18. The 2016 European Amateur Championship

10th August 2016

The 30th European Amateur Championship, a 72-hole stroke play event, was contested between 3rd – 6th August on the 7,100 yards Sea Course at the Estonia Golf & Country Club.

Italy’s Luca CIANCHETTI beat Norway’s Viktor HOVLAND on the seventh play-off hole to win this prestigious competition. Luca wins a nice trophy but more importantly an invitation to compete in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Luca Cianchetti Euro Mens Amateur 2016

Luca Cianchetti (Photo: Italian Golf Federation)

Once again from a Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) perspective Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) -13 and Connor SYME (SCO) -12 rose to the top, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) is now also starting to show up regularly; he finished an impressive T9 on -9.

In total 37 GB&I players started the European Men’s Amateur Championship. In addition to the above the following 15 players had a good week making the Top 60 54-hole cut in a strong field: –
T13 Andrew WILSON (ENG)-8
T13 Craig ROSS (SCO) -8
T17 Ben AMOR (ENG) -7
T17 Daniel BROWN (ENG) -7
T17 Grant FORREST (SCO) -7
T26 Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) -5
T26 Stuart GREHAN (IRE) -5
T26 Sandy SCOTT (SCO) -5
T35 Matthew JORDAN (ENG) -4
T35 George BLOOR (ENG) -4
T44 Alex GLEESON (IRE) -2
T50 Marco PENGE (ENG) -1
T50 James WALKER (ENG) -1
T54 Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) Ev
T54 Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +1

Click here to review the complete final results from Estonia – 2016 European Amateur Championship Live Scores

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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17. GB&I Retain The St. Andrews Trophy

23rd July 2016

Great Britain & Ireland retained the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy earlier this week in an exciting match against the Continent of Europe.

The 31st contest in the series was halved 12.5-12.5 at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent but as the holders GB&I were able to keep the Trophy on home soil. It was the first time the match had been halved, GB&I winning 25 times and Europe just five times previously.

GB&I St Andrews Trophy 2016 Photo 2

Great Britain & Ireland (Photo: Darren Plant)

David BOOTE (WAL) proved to be the hero of the day bravely parring the 18th hole to secure a 1Up win in the final singles game of Day 2 against Spain’s Ivan CANTERO GUTIERREZ (ESP). 

GB&I had got off to the worse possible start losing the Day 1 foursomes 0-4. A recovery of sorts looked possible for the home team in the afternoon singles but some late reverses saw Europe rescue a 4-4 series result.

Going into Day 2 behind 4-8 few predicted GB&I could recover the situation. However, a 3.5-1.5 result in the Day 2 foursomes gave the team every reason to believe prior to the 9 singles commencing.  The singles were again a rollercoaster affair but GB&I managed to sneak them 5-4 to secure a dramatic half.

Whilst it does not take into account the quality of each player’s opposition it is still interesting to review the high level individual player contributions: –

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 06.40.38

From a GB&I perspective Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Stuart GREHAN (IRE) were our star men this week securing two singles wins and one foursome success.

Connor SYME (SCO), Jack HUME (IRE), David BOOTE (WAL) and Alfie PLANT (ENG) also played important point scoring roles during the competition.

Jamie BOWER (ENG), Grant FORREST (SCO) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) will be disappointed with their contributions.

GB&I and new captain Craig WATSON will no doubt be delighted to retain the St. Andrews Trophy. The Team showed real determination and fight to turn around a horrific start.

However, the reality is this was a disappointing performance and result.

Save for the inclusion of Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) and possibly Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) GB&I were able to put out their strongest team. Europe were sadly not in the same position. Adrian MERONK (POL) and Antoine ROZNER (FRA) would certainly have been included if not for the fixture clash with the European Challenge Tour event in France. Ugo COUSSAUD (FRA) and Gregoire SCHOEB (FRA), also playing in France, would probably have been considered too.

Europe have only won five St. Andrews Trophy matches out of 30, with just one of these victories coming away from the Continent. GB&I clearly have an advantage when playing such matches on links courses which they have far more experience of.

So, harsh as it may seem, I for one am not going to get too excited about a halved home match against a weakened Continent of Europe team. Much improvement will be needed if GB&I are going to give a hurt USA team a match on a parkland course in sunny Los Angeles at the 2017 Walker Cup.

For my full St. Andrews Trophy preview and daily match reports please visit my sister website www.golfbible.co.uk – St. Andrews Trophy – 2016 Preview and Results

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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15. The 2016 European Men’s Amateur Team Championships

9th July 2016

The European Men’s Amateur Team Championships finished today in France (Division 1) and Luxembourg (Division 2).

These are the events that highlight a player’s ability to compete at the highest level and help firm up foursome pairings for selectors down the line.

Scotland retained their European Team title and in particular Connor SYME, Craig HOWIE, Robert MACINTYRE and Grant FORREST have enhanced their already strong reputations further.

Ireland‘s Stuart GREHAN and Jack HUME qualified strongly and performed well in the match play stage as the their team finished a creditable 6th.

There was little to cheer for England who finished a disappointing 13th. Alfie PLANT did however perform well himself.

