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139. Oakmont C.C. To Host The 2033 Walker Cup Match

11th August 2021

The USGA has announced that the 2033 Walker Cup match will be staged at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

The USGA made the announcement during the U.S. Amateur Championship which is currently being played at Oakmont.

Oakmont Country Club

Following recent commitments to both Pinehurst Resort and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort the USGA has now also undertaken to bring a number of its future Championships to Pennsylvania and in particular the state’s two premier courses, Oakmont C.C. and Merion Golf Club.

Oakmont has to date hosted 20 major Championships, more than any other course in USA. The 2021 U.S. Amateur being its 17th USGA Championship – nine United States Opens (1927, 1935, 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, 2007, 2016), five U.S. Amateurs (1919, 1925, 1938, 1969, 2003, 2021) and two U.S. Women’s Open (1992, 2010). In addition it has also staged three U.S. PGA Championships (1922, 1951, 1978).

Oakmont and Merion are iconic in every sense of the word – they’re in rare company in golf and continue to test the best in the game,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, Championships. “We’re making history and kicking off a new era for our national championships in Pennsylvania, and we couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead.”

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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138. Bandon Dunes To Host The 2029 Walker Cup Match

20th July 2021

The USGA has announced that the 2029 Walker Cup match will be staged at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.

Neither the course – Bandon has five – or the match dates have been confirmed.

18th Hole, Bandon Dunes Course (Photo: Bandon Dunes Golf Resort)

The USGA has entered into a partnership with Bandon Dunes which will see 13 of its championships / international matches staged at the resort between 2022 and 2045.

The Walker Cup will be played in 2029 and the Curtis Cup in 2038.

Bandon Dunes has previously hosted the 2006 Curtis Cup (Pacific Dunes), the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur (Bandon Dunes), the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links & U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (Old Macdonald & Bandon Trails), the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four Ball (Pacific Dunes), the 2019 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball (Old Macdonald & Pacific Dunes) and the 2020 U.S. Amateur (Bandon Dunes & Bandon Trails).

John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Managing Director of Championships, said “With five championship-caliber courses and incredible support from the resort’s ownership, Bandon Dunes is the perfect location for these USGA championships. Mike Keiser has been an incredible advocate for amateur golf and his ongoing support for the USGA and our mission served as the vision for this partnership. We are excited to work together for years to come.”

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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137. 2021 Walker Cup – Day 2 Results

Sunday 9th May 2021

USA ran out 14-12 winners against GB&I in the 48th Walker Cup match played at Seminole GC in Florida. It was USA’s third consecutive win in the biennial contest.

The USA’s narrow advantage was primarily secured due to the efforts of 20-year-old Ricky Castillo and second time Walker Cupper Cole Hammer. Castillo was unbeaten becoming just the seventh player on either team to post four wins in a single Walker Cup match this century. Meanwhile Hammer, the University of Texas junior standout, won three and halved one of his games.

From GB&I’s perspective Matty Lamb, Mark Power and Jack Dyer put up the most resistance, all taking the fight to the Americans. Perhaps critically Alex Fitzpatrick, their highest ranked player and the only one with Walker Cup experience, lost all four of the games he played in.

Sunday saw great playing conditions with temperatures peaking in the mid 80°’s. The wind was slightly stronger than yesterday with gusts as high as 22mph seen.

Day 2 Foursomes (USA Team first)
Par 72 – 7,212 yards

Game 1 – 8.20am
Pierceson Coody / John Pak lost to Mark Power / John Murphy by 1 Hole

The Irish pair made a great start to their foursomes game on Sunday, opening with two birdies and an eagle to a take a 3Up lead. It was a lead they held until the 17th, the par 3 whose green has proven almost impossible to hold throughout the match. As has happened more often than not to date USA were able to get up and down whilst GB&I were not. Nevertheless Power and Murphy were not to be beaten, the former hit the 18th fairway before Murphy hit a clutch 5 iron to the heart of the green. After Coody missed the green left, rolling down the steep incline on to the range, the best they could do was a 5. Power judged his 20 foot downhill putt to perfection to enable GB&I to pick up the first point of the day whilst also maintaining his 100% record.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 2 – 8.35am
Ricky Castillo / William Mouw beat Alex Fitzpatrick / Barclay Brown by 1 Hole

Taking his individual record to P3-W3 Ricky Castillo is proving to be the surprise star man for USA at this Walker Cup. The Yorkshire pairing of Fitzpatrick and Brown did well to fight back having gone 3Down after six holes. Unfortunately having taken a 1Up lead on the 16th Fitzpatrick missed both the 17th green and 18th green and despite excellent recoveries by his partner was unable to hole putts to save the day when it was most required.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 3 – 8.50am
Davis Thompson / Cole Hammer halved with Angus Flanagan / Ben Schmidt

If GB&I do go on to make a real match of this in the Singles later today it will be this Foursomes that will be seen as the turning point. 3Down with four holes to play most observers had already given the point to the American side. However, Flanagan and Schmidt had other ideas and a storming finish saw them miraculously secure a half. It must be said that the Americans found really poor lies on the final two holes but it is one thing having a bit of luck, it’s another to be good enough to take advantage of it. Flanagan’s bunker shot and pitch on the final two holes were top class in this regard.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 4 – 9.05am
Stewart Hagestad / Tyler Strafaci lost to Matty Lamb / Jack Dyer by 6&5

GB&I’s Lamb and Dyer pairing, who had lost on the opening day, played beautifully this morning to thrash Hagestad and Strafaci by 6&5, the biggest winning margin seen in the match to date. I am confident the four birdies and no bogeys in their opening 13 holes would have been too good for any of the American pairings.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Players Rested
USA – Quade Cummins, Austin Eckroat 
GB&I – Ben Jones, Joe Long

In another tight Foursomes series GB&I will be delighted to have come out on top. With a number of the American players looking nervy down the stretch this morning and their lead now reduced to just 1-point it’s certainly all to play for going into the final 10 Singles.

Day 2 Foursomes Score: USA 1.5 – GB&I 2.5

______________________________________________

Day 2 Singles (USA Team first)
Par 72 – 7,198 yards

Game 1 – 2.15pm
Austin Eckroat beat Mark Power by 7&6

A disappointing finish to the match from Kilkenny’s Mark Power who had previously been unbeaten. Perhaps mentally and physically exhausted after his earlier exertions the fresher Austin Eckroat, who was rested in the morning, got off to a good start and to his credit kept pushing with some very solid play.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 2 – 2.26pm
Pierceson Coody beat Alex Fitzpatrick by 3&1

Pierceson Coody was too good for Alex Fitzpatrick for the second day running. Whilst the Englishman, who has now lost all four of his games, battled to the end he was found wanting down the stretch with a number of mistakes that enabled Coody to see the match out in relative comfort.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 3 – 2.37pm
John Pak lost to Joe Long by 1 Hole

2up with two holes to play the reigning Amateur Champion Joe Long made hard work of securing GB&I’s first point in the Singles. It took an unbelievable 18th hole for the Gloucestershire man, playing in his only game of the match due to illness, to secure his point. Having won the 17th Pak confidently hit the middle of the 18th fairway. In reply Long duck hooked his into the shoreline cabbage. Having taken a drop he then found the green side bunker in three. With a half virtually in his hands Pak misjudged the wind with his won approach and found the lateral hazard to the left of the green. Having taken a drop the experienced American then duffed his chip into a bunker before taking three to get down. A disbelieving Long gratefully secured a half in six to take the point for GB&I. If only Long had been able to play a few mores sessions wondered the GB&I supporters.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 4 – 2.48pm
Davis Thompson lost to Matty Lamb by 2 Holes

Matty Lamb won GB&I’s second point in the Singles with an impressive win over an out of sorts Davis Thompson. His magnificent tee shot and birdie on 17, the hardest hole on the course, and controlled par on 18 should give him a great deal of confidence for his future career in the pro ranks. Lamb was one of the few GB&I players to look comfortable in these rarefied surroundings, largely in control of both himself and his game throughout.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 5 – 2.59pm
Quade Cummins halved with Barclay Brown

A half was arguably the right result in this close game albeit Brown who had won three holes in a row from the 15th to take the lead on the 17th will be disappointed to have given up a full point with a bogey on the last. Nevertheless the Stanford player should be pleased with his unbeaten Singles record over the weekend.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 6 – 3.10pm
William Mouw lost to Angus Flanagan by 1 Hole

Despite holding the the lead throughout his match against the competitive William Mouw Angus Flanagan had to dig deep to finally get the job done. 2Up with two to play he needed a clutch 35 foot par putt on the home hole to close out the Californian.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 7 – 3.21pm
Ricky Castillo beat John Murphy by 2&1

Ricky Castillo finished the match as the only player to record a 100% record, played 4, won 4. Like his compatriot Mark Power, Murphy look spent from his earlier exertions. He quickly handed Castillo the advantage in the opening holes and never really looked like being able to turn it around against an opponent playing with confidence and freedom.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 8 – 3.32pm
Tyler Strafaci lost to Jack Dyer by 1 Hole

