 – 0.5. The Day 1 Foursomes / Fourballs and Day 3 Singles were both halved 5.0 – 5.0

In a Walker Cup year the APC represents an interesting ‘warm up’ for the main event.

Whilst I believe the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team will be very different to Europe’s in September the USA team should prove to be fairly representative. I expect at least six of the USA’s APC team to be in their Walker Cup team.

The European APC team contained 6 GB&I players – Harry ELLIS (ENG), Rory FRANSSEN (SCO), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Harry HALL (ENG), Richard MANSELL (ENG) and David WICKS (ENG).

We learnt two things from the match: –

1) I wrote last week in News Article 54. that I could see a scenario where none of our US College players would make the GB&I Walker Cup team. This match didn’t really help their cases with none of the six players listed above making a material impression that would have resonated back home with the selectors.

2) Stating the obvious USA will be formidable opponents in Los Angeles, playing at home on a parkland course. Their Walker cup team, even allowing for the inclusion of one or two mid-amateurs, should also be stronger than their Arnold Palmer Cup one. For example Braden Thornberry, the NCAA Division I Champion, didn’t play; he was busy finishing tied 4th at the Fed Ex St Jude Classic on the PGA Tour.

Here is the full individual performance analysis that I produced for the 2017 APC match: –

As can be seen from the above table Richard MANSELL did the best out of the GB&I group, halving a fourball on Day 1 and winning his second Singles game.

For those wanting the full hole-by-hole detail:-

Click here to view the – Day 1 AM Foursomes Results

Click here to view the – Day 1 PM Fourballs Results

Click here to view the – Day 2 Singles Results

Click here to view the – Day 3 Singles Results

Click here to see more detailed information on the APC – The Arnold Palmer Cup – 2017 Preview, Reports & Results

ME.

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

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56. Hagestad And Harvey Both Qualify For The US Open

6th June 2017

The Mid-Amateur sub-plot which is running beneath the 2017 US Walker Cup team selection story took another interesting turn yesterday.

To their credit the two leading US mid-amateurs Stewart HAGESTAD (26) and Scott HARVEY (39) both successfully negotiated Sectional Qualifying to book their tee times at next week’s US Open Championship at Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin.

Stewart Hagestad (Photo: USGA)

Hagestad shot rounds of 67 and 68 at Newport Beach CC and Big Canyon CC (his home club) in California to finish third on -8. The 2017 US Open will be his second Major appearance following on from his low amateur result at this year’s Masters Tournament in April. Interestingly five of the six available spots at this site were picked up by amateurs. Click here to view the – US Open Sectional Qualifying California Results

Harvey, competing at Canoe Brook CC, shot rounds of 63 and 71 on the North and South courses respectively. His -8 total helped him to a tied second place finish and secured one of the five qualifying spots available at the New Jersey site. Click here to view the – US Open Sectional Qualifying New Jersey Results

Scott Harvey (Photo: USGA)

Families, careers, finance and the improvement in the standard of college amateurs has seen the number of competitive mid-amateurs decline in recent years. Therefore yesterday’s performances provided a shot in the arm for the whole US mid-amateur cadre.

It will also give the USGA something to think about with the case for picking both Hagestad and Harvey in their 2017 Walker Cup team seemingly strengthening by the week.

Harvey in particular needed this result given the increased pressure he was under following the USGA’s announcement in April that they were now only committing themselves to one mid-amateur selection from 2017 onwards (see below). Hagestad, the reigning US Mid-Amateur champion and Masters Silver Cup winner, already being seen as a lock for a team spot.

Good luck to them both at Erin Hills and fingers crossed they can make the cut and play all four days.

For further background information on the US mid-amateur Walker Cup story take a look at: –

2017 – USA Team

48. USGA Softens Mid-Amateur Selection Policy  (18/04/17)

46. Stewart Hagestad Wins The Masters Silver Cup  (10/04/17)

24. Stewart Hagestad Wins The 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship  (15/09/16)

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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55. Liam Johnston Stakes His Claim At The Scottish Amateur Open

6th June 2017

Liam JOHNSTON won the Carrick Neill Scottish Men’s Open Stroke Play Championship at Western Gailes last weekend.

Rounds of 69, 66, 69 and 71 for a -9 72 hole aggregate score proved good enough for a two shot victory. He was the first Scotsman to win the title since Wallace Booth in 2008.

Following on from his African Amateur win earlier this year I am now confident he will be selected for the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup team. How can you deny a place to a man with two major national titles to their name in the year of the match?

In recent weeks Liam has also finished tied 13th at the Lytham Trophy and tied 10th at the Irish Amateur Open so his overall form is good too.

Liam is another player who sits outside the Walker Cup squad but who has risen to the challenge of forcing his way in to the selection picture.

Liam Johnston (Photo: Kenny Smith / Scottish Golf)

Coming in the middle of a long run of prestigious events many of our leading players chose to sit this one out. Having said that the field was strengthened by the arrival of most of the Australian and South African summer touring parties.

Just five members of the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup Squad competed in Ayrshire. These were Colm CAMPBELLCraig HOWIEConor O’ROURKESandy SCOTT and Connor SYME.

Two of them Craig HOWIE and Connor SYME performed very well. Craig finished tied third on -5 and Connor fifth on -4.

I have been bullish about the prospects for Scottish players in 2017 for some time. When these two are added to Johnston and Robert MACINTYRE it is easy to see why the Scots are likely to form the bedrock of this year’s GB&I Team.

Unfortunately another Scotsman, Jamie STEWART, who did so well at the Brabazon Trophy last week and had moved in to the fringes of the selection story, was unable to back it up here missing the 36 hole cut by some distance (79 75 +12).

The other main story to come out of the Scottish Amateur Open concerns England’s Matthew JORDAN. I mentioned in news article 53. on the Brabazon Trophy that he was putting together a very good run of results but needed to keep going.

Well he certainly did – this week he finished second on -7. Matthew has now recorded successive Top 10’s in the Lytham Trophy (T7), Irish Amateur Open (T4), Brabazon Trophy (5th) and Scottish Amateur Open (2nd). As such he is currently GB&I’s most in form player. This is reflected in his improved SPWAR of 65th which makes him the 8th highest GB&I player in the list.