Wales finished 2nd in Division 2 but David BOOTE won the stroke play qualifier and all four of his match play games.

All in all, save for Craig HOWIE, who is really applying pressure on the R&A selectors (and me), I haven’t seen anything to suggest I need to alter my St. Andrews Trophy team selection which I published here a few days ago.

Here is my GB&I Player Performance Analysis covering these two events.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 18.01.22

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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14. The 2016 St. Andrews Trophy Team – My Selection

7th July 2016

Here’s my stab at the 2016 Great Britain & Ireland St. Andrews Trophy Team.

The St. Andrews Trophy has been played biennially between GB&I and Europe since 1956.

GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came recently in 2010 and 2012. GB&I won the 2014 match, played in Barsebäck, Sweden, 14-10.

I anticipate this year’s match being a very close encounter.

With the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship coming to a conclusion at Golf de Chantilly in France on Saturday I expect the GB&I Team to be named by The R&A and Captain Craig Watson early next week.

These are the questions I’ve asked myself before selecting my Team: –

How many players do I need, where are we playing and what’s the format ?

The match is to be contested by a team of 9 GB&I players.

It is to be played on the links of Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July.

On Day 1 4 foursomes and 8 singles will be played. On Day 2 there are again 4 foursomes but in a change to the recent format all 9 players will then compete in singles this year. I know from past experience that there is always a tendency to prefer pairs from the same country so need to consider that.

Who’s in the frame ? 

An 18-man St. Andrews Trophy Squad was announced on 24th March 2016.

This included David BOOTE (WAL), Jamie BOWER (ENG), Owen EDWARDS (WAL), Ewen FERGUSON (SCO), Grant FORREST (SCO), John Ross GALBRAITH (IRE), Alex GLEESON (IRE), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG), Jack HUME (IRE), Jack MCDONALD (SCO), Robert MACINTYRE (SCO), Greg MARCHBANK (SCO), Bradley MOORE (ENG), Marco PENGE (ENG), Craig ROSS (SCO), Connor SYME (SCO) and Ashton TURNER (ENG).

There were 7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales in the initial squad.

We can of course remove Jack McDonald from the above group as he turned pro on 31st March.

Who has performed well this year ?

Here is my 29th June 2016 Rankings Assessment which clearly shows who our leading players have been in the year to date, at least according to the two main Amateur Rankings.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 21.06.37

It seems unlikely to me that anyone outside my Combined Top 20 listed above will be selected. Unless of course The R&A go for a completely Scottish team – which given current form is not as outlandish a statement as it may at first seem.

Who’s showing form at this week’s European Men’s Amateur Championship ?

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 18.40.34

EMATC GB&I Stroke Play Scores

The above table clearly shows who performed well in the stroke play qualifying and how today’s first round match play has gone for our leading players.

In Division 2 David BOOTE was the medalist in the stroke play qualifying with a -9 36-hole total in Luxembourg.

Notable Omissions ?

At the end of June our highest ranked player was Sam HORSFIELD (ENG). I understand that Craig Watson watched and met with him at the Arnold Palmer Cup a few weeks ago at Formby but I don’t envisage him being considered or dare I say making himself available for this event. I am sure Sam will be committed to the series of major amateur events that are played in the United States during July and August.

Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) has been struggling with a wrist injury in recent weeks, withdrawing from three events in succession. I have therefore chosen to exclude him from my thoughts on fitness grounds. This is a shame for Ewen as he has started to show some good form lately with a 3rd place in the St Andrews Links Trophy and a good run at The Amateur.

So excluding Sam and Ewen here’s my team of 9, in order of selection: –

1. Grant FORREST (SCO) – since winning the Battle Trophy in Scotland he has strung to together a series of top quality results. Playing well in France and now back to his very best.

2. Jack HUME (IRE) – the South African SP and European Nations Individual 2016 champion was solid in the 2015 Walker Cup and outstanding in the Bonallack Trophy earlier this year.

3. Connor SYME (SCO) – the 2016 Australian Amateur champion has enjoyed an excellent season and is now undoubtedly one of GB&I’s top amateur players.

4. Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – has peaked perfectly for this selection. Finalist in The Amateur and has taken that form into his last two events on the Challenge Tour and this week in France.

5. Scott GREGORY (ENG) – having just won The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl he obviously must play. He’s delivered winning results for England in two international matches this year also.

6. Alfie PLANT (ENG) – a fantastic winner of the Lytham Trophy who has enjoyed good finishes at the French International Amateur (T11) and Brabazon Trophy (T7) since. A Kent-lad too which should help with local support.

7. Jamie BOWER (ENG) – he’s won three events this year including the prestigious Brabazon Trophy in Kent, albeit on an inland course. Jamie also got to the last 16 of the Amateur so has certainly backed up his early season wins in South Africa.

It starts to get a bit trickier from here on in, particularly around foursomes pairings, but I’ve given the benefit of the doubt to: –

8. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – a strong performance this week for Ireland on the back of a positive contribution at the Arnold Palmer Cup. Stuart seems to be on an upward curve to me.