Jack Dyer made it two wins out of two on Sunday with a memorable win against the 2020 US Amateur champion. Tyler Strafaci reported that he had lost 15lbs as a result of the virus in the last few days. The Essex player, who only made the starting line up when Sandy Scott withdrew due to injury, took control early in the back nine. However, despite being 3Up with four holes to play it looked like he would end up halving after losing both the 15th and 17th and then hitting a poor tee shot on 18. Thankfully he was ultimately able to scramble a half in bogey to seal the full point.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 9 – 3.43pm
Cole Hammer beat Ben Schmidt by 4&3

Having lost to Ricky Castillo by 5&3 in the Saturday Singles Ben Schmidt was again soundly beaten; this time 4&3 by Cole Hammer. As the scores below show Schmidt doesn’t appear to have played that badly but Hammer was simply at his imperious best. 18 year old Schmidt’s lack of experience and recent competitive play was always going to make this Walker Cup a tough ask for him.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 10 – 3.54pm
Stewart Hagestad beat Ben Jones by 4&2

Despite being handed the early initiative Ben Jones sadly lost his way on the back nine against Stewart Hagestad who was clearly determined to contribute at least one point to the USA team’s cause in his third Walker Cup match. Like Schmidt in the preceding game Jones looked undercooked. Perhaps the virus that had hit them both particularly badly meant they were simply unable to summon the fight that is normally required to be competitive at this level.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Day 2 Singles Score: USA 5.5 – GB&I 4.5

Day 2 Score: USA 7 – GB&I 7

Final Result: USA 14 – GB&I 12 

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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136. 2021 Walker Cup – Day 1 Results

Saturday 8th May 2021

Play on Saturday took place in near perfect conditions with temperatures quickly rising to 80°. Winds speeds were relatively modest for Seminole rising from 5mph to 15mph as play progressed throughout the day.

DAY 1 SCORE: USA 7 – GB&I 5

Day 1 Foursomes (USA Team first)
Par 72 – 7,272 yards

Game 1 – 8.20am
Cole Hammer / Davis Thompson beat Alex Fitzpatrick / Barclay Brown by 1 Hole

Amazingly after halving the first two holes the following 15 were all won outright in what became a see-saw game. Having won the 8th and 9th the GB&I pair turned 1Up but three bogeys on the first four holes of the back nine saw the advantage quickly handed back to Hammer and Thompson. However, just when it looked like the game may peter out Yorkshire’s Brown and Fitzpatrick got on a roll themselves winning the next three holes. However, Thompson then found the difficult 17th green and, despite a superb fairway bunker shot from Fitzpatrick on the last, Hammer holed out for birdie from 25 feet to secure an opening win for the home team.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 2 – 8.35am
Quade Cummins / Austin Eckroat lost to Mark Power / John Murphy by 1 Hole

The Irish pairing of Mark Power and John Murphy showed great resilience to come back from 3 Down after 10 holes to secure GB&I’s first point at Seminole. 1-under for their last 8 holes proved too much of an ask for the Americans. Power was quick to praise Murphy afterwards: “The old head in the group, he calmed me down and just said, look, just hit the fairways, hit greens and we’ll wear these guys down, and that’s what we did.”

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 3 – 8.50am
Mac Meissner / Ricky Castillo beat Jack Dyer / Matty Lamb by 2 Holes

Due to the virus USA called upon their first alternate Mac Meissner in the Saturday foursomes. Paired with University of Florida debutant Ricky Castillo the pair secured a second point helped in no small part by three birdies in their last five holes. A delighted Meissner said after the match: “I was so nervous on that first tee ball that I hit it on to the second hole, but after that we both calmed down and we played some awesome golf coming in.”

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 4 – 9.05am
Stewart Hagestad / William Mouw lost to Angus Flanagan / Jake Bolton by 1 Hole

This was the fourth foursomes game that required the full 18 holes to reach a result. However, it proved to be a much tighter affair than those that had proceeded it with just 7 holes changing hands. In the end the difference proved to be the determined GB&I 1st reserve Jake Bolton. His clutch left-to-right swinging 30 foot par putt on 17 and towering iron into the 18th to 8 feet from the adjacent driving range secured the point that enabled GB&I to head into lunch level in the match at 2-2.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Players Rested
USA – Pierceson Coody, John Pak, Tyler Strafaci
GB&I – Ben Jones, Joe Long, Ben Schmidt

Day 1 Foursomes Score: USA 2 – GB&I 2

The Saturday Foursomes was the first time in the history of the match that reserves or alternates had been used during a Walker Cup match. Interestingly they both contributed to their respective sides winning a point in the opening session.

With such tight matches Captain Wilson was frustrated with some of his team’s course management: “Three of our guys knocked it in the water at No. 10 and all the matches went up the last. That may have changed the outcome.”

______________________________________________

Day 1 Singles (USA Team first)
Par 72 – 7,188 yards

Game 1 – 2.30pm
Pierceson Coody beat Alex Fitzpatrick by 2 Holes

In a competitive opening match Alex Fitzpatrick made a great start before being reeled in by Pierceson Coody, one of the strongest players on the American team. The key hole proved to be the par 3 17th where Coody pulled his tee shot into one of the left hand green side bunkers. With the players all square and the door ajar Fitzpatrick failed to find the green and after two bunker shots his double bogey five was never going to be good enough. A wild tee shot from Coody on the home hole briefly offered some hope before a superb recovery closed the door on the Sheffield man.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 2 – 2.41pm
Davis Thompson lost to Mark Power 3&2

An outstanding result from Mark Power who took down the current WAGR #3 and former #1 to record his second win of the day. Power played beautifully, hitting fairways and greens and holing numerous long putts. Having created a 3Up lead after birdies on 10 and 11 the Wake Forest sophomore ultimately saw out the match comfortably.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 3 – 2.52pm
Ricky Castillo beat Ben Schmidt by 5&3

Ricky Castillo recorded his second win of the day against a clearly under the weather Ben Schmidt. The 18 year old Yorkshireman struggled to get anything going and was easily taken down by the Californian by the biggest score of the match so far.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 4 – 3.03pm
William Mouw beat Ben Jones by 4&3

Shortly after the announcement that Joe Long would not be able to take part in Game 5 it became clear that Tyler Strafaci was also not feeling well enough to play this afternoon. William Mouw was drafted in as his late replacement. Mouw bounced back well from his morning foursomes defeat and as Jones unwound on the back nine he pulled away to record an impressive 4&3 win.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 5 – 3.14pm
Quade Cummins lost to Matty Lamb by 2&1

Joe Long was initially selected for GB&I for this game but due to continued illness he was deemed unfit to play. Matty Lamb, who had lost his foursome earlier, was called up and after Quade Cummins got off to a slow start he went about earning a notable victory. A 12 foot par putt on the 17th saw him home.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 6 – 3.25pm
Austin Eckroat beat Angus Flanagan by 1 Hole

Angus Flanagan did exactly what Alex Fitzpatrick had done on the 17th an hour or so before him. Followed his opponent into a bunker on the par 3 and then found it impossible to get the ball back on the green. After a nervous start which saw him bogey three of his first four holes Flanagan settled well and a string of pars got him back into the match. He fought all the way to the end but GB&I’s nemesis, the 17th, proved too much for him.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 7 – 3.36pm
John Pak lost to Barclay Brown by 2&1

Barclay Brown beat John Pak with some great play this afternoon. Pak, who won all three of his games at Hoylake in 2019, was clearly not 100% but nevertheless this was a notable scalp for the Stanford sophomore. What was particularly impressive was his ability to come back again over the closing holes having lost a 3Up lead early on the back nine.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 8 – 3.47pm
John Murphy lost to Cole Hammer by 3&1

Starting with two birdies out the gate Cole Hammer built up a 5Up lead by the turn against Kinsale’s John Murphy who had enjoyed foursomes success earlier in the day. Murphy battled back well on the back nine reducing the deficit to 2Up before once again the 17th hole struck.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Players Rested
USA – Stewart Hagestad, Mac Meissner (Reserve), Tyler Strafaci
GB&I – Jake Bolton (Reserve), Jack Dyer, Joe Long

Day 1 Singles Score: USA 5 – GB&I 3

One can’t help feeling that the match just started to slip away from the GB&I team this afternoon. A 5-3 Singles loss is by no means disastrous against a strong USA team but it could have been better. The defeats of Fitzpatrick and Flanagan in tight games may prove to be the difference between having a chance and having no chance. I expect USA to get stronger tomorrow so the challenge for GB&I is only going to get tougher. It will be interesting to see who is up for the fight.

Day 1 Score: USA 7 – GB&I 5

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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135. Best Quotes From The 2021 Walker Cup Press Conferences

Friday 7th May 2021

Due to the food poisoning the pre-match press conferences have been limited in scope. Here’s the most interesting stuff that has been said at Seminole to date: –

PREPARATION

STUART WILSON:
The preparation hasn’t been what we were hoping for. The season was pretty much decimated as far as a full schedule of events, and not just a full schedule of events but events where all the guys would be playing together.  

A number of years ago the whole plan was to — I was the Chairman of Selectors for the boys team and that was a bit of succession planning in there that hopefully I would take over as the Walker Cup captain and have had experience working with the guys before and bringing similar guys into the team. So 50 percent of the team we’ve had playing together in the past on Jacques Leglise teams, have played for GB&I together, and we’re all very familiar with each other to the point that it’s like old friends meeting up in some respects.