Click here to view the – Scottish Open SP Results

Click here to view the – Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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54. Will Any of Our US College Players Make The Walker Cup Team ?

3rd June 2017

With an away Walker Cup match before them I am sure the Great British & Irish (GB&I) selectors will be considering the claims of our United States (US) based College players carefully.

Who better to beat the American’s than those guys who are familiar with US course set ups and are used to playing with and against our opponents week in and week out ?

So with the NCAA Men’s Division I National Championship having been completed this week now seems a good time to review the credentials of our leading US College players.


The easiest way to assess 2016/17 performances is to use the GolfStat Head-to-Head Player Standings. This is the primary ranking of US College golf players and performances.

GB&I’s Top 10 players in the Division I ranking (with their Adjusted Scoring Average) are shown below alongside their current Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking SPWAR (with GB&I position): –

Harry HALL – GS 33rd (71.76) / SPWAR 80 (11th)

Sam HORSFIELD – GS 38th (71.56) / Turned Pro on 22nd May

Harry ELLIS – GS 53rd (71.82) / SPWAR 189 (26th)

David WICKS – GS 76th (71.38) / SPWAR 111 (16th)

Paul MCBRIDE – GS 79th (71.91) / SPWAR 72 (8th)

Rory FRANSSEN – GS 81st (72.03) / SPWAR 285 (34th)

Ryan LUMSDEN – GS 97 (72.19) / SPWAR 145 (21st)

Euan WALKER – GS 125 (72.11) / SPWAR 288 (35th)

Jake STOREY – GS 183 (72.22) / SPWAR 405 (44th)

Daniel SUTTON – GS 225th (72.78) / SPWAR 305th (38th)

In Division II GB&I had two players in the top 25 of the GolfStat standings: –

Richard MANSELL – GS 4th (71.01) / SPWAR 371 (40th)

Sam BROADHURST – GS 21st (72.08) / SPWAR 1361 (154th)

Harry Hall (Photo: UNLV Men’s Golf)

If one looks at the GB&I SPWAR positions alone, which fully reflect US College performances, then clearly Paul MCBRIDE and Harry HALL are right in the mix with David WICKS, and to a lesser degree Ryan LUMSDEN and Harry ELLIS, also knocking on the door.

The reality is I am not sure any of our US College players would make the team if I had to be pick it today. Perhaps Harry HALL would just sneak in but it would be close.

Certainly to my eyes all five of the above players could do with another ‘result’ or two in the coming weeks to draw the selectors towards them.

However, a possible twist to this story comes next week in the form of the Arnold Palmer Cup. This match between College players from the United States and Europe is being played at the Atlantic Athletic Club.

As a result of their performances this year Harry ELLIS, Rory FRANSSEN, Harry HALL, Richard MANSELL and David WICKS have all been selected for the European team. Stuart GREHAN, who is studying at Maynooth University in Ireland, is also playing for Europe.

The United States Arnold Palmer Cup team probably contains 6 or possibly 7 of their likely Walker Cup team so if one or more of the GB&I players in Europe’s team can deliver a standout performance it will undoubtedly raise their profiles.

There can be no better way to show you belong in the GB&I Walker Cup team than by delivering in what will effectively be a dress rehearsal for it.

What ever happens with the Walker Cup team in the coming months all of these lads have enjoyed good seasons over in America and have clearly shown they can compete at the highest level.

______________________________________________________

Appendix 1 – Additional Leading Division I Player Notes

Harry HALL (UNLV, Sophomore)
– 2016/17 stats: 14 events, 43 rounds (low 65), T2nd best finish, 71.63 average score.
– Harry led the way for GB&I in the 2016/17 Division I College season.
– His UNLV team reached the Nationals having finished first in the Indiana Regional where Harry secured 6th in the Individual.
– At Rich Harvest Farms he finished tied 39th in the Individual Stroke Play. Seeded 16th UNLV did well to qualify for the Top 8 Team Match Play but lost their Quarter Final to Vanderbilt 3-2. Harry lost his match with Patrick Martin (SPWAR 12) by 1 hole.

Harry ELLIS (Florida State, RJ Junior)
– 2016/17 stats: 13 events, 39 rounds (low 65), 2nd best finish, 71.62 average score.
– Harry had a very good season leading his Florida State team through to the Nationals with a tied 5th result in their Washington Regional.
– He finished T43 in the Individual Stroke Play at the Nationals, his team failing to make the Match Play Stage.

David WICKS (Jacksonville, Senior)
– 2016/17 stats: 12 events, 34 rounds (low 66), 1st best finish, 71.00 average score.
– David did very well for Jacksonville all year. He delivered in the Louisiana Regional with a tied 7th place and then helped his Team to a play off win over a Northwestern team containing Ryan LUMSDEN, who finished 16th in the Individual.
– At the Nationals he narrowly missed the Individual 54 hole cut.

Paul MCBRIDE (Wake Forest, Junior)
– 2016/17 stats: 11 events, 32 rounds (65 low), T2nd best finish, 71.69 average score.
– Paul played reasonably well during the season but will be disappointed with his finish to the year.
– His +12 tied 57th finish at the Texas Regional, where two of his three rounds were discounted, clearly played it’s part in Wake Forest’s surprise failure to qualify for the Nationals.

Appendix 2 – Links

Click here to view the – GolfStat Head-to-Head Player Standings

Click here to view the current – Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings

Click here to view the – Arnold Palmer Cup website.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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53. JSB Secures His Walker Cup Place At The Brabazon Trophy

30th May 2016

Kyle MCCLATCHIE (-10) won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last weekend at Woodhall Spa becoming the fifth South African to lift the famous Brabazon Trophy.

That’s not to say this wasn’t a good event for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players in the field, including many of the Walker Cup squad members.

The main plaudits this week go to Jamie STEWART (SCO), Jake BURNAGE (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) who all finished on -9 to tie for second place. Interestingly none of the three are in the current Walker Cup squad.

Jamie STEWART had a superb weekend shooting the two lowest scores in rounds 3 and 4; a 67 (-6) and a 68 (-5) respectively. Coming quickly on the heels of his tied 7th place at the Lytham Trophy, as well as a number of other good finishes this year, he is increasingly looking like a potential dark horse for the Walker Cup. A couple more top 10s and the selectors will certainly have to look more closely at his credentials.