9. David BOOTE (WAL) – David has enjoyed a good season for Stanford in the US and delivered winning results at the Bonallack Trophy (where he played with Jack Hume) and Arnold Palmer Cup this year. He has also made a good start in Luxembourg this week for Wales at the Division 2 European Men’s Team Championship.

Having put my head above the parapet I have to say it would be hard for me to argue if any of Craig HOWIE (SCO – partnering Connor Syme at the Euros this week), Conor O’ROURKE (Naas GC, IRE – as is Jack Hume), Sandy SCOTT (SCO), Craig ROSS (SCO) or Bradley MOORE (ENG – a possible partner for Alfie Plant) were selected by The R&A based on 2016 performances and potential foursome pairings.

Let me know what you think by commenting below or on Twitter ?

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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13. The 2016 Arnold Palmer Cup

5th July 2016

Europe convincingly beat USA 18.5-11.5 in the 2016 Arnold Palmer Cup (APC) played at Formby Golf Club on the weekend of 24th – 26th June.

The Arnold Palmer Cup is an annual team golf competition played between American college golfers and European college / university golfers. Played over three days it is made up of foursome (5), four ball (5) and singles matches (20).

Arnold Palmer Cup 2016 - Team Europe

The 2016 European Team (Photo: Arnold Palmer Cup)

This year the European Team included David Boote (WAL), Stuart Grehan (IRE) and Sam Horsfield (ENG) from Great Britain & Ireland.

I was informed that Walker Cup captain Craig Watson attended the match on the Friday.

It was of course the first time Horsfield (19) had played golf in GB&I having emigrated to Florida when he was four.  I watched all of Sam’s match against Rico Hoey in the Sunday Singles which he lost by 1 hole. His iron play was very good and save for a number of missed short putts he may very well of won.

Nevertheless, as the table below shows, it was Boote and Grehan who made the bigger impression on the APC result.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 21.50.25

The Golf Bible APC 2016 Individual Player Contribution Analysis

Boote, having graduated from Stanford the week before the APC match, may well have turned pro by the time the 2017 Walker Cup match comes round but I anticipate Grehan and Horsfield, perhaps the latter in his amateur swan song, both being in the selection shake-up.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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12. The 2016 Amateur Championship And Brabazon Trophy

4th July 2016

Englishmen Scott Gregory and Jamie Bower have raised their profiles considerably having picked up The Amateur Championship and Brabazon Trophy titles in recent weeks.

Gregory beat Robert MacIntyre (SCO) 2&1 in the 36-hole final of The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl GC.

Scott Gregory Amateur Champion 2016

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

He shot 72 at Royal Porthcawl and 71 at Pyle & Kenfig in the Stroke Play Qualifying to finish tied 13th on +1. Seeded 13th he then proceeded to beat Andre Nel (RSA) by 2 holes, Pierre Mazier (FRA) by 1 hole, Harry Hall (ENG) 4&3, Javier Sainz (ESP) 5&4 and Adrian Meronk (POL) to reach the Final.

Paul McBride (IRE) and Ewen Ferguson (SCO) also both reached the Quarter Finals of The Amateur.

Click this link to review all of the Amateur Championship Match Play Results.

Jamie Bower Brabazon Trophy 2016

Jamie Bower (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)

Just a week later Jamie Bower won the Brabazon Trophy – the English Men’s Open Stroke Play Championship. His 12-under finish at the London Golf Club good enough to pip Cameron Davis (AUS) on the final green. Bower made a great start to the season winning twice in South Africa. Having reached the last 16 of The Amateur and now picked up this title he certainly seems to be back in the groove.

Ryan Lumsden -10 (SCO), Gian-Marco Petrozzi -9 (ENG) and Jamie Li -8 (ENG) finished third, fourth and fifth respectively. Alfie Plant -5 (ENG), winner of the Lytham Trophy, also came a creditable tied 7th. Sandy Scott -2 T12 (SCO), Conor O’Rourke -1 T16 (IRE) and Paul McBride -1 T16 (IRE) continue to feature regularly too.

Click this link to review all of the The Brabazon Trophy Results.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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11. The 2016 Lytham Trophy And St. Andrews Links Trophy

6th June 2016

I thought it was worth recording the two biggest wins in Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur golf in 2016 to date.

These being Alfie Plant (ENG) in the Lytham Trophy and Conor O’Rourke (IRE) in the St. Andrews Links Trophy.

Both are notable because of the quality of the fields that contested the events and because of the Open Championship venues that staged them. Rarely does anyone win a 72-hole stroke play competition at Royal Lytham or St. Andrews without being some player.

There were some similarities in the wins too. Both players came into the events relatively unheralded and both proceeded to get off to good starts before happily leading throughout.

Alfie Plant Lytham Trophy 2016 Photo 2

Alfie Plant (Photo: Darren Plant)

Alfie Plant won the Lytham Trophy by 7-shots in what were largely awful playing conditions. Rounds of 67, 73, 74 and 70 gave him a +4 total and enabled him to overcome compatriot Bradley Moore (ENG) who had pinched the Rd. 3 lead on the morning of the final day. Moore finished T2 on +11 with Ugo Coussard (FRA) and Jamie Savage (SCO) after a disappointing final back-9.