STUART WILSON:
We arrived Saturday, and we started to assemble the team from all corners of America and the UK. The first time we were all truly together was Sunday, and that’s when we came up to Seminole for our first look. We played nine holes, and since then we’ve been doing a lot of work with our team preparations on the course and within the team room. It’s been really good so far. 

Everybody is coming together, bonding well, and we’ve had a few kind of special guests along the way. We had a little visit from Matt Fitzpatrick on Monday, so Matt walked the course with the guys, gave us a lot of good constructive feedback, and we had the same yesterday with Paul McGinley. Great resources to tap into and hear what they’ve got to say about the best way to kind of tackle things, not just the course but the match itself. So the prep so far has been really good.

JOHN MURPHY: 
I’m just getting to know the course, I suppose, and getting familiar with our teammates. Thankfully we’ve had a great week so far. Everybody is getting on great. The atmosphere in the team room is amazing. So I think we’re all kind of on the same page where we’re just trying to prepare for the course as best as possible. 

ALEX FITZPATRICK: 
I think it’s such a long week to start with. From the last time at Hoylake, it was kind of like I tried to go out and play most days, and I think I ended up preparing in a way that probably best didn’t suit me, just sort of playing too much golf, and I feel like this time around, I learnt that it’s not all about playing 18 as many times as you can but pacing yourself and maybe playing nine here and there and just making sure that you don’t overdo yourself because by the time come Saturday and Sunday, you’re playing 36 a day, especially in the heat, it’s going to be tough, and you don’t want to be burned out before you even start. 

ALEX FITZPATRICK:
I think the thing I took from the last one was to understand that there’s going to be a lot of people out there. There’s going to be cameras behind you and there’s going to be people applauding you and there are probably going to be people speaking on your backswing, and I think that’s something you’ve got to realize and get used to. There’s going to be 36 holes a day of all of that, and especially this week rather than last year, there will be a lot more supporters against us than with us, so probably a little less applauding for good shots for our team and more for theirs.

THE 2021 EXPERIENCE

ALEX FITZPATRICK: 
This year’s Walker Cup has been a lot different to the one at Hoylake. COVID is such an unfortunate thing. The experience has still been phenomenal and it’s still everything I could have asked for, but just little things like having to sit six feet away from people at dinner and not being able to be with your team all the time is frustrating, but it’s something that you have to do and you have to live with, and the week itself is still going to be amazing.

COLE HAMMER: 
(I’m) really just trying to get the guys fired up to compete for their country because I remember standing on the first tee last time and how cool of an experience it was. I also remember how fast it was over. So I want to kind of encourage the guys to really sit there and soak it in and enjoy it because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to be ready to go out and represent the United States. 

GB&I’S POSSIBLE MATCH PLAY ADVANTAGE

ALEX FITZPATRICK: 
A lot of these (GB&I) guys, if not all of them, have all played some form of match play before, so everyone is used to either playing foursomes or singles, and everyone is used to being in that environment, and I think that’s what’s good about our team is that we’ve all played that, and I feel like some of the Americans just haven’t been in that format and obviously playing foursomes together. 

PLAYING SEMINOLE

JOHN MURPHY: 
There’s obviously a lot of tricks out there. The greens are fairly slopey and wouldn’t be anything like what we’re used to, so we’re just going to try to get a feel for that. We’ve got two days left; I think we’ve put in some great practice so far, so we’re all just getting ready for that first tee shot on Saturday morning. 

(The greens running at 14 on the stimpmeter) is certainly going to add an element of excitement I would say. None of us are used to it. I’d say a lot of Tour pros aren’t even used to it, and then adding wind on top of that slope and green quickness is going to be pretty interesting. Might be a bit of carnage out there at times, so looking forward to that, as well, and hopefully we can manage it to the best of our ability. 

STUART WILSON: 
It’s a second-shot course. You’ve got to be really smart with your approach shots into the green. It has been windy every day we’ve been here. It’s been pretty much the same wind for all the practice days so far, so they’re getting to know it playing this way. There is talk of the wind having a complete shift over the weekend from one day to the next, so that will make it really interesting because we won’t have played it in that condition.

The greens are fast. Like lightning fast. But as far as playing the course, windy, a little bit firm. We’re not too unfamiliar with those kind of conditions, so the guys are coping with it pretty good. 

ALEX FITZPATRICK:
Yeah, I love it here personally. I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to play here a couple times, so I feel like I have got the experience of playing here a lot. It sets up great for me, and I know it sets up great for a lot of other guys on our team, and it’s a lot of bombs-away drivers really, which makes me a little happy.

COLE HAMMER: 
Seminole is obviously one of the most well-known, and for a good reason, best golf courses in the world. I cannot think of a better course to play a Walker Cup match on. I mean, the strategy involved in it, the little intricacies around the greens, short game is vital. It’s just going to test every aspect of our game, and it’s in unbelievable shape right now, so kudos to the superintendent and his staff for getting it in this good of shape, especially after the rain we had last night. The golf course is going to hold up well, and it’ll be a big part of the storyline. 

THURSDAY’S STORMS

ALEX FITZPATRICK:
The torrential rain that happened yesterday was crazy. We couldn’t get out of our team room. We were stranded in there for about two hours, and we were looking out the window and seeing that the whole course was underwater. Being out there today we were spinning chips back and you could just tell that the course was just a little damp and I’d say it will make it a bit more for target golf, but at the same time that can be a bit dangerous with all the runoffs. Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see how much it’s affected play with what you prepared for at the start of the week and what today (Friday) has been.

GB&I HOPES OF WINNING

STUART WILSON: 
We know there’s only been two teams that have been successful over here, which shows it’s not impossible. But we’ve had a look at the numbers, and yeah, there’s been 310 (GB&I) Walker Cup players, 84 of those have played on winning sides but only 20 have played on a winning side in America. We’re trying to make that 30 basically. 

STUART WILSON: 
We’d never say we’re outsiders because certainly with the format of the match and how 18 holes of match play, everybody knows anything can happen at any time. 

As far as kind of being up against it, you’re always up against it when you come, it doesn’t matter what school you generally play in, America is always going to be strong.

We’re going to have very, very few GB&I spectators here cheering us on, so we can use that to our advantage, as well, to kind of spur the guys on to not so much prove a point but use it as a motivation to do as well as they can. 

ALEX FITZPATRICK: 
Putting points on the board early is probably the most important thing you can do, making sure that the guys behind you can all see that you’re getting that blue on the board as early as you can and getting the points, and I guess just trying to rack up enough points to make sure that you win. 

Golf is a funny game, and all you can do is go out there, and if you give your best, that’s all you can do really. So yeah. 

JOHN MURPHY: 
Once that first tee shot comes around it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you’ve done, just a matter of going head-to-head with whoever you’re against, so yeah, we’re looking forward to that. 

FOOD POISONING

JOHN MURPHY (speaking on Thursday): 
Yeah, there were a couple of us that have been unwell a couple of nights ago, but thankfully we’re all good now. Myself and Angus. I don’t know what it was to be honest with you. I think we’re both back feeling okay and ready to play some golf today, and get ready.

ALEX FITZPATRICK:
It’s a stomach bug, and I guess it’s gone around both teams. It’s a little bit of adversity to deal with, but I think it only lasts for 12 to 24 hours or something, so hopefully we have the full team back by tomorrow (Saturday). 

I think it (started) around Tuesday or Wednesday. We had a couple of guys sort of fall ill and I guess we weren’t sure what it was to start with. It was weird, we had two guys from each team apparently go, and the next day we thought people would get better and then suddenly four guys were out.

COLE HAMMER:
It’s obviously unfortunate. All 20 guys have worked really hard over the last two years to make this team, and to kind of have an issue like this is no fun. But everybody is making the most of it. We’re pushing through, and we’re just kind of having to make some decisions on the fly here. 

You know, it’s all been happening so fast that one guy goes down, the next guy goes down. But we’re all trying to rally around each other. But we’ll be just fine. I promise we’ll be ready to go tomorrow no matter what the deal is.

_____________________________________________

It’s now time for the talking to stop and the playing to start.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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134. Virus Outbreak Leads to Walker Cup Re-Jig

Friday 7th May 2021

A serious virus outbreak affecting the players and officials of both Walker Cup sides has impacted preparations for this weekend’s match.

For the first time the in-match use of reserves or alternates, unusually on site due to the COVID-19 protocols in place, has been agreed in case the virus can’t be curtailed before play starts on Saturday.

Initially the issue was unofficially attributed to some chicken the teams consumed at Seminole on Tuesday but the USGA have subsequently discounted this as the source of the problem.

The players have been restricted to Seminole GC and the event hotel, The Breakers in Palm Beach, for the duration of their stay in Florida.

A statement from the USGA and R&A on the eve of the match said: “Over the past 24 hours, a number of players from both the GB&I and USA teams have been treated for gastrointestinal issues and are currently under observation by medical professionals at the teams’ hotel.

“All players from both teams have tested negative in their daily screenings and COVID-19 has been ruled out as the cause. The players have adhered to the strict health and safety guidelines established as a code of conduct for the match.”