Jake BURNAGE fits a similar mould to Stewart. He continued his rich vein of form at Woodhall. Having finished 3rd at the Lytham Trophy he put together a very consistent 71, 70, 70 and 72 at Woodhall Spa. I was particularly impressed with his three birdies in a row finish on the final day.

Barring a complete collapse in form over the coming weeks Lytham Trophy winner Jack SINGH BRAR‘s tied second place at the Brabazon with scores of 67 70 74 72 must surely have secured his spot in the GB&I Team. It certainly has in mine.


Jack Singh Brar (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)

Another non-Squad member Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has also started to show up well. He has now finished in the Top 10 at the Lytham Trophy (T7), Irish Amateur Open (T4) and the Brabazon Trophy (5th) in the last month. Coming from a little further back than some of his peers he still has work to do if he is to make our Walker Cup team but few others are demonstrating his consistency and 2017 form.

Dan BROWN (ENG) finished in 6th place, the best from the Walker Cup squad players, to get back on track after a relatively quiet spell.

David BOOTE (WAL) finished 7th and Connor SYME (SCO) tied 8th. As I  have stated previously Syme is a certain Walker Cup pick for me and Boote, if not yet quite at that level, is a very strong probable.

In an aside David Boote nearly made himself a Walker Cup certainty on Monday when he just missed out on a spot in the 2017 US Open Championship at Erin Hills. Whilst the Sectional Qualifier at Walton Heath, his home club, played to his strengths his new course record 62 (-10) on the New Course was hugely impressive. A slightly disappointing 73 on the Old Course in the afternoon saw him ultimately miss out in a -9 ‘7 for 4’ play-off unfortunately. US Open SQ Results

16 of the 21 GB&I Walker Cup Squad players competed at the Brabazon Trophy. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –

Dan BROWN                 72 – 68 – 75 – 72      -5      6th
David BOOTE               74 – 69 – 72 – 73      -4      7th
Connor SYME               78 – 70 – 70 – 71      -3      T8
Conor O’ROURKE        71 – 72 – 72 – 75      -2      T13
Craig ROSS                    70 – 67 – 79 – 76       E      T20
Alex GLEESON             76 – 71 – 75 – 72     +2      T25
Robert MACINTYRE   68 – 70 – 83 – 73     +2      T25
Craig HOWIE                74 – 74 – 71 – 75     +2      T25
Jack DAVIDSON           72 – 70 – 75 – 78      +3     T35
Alfie PLANT                  71 – 70 – 81 – 74     +4     T37
James WALKER            71 – 79 – 75 – 80    +13    T59

Robin DAWSON           68 – 83                               MC
Marco PENGE               79 – 73                               MC
Owen EDWARDS         74 – 78                                MC
Colm CAMPBELL         73 – 79                               MC
Bradley MOORE                                                      WD (+9 after 10 holes)

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) had entered but withdrew before play commenced having only just returned from Texas Tech in the US.

Barry HUME (SCO), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) were the other four squad players that didn’t compete last weekend. Gregory of course has an interesting few weeks ahead of him with invitations to The Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour followed by the US Open Championship to enjoy.

Given his limited 2017 schedule I can only assume Barry Hume is working and therefore unable to compete as often as he would like.

Click this link to view the – Brabazon Trophy Final Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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52. Wins For Josh Hilleard and Gian-Marco Petrozzi

23rd May 2017

Last weekend saw impressive wins for English pair Josh HILLEARD and Gian-Marco PETROZZI.

Josh HILLEARD won the French International Amateur at Chantilly. Having shot a final round 64 to post a -6 total he beat the young Frenchman Pierre PINEAU on the second hole of their play-off. He became the first Englishman to win this prestigious title.

HILLEARD arrived in France in good form having finished 13th in the Lytham Trophy and tied 4th in the Irish Open Amateur. We know from his exploits of last year that when he finds his game he is more than capable of putting a string of good results together and this seems to be happening again in 2017.

The French International Amateur was his fifth win in just over 12 months. To my knowledge no other GB&I player has won this many events in the same period. Of course this was by far his best career performance and he has now jumped up to 105th in the SPWAR. With Sam HORSFIELD turning Pro over the weekend he is now the 13th highest ranked GB&I player in this list.

Josh Hilleard With The Murat Cup (Photo: French Golf Federation) 

Like a few others before him this year his exclusion from the Walker Cup squad, perhaps understandable at the time, has helped to get the best out of him. He must surely now be just one Top 10 result from being a very strong candidate for a pick.

England took a team of six players to France including four Walker Cup squad members. Bradley MOORE did the best of these, albeit a disappointing final round and a tied 9th result didn’t fully reflect how well he played over the three days of competition. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –

Bradley MOORE  68 – 71 – 68 -75   -2   T9
Daniel BROWN    71 – 69                       WD in Rd 3 with a foot injury
Marco PENGE      78 – 69                 +4   MC
Alfie PLANT         74 – 76                 +8   MC

Gian-Marco PETROZZI also arrived in Wales in good form and like Hilleard was able to keep it going. He had finished 16th at Lytham and tied 16th in the Irish at Royal County Down in his previous two events.

PETROZZI has been ‘up and coming’ for a while and this was undoubtedly his breakthrough performance. Rounds of 66, 69, 70 and 74 and a -13 total took him to an impressive wire-to-wire 9-shot win.

Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Photo: Golf Union of Wales)

The Staffordshire player said in an interview reported on the England Golf website “It’s been coming. All of last season and the start of this season I’ve been playing good golf. I knew I had it in there, I just needed to prove to myself I could cross the line. I’m over the moon with this and hopefully it catches the eye of the Walker Cup selectors. That’s my goal for the end of the year and hopefully this will put my name in the hat.”

His dominant Welsh win has certainly put him on the Walker Cup radar but there are, in my view, as many as 30 players as at today still in with a shout of selection. In other words for Gian-Marco to make it he will need to keep this current run going and deliver at least one more big result between now and August.