Other GB&I Top 10 finishers were James Walker (ENG) and Grant Forrest (SCO), both +12 tied 5th, and Ashton Turner (ENG) and Gian-Marco Petrozzi (ENG), +13 and tied 8th.

The Lytham Trophy results can be viewed in detail by clicking this link – Results

Conor O’Rourke won the Links Trophy yesterday with a magnificent performance. He showed admirable composure and no shortage of game to complete a famous wire-to-wire victory at The Home of Golf.

Conor shot 65 on the New Course on Friday and followed it up with weekend rounds of 69, 71 and 70 on the Old to pick up by far the biggest title of his amateur career with a 275 (-12) total.

More so than Plant this win seemed to come from absolutely nowhere. Prior to play commencing O’Rourke was ranked 1,245th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR). Admittedly he was a lower, at 549th, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) but either way this was one of the biggest amateur competitions in the world with a field to reflect it’s status.

Scottish players were very well represented in the final standings with seven appearing in the top 20. Sandy Scott (-11 / 2nd), Ewen Ferguson (-10 / 3rd), Calum Fyfe and Jamie Savage (both -9 / tied 5th) -9 all standing out.

Ireland had Dermot McElroy (-8 / 7th) and Colm Campbell (-2 / 20th) in the Top 20. However, England will be disappointed that they only had Adam Chapman (-6 / tied 9th), who continues to show a welcome return to form in 2016, to shout about. Joshua Davies (WAL), a regular winner at home, finished tied 21st on -1 showing he’s capable of mixing it with the best on his day too.

The Links Trophy results can be viewed in detail by clicking this link– Results

The question now is can Alfie Plant and Conor O’Rourke build on these two outstanding performances in the coming weeks to stake a strong claim for inclusion in the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy team squad and who knows possibly the 2017 Walker cup one.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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10. Amateurs and the European Challenge Tour

22nd May 2016

On 24th February 2016 the European Challenge Tour announced changes to it’s regulations to allow amateurs to earn points in an amended 2016 Road to Oman competition.

A maximum of 6 amateur invites are now allowed for each tournament with any one amateur allowed to play in no more than 7 events during the season. Invites largely remain a gift of the National Golf Unions and Federations and can be traded for different events as they have been with pros for many years.

European Challenge Tour Logo

Subject to paying a membership fee an amateur can therefore now accumulate points and potentially graduation to the main European Tour if they finish in the Top 15 season ranking. Previously amateurs were unrewarded for their performances on the Challenge Tour.

Romain Langasque, who subsequently turned pro after The Masters, currently lies 4th in the ranking and is quickly showing how the new rules can be made to work to an amateur’s advantage. In March he finished 2nd in The Barclays Kenya Open as an amateur to get his Challenge Tour season off to a flying start. He has built on this to win more points in each of his subsequent four events as a pro.

Of course I am interested in seeing how the new rules work for GB&I amateurs and the impact it has on them turning pro.

The first to get on the bandwagon have been leading Scottish amateurs Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest. Last weekend the two of them completed the second of four European Challenge Tour events allocated to them by Scottish Golf and management company, Bounce Golf. The 2015 Walker Cup-winning pair played in both the Turkish Airlines Challenge and then the Montecchia Open by Lyoness.

To his credit Ferguson made the cut in both events. In Turkey he shot 70, 70, 76 and 67 to finish on -5 (€705). In Italy, where the event was reduced to 54-holes he shot 69, 66 and 74 to finish on -4. If he had been a pro he would have earned c.€1,400 for his two weeks work.

Forrest missed the cut in Turkey after rounds of 68 and 76. In Italy rounds of 70, 67 and 78 saw him finish on +2. Again if he had been a pro he would have earned c.€550 for his week’s work.

The potential monetary rewards they would have received would clearly not have covered either player’s costs which once again highlights the difficulties of turning pro. Of course the last two weeks were about experience rather than prize money for both of the Scottish lads but nevertheless the harsh realities of professional golf can never be completely ignored.

In an interview with the Challenge Tour on 18th May 2016 Forrest said: “To be able to mix your schedule up with some Challenge Tour events really gives you an insight into what the pro game is like. Now that there’s been the rule change where we can get points, it’s a huge step that’s really encouraging. There’s a bit of a difference between the amateur game and the Challenge Tour I’ve noticed. Everyone does their own thing out here but it surprised me a little bit how relaxed it was.”

Ferguson told the Challenge Tour in the same article: “The plan would be to turn professional at the end of this season. You never know how everything’s going to go in golf though – if you win the Amateur Championship or you win a pro event then everything could change. Turning pro is the end goal – sooner rather than later – and definitely by the end of this year. I still have targets in the amateur game that would be nice to achieve, and I just want to keep learning.”

I am pleased both players appear to have enjoyed and benefited from their recent Challenge Tour experiences.

However, what is now very clear, particularly in the case of Ewen Ferguson, is that they both plan to turn pro later this year and certainly before the next Walker Cup in Summer 2017.