“The health and safety of the players and all involved in the match is our utmost priority and we are closely monitoring the situation. At this time, there is no expectation of a disruption to the timing of the matches of the biennial competition.”

A handful of USA players have visited a local hospital in recent days to receive IVs for hydration fluids.

It’s fair to say that having come this far there is no way the USGA and R&A will be leaving Florida without playing this match.

Ricky Castillo, Quade Cummins, (previously unannounced) alternate Cooper Dossey, Austin Eckroat, Stewart Hagestad, Cole Hammer and Davis Thompson were all able to practice fully today. William Mouw joined up with his colleagues later on with Mac Meissner and Tyler Strafaci also playing a few holes. Captain Nathaniel Crosby, Pierceson Coody and John Pak were unable to travel.

Dossey joined up with the USA team as a late replacement for Garrett Reband, the 2nd alternate, who chose not to travel from Oklahoma for the match. Dossey advised the media that he was invited to participate three weeks ago.

For GB&I reserve Jake Bolton, Jake Dyer, Alex Fitzpatrick, Angus Flanagan, Matty Lamb, John Murphy, reserve Joe Pagdin, Mark Power all practiced on Friday. Captain Stuart Wilson, Barclay Brown, Ben Jones (who was ‘celebrating’ his 22nd birthday today) Joe Long and Ben Schmidt stayed at the hotel during the day.

With the exception of USA’s John Pak, the two captains and all of the other players were able to attend the opening ceremony in the early evening suggesting the worst of the stomach bug may be past.

The GB&I Team With President George W. Bush (Photo: Jake Bolton)

To enable late health checks on all of the players the Day 1 lineups will now not be announced at this evening’s opening ceremony which is due to start at 6.00pm (11.00pm BST) local time.

The Captain’s have agreed to submit their foursomes and single selections at 9.00pm (2.00am BST) with the formal draw announcement to be delayed until 7.00am (12.00 noon GMT) on Saturday morning so a final health check can be completed.

Given these unfortunate circumstances both Captains will now also be allowed to sub-in their reserves for illness-related reasons between sessions. However, any reserves that are called upon must be stood down once the original team member returns to health.

At this stage no changes to the traditional match format are anticipated but this can’t be fully discounted at this stage.

Both squads travelled to Seminole with two extra reserve players as part of the match’s COVID-19 planning and they have been practicing alongside their team-mates all week. Whilst the USGA and R&A will be reluctant to see reserves introduced at this late stage – and can of course accommodate two absences from each team on Day 1 – it now appears likely one or two may see some action.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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133. Jack Dyer Replaces Sandy Scott In The GB&I Walker Cup Team

14th April 2021

The R&A has announced that Sandy SCOTT has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team due to a wrist ligament injury.

Scott first picked up the injury in October 2020 and subsequently underwent minor surgery in January. He had originally been expected to return to competitive action for Texas Tech University in mid-March. However, having missed a number of recent college events it had become clear that his recovery was not going as planned.

The R&A had been obligated to select Scott at the end of March, despite his lack of recent play, due to him being one of the two highest ranked GB&I players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He was 8th in WAGR and GB&I’s highest ranked player when the Selection Committee met.

Jack DYER will now step up from first reserve to take his place in the GB&I side that will play USA in 24 days time at Seminole Golf Club on 8th-9th May. Dyer enjoyed an excellent tour of South Africa earlier this year and should arrive match fit and with confidence.

Jack Dyer – South African Amateur Medalist (Photo: Ernest Blignault / Golf RSA)

Following this change the GB&I team will now consist of 8 English players and 2 Irish with no Scottish or Welsh representation.

Jake BOLTON moves up to first reserve.

Florida-based Englishman Joe PAGDIN (19) has been added to the squad as second reserve. The University of Florida freshman has plenty of experience and has previously successfully represented GB&I in the Jacques Leglise Trophy and England in the R&A Boys’ Home Internationals and the European Boys Amateur Team Championship.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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132. The R&A Announce The 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Team

30th March 2021

The R&A have today announced their 10-man Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team for the 48th Walker Cup match to be played against USA on 8th-9th May at Seminole G.C. in Florida.

GB&I Team (Graphic: The R&A)

Here is a list of the players with their nationalities, ages and current amateur rankings: –

Team

Barclay BROWN – England (20) – SPWAR #65 / WAGR #134

Alex FITZPATRICK – England (22) – SPWAR #18 / WAGR #14

Angus FLANAGAN – England (21) – SPWAR #110 / WAGR #40

Ben JONES – England (21) – SPWAR #86 / WAGR #41

Matty LAMB – England (23) – SPWAR #113 / WAGR #85

Joe LONG – England (23) – SPWAR #31 / WAGR #48

John MURPHY – Ireland (22) – SPWAR #63 / WAGR #99

Mark POWER – Ireland (20) – SPWAR #52 / WAGR #29

Ben SCHMIDT – England (18) – SPWAR #78 / WAGR #31

Sandy SCOTT – Scotland (22) – SPWAR #241 / WAGR #8

Reserves

Jack DYER – England (23) – SPWAR #42 / WAGR #225

Jake BOLTON – England (22) – SPWAR #73 / WAGR #60

Here is my analysis of the 2021 selection: –

There are 7 English, 2 Irish, 1 Scottish and 0 Welsh players in the 2021 GB&I team.

Joe LONG (ENG) earned his place on the team by winning the 125th Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. in August 2020.

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) and Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) secured their places as the two highest ranked GB&I players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) at the time of selection. They are also the only two players to return from the 2019 match at Royal Liverpool G.C.

The remaining seven players and two reserves were selected by the four-man Selection Committee which comprised Pádraig HOGAN (Chairman / Ireland), Stuart WILSON (Captain / Scotland), Nigel EDWARDS (England) and Carl ROWE (Wales).

The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the selection process with home-based players largely unable to make their cases with few competitive opportunities in the last 6 months.

It is therefore no surprise to see six of the ten-man team made up of US college players, namely, Barclay Brown (Stanford), Alex Fitzpatrick (Wake Forest), Angus Flanagan (Minnesota), John Murphy (Louisville), Mark Power (Wake Forest) and Sandy Scott (Texas Tech).

Callum FARR (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Joe PAGDIN (ENG) and Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL), who were all in the original 15-man GB&I Walker Cup Squad announced on 2nd December, missed out.

Jack DYER (ENG) played his way into the picture from outside the Squad with a series of very good results in South Africa early in 2021.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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131. Bob Lewis Jr Has Died Aged 76

28th March 2021

Bob Lewis Jr., who represented USA in the 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1987 Walker Cup matches before captaining the team in 2003 and 2005, died on 23rd March aged 76.

Lewis was born in Warren, Ohio in 1944, and was introduced to the game by his mother, a keen low handicap player.

He went to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and played on their golf team between 1963-67.

In 1970 Lewis turned professional and made 26 cuts from the 47 events he played on the PGA Tour between 1971-74. Realising his putting simply wasn’t good enough to compete at the highest level he returned home to work in the family’s still tube manufacturing business.

After a three-year process of reinstatement he returned to the amateur game in 1978. He was well into his 30’s by the time he came to national prominence.

He played in a total of 31 USGA Championships during his career without sadly ever winning one. He recorded three runner-up finishes. He lost 9&8 to Hal Sutton in the 1980 U.S. Amateur Championship at The Country Club of North Carolina, by 2 Holes to Jim Holtgrieve in the inaugural U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in 1981 at Bellerive C.C. near St. Louis and finally 5&4 to Michael Podolak in the 1984 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia. 

USA won all four of the Walker Cups that Lewis played in with the man himself contributing 10 wins in his 14 games at Cypress Point Club, Royal Liverpool G.C., Pine Valley G.C. and Sunningdale G.C. As Captain he had a won 1 – lost 1 record, losing 12.5-11.5 at Ganton G.C. in his first match before winning two years later at Chicago G.C. by the same scoreline.

Lewis also represented USA in two World Amateur Team Championships. Alongside Jim Holtgrieve, Nathaniel Crosby and Jay Sigel USA won in 1982 at Lausanne G.C. with his team finishing second in 1986 at Lagunita C.C. in Venezuela.

Bob Lewis Playing In The Masters (Photo: Augusta National G.C.)

He earned seven invitations to the Masters Tournament, where he finished as low amateur in 1987, and qualified for three U.S. Opens in 1978, 1983 and 1986. 

In his later years he volunteered as the head golf coach at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills, Ohio.

Lewis was inducted into the Ohio Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the Northern Ohio Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2003. He was the recipient of the Bob Jones Award, the USGA’s highest honour, in February 2021.

After losing his long battle with lung cancer Lewis leaves a wife, Patricia, and two children, Tiffany and Tristan.

Bob Lewis managed to combine being a fierce competitor with a friendly demeanour and a high level of sportsmanship. He leaves a legacy as one of the most well liked and respected people in the history of amateur golf and the Walker Cup.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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130. My 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Team With 50 Days To Go

19th March 2021

With 50 days to go until the 2021 Walker Cup match starts at Seminole G.C. here are the 10 players I would currently select for the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team.

In the spirit of fairness I have tried to find a balance between players who have been performing well overseas and those that have been unable to play due to the COVID-19 pandemic but were previously trending towards selection.