Walker Cup squad players Jack DAVIDSON and Owen EDWARDS, as well as Scottish defending champion Barry HUME, were also in action at the Vale Resort. All did well with both Welshman finishing in the Top 5. Here are all of their scores and finishing positions: –

Jack DAVIDSON     71 – 80 – 68 – 70   -3   3rd
Owen EDWARDS   74 – 73 – 75 – 75   -1   4th
Barry HUME           74 – 73 – 75 – 75   +5  16th

Clearly DAVIDSON is moving, event by event, into that select group of Walker Cup ‘Probables’. Hopefully he can just keep ticking over between now and August to make his selection the formality it increasingly appears to be.

Click the links below to view the full results of both of these Championships: –
Welsh Open Amateur Stroke Play Results
French International Amateur (Murat Cup) Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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51. Peter O’Keeffe Wins The Irish Amateur Open

15th May 2017

Peter O’ KEEFFE yesterday won the Irish Amateur Open Championship. His scores of 70, 70, 73 and 73 for a +2 total were good enough to see off a strong field at the magnificent links of Royal County Down GC.

The 35 year old from Douglas graduated from Southeastern Louisiana with a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science in 2008 before embarking on a career in professional golf.  However, after five years toiling on the European Challenge Tour and six attempts at Q-School he gave it up, eventually returning to the amateur ranks in 2016.

The 6ft 5″ Irishman’s win was something of a surprise as despite his experience and undoubted quality it had been assumed that he was now more interested in embarking on a new career as Golf Fitness Instructor within the Dennehy’s Health and Fitness business based around Cork than mixing it with the young amateurs again.

Whilst it is clear O’Keeffe still has ambitions in the amateur game and will probably now be selected by Ireland for this year’s Home Internationals I believe it is highly unlikely he will be able to use this prestigious win to push himself in to GB&I Walker Cup contention. After all he has not entered either of the upcoming ‘majors’, the Brabazon Trophy or the St. Andrews Links Trophy. If he enters the Amateur Championship (entries close this coming Sunday) and does very well then perhaps he can prove me wrong.

Here is the Golf Union of Ireland’s report of O’Keeffe’s famous win with highlights of his final round: –

Scotland’s Chris MACLEAN and England’s Tom SLOMAN enjoyed their best ever finishes in major events, tied 2nd on +5. MacLean obviously likes tough courses. You may recall that back in March he was the only player to record an under par score (-1) as he achieved medalist honours at El Saler in the 36-hole Spanish International Amateur stroke play qualifier.

After finishing 13th last week at Lytham Josh HILLEARD (England) impressed again with a tied 4th result (+6) in the Irish Amateur Open. Perhaps the Somerset man can recapture his form of last year and make a late push for inclusion in the Walker Cup team ?

Scotland’s Liam JOHNSTON, another non-squad member, will perhaps be even more pleased with his tied 10th place (+8) in Northern Ireland. Having finished tied 15th at Lytham last week, and with the additional support of a great set of results in South Africa earlier in 2017, his Walker Cup hopes appear to be strengthening by the week.

Thankfully after the disappointments of Lytham most of the GB&I Walker Cup squad players performed reasonably well at Royal County Down. Connor SYME, Craig HOWIE and Alex GLEESON all recorded  confidence boosting Top 10s.

Here are their scores and finishing places in detail : –

Connor SYME                 74 – 71 – 73 – 73    (+ 7)   T7
Craig HOWIE                  73 – 71 – 72 – 75    (+ 7)   T7
Alex GLEESON               72 – 69 – 78 – 73    (+ 8)   T10
Conor O’ROURKE          72 – 72 – 78 – 71    (+ 9)   T13
Robin DAWSON             71 – 75 – 71 – 77    (+10)  T16
David BOOTE                  73 – 72 – 74 – 76   (+11)  T26
Scott GREGORY              75 – 75 – 73 – 72   (+11)  T26
Colm CAMPBELL           79 – 73 – 71 – 73   (+12)  T30
Craig ROSS                      73 – 72 – 81           (+13)  MC

Click here to view the full – Irish Amateur Open Results

There is no rest up in the elite amateur schedule. It’s now onto the Welsh Open Stroke Play and the French International Amateur this week before the Brabazon Trophy the following week.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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50. Jack Singh Brar Wins The 2017 Lytham Trophy

7th May 2017

Jack SINGH BRAR today won the prestigious Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. His rounds of 68, 73, 72 and 75 for a +8 total earned him a memorable wire-to-wire victory.

On the back of a good set of results in Australia and his recent Hampshire Salver win Jack is now clearly very well placed to secure a spot within the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.

There are now only 125 days until the match starts and around 110 until the Teams are selected.

Jack is currently not in the GB&I Walker Cup squad. He also chose to step away from the formal England Golf coaching set up at the start of this season. However, following his big win on the Fylde Coast he has risen to 48th in the SPWAR and is now the fifth highest GB&I player (fourth if Sam Horsfield, who is expected to turn Pro in early June, is excluded). Sometimes it pays to trust yourself and ‘plough your own furrow’ in this life.

Jack Singh Brar With His Father Ami (Photo: @AMcGlue)

Two other English players finished 2nd and 3rd at Lytham.

The Walker Cup claims of Charlie STRICKLAND (+10), who only turns 18 later this month, will have grown a little bit louder this weekend too. Charlie won both the Duncan Putter and U18 Peter McEvoy Trophy in April but his 2nd place at Lytham is a step up on both. A man who’s confidence is growing and now has it all to play for.

Jake BURNAGE (+11) also followed up his Hampshire Hog win at North Hants GC a few weeks ago with a creditable third place here.

This was the first major amateur men’s competition of the 2017 GB&I season. As such most of our likely Walker Cup candidates were on display. Out of the current 21-man GB&I Squad only Paul MCBRIDE and Sandy SCOTT, both still competing for their US Colleges, and Barry HUME, who chose not to enter, were not present in Lancashire.

I think it is fair to say that the 2017 Lytham Trophy was generally not a confidence boosting week for our leading players and Walker Cup hopes.

Owen EDWARDS (+15 / 9th) was the highest finisher from the 18 GB&I Walker Cup squad players competing.