This begs the question of Captain Craig Watson and the other GB&I selectors as to what role, if any, the pair should play in the forthcoming St. Andrews Trophy match. Of course neither would be guaranteed selection at the moment based on their 2016 form and rankings but what’s the point in selecting either of them if they plan to turn pro a matter of weeks after the match ?

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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9. England v. France – 14 /15 May 2016 – Preview & Results

15th May 2016

England defeated France 14-10 at Formby Golf Club in a hard fought contest played in near perfect conditions.

England v France May 2016

The English Team Celebrate Their Victory Over France (Photo: GolfBible)

The following table shows the Individual Contributions of all of the England team members.  Scott Gregory and Josh Hilleard enjoyed impressive W3 / H0 / L1 records and given their two Singles performances were joined by Bradley Moore and Alfie Plant as England’s star men this weekend.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 22.31.27

In what was an impressive performance against a reasonable French side it was pleasing to see each member of the team contribute at least a point to the win.

Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret stood out for the French and certainly can take no blame for their team’s defeat.

ME.

8th May 2016

Any Home Nation team match needs to be studied carefully. Selection, pairings and performance all provide useful information.

Every year England play Spain or France in biennial international amateur team matches.

Last year England beat Spain 19-11 at Burnham & Berrow G.C. in Somerset. This victory, for the first time contested as a mixed match, extended their winning record against Spain to 14-2. Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, who went on to play in the 2015 Walker Cup, starred for England winning all four of their matches.

This year it’s the turn of France who England will take on at Formby G.C., Lancashire, on 14th-15th May. The match against France dates back to 1934 with England leading the series 28-5.

Four foursomes and eight singles will be contested on each day.

The French team will consist of Edgar Catherine, Ugo Coussaud, Andoni Etchenique, Jeong Weon Ko, Adrien Pendaries, Pierre Pineau, Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret.

On 3rd May England confirmed their 8-man team:-

Jamie Bower (23) – Meltham G.C., Yorkshire
Jamie has risen up the world rankings in 2016 after a successful early season tour of South Africa where he won both the Gauteng North Amateur and the Southern Cape Open. He was also third in the African Open.

Scott Gregory (21) – Corhampton G.C., Hampshire
Scott was runner-up in the 2016 Spanish Amateur and helped England win the Costa Ballena Quadrangular tournament earlier this season.

Josh Hilleard (21) – Farrington Park G.C, Somerset
Josh is in great form having already won the West of England Championship, the Berkhamsted Trophy, the Faldo Series Wales Championship and the Hampshire Salver in 2016. He was also in England’s winning team at the Costa Ballena Quadrangular Tournament. He was also awarded the Southern Golf Association’s Amateur of the Month Award for April 2016 just prior to the match.

Paul Kinnear (22) – Formby G.C., Lancashire
Paul represented England on their tour of South Africa earlier this season and will hopefully bring some home course knowledge to the Team.

Bradley Moore (18) – Kedleston Park G.C., Derbyshire
Bradley was joint runner-up in the Lytham Trophy earlier this month and helped Europe beat Asia Pacific in the 2016 Bonallack Trophy.

Alfie Plant (23) – Sundridge Park G.C., Kent
Alfie won the 2016 Lytham Trophy by 7-shots and toured South Africa with England earlier this year.

Ashton Turner (20) – Kenwick Park, Lincolnshire
Ashton helped Europe beat Asia Pacific in the Bonallack Trophy and toured Australia with England earlier this season.

James Walker (22) – The Oaks G.C., Yorkshire
James has been in good form this year winning the Selborne Salver and reaching the semi-finals of the Spanish Amateur championship, unluckily losing to eventual champion Romain Langasque on the 19th hole following a series of chip-ins from the Frenchman. He was 6th at the Lytham Trophy.

It’s difficult to argue with the above selection.

Marco Penge is the most obvious omission but as he celebrates his 18th birthday on 15th May he probably asked not to be considered.  Marco has also been ploughing his own furrow this year playing in both the PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley recently instead of more obvious GB&I  amateur events; the Lytham Trophy being his most obvious miss.

Jonathan Thomson has been recovering from a back injury for a few months. Daniel BrownAdam ChapmanRyan CornfieldJJ Grey, Sam HorsfieldAndrew Wilson and Jack Yule may also have been discussed by the selectors but are either finishing off the US College season or probably need a few more results to break in to the current 2016 England Men’s Team.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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8. Marco Penge & The 2016 PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School

8th April 2016

The 2016 PGA Euro ProTour Final Qualifying School came to a conclusion today at Frilford Heath G.C. in Oxfordshire.

For followers of amateur golf the entry of England’s Marco PENGE into the Q-School progress was of particular interest.

Marco Penge is one of GB&I’s leading amateurs ranking, at the time of writing, around 90th in the World (SPWAR 97 / WAGR 86). This despite only being 17 – he is 18 on 15th May. He has started the 2016 season well, recording a T6 finish in the South American Amateur, a T4 at the Portuguese Amateur, a T14 in the European Nations and of course winning the Sunningdale Foursomes with girlfriend Sophie Lamb last month.