My selection is primarily an objective one based on playing results, preferably recent as I would prefer a ‘match fit’ team. I do not know the players well enough to take into account personalities and team dynamics which I accept would be a part of a wider selection decision.  

On 20th October 2020 I wrote an article entitled ‘My Current GB&I Team And Squad With 200 Days To Go’ which listed the leading 20 players at that time. I have assessed all 20 players again. 

This is not a prediction of what The R&A Selection Committee will do. Indeed if it were a few names would be different, particularly as the Chairman Pádraig Hogan has publically stated they will automatically be including the two highest ranked WAGR players at the end of March.

I have included extracts from each player’s SPWAR and WAGR playing records so you can view their form and results for yourself. Unfortunately due to some recent IT issues the SPWAR is still catching up on some events in March. I consider the SPWAR to be far more accurate so always favour it’s ranking over that of WAGR.

Here are my leading 10 players: – 

1. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) ⇑18
SPWAR #24 / WAGR #24

I didn’t pick Alex for my 2019 team (which he made) and back in October I had him in 19th place in my 2021 team list. All I’ve ever wanted was results to back up his longstanding reputation as a great prospect. I have been pleased to see that he’s consistently delivered them over the last 6 months. With two wins, including this week’s Valspar Collegiate (not yet shown in the tables below), the in form Wake Forest man has separated himself from the pack.

Alex Fitzpatrick – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Alex Fitzpatrick – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

2. Mark POWER (IRL) ⇑1
SPWAR #44 / WAGR #28

Mark enjoyed a strong summer back home playing very well in the Amateur Championship and Brabazon Trophy. He has continued to play well for Wake Forest on the US College circuit in his sophomore year and finished T16 in the Valspar Collegiate this week (not shown below). He has plenty of match play experience representing Ireland and GB&I in boys and men’s tournaments.

Mark Power – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Mark Power – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

3. Jack DYER (ENG) ⇑11
SPWAR #31 / WAGR #238

Jack has backed up his good summer on the British amateur circuit by performing very well in South Africa in recent months. To feature prominently in five big events over there, including medalist and runner-up honours in the South African Amateur Championship, gives me a lot of confidence. I have a much higher regard for South African golf and golfers than the WAGR does. He offers what few other GB&I potential players can at the moment – U.S. experience from his college days (the first two years of which were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), recent match play results and competitive form.

Jack Dyer – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Jack Dyer – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

4. Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) ⇑6
SPWAR #63 / WAGR #31

Ben secured his place in my team with his T11 result at the Jones Cup in February which showed he had lost none of his ability or competitive spirit during the COVID-19 lock down. He has been one of our better players since 2019 and deserves his chance on the biggest stage in May.

Ben Schmidt – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Ben Schmidt – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

5. Joe LONG (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #18 / WAGR #47

Joe returned to South Africa again during the winter. After a couple of disappointing European Tour pro events in late 2020 he only played in one of the South African amateur events where he was disqualified. As the reigning Amateur champion and on the back of an impressive couple of seasons he must be selected for the GB&I team but his lack of recent outings are a concern. We will see where his game is when he takes up his Masters invitation at Augusta in a few weeks time. 

Joe Long – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Joe Long – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

6. Matty LAMB (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #90 / WAGR #86

Matty proved to be one of our better players in 2020 when play recommenced after lockdown winning both the Tillman Trophy and North of England Amateur. It was encouraging to see him also perform well against a strong field at the Jones Cup in February. With a 2021 EuroPro Tour card already earned he deserves his Walker Cup amateur send off.

Matty Lamb – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Matty Lamb – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

7. John MURPHY (IRL) ⇑13
SPWAR #76 / WAGR #117

John has played his way on to my team on the back of his T6 at the Jones Cup and continued solid play for Louisville University. Not shown below he also finished 2nd at the V1 Sports General Hackler Invitational in South Carolina this week. If he can follow that up with another solid outing at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational in Florida on 28-29 March the experienced Irishman must be worth a go.   

John Murphy – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

John Murphy – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

8. Jake BOLTON (ENG) ⇓2
SPWAR #58 / WAGR #59

Limited competitive action in 2021 has seen Jake slide a little but for me it would be unfair for him to miss out on the Walker Cup team due to the pandemic. Since winning the Scottish Open Amateur in 2019 Jake has played consistently well. He reached the semi-finals of the Amateur and South African Amateur Championships last year and also has two top 5’s finishes to his name in Florida in recent years which bode well for him.

Jake Bolton – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Jake Bolton – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

9. Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) ⇓5
SPWAR #95 / WAGR #41

Angus performed very well in the Western Amateur last summer – 72 hole medalist honours there shows his class – and has a number of recent wins in Minnesota where he continues to study. He now has lots of experience in big events but would help his case further with the men that matter if he could produce a top 10 for the Gophers in The Goodwin event in California next week. 

Angus Flanagan – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Angus Flanagan – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

10. Barclay BROWN (ENG) ⇓3
SPWAR #70 / WAGR #133

Barclay produced a string of fine results in the English Amateur, the Brabazon Trophy and The Amateur last summer. Whilst he hasn’t quite made his mark at Stanford yet, not always making their starting line up, he is playing regularly in the U.S. and hopefully his T5 at Bandon Dunes in early March will boost his confidence. He may still need a high finish in the Cardinal’s home event, The Goodwin, on 25-27 March to seal the deal.   

Barclay Brown – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Barclay Brown – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

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Looking at the rest of the players I originally selected in my 20 man squad: –

11. Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) ⇑2
SPWAR #118 / WAGR #108

A well known name and reputation but are the recent results really there to justify his selection after a positive Winter 2020 touring Australia and South Africa ?  Whether relevant or not I was also disappointed to read in a Golf channel article in December that he had chosen not to complete his school exams and in the process had chosen to forego his 2021 scholarship to the University of Florida. Tom’s playing in the Azalea Invitational this week in South Carolina and hopefully can get that good 2021 finish under his belt.

Tom McKibbin – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Tom McKibbin – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

12. Sandy SCOTT (SCO) ⇓4
SPWAR #216 / WAGR #6

Sandy was GB&I’s star player in the 2019 match at Hoylake and has huge amounts of experience. However, accepting he has been playing an elite schedule for Texas Tech, his results haven’t been good enough to make my 2021 line up. Worse still he hasn’t played competitively since 18th October having injured his wrist during Round 1 of the Maridoe Collegiate invitational. He is due to make his comeback around now following minor surgery. Texas Tech are scheduled to play in the Old Waverley Collegiate in Mississipi on 26-28 March. It won’t be easy for him to make his university team, who have been doing well in his absence, but let’s hope he’s fit enough to give it a go. He may be our highest ranked player in the WAGR but sadly that says more about its accuracy than it does about his current standing. 

Sandy Scott – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Sandy Scott – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

13. Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) ⇓8
SPWAR #79 / WAGR #111

I thought Haider was very unlucky not to be included in the formal R&A Squad given his 2020 results which were arguably as good collectively as anyone else’s. Unfortunately he hasn’t appeared since the European Amateur last September so has fallen down the pecking order.  

Haider Hussain – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Haider Hussain – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

14. Ben JONES (ENG) ⇓5
SPWAR #52 / WAGR #42

In my opinion Ben should have been selected in 2019 but his case for inclusion this time is weaker. I had him 9th in October but his late withdrawal from the Jones Cup and his lack of action in recent months means I reluctantly can’t find a place for him.

Ben Jones – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Ben Jones – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

15. Olly HUGGINS (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #105 / WAGR #134

Olly enjoyed a good 2020 season and must have been close to inclusion in the official R&A squad. However, the pandemic has snookered him in 2021 and by not finding any competitive action has now missed the chance to play at Seminole.

Olly Huggins – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

Olly Huggins – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

16. Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #116 / WAGR #222

Arron is another very good English player who has performed consistently well for a few years now. He has recently played in the Spanish International Amateur and in a few events on the Evolve Pro Tour but sadly another one who has been deprived of the chance to make a run at the team in 2021.

Arron Edwards-Hill – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Arron Edwards-Hill – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

17. Joe PAGDIN (ENG) ⇑1
SPWAR #169 / WAGR #91

I was really hoping our resident Floridian could make this 2021 GB&I team. Joe has an excellent match play record and massive potential but unfortunately hasn’t been able to make a big enough impression in his freshman year at the University of Florida. Sadly the Gators had to withdrawal from this week’s Tiger Invitational due to a positive COVID-19 test within their golf program thus depriving him of a timely playing opportunity.

Joe Pagdin – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Joe Pagdin – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

18. Callan BARROW (ENG) ⇓1
SPWAR #169 / WAGR #427

Callan had a good 2020 but has been unable to play any events in 2021 so like a few others has slipped out of the picture.

Callan Barrrow – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Callan Barrrow – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

19. Jack COPE (ENG) ⇓3
SPWAR #197 / WAGR #613

After a long spell on the sidelines Jack came back well in 2020 culminating in a commanding win at Woodhall Spa in the English Amateur and a top 10 in the subsequent Brabazon Trophy. No events since last September means he has sadly not had the opportunity before this year’s match to build on his comeback season.