Here are the Lytham Trophy scores of the Walker Cup squad players: –

Owen EDWARDS          76 – 74 – 74 – 71  (+15)  9th
Jack DAVIDSON            79 – 70 – 72 – 75  (+16)  14th
Robert MACINTYRE    76 – 73 – 70 – 78  (+17)  21st
David BOOTE                76 – 76 – 77 – 71  (+20)  29th
Dan BROWN                  78 – 71 – 77 – 77  (+23)  34th

13 of the GB&I squad members missed the +12 36-hole cut as you can see below:-

Alfie PLANT                   80 – 73  (+13)  46th
Scott GREGORY             80 – 73  (+13)  47th
Craig HOWIE                 79 – 74  (+13)  48th
Stuart GREEHAN          79 – 74  (+13)  50th
Alex GLEESON              82 – 72  (+14)  56th
James WALKER             82 – 73  (+15)  74th
Bradley MOORE            79 – 76  (+15)  80th
Connor SYME                 80 – 76  (+16)  85th
Colm CAMPBELL          79 – 77  (+16)  86th
Conor O’ROURKE         79 – 78  (+17)  91st
Robin DAWSON            83 – 76  (+19)  104th
Craig ROSS                     82 – 78  (+20)  111th
Marco PENGE                94 – 74  (+28)  139th

Click here to view the – 2017 Lytham Trophy Results

Click here to read my report – GolfBible 2017 Lytham Trophy Preview & Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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49. Spain v. England – 29/30 April 2017 – Results

1st May 2017

England beat Spain 17-13 in their biennial mixed match last weekend to retain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy.

The England Team (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

England traditionally do well in this match which was originally a men’s only affair but moved to a mixed team format in 2015. The competing team’s now consist of six men and four women. Played over two days, five foursomes are played on each morning with ten singles in the afternoon. Yesterday’s 2017 win at El Saler near Valencia took England’s series record to an impressive P17 W15 H0 L2.

The detailed match results can be viewed here – Spain v. England Results

England picked a strong team which could not necessarily be said of their opponents who had some notable omissions. The relatively close result therefore gave both parties something to cheer about. England got the match win as expected but Spain could take heart from putting up a good fight, knowing they have reinforcements to call upon in the future.

England picked their strongest six men with all of them still hopeful of picking up a Walker Cup selection in August. It is therefore interesting to review their foursome pairings and the individual match play performances.

The male foursomes pairings for both days were: –
1. Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR
2. Bradley MOORE and Alfie PLANT
3. Dan BROWN and Marco PENGE.

Somewhat inconclusively these pairings all won on Day 1 and then proceeded to all lose on Day 2.

The singles results were similar too. Five of the players won one and lost one whilst Marco PENGE lost one and halved the other – he lost the 18th hole on Day 2 to let in Jorge Maicas in a close match.

On paper it appeared as if the Spanish Women may be their weak link and experienced English international pair Sophie LAMB and Gemma CLEWS took advantage of this. It is worth noting that England won because their four Women won their match within a match 8.5 – 3.5. The English men actually drew 8.5 – 8.5.

Here is my analysis of the individual match performances (which also shows all of the WAGR world rankings at the start of play): –

Congratulations to England on a good away win – certainly something I would never sniff at. However, from a Walker Cup perspective I am not sure the manner of the victory, the foursomes pairings or any of the overall individual performances, whilst all satisfactory, will have made Captain Watson jump for joy or strike fear into the other home nation players vying for the 10 available team places.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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48. USGA Softens Mid-Amateur Selection Policy

18th April 2017

Jim Nugent yesterday reported in Global Golf Post that the USGA had decided to soften their Mid-Amateur Selection Policy, starting in 2017.

The USGA adopted this approach in 2013, committing to including two mid-amateur (over 25 years old) players in all of their future Walker Cup teams.

However, with the prime instigator of this policy Tom O’Toole coming to the end of his term as USGA President, the pool of potential candidates diminishing all the time and recent results disappointing it appears a change has quietly been instigated.

In the period from 1973 to 2003 the US team included at least two mid-amateurs and sometimes as many as four so the formal policy introduction wasn’t a particularly earth shattering development in 2013. Having said that in 2005 there were no mid-amateurs and between 2007 and 2011 just one.

In the 2015 match at Royal Lytham 52 year old Mike McCoy became the third oldest competitor in the history of the contest when he joined Scott Harvey on the USA team.

Whilst well founded the inclusion of mid-ams hasn’t been much of a success in playing terms. They were W1-L5 at Lytham and are now W3-L8 since the formal policy was introduced in 2013.

The USGA are now said to be only committed to the inclusion of one mid-amateur for each future match. Any additional mid-amateur candidates will need to have proven themselves better than College alternatives in elite amateur competition throughout the selection period.

Stewart Hagestad (Photo: Chris Trotman / ANGC)

Following the conclusion of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in September Stewart Hagestad (26) and Scott Harvey (38), the champion and runner-up, were initially the clear favourites to pick up the 2017 mid-amateur spots in the USA team. Both were included in the USA’s Walker Cup squad that met up in Los Angeles in December 2016.

With Hagestad (26) having picked up low amateur honours at The Masters in April 2017 he is unquestionably the USA’s No. 1 mid-amateur and as such appears a certainty for their 2017 team. He is committed to a full amateur schedule and interestingly has indicated he plans to play in both the Irish Open Amateur and The Amateur Championship this year.

Scott Harvey would therefore appear to be the man most under pressure as a result of this policy change. It is now clear that he will need to perform very well through the spring and summer if he is to make the team for a second time.

Mr. Nugent’s full article can be read here – Global Golf Post: ‘USGA Backs Off Walker Cup Mid-Am Commitment’.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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47. Jack Davidson And Robin Dawson Added To GB&I Squad

10th April 2017

The R&A today formally announced that Jack DAVIDSON and Robin DAWSON had been added to the initial 19-man Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup squad that was announced in January.

GB&I Captain Craig Watson said: “Jack and Robin have been playing exceptional golf recently and their invitations to join the squad reflect the excellent results they have achieved so far this year.

“They have played their way into contention for team selection and there is still the opportunity for others to do the same as we move into the domestic season.”

The squad will have their first formal gathering at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s GC ahead of the Lytham Trophy which starts on 5th May.

This decision had already been widely reported elsewhere and I also referenced its inevitably in an article I wrote on 2nd April 2017 on this website.