Marco Penge Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship

Marco Penge – 2015 Scottish Men’s Amateur Champion (Photo: Kenny Smith Photography)

Marco qualified for the EuroPro Tour’s Final Stage Q-School comfortably on 30th and 31st March, finishing 4th at Burhill G.C., with rounds of 66 and 76 (-2). In the Final at Frilford rounds of 71, 73 and 72 saw him finish Even and Tied 22nd. This Top 30 finish saw him earn the highest card possible, a Category 3.

The good news is I believe Marco isn’t planning to turn Pro on the back of his solid start to the year and today’s securing of EuroPro Tour playing rights. I think he wants to play another amateur season, hopefully winning more men’s events and gaining selection for both the St. Andrews Trophy (20-21 July) and Junior Ryder Cup (26-27 September) teams.

The bad news is (at least from my perspective), assuming he maintains his form, he almost certainly will be moving into the Pro ranks towards the end of this year.

Looking at his situation from the perspective of this website it is clear that as things stand he doesn’t see the 2017 Walker Cup as part of his medium term plans. Of course no-one is guaranteed selection but I am sure he would be one of the players Captain Watson would currently like to have at his disposal in 2017. It is hard to criticise Marco for his ambitions. He continues to keep moving forward and the next match in Los Angeles, still over 500 days away, has always looked like being a year too far away for him.

Following his decision to turn Pro last week (click to read article) Jack McDONALD shot rounds of 71, 76 and 71 to finish on +2 and Tied 46th.  He secured a Category 6 card.

With the EuroPro offering 14 events between May and September and operating with fields of 168 both Jack and Marco (but only if he chooses to turn Pro) should be able to play most of the events they want to this season.

It will be interesting to see what Marco decides to do as the season progresses. Why enter the EuroPro Tour Q-School if you don’t plan to turn Pro ? For the time being I guess it can have done him no harm to use the Q-School for experience and to gauge where he currently stands in the pecking order. At 17 I am sure he must be pleased with what he found out.

18th August 2016 Update: Marco PENGE played in The Matchroom Sport Championship at East Sussex National as an amateur this week. He shot rounds of 77 and 76; his +9 score saw him finish a disappointing tied 133rd on his PGA EuroPro Tour debut.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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6. R&A Announces 2016 St. Andrews Trophy Squad

25th March 2016

The R&A and new captain Craig Watson (SCO) yesterday announced an 18-man GB&I Squad for the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.

7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales have been selected. They are listed below in alphabetical order: –

David BOOTE (WAL)
Jamie BOWER (ENG)
Owen EDWARDS (WAL)
Ewen FERGUSON (SCO)
Grant FORREST (SCO)
John Ross GALBRAITH (IRE)
Alex GLEESON (IRE)
Stuart GREHAN (IRE)
Scott GREGORY (ENG)
Jack HUME (IRE)
Jack MCDONALD (SCO)
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO)
Greg MARCHBANK (SCO)
Bradley MOORE (ENG)
Marco PENGE (ENG)
Craig ROSS (SCO)
Connor SYME (SCO)
Ashton TURNER (ENG)

The current GB&I Scratch Players World Amateur Golf Ranking is shown below: –

SPWAR 240316

The current GB&I World Amateur Golf Ranking is also shown below: –

WAGR 240316

As one would expect the Squad largely reflects the current rankings.

The obvious omission is Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) who has made a strong start to his freshman year at Florida on the US College circuit and sits near the top of both rankings. It is unclear at the moment whether the R&A have ignored him after his late Walker Cup withdrawal last summer or Sam has simply made himself unavailable. It is interesting to note that he has made himself available for Europe’s Palmer Cup Team and the match taking place against the United States at Formby GC in June.

Jimmy ALLEN (ENG) who was well placed in the rankings turned pro ahead of the MENA Tour opener in Morocco this week and was therefore not considered.

From an analysis of the two rankings – and in particular looking at those players that either sit in the Top 18 or above others that have been selected – the following players may consider themselves unlucky (or additionally motivated for the next few months): Paul KINNEAR (ENG),  Jamie SAVAGE (SCO), Paul MCBRIDE (IRE), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Craig HOWIE (SCO) and James WALKER (ENG).

A speedy recovery is hoped for both Jonathan THOMSON (ENG) and Sean TOWNDROW (ENG) who have both been battling injury and health issues in recent months and whose exclusions are understandable.

The match, which will be contested by a team of 9, is to be played at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July 2016. The St. Andrews Trophy has been played for since 1956. GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came in 2010 and 2012.

Looking ahead to July’s match Craig Watson said: “We have a strong group of players to call upon again this year and there is a good mixture of experience and youth in the squad. We know we will be in for a tough match at Prince’s so we have to pick the best team we can and the players will be working hard throughout this season to impress the selectors”.

GB&I won the 2014 match at Barsebäck, Sweden by a 14 – 10 scoreline. Grant Forrest is the only member of that winning team to be included in the 2016 Squad.  His fellow Scottish Internationals Jamie Savage and Graeme Robertson are the only other members of the 2014 Team to remain amateur.