Jack Cope – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Jack Cope – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

20. Callum FARR (ENG) ⇓3
SPWAR #185 / WAGR #129

English International Callum is a consistent performer and has a number of high finishes in match play events over the years but hasn’t done enough to make the GB&I 2021 team. Sadly failed to make an impression in the Jones Cup his only event in the last 6 months.

Callum Farr – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Callum Farr – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

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Caolan Rafferty wasn’t in my 20 man squad in October but his high WAGR means he is worthy of further comment in this article.

Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) N/a
SPWAR #109 / WAGR #22

Caolan suffered a thumb injury in 2020 and his strict adherence to the COVID-19 travel guidance in Ireland saw him miss out on all of the major British events last summer. He played in the rescheduled Arnold Palmer Cup at Bay Hill in December having originally been selected for the International Team in March 2020. I like Caolan and he was my 2nd pick for the 2019 match at Hoylake but his lack of action must go against him this year. 

Caolan Rafferty – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21

Caolan Rafferty – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21

It would be wrong of me not to mention in passing Dan BRADBURY (ENG) SPWAR #152 / WAGR #99 and Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) SPWAR #131 / WAGR 361 who have both been playing well on the US College circuit in 2020/21. Enrique’s Florida Athletic University is about 60 miles south of Seminole G.C.

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Appendix 1 – World Amateur Rankings – Top 20 GB&I Players on 18th March 2021

Scratch Players World Amateur RankingSPWAR 

World Amateur Golf RankingWAGR

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The Walker Cup match is being played on 8-9th May at Seminole GC in Florida.

The actual GB&I squad is being selected in the week commencing 29th March with an announcement expected in early April. In such a difficult year it will be interesting to see who the Selection Committee opt for.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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129. USGA Announces 2021 USA Walker Cup Team

1st March 2021

The USGA’s International Team Selection working group have announced their 10-man USA Walker Cup Team.

The statement puts to bed rumours, admittedly largely instigated by myself, that the match may be postponed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team’s preparations.

The team will comprise (in alphabetical order): –

Ricky CASTILLO 20 (b. 19/02/01) of Yorba Linda, California
– WAGR 10/02/21 selection (#4).
– Florida sophomore.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #6.

Pierceson COODY 21 (b. 07/01/00) of Plano, Texas
– Committee selection.
– Texas junior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #9.

Quade CUMMINS 24 (b. 06/03/96) of Weatherford, Oklahoma
– Committee selection.
– Oklahoma senior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #18.

Austin ECKROAT 22 (b. 12/01/99) of Edmond, Oklahoma
– Committee selection.
– Oklahoma State senior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #15.

Stewart HAGESTAD 29 (b. 10/04/91) of Newport Beach, California
– Committee selection (Mid-Amateur).
– USC graduate.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #11.

Cole HAMMER 21 (b. 28/08/99) of Houston, Texas
– Committee selection.
– Texas junior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #19.

William MOUW 20 (b. 05/09/00) of Chino, California
– Committee selection.
– Pepperdine sophomore.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #23.

John PAK 22 (b. 18/12/98) of Scotch Plains, New Jersey
– WAGR 10/02/21 selection (#7).
– Florida State senior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #5.

Tyler STRAFACI 22 (b. 23/07/98) of Davie, Florida
– 2020 U.S. Amateur champion.
– Georgia Tech graduate.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #13.

Davis THOMPSON 21 (b.05/06/99) of St. Simons Island, Georgia
– WAGR 10/02/21 selection (#2).
– Georgia senior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #1.

Reserves

1. McClure MEISSNER 22 of San Antonio, Texas
– Committee selection.
– SMU senior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #22.

2. Garett REBAND 21 of York, South Carolina
– Committee selection.
– Oklahoma senior.
– 24/02/21 WAGR #16.

All 12 of the above USA players were ranked in the top 23 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) at the time of the announcement.

USGA Graphic / Photo

Hagestad, Hammer and Pak are returning players from the 2019 USA Team, which defeated GB&I 15.5-10.5, at Royal Liverpool G.C., England. Hagestad was also on the victorious USA team at Los Angeles C.C., California in 2017.

The USA team will be captained for the second time by Nathaniel Crosby, of Jupiter, Florida. “It is once again a great privilege to serve as the USA captain and to work with a group who represent the best of amateur golf,” said Crosby. “The 10 team members have a notable list of accomplishments on the collegiate, national and international levels. They will represent the United States in the spirit and tradition of the Walker Cup Match.”

The 2021 match against GB&I will be played at Seminole G.C. in 68 days time on 8-9 May.

The USGA confirmed that due to health and safety guidelines “attendance at the Match will be limited.”

Please click here to read the Official USGA Team Announcement which includes full player profiles.

ME.

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128. Will The 2021 Walker Cup Be Postponed Until October ?

17th February 2021

All of the signals suggest that the 2021 Walker Cup may shortly be postponed.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the primary reason why the match should not take place in early May. The United Kingdom and Ireland have been badly impacted. Golf is currently banned in all home countries except for Scotland with widespread travel restrictions and quarantining in place. Whilst a roadmap to an easing of these controls is due to be announced by the UK Government next week this is not expected to deliver a quick fix. A gradual easing of health and safety measures over the next 4-6 months seems to be the plan.

Reflecting the above The R&A today announced that the Men’s Home Internationals would not now be played between 14-16 April 2021 at Royal Dornoch in Scotland due to the pandemic. You will recall this competition had been brought forward in December from its original September date to assist the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) selectors in choosing a Walker Cup team.

Some leading GB&I amateurs have struggled to find regular practice – let alone playing – opportunities since last summer given the UK lockdowns and travel issues with regard to the normal winter haunts of Australia, South Africa and USA. It now seems unlikely that any competitive golf will take place in GB&I until June 2021. It will also be interesting to see how many of the current 27 GB&I entrants to the forthcoming Spanish International Amateur make the 1st tee on 3rd March.

The selection of a proper GB&I team in April is compromised in my opinion. Yes, The R&A could select one for a May match at Seminole but would it be fair to all of the players currently competing for a spot to do so.

Last week I wrote about Davis THOMPSON, Ricky CASTILLO and John PAK all being selected for the USA Walker Cup team as the three highest ranked USA players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) released on the 10th February 2021. The USGA announced this preliminary selection criteria on 21st December 2020 but have subsequently been unusually silent in formally confirming these names. I interpret this as evidence that a decision to proceed in May is still being considered carefully by both parties.

The Walker Cup needs family, friends and fans to make it what it is. With travel from Europe likely to be very difficult until later in the summer this will not be straight forward for away supporters in May. It should not be played behind closed doors and with no tickets having gone on sale yet this seems to be an option being considered. A match with just the players and captains on site – perhaps with some home fans too – hardly seems worth playing to me.

There is no material commercial television and sponsorship considerations to hamper a deferment; something which has driven the continuation of the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and PGA or European Tour events in 2020/21.

Golf at Seminole is seasonal with play commencing in late October and ending in mid-May. Therefore if the USGA wish to keep the match in Juno Beach, Florida it seems sensible to reschedule it for October as soon as the course re-opens. A move to another venue in August or September is an option if October is considered too late.

Amateur golf fans in USA may not understand a postponement given that college and professional golf is being played with some fans able to attend. However, the situation in GB&I is not the same. I understand that some players on both sides may not choose to wait for an Autumn date but on balance I believe we’ve now reached the point where we need to buy ourselves some more time. A date broadly in line with the now traditional September one is not a disaster if it means a normal match for both sides can be played.

ME.

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127. Thompson, Castillo and Pak Secure USA Team Places

10th February 2021

Davis THOMPSON #2, Ricky CASTILLO #4 and John PAK #7 were the three highest ranked USA players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) released on the 10th February 2021.

In line with the USGA’s announcement on 21st December 2020 they therefore received automatic exemptions onto the 2021 USA Walker Cup team.

World Amateur Golf Ranking – 10th February 2021 Release

Pierceson COODY #8, who has been swapping third place with Pak in recent months, dropped out of the USA top three with the finishing line in sight. As is sometimes the way with WAGR it appears he was penalised for playing in last week’s Jones Cup Invitational which Castillo and Pak both missed. Coody should not worry overly as he is very likely to be selected by the USGA when the remaining places are confirmed.

The USA team is now taking shape.

Tyler STRAFACI, the U.S. Amateur champion, secured his place at Bandon Dunes G.C. in August 2020.

Stewart HAGESTAD is as close to a certainty as there can be to make his third successive appearance in the match, once again picking up the mid-amateur berth. Hagestad reached the Quarter Finals of the U.S. Amateur in Oregon and finished a creditable tied 11th in last week’s Jones Cup Invitational. No one can question his status as the USA’s No. 1 mid-amateur.

In addition to Pierceson COODY I am confident that Cole HAMMER, Austin ECKROAT and Quade CUMMINS will also be selected based on their recent performances.

The remaining spot is a little harder to determine at this stage with William HOLCOMB, Mac MEISSNER, William MOUW, David PERKINS, Garrett REBAND seeming to have the strongest cases. All accept Holcomb were in the USGA’s original practice squad.

If Hagestad and Hammer do get the nod to join Pak then that will mean USA will have an unusually high three players returning from the last match.