Jack Davidson (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

Wales’ Davidson has had two major wins this season; the Spanish Amateur Championship last month and more recently the European Nations Cup Individual. He joins compatriots David BOOTE and Owen EDWARDS in the squad.

Irishman Dawson was runner-up to Davidson in the European Nations Cup Individual event. This followed two other runner-up spots earlier in 2017 at the South African Stroke Play Championship and the Cape Province Open, also in South Africa. Robin becomes the sixth Irishman in the squad, joining Colm CAMPBELL, Alex GLEESON, Stuart GREHAN, Paul MCBRIDE and Conor O’ROURKE.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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46. Stewart Hagestad Wins The Masters Silver Cup

10th April 2017

Stewart HAGESTAD yesterday secured the low amateur Silver Cup at The Masters.

Stewart Hagestad receives the Silver Cup (Photo: Chris Trotman / ANGC)

The man from Newport Beach, California shot consistent rounds of 74, 73, 74 and 73 to record an impressive +6 total and a tied 36th finish. He played the par 5’s well in all four rounds recording no bogeys and a -8 aggregate score for the whole tournament.

Afterwards he said: “I played within myself. I made very committed golf swings and I didn’t make a double all week and I think that was crucial. You know bogeys won’t kill you but doubles will and I stuck to my game plan and I played well this week.”

Australian Curtis LUCK, the US Amateur champion who was the only other amateur to make the cut, finished on +9 in tied 46th place.

Masters Scorecards (Photo: @GolfBible / The Masters website)

Hagestad earned his invitation to The Masters by winning the 2016 US Mid-Amateur title at Stonewall in Pennsylvania. Four down with five to play he birdied three of the final four holes in regulation before birdieing the first extra hole to pip 2014 champion, and 2015 US Walker Cup player, Scott HARVEY.

Stewart Hagestad holes the winning putt at the 2016 US Mid-Amateur (Photo: USGA)

The Masters first awarded an invite to the reigning US Mid-Amateur champion in 1989. While other mid-amateurs have made the cut in the past, Jay Sigel and Jim Holtgrieve to name but two, Hagestad became the first in 29 attempts to do so under this exemption category.

On the basis the USGA retains their Mid-Amateur selection policy, which seems likely, Hagestad was in my opinion already assured of a place in the 2017 USA Team. [As I think Scott Harvey is if they go with the current two spots.] This was because of his 2016 US Mid-Amateur victory and the fact that the 2017 Championship takes place after the Walker Cup this year. His performance at Augusta National just confirms his spot and perhaps more importantly the fact he is fully deserving of it.

Hagestad is still young – he is actually 26 today. He’s single with no responsibilities and 100% focussed on his golf with work taking a back seat for the time being.

He was a strong junior player and was snapped up by the University of Southern California (USC) on a golf scholarship. However, he lost his motivation to play and rarely started in USC’s competitive college team.

After he graduated in 2013 Stewart moved to New York taking a job as a financial analyst for Oaktree Residential and Management, a real estate firm.  Following his win at Stonewall he agreed an extended period of leave with his employer so he could concentrate fully on his golf ahead of the Masters and his push for a Walker Cup spot.

He moved back to California in the Autumn and has been practicing hard at his home club, the Los Angeles Country Club, ever since. Yes that Los Angeles Country Club !

Hagestad is planning to play a strong amateur schedule this summer which may include a trip over to England for The Amateur Championship if he fails to qualify for the US Open.

Hagestad was planning to stay in California and enrol for an MBA course but after his success this weekend is unsurprisingly now considering his options for 2018. “Obviously I’ll have to think about a lot of things after this week but I have no plans to turn pro” he reflected in post round interviews.

GB&I have taken advantage of the USGA’s commitment to the mid-amateur cadre in recent matches.  No one can argue that points have been easier to secure for GB&I against the older US mid-amateurs in recent years. Hagestad, unfortunately from the GB&I standpoint, represents a departure from the norm and as such looks like being a different proposition altogether in 2017. Now 100% committed to his golf and producing high quality results in the most demanding of environments I don’t imagine there will be a queue of GB&I players wanting to take him on on his own home course come September.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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45. GB&I Amateur Golf Rankings – 31st March 2017

7th April 2017

The table below summarises the ranking positions of the Top 30 GB&I amateur golfers as at the end of March 2017.

The Golf Bible Combined Amateur Ranking (GBCAR), shown in the blue columns on the right, uses the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WGAR – yellow) and the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR – green) to produce a composite ranking based on the average of the two main rankings.

As I have stated before my preference is for the SPWAR, which I consider to be far more accurate and therefore useful for team selections.

The table below looks at the Top 30 GB&I players listed in the SPWAR and reviews their ranking trend for the last 12 months.

I have expressed the opinion in previous articles that Connor SYME, Robert MACINTYRE and Scott GREGORY are already as good as selected for the GB&I Team for me.

In Quarter 1 Robin DAWSON, Liam JOHNSTON and Jack DAVIDSON have stepped forward most impressively.

Other players trending well in the SPWAR Top 20 include Craig HOWIE, Stuart GREHAN, Marco PENGEAlex GLEESON, Jack SINGH BRAR, Daniel BROWN and David WICKS.

Whilst many factors go into selecting the 10 man GB&I Walker Cup team there is no question that the two world ranking lists provide an important foundation for the future discussions that will take place around the Committee table.

For more information on the Amateur Golf Rankings please click here – Golf Bible’s Rankings Page.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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44. Jack Davidson Wins The Individual European Nations Cup

2nd April 2017

WALES, represented by David BOOTE, Jack DAVIDSON, Joshua DAVIES and Owen EDWARDS, yesterday won the European Nations Cup in Spain.

The recently renovated RGC Sotogrande course, presented with super fast greens, proved to be a very stern test for all of the teams competing due to the windy conditions.

This was a great win for Wales. Their total of +13 was 11 shots better than second placed IRELAND (+24) and 21 shots better than fourth placed SCOTLAND (+34). ENGLAND (+61), never really got to grips with the conditions, and finished a disappointing 12th.