A long way to go until the 2017 Walker Cup but nevertheless it is worth recording the players that the R&A currently view as their strongest.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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5. Jack Hume Stars At The 2016 Bonallack Trophy

18th March 2016

Europe comfortably beat Asia-Pacific 21.5 – 10.5 in the 2016 Bonallack Trophy in Portugal.

Here is my analysis of the individual player contributions: –

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 19.54.24

Jack Hume (IRE) starred for Europe winning all four of the matches he was selected for. He has made a superb start to the season. The only surprise in Portugal was that he was rested for a session, the Day Fourballs.

David Boote (WAL) won three of his four matches, only losing his Day 1 Fourball where he was paired with Stefano Mazzoli (ITA).

Ashton Turner (ENG) was the only other GB&I player to win 3 matches. Paired with Bradley Moore (ENG) he lost his Day 1 Foursomes and Day 2 Fourball.

Grant Forrest (SCO) and Jack McDonald (SCO), who were paired together in the Foursomes and Fourballs, and Bradley Moore all lost their Final Day Singles matches thus falling into ‘negative territory’ in my analysis.

Finally, I am starting to develop the view that Bradley Moore’s match play performances are not comparable with his consistently strong stroke play results. I am going to have to research this topic further.

Bonallack Trophy 2016 Europe Winners Photo 2

Team Europe (Photo: Hugo Ribeiro / FPG) 

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley.  All rights reserved.

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4. Europe Announces It’s 2016 Bonallack Trophy Team

22nd February 2016

The European Golf Association (EGA) have recently selected their Bonallack Trophy team for this year’s match against Asia-Pacific.

Bonallack Trophy 2014 Europe Team

The 2014 Bonallack Trophy Winning European Team (Photo: EGA)

Players are supposedly selected with reference to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and guidance from national coaches and officials. No more than two players may be selected from the same country.

For the sake of completeness I thought it was worth recording the names of the six Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players that have been included in the team: –

David BOOTE (WAL) – WAGR 79
Grant FORREST (SCO) – WAGR 25
Jack HUME (IRE) – WAGR 24
Jack MCDONALD (SCO) – WAGR 36
Bradley MOORE (ENG) – WAGR 54
Ashton TURNER (ENG) – WAGR 100

The rest of the 12-man European team are noted below: –

Ivan CANTERO GUTIERREZ (ESP) – WAGR 11
Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA) – WAGR 85
Mario GALIANO AGUILA (ESP) – WAGR 20
Jeroen KRIETEMEIJER (NED) – WAGR 132
Stefano MAZZOLI (ITA) – WAGR 39
Robin PETERSSON (SWE) – WAGR 38

It is clearly premature to link this match with the 2017 Walker Cup selection process.  Nevertheless the six GB&I players that have been invited to Portugal in March can take confidence from their inclusion and do now have the opportunity to put a marker down.  Who knows demonstrating some match-play tenacity, highlighting a new playing partnership or even just being a good team member may help one of them somewhere down the line.

Ashley Chesters (ENG) and Gavin Moynihan (IRE) were both members of the 2014 Bonallack Trophy Team who were victorious in India. Both made the 2015 Walker Cup Team the following year. Other GB&I players in the 2014 team included Ryan Evans (ENG), Dermot McElroy (IRE) and James Ross (SCO). Evans and Ross chose to turn Pro before the Walker Cup whilst McElroy just missed out on selection.

N.B. The WAGR quoted above was taken from the 17th February 2016 listing.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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3. Craig Watson Appointed GB&I Captain For 2017

3rd February 2016

Scotland’s Craig Watson (49) was today appointed captain of the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team for the 46th Walker Cup.

GB&I will be looking to retain the Cup against the United States of America at the Los Angeles Country Club in California on the 9th and 10th September 2017. GB&I last won an away Walker Cup match in 2001.

Watson will also captain GB&I in the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy, the biennial team match against the Continent of Europe, which takes place in alternate years to the Walker Cup. This year’s match will take place at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on 20th and 21st July with GB&I looking to retain the Trophy they won 14 – 10 in 2014.

Throughout the 1990s Craig Watson was one of Scotland and Britain’s best amateur golfers. Real success on the course came late to him and in the end he chose to stay amateur working in the family electrical business, Exciting Lighting, in Falkirk and practicing hard to remain competitive. He remains a very good scratch golfer and won the Craigmillar Park Open in Scotland as recently as April 2014.

Craig Watson 2014 Craigmillar

Craig Watson – 2014 Craigmillar Park Open (Photo: Craigmillar Park GC)

Watson has big shoes to fill following the successful three term captaincy of Welshman Nigel Edwards. Edwards won his two home matches including last September’s stunning 16½ – 9½ win at Royal Lytham & St Annes GC. It is no surprise that Edwards has now been invited to join The R&A’s Men’s Selection Committee. His experience and knowledge of the amateur game should be invaluable to his successor.