Captain Nathanial Crosby suggested at the Jones Cup Invitational last weekend that a full team announcement may surprisingly be made by the end of February so it seems we won’t have long to wait for the final USA team.

ME.

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126. The 2021 R&A Men’s Home Internationals Are To Be Played In April

17th December 2020

The R&A have announced that the Men’s Home Internationals will now be played at Royal Dornoch G.C. in Scotland on 14-16 April 2021.

The decision has been made to assist Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) preparations for the Walker Cup match against USA on 8-9 May 2021.

It now seems likely that the GB&I team will be selected immediately following the tournament and announced publically on Monday 19th April.

Royal Dornoch G.C. Championship Course (Photo: Royal Dornoch G.C.)

The R&A will be running the Men’s Home Internationals for the first time next year. They will be taking over from the four home golf unions that participate and have hosted it in turn since 1932.

The 2020 Home Internationals were scheduled to be played at Royal Dornoch G.C. on 9-11 September but were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 event was due to be played at Hankley Common G.C. in England on 8-10 September but it appears they will now have to wait until 2022 for their turn.

The Home Internationals are contested by 11-man teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the four countries playing each other over three successive days. Each match involves 5 foursomes and 10 singles, all played over 18 holes.

Ireland were champions four times between 2014-17 with England winning the title in 2018 and 2019.

It’s mid-September date in the amateur calendar has always been a surprise given it’s prestige and excellent basis for GB&I team selection. Mid-June to mid-August would be the ideal time for the Home Internationals to be staged as this would allow most of our U.S. college players to also participate.

It is worth noting that 7 of the recently announced 15 man 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Squad are studying in the United States. Their Spring seasons will be heading towards their NCAA Championship climax so these players won’t be able to participate in these ‘trials’.

An informal GB&I squad gathering will probably take place around the Jones Cup Invitational which is been played between 4-7 February 2021 and may involve a trip to Seminole GC.

The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Ayrshire Golf Blog)

ME.

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125. The R&A Announce Their 2021 GB&I Walker Cup Squad

2nd December 2020

The R&A today announced a 15-man Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup squad for the 2021 match.

The GB&I 2021 Squad (Graphic: The R&A)

Here is a list of all of the selected players with their current amateur rankings: –

Jake BOLTON (22) – England – SPWAR #19 / WAGR #54

Barclay BROWN (19) – England – SPWAR #54 / WAGR #135

Callum FARR (22) – England – SPWAR #99 / WAGR #112

Alex FITZPATRICK (21) – England – SPWAR #71 / WAGR #37

Angus FLANAGAN (21) – England – SPWAR #58 / WAGR #38

Benjamin JONES (21) – England – SPWAR #17 / WAGR #39

Matty LAMB (22) – England – SPWAR #43 / WAGR #83

Joe LONG (23) – England – SPWAR #7 / WAGR #50

John MURPHY (22) – Ireland – SPWAR #148 / WAGR #103

Tom MCKIBBIN (17) – Ireland – SPWAR #62 / WAGR #78

Joseph PAGDIN (19) – England – SPWAR #167 / WAGR #47

Mark POWER (20) – Ireland – SPWAR #33 / WAGR #32

Caolan RAFFERTY (27) – Ireland – SPWAR #49 / WAGR #26

Benjamin SCHMIDT (18) – England – SPWAR #40 / WAGR #34

Sandy SCOTT (22) – Scotland – SPWAR #97 / WAGR #8

As expected the squad is dominated by English players of whom there are ten. Ireland have contributed four, Scotland one and Wales none.

Alex Fitzpatrick, Caolan Rafferty and Sandy Scott were all members of the losing GB&I team at Royal Liverpool in 2019.

Whilst all of these players have justified their selection the Committee do appear to have given the benefit of any doubt to those with US playing experience, which makes sense for an away match, and higher WAGR rankings.

In my opinion English trio Haider Hussain SPWAR #46 (7th) / WAGR #143, Olly Huggins SPWAR #51 (9th) / WAGR #162 and Arron Edwards-Hill SPWAR #75 (14th) / WAGR #157 can consider themselves unfortunate to be overlooked for the squad.

Eight of the squad, if you include Tom McKibbin, are US-based and given the additional complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic it seems unlikely a practice / team building session will be held before the team gather in Florida. 
GB&I captain Stuart Wilson said “We have selected a talented group of players to work with in preparation for the match against the United States of America next year. We will be closely monitoring their form and results in a number of important events over the coming months while other players still have time to play their way into contention before we finalise the team which will travel to Florida. We will go to Seminole with belief in ourselves and will give it our best shot to win back the trophy.”

Given the small number of events scheduled to be played between now and when the final team will be announced in April, let alone the complications of travelling abroad to compete in many of them, it is going to take something exceptional for a player outside this initial group to break into the GB&I team.

The 48th Walker Cup match will be played at Seminole Golf Club in Florida on 8th and 9th May 2021.

ME.

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124. Sixteen Players Selected For USA 2021 Walker Cup Practice Session

24th November 2020

Sixteen players have been invited to attend a USA Walker Cup practice session on 16-18 December 2020 by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee.

The session will be overseen by captain Nathaniel Crosby and held at Bay Hill Club & Lodge and the nearby Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, both in Orlando, Florida.

Bay Hill Club & Lodge

The sixteen players, with their current SPWAR’s and home towns, are: –

Ricky Castillo – #13 – Yorba Linda, California
Pierceson Coody – #5 – Plano, Texas
Quade Cummins – #2 – Weatherford, Oklahoma
Cooper Dossey – #32 – Austin, Texas
Austin Eckroat – #8 – Edmond, Oklahoma
Stewart Hagestad – #64 – Newport Beach, California
Cole Hammer – #18 – Houston, Texas
McClure Meissner – #16 – San Antonio, Texas
William Mouw – #12 – Chino, California
John Pak – #9 – Scotch Plains, New Jersey
David Perkins – #14 – East Peoria, Illinois
Garett Reband – #35 – York, South Carolina
Cameron Sisk – #31 – San Diego, California
Tyler Strafaci – #6 – Davie, Florida
Davis Thompson – #3 – St. Simons Island, Georgia
Michael Thorbjornsen – #267 – Wellesley, Massachusetts

Mid-amateur Stewart Hagestad (2017-19), Cole Hammer (2017) and John Pak (2019) have all represented the USA in previous Walker Cup matches.

Michael Thorbjornsen, the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, has the highest SPWAR and there are 123 other American players above him in this particular ranking. However, he did recently reach the quarter finals of the 2020 U.S. Amateur and he does enjoy a WAGR of #32 which goes someway to explaining his inclusion.

Trey Winstead #18 in the SPWAR, Trent Phillips #21, Travis Vick #24 and Parker Coady #29, twin brother of Pierceson, can all consider themselves unlucky to miss out on an invite.

Lake Nona Golf & Country Club

Eight of the sixteen players invited are competing in the Arnold Palmer Cup, also being played at Bay Hill on 21-23 December, so the USGA is sensibly limiting travel for the invitees during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also an advantage to the visiting GB&I team as USA’s leading players will not be gaining the early look at Seminole that they may have been expecting.

Seven of the sixteen players from the 2019 Walker Cup practice session ultimately made the 10-man USA Team.

The 48th Match will be played at Seminole Golf Club, in Juno Beach, Florida on 8-9 May 2021.

ME.

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123. My Current GB&I Team And Squad With 200 Days To Go

20th October 2020

There are 200 days to go until the 2021 Walker Cup match starts on 8th May at Seminole GC in Florida.

So how is the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team shaping up and what opportunities to impress remain for the players before an announcement has to be made by The R&A presumably in early April ?

This was always going to be a challenging Walker Cup for the GB&I selectors given the early May start date. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse for them.

With the 2020 European amateur golf season effectively over the evidence to make an initial selection is now largely to hand so I thought I’d give the powers that be a helping hand.

_______________________________________________

Here are the ten GB&I players I would select, in order, if I had to choose the team today: –

N.B. Each player’s current SPWAR record shows only their counting performances of note.

1. Joe LONG (ENG)

Joe guaranteed himself a place in the GB&I team with his Amateur Championship win at Royal Birkdale. He has been impressive throughout the last two years and would have been a certainty for me even without his standout victory.

2. Matty LAMB (ENG)

Matty has been superb since play recommenced after lockdown winning both the Tillman Trophy and North of England Amateur both of which enjoyed much stronger fields than normal in 2020.

3. Mark POWER (IRL)

Mark has enjoyed a great last 12 months. He transitioned to Wake Forest University and US College golf seamlessly in his freshman season. His decision to return home and travel to England for this year’s majors paid dividends enabling him to demonstrate beyond any doubt that he clearly belongs at the top table.

4. Angus FLANAGAN (ENG)

Angus stayed in the USA over the summer but whilst out of sight he certainly hasn’t been out of my mind. He seems to be loving life in Minnesota smashing it locally but also performing well in the biggest amateur events in the world.

5. Haider HUSSAIN (ENG)

Haider has arguably had as strong a set of results, admittedly without securing a win, as any GB&I amateur in 2020. His effort in travelling to Switzerland for the European Amateur was rewarded with a notable 3rd place finish.