Wales – l-r Josh Davies, David Boote, Jack Davidson and Owen Edwards (Photo: GUW)

In the context of the Walker Cup it was Jack DAVIDSON who once again stole the headlines. Rounds of 70, 70, 70 and 73 (-5) gave him the Individual European Nations Cup title by 4-shots.

Whilst the overall field – consisting of 16 four man teams – wasn’t as a strong as the Spanish International Amateur Championship, which he won up the coast at El Saler last month, in many ways this was the more impressive win. No longer under the radar he certainly arrived at Sotogrande with more expectation on his shoulders. He then proceeded to complete a near wire-to-wire win holding off a select international field with a total of 20 birdies and 2 eagles.

The Newport man has certainly given himself a magnificent platform to build on with regard to his potential 2017 Walker Cup selection. For me he now has a spot on our Team and it’s his to lose.

Whilst there are nine or ten major amateur events still to be played over the next 4 months Jack has moved into the Top 10 in the Great British and Irish (GB&I) rankings, there is now less than 150 days until the team is announced and I ask myself how many of the candidates will have two major (overseas) wins to their name come the middle of August. I see no reason why he shouldn’t continue playing well and go from strength to strength. Of course, in many ways the pressure is also now off him.

Ireland’s Robin DAWSON (-1) finished second and was the only other player to complete the 72-holes under par. This was his third runner-up finish of the season.  Robin is clearly in form and building a persuasive 2017 playing record for his own inclusion in the GB&I Walker Cup team.

The fact that the Czech Republic’s Nicolas SCHELLONG (+6) was third shows the degree of separation that Davidson and Dawson achieved this week.

Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE and Connor SYME (both +11) both battled hard to achieve a tied 7th finish. I have already said in previous articles that both of these players, along with Scott GREGORY (over in Augusta, ahead of The Masters) are certainties in my GB&I Team, so their continued solid play was good to see.

Davidson’s teammates Owen EDWARDS and David BOOTE (both +12) finished tied 10th. No one would be surprised to see Edwards continue in this vein given his closeness to Jack – he won’t want him having all the glory for long ! I am also pulling for Boote who has been one of GB&I’s leading players for a few years. Having graduated last year from Stanford his knowledge of the U.S. opposition, California and the Los Angeles Country Club course, which I imagine he has played, would probably be useful for the Team.

Irish pair Alex GLEESON and Stuart GREHAN (both +15) finished tied 16th. These results would have been much higher save for disappointing final days; Gleeson shooting 80 and Grehan 82 after both made poor starts on Sotogrande’s front nine. Both remain very much in the Walker Cup picture.

With Davidson and Dawson, neither of whom were selected for the initial GB&I Walker Cup squad but both presumably being added as I write, continuing to play well the GB&I selection story remains intriguing. What is clear is some of the ‘early favourites’ for inclusion need to find some form and results – and quickly. The Lytham Trophy early in May will be everyone’s next opportunity to shine.

Here are the full Men’s European Nations Cup results:-
Individual Results
Team Results

For more information on the European Nations Cup tournament please read my article – GolfBible ENC Preview

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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43. Scott Gregory Wins The Georgia Cup

29th March 2017

Scott GREGORY (England) yesterday beat Curtis LUCK (Australia) on the 19th hole to win the 2017 Georgia Cup match.

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

The match was established by The Golf Club of Georgia (GCOG) located in Alpharetta. First contested in 1998 the 2017 event was the 20th in the series.

Following Gregory’s victory yesterday the Amateur champions lead their U.S. Amateur opponents 11-9. The Amateur champions have now won 4 of the last 5 games.

Scott Gregory and The Georgia Cup (Photo: Georgia State Golf Association)

I see this as a small morale boosting victory for both Great British & Irish golf and for Scott himself.

The scalp of Curtis Luck is certainly not to be sniffed at. In my opinion he is the best amateur golfer in the world, now ranked No. 1 in the SPWAR by some margin. Having won both the US Amateur Championship and the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last year he has been building an enviable amateur record. He will be turning Pro immediately after next week’s Masters, which both players are exempt for.

Luck is obviously well known and respected in the U.S. too. Gregory’s win will have sent a little message to our friends in the U.S. that there are one or two quality players over here and they will do well not to under-estimate any of those selected for our Walker Cup team in September.

Perhaps more importantly it again confirms Scott’s match play pedigree. He is clearly competitive and more than capable of delivering under extreme pressure. Coming shortly after his win in the New South Wales Amateur Championship in February his selection for our Walker Cup team is now assured.

It will be interesting to see how Scott gets on at The Masters where no GB&I amateur has made the cut since Peter McEvoy in 1978, 39 years ago.

Here are the hole-by-hole scores from the 2017 match, which was clearly one of the best seen to date:-

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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42. Jack Davidson Reigns In Spain

6th March 2017

Jack DAVIDSON won the Spanish International Amateur Championship yesterday at the challenging El Saler course near Valencia.

For the man from Newport, Wales this was by far the best result of his career. The Spanish Amateur is one of the world’s top 20 amateur events nowadays enjoying a strong entry from across Europe every year. First played in 1911 former winners include Philip Walton (1981), Jose Maria Olazábel (1983-84), Darren Clarke (1990), Sergio García (1998), Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño (2003), Joost Luiten (2005), Danny Willet (2008) and Romain Langasque (2016).

Jack Davidson (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

The 36-hole stroke play qualifier was played in strong winds which caused havoc with the scoring, particularly in Round 1. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) eventually achieved medalist honours with an impressive 143 (-1) total. He was the only player to record an under par score. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) 144 (E) was 2nd whilst Alfie PLANT (ENG) and Harry GODDARD (ENG), both 146 (+2), also qualified well finishing in tied 4th. Interestingly the eventual Champion shot rounds of 76 and 75 to secure the 32nd and final place in the match play stage with a 151 (+7) total.

Amongst those to miss out on the match play were Initial Walker Cup Squad members Barry HUME (+8), Bradley MOORE (+8), Conor O’ROURKE (+10), Robert MACINTYRE (+11), Colm CAMPBELL (+11), Alex GLEESON (+14) and Owen EDWARDS (+16). In addition in form Irish player Robin DAWSON (+8) also just missed out.