R&A Website Quotes

Commenting on his appointment Watson said: “It is a privilege for me to take over the captaincy of the team and I have a hard act to follow as Nigel did a fantastic job. I am looking forward to getting started and to making sure we put out the strongest team we can next year in Los Angeles. ”

Andy Ingram, the Chairman of The R&A’s Men’s Selection Committee, said, “Craig is a well-known and highly respected figure in the amateur game and will bring a great deal of experience and knowledge to the role of Captain. As a former Walker Cup and St. Andrews Trophy player himself, he knows just what it means to represent GB&I and I’m sure he will relish the opportunity to work with the players in both teams.”

Playing Career

Watson, whose club is East Renfrewshire, is a career amateur who first represented Scotland in 1991. Impressively he played for Scotland in the Home Internationals in all but one year from 1991 to 2003 and captained the side from 2001 to 2003. He was also Scotland’s non-playing Captain in 2004. During this period Scotland won the Home internationals just once, at Carnoustie in 2000.

His best golfing year was 1997.  Aged 31 he won the Amateur Championship and played in the Walker Cup.

He was talked in to entering the 1997 Amateur at Royal St. George’s by fellow Scottish international Barclay Howard. Howard finished tied 5th in the stroke play qualifier on 148 while Watson was on the mark, tied 64th with 156 after rounds of 79 and 77. Watson beat Jamie Donaldson (5&4), David Patrick (1 hole), Graham Fox (2&1), James Clive (19th) and Colin Edwards (1 hole) to reach the final. A 3&2 victory over future Masters champion Trevor Immelman, 17 at the time, made it a Championship to remember.

His victory gained him entry to the 1997 Open at Royal Troon and the Masters Tournament in 1998, respectively won by Justin Leonard and Mark O’Meara. Rounds of 73 and 76 saw him miss The Open cut in an 11-man tie for 86th – a tie that included major champions Lee Janzen, Craig Stadler and Gary Player.  Barclay Howard was the only amateur to make the cut in ’97 and therefore won the Silver Medal. Another missed cut followed at The Masters, rounds of 79 and 78 saw him finish tied 74th in a group that included Seve Ballesteros. Amateurs Matt Kucher (E T21) and Joel Kribel (+13 T44) both completed that year’s tournament.

The 1997 Walker Cup match was played at Quaker Ridge GC in New York. GB&I, captained by Clive Brown and with a team including a young Justin Rose, lost 18 – 6. In the circumstances Craig Watson’s 1½ points from a possible 3 was very creditable. Left out of the first foursomes series he beat Steve Scott by 1 hole to secure GB&I’s first point of the match. On Day 2 he was paired with fellow Scot Steven Young in the morning foursomes – they lost 3&2 to John Harris and Brad Elder. In the afternoon Watson halved his singles match with Jason Gore.

Watson represented GB&I in the 1998 St Andrews Trophy. The team lost by 14-10 to the Continent of Europe at Villa D’Este in Italy. Watson played in the three games and lost them all, albeit one was a singles to Peter Hanson (7&6) and another was a foursomes where he and Graham Rankin were beaten by Hanson and Henrik Stenson (4&3).

Watson enjoyed better fortune in the European Men’s Team Championship, representing Scotland in 1997, 1999 and 2001. Scotland were runners up to Spain in 1997 but won the competition under his captaincy in 2001. He also captained Scotland in 2003 in a non-playing capacity.

Other notable performances include two wins at the St Andrews Links Trophy (1992 and 1998), eight Scottish Golf Order of Merit titles and a runner-up in the Scottish Amateur Championship at Downfield in 2001, where he lost 4&3 to Barry Hume.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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1. John “Spider” Miller Re-appointed As US Team Captain For 2017

17 November 2015

John “Spider” Miller was today confirmed as the 2017 USA Captain by the USGA.

Spider Miller 2015 Lytham

John “Spider” Miller (© GolfWeek)

Mr. Miller captained the United States team at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2015. Understandably given the heavy defeat inflicted upon the team his captaincy came in for some criticism in the post match analysis.

However, with the USGA adopting a ‘two-time’ policy since the mid-1990s the decision to give him another go was never really in doubt.  Indeed the omens are good for the United States – three of Miller’s four recent predecessors have all earned their revenge two years later after starting their tenure with away defeats.

In announcing the USGA’s decision Diana Murphy, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman, said: “The members of the 2015 USA Walker Cup team were enthusiastic about their experience at Royal Lytham, and all cited Spider as the reason for their overwhelmingly positive comments. The USGA believes that Spider’s leadership, innate understanding of the values of the competition, and his good-natured spirit are critical to the same experience he can provide for the team in 2017.”

Mr. Miller, who is 64, comes from Bloomington, Indiana. He is married to Kathy and they have five children. He owns Best Beers Inc, a beverage distribution company, which he established in his home town in 1979.

He won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 1996 and 1998. As a result of these wins, he competed in the Masters Tournament in 1997 and 1999. Mr. Miller also represented the United States in the 1999 Walker Cup match played at Nairn in Scotland. Miller teamed up with Hunter Haas to win a pair of foursomes matches before he lost to Paul Casey, 3 and 2, in the final day singles.

Copyright © 2015, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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