Davidson beat Maclean (2&1), Javier Sainz (1Up), David Puig (3&2) and Kevin LE BLANC (2&1) in the semis to set up a 36-hole final with Englishman Marco PENGE. Penge went into lunch with a 1-hole lead but Davidson came out strongly in the afternoon. The Welshman moved into the lead after a birdie on the fourth and didn’t relinquish it, eventually running out a 4&3 winner on the 15th green.

Marco Penge will be disappointed that the Spanish title evaded him particularly as this was the second match play final he has lost this year. He reached the final of the New South Wales Amateur in Australia a month ago before losing by 1-hole to compatriot Scott GREGORY. Gregory who lost last year’s Spanish Amateur final to Langasque was missing this year as he paces himself ahead of his Masters appearance next month. Nevertheless Penge can take solace in the fact he has moved a few steps closer to the Amateur World’s top 50 (he’s now 55th in the SPWAR) and has once again demonstrated competitive match play skills. Both should stand him in good stead as this Walker Cup year progresses. He won’t have long to dwell on the final as next week he starts his defence of the Sunningdale Foursomes, which he and girlfriend Sophie Lamb won last year.

There is no denying that Jack Davidson’s win was a surprise but upon closer inspection he does appear to be a player growing in confidence and ability. This season he has already finished 3rd in the South American Amateur (74 67 69 68 -10) and followed that up with a tied 7th place result at the Portuguese International Amateur (71 75 74 66 -2) last month.

Jack started 2017 ranked 580th in the SPWAR. He is now 131st and 18th in the GB&I list. The Spanish International Amateur is clearly a prestigious title and it will be interesting to see if he can build on this in the coming months and push himself further into the Walker Cup reckoning. With David BOOTE already well placed could we see at least two Welsh players in the final 2017 GB&I team ?

Whatever happens no one can take this title off him and 2017 will be a memorable year. Well done to Jack on a great win and good luck for the rest of the year.

Jack Davidson Holes The Winning Putt (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

Spanish International Amateur Results
– Stroke Play
– Match Play
Final Hole-By-Hole

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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41. Notes From A Big Country – South Africa

4th March 2017

Over the last month touring English, Irish and Scottish players have all competed in a series of major events in South Africa.

South African Stroke Play Championship (7-10 Feb)
Cape Province Open Championship (14-16 Feb)
South African Amateur Championship (21-24 Feb)
African Amateur Stroke Play Championship (1-4 Mar)

Before these Championships Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) and Robin DAWSON (IRE) were on the periphery of the Walker Cup picture. Indeed neither was included in the initial Walker Cup Squad announced on 23rd January 2017. I think we can safely say that both are now firmly in the selector’s thoughts.

Liam JOHNSTON had a superb tour. Demonstrating good consistency he finished tied 5th (-6) in the South African Stroke Play at Kingswood, 26th (-1) at the Cape Province Open, reached the quarter finals of the South African Amateur at Homewood before winning the African Amateur Stroke Play (-8) at the stunning Leopard Creek CC. As a result of these performances he deservedly moved from 135th in the SPWAR at the start of February to 35th. He is the 6th highest ranked GB&I player at the time of writing.

Liam Johnston (Photo: Scottish Golf)

The Irish party had a shorter itinerary playing in just the South African Stroke Play and the Cape Province Open (CPO). This didn’t stop Robin DAWSON from excelling, finishing 2nd in both of these events. He shot -9 in the former and -10 in the latter, clearly taking a liking to the courses at Kingswood GE and George GC. Robin started the tour in 182nd place in the SPWAR but today sits in an impressive 55th (he was 47th immediately after the CPO). He is 8th in the GB&I list which continues to be led by Sam HORSFIELD (ENG), who will be turning Pro before the Walker Cup.

In the light of Dawson’s heroics it is easy to overlook how well Alex GLEESON (IRE) also played in South Africa. He finished tied 11th (-2) in the South African Stroke Play and tied 4th (-9) in the Cape Province Open. He now sits 95th in the SPWAR (13th in the GB&I list) and looks good value for his inclusion in the Initial Walker Cup Squad.

Connor SYME (SCO) played in his first events of 2017 in South Africa. He firstly missed the cut by 1-shot at the Joburg Open on the European Tour but no doubt took heart from solid rounds of 71 and 69 (-3). He then played very well this week in the African Amateur, ultimately having to settle for 2nd place behind his compatriot Johnston on -7. I think we can safely say it is going to take a dramatic downturn in form over the next 6 months for Connor not to be a part of GB&I’s 2017 Walker Cup team.

In what was generally a disappointing trip for the official three man England team Dan BROWN (ENG), who was selected for the Initial Walker Cup Squad, shone brightest. He finished tied 3rd on -8 at the South African Stroke Play and tied 1st in the South African Amateur Qualifying. It took four play-off holes for home player Chris Woollam to wrestle the Proudfoot Trophy from him. Unfortunately Brown could progress no further than Round 2 in the match play stage.

Gloucestershire’s Joe LONG (ENG), who had made his own way out to South Africa, deserves a mention in despatches too. After a slow start he really found his feet in the last two events. At the South African Amateur he reached the match play quarter finals losing 1 Down to Andre Van Heerden Jr (RSA). Alongside star man Johnston this was the best performance by any GB&I player in the Championship. He then finished 14th (+2) in the African Amateur Stroke Play yesterday. However, that doesn’t tell the full story as Joe, having played the front nine in level par, was right in the mix on -6 with just 7 holes to go. Unfortunately he played them in +8 despite birdies on 14 and 18. I guess you don’t always get what you deserve in golf but hopefully he will learn from this experience and continue to feature back home this summer.

Scottish Golf always travel in numbers for the South African events helped by good sponsorship and in particular the support of billionaire businessman Johann Rupert. This gives their players the opportunity to lay down some early season markers. This year they have certainly taken their chances with Connor SYME, Liam JOHNSTON, Craig HOWIE and Craig ROSS all doing well and now strongly placed for a Walker Cup push. When you add Robert MACINTYRE, Sandy SCOTT, Calum FYFE, Ryan LUMSDENJamie STEWART and Barry HUME to the mix it’s not difficult to see which country is likely to take the majority of places in our 2017 Walker Cup team.

For more information on the results of these South African amateur events click here – Golf Bible Website Results

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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