6. Jake BOLTON (ENG)

Since winning the Scottish Open Amateur in 2019 Jake has cemented his place in the upper echelons of GB&I amateurs. He performed well in the big summer events this year and his 4th place finish at the South Beach International Amateur in Miami last December is encouraging given the match will take place just up the coast.

7. Barclay BROWN (ENG)

Barclay didn’t make that big an impression on me during his freshman season at Stanford University. However, he delivered back home this summer forcing his way into my Walker Cup team with his play in the English Amateur, the Brabazon Trophy and The Amateur.

8. Sandy SCOTT (SCO)

His results don’t jump out at you but Sandy was a rock in the 2019 match for GB&I at Hoylake and he has been playing an elite schedule for Texas Tech. He also competed in the 2020 U.S. Open. With his experience he has to be in the team particularly as he also brings some welcome Scottish representation to the party.

9. Ben JONES (ENG)

In my opinion Ben should have been selected in 2019 and played well around the subsequent year end. Whilst his results post lockdown in 2020 haven’t been as persuasive as I would have ideally liked I am staying loyal to him given his experience and overall track record.

10. Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)

Ben had an unbelievable 2019 albeit mainly in junior golf and started this year very well in Australia. This highly promising Yorkshireman has done more than enough to be included.

_______________________________________________

The other players knocking on the door and who would be included in my 20 man Squad are: –

11) Olly HUGGINS (ENG)

Olly has enjoyed a good season but needs to find a few more results to force his way into the ten man team.

12) Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG)

Arron is another very good player who has performed consistently well for a few years now.

13) Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL)

This Walker cup may come a bit too soon for Tom but he’s playing a lot (which I like) and as he is clearly capable of winning any tournament on his day could still easily force his way into the team.

14. Jack DYER (ENG)

Jack enjoyed an excellent summer on the British amateur circuit featuring well in nearly all of the majors as well as winning the South East of England Links.

15. Callan BARROW (ENG)

Like Jack Dyer above Callan deserves to be in the Squad in my opinion due to his current form which has elevated his status on the national stage in recent months.

16. Jack COPE (ENG)

After a long spell on the sidelines Jack has come back well in 2020 culminating in a commanding win at Woodhall Spa in the English Amateur and a top 10 in the subsequent Brabazon Trophy.

17. Callum FARR (ENG)

Always the bridesmaid never the bride English International Callum continues to be a consistent performer and has a number of high finishes in match play events to his name in recent years.

18. Joe PAGDIN (ENG)

I was really hoping our resident Floridian could make this 2021 GB&I team. An excellent match play record and massive potential but needs to find his feet quickly at the University of Florida if he is to move up this list. I am sure his time will come if not this year.

19. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)

Alex was selected in 2019 but his results since the last match haven’t yet been sufficiently persuasive for me to include him in 2021. I wish he’d followed his Wake Forest teammate Mark Power home this summer and sought to earn his place out on the course.

20. John MURPHY (IRL)

Good US experience and continues to perform well for Louisville University but needs to deliver in higher class events to prove he is worthy of a place in my top 10.

Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) and James SUGRUE (IRL), who both played in 2019, are obvious absentees from the above list. I have assumed James will be turning pro once he has played in The Masters next month whilst Caolan has suffered with a thumb injury in 2020 and his strict adherence to the COVID-19 travel guidance in Ireland saw him miss out on all of the major events.

Other players to impress me this year include Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG), Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG), Mark BOUCHER (IRL) and Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) who have all stood out but don’t quite make my top 20.

_______________________________________________

Looking ahead the big unknown remains the future impact of COVID-19. Unfortunately the pandemic raises more questions than answers.

Will the match even take place and if it does, will it be behind closed doors ? Could it be postponed like the 2020 Curtis Cup match was ?

Restrictions are again tightening in many jurisdictions as we head into the higher risk winter period so how much golf will actually be played between now and the match ?

Will our leading players be able to travel to the USA for the South Beach International Amateur in Miami (December) or Jones Cup in Georgia (February) ?

Will golf union funds be available and will players be able to travel on tour to Australia and South Africa early next year as has become the norm in recent years ?

Those players attached to US Colleges will have a few events in the Fall and Spring seasons to help them make their cases with those based at home hoping the Portuguese and Spanish International Amateurs are staged.

There is an opportunity for some clubs to bring forward their 2021 competitions to March / early April to support the Walker Cup selection process. Perhaps The R&A needs to create a new tournament or even consider staging formal squad trials as used to happen.

I look forward to The R&A announcing their Squad in due course and to seeing how the amateur golf world pans out over the next six months.

ME.

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122. Joe Long Wins The 125th Amateur Championship

Monday 31st August 2020

Joe LONG (ENG) won the 2020 Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. yesterday beating Joe HARVEY (ENG) 4&3 in the 36 hole Final.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s Championship was postponed from June and limited to a single venue. More importantly the field was reduced from the normal 288 players to 120. The countries represented fell from 34 in 2019 to just 13 this year and 75 or 63% of the players ultimately came from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) lowering the overall quality.

Strong winds and heavy rain on the opening day saw the stroke play qualifying reduced to 18 holes. Stroke play qualifying was introduced in 1983 and this was the first time in 37 years that The R&A have been unable to complete the full 36 holes.

Given the above it would not have been a major surprise to see an outsider pick up the title. The R&A will therefore be delighted that one of the leading amateurs in the world came through their demanding Amateur test.

img_7344

Joe Long (Photo: Richard Heathcote / The R&A / R&A via Getty Images)

Joe Long became the 51st Englishman to win the Championship following most recently in the footsteps of Harry Ellis who won at Royal St George’s in 2017.

The Lansdown G.C. member secured exemptions into the Open, Masters Tournament and US Open in 2021.

With the match starting in 250 days time in May 2021 Joe also guaranteed a place in the GB&I Walker Cup Team. His performances over the last 12 months had probably already assured him of selection so the result has in no way weakened the team.

Joe started the week in Lancashire ranked 102nd and 31st in the WAGR and SPWAR respectively so he was clearly one of the favourites for the title. Long jumped up to 65th and 5th in the WAGR and SPWAR following his victory.

In addition to runner-up Joe Harvey (ENG), Mark POWER (IRL) and Jake BOLTON (ENG), who reached the Semi-Finals, and Callan BARROW (ENG) and Barclay BROWN (ENG), who made the Quarter Finals, all raised their 2021 Walker Cup profiles.

Click here for more information on – The Amateur Championship – 2020 Preview, Reports & Results (GolfBible)

ME.

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121. Tyler Strafaci Wins The 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship

17th August 2020

Tyler STRAFACI, 22, won the 120th U.S. Amateur Championship at Bandon Dunes G.C. yesterday beating Charles ‘Ollie’ OSBORNE, 20, by 1 Hole in the Final.

Along with exemptions into the 2021 U.S. Masters Tournament, the 2021 U.S. Open Championship at Torrey Pines and the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s (if he remains an amateur) the win also secures Strafaci a place on the USA’s 2021 Walker Cup team.

Strafaci, a rising 5th year at Georgia Tech University, has enjoyed an impressive summer winning both the North & South Amateur at Pinehurst and more recently the Palmetto Amateur.

He started the year ranked 27th in the SPWAR but has risen to 2nd by winning the amateur game’s most prestigious event. He started the week ranked 56th in the WAGR but will obviously move into the top 20 when this ranking is updated on Wednesday.

Strafaci was selected for the 16-man 2019 USA practice squad which met up at Seminole G.C. on December 14-18th 2018. However, he failed to make the final 10-man team that travelled to Hoylake.

Hailing from Davie, near Fort Lauderdale, in Florida Strafaci’s family home is a short distance from Seminole, the venue of the next May’s match.

All in all this appears a great result for the USGA and captain Nathanial Crosby who was on hand to watch the final in Oregon. Strafaci is an experienced player who has been at the top of the amateur game for a few years now, has clearly found a little extra this summer and also brings with him the added bonus of local interest (as well as prior knowledge of Seminole) to the match.

Tyler Strafaci With The Havemayer Trophy (Photo: Steve Gibbons / USGA)

With the USGA still committed to including a mid-amateur on their team Stewart HAGESTAD, 29, now also looks certain to make his third consecutive Walker Cup appearance.

Hagestad reached the Quarter Finals in Oregon losing to the eventual champion by 1 Hole.

With the 2020 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship cancelled earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic there are now few other major opportunities for mid-amateurs to shine before the USA team is confirmed in April 2021.

Hagestad has been working in finance and is about to start an MBA course at the University of Southern California. Ranked 41st on the SPWAR and a slightly inflated 15th on WAGR, even before this week’s Championship, it would be hard for anyone to dispute his potential inclusion.

Click here for more information on the – 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship – Preview, Reports & Results (GolfBible)

ME.

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120. The PGA Tour University Program Is Introduced

5th June 2020

On 1st June 2020 the PGA Tour announced its new PGA Tour University program.

The program is designed to improve the pathway for leading U.S. College golfers on to one of the PGA Tour’s satellite tours, namely the Korn Ferry Tour, Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica and PGA TOUR Series – China.

A PGA Tour University Ranking is to be introduced for NCAA Division I golfers from all countries who are completing their fourth year in college.

This Ranking will be based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking methodology and will only include NCAA Division I Men’s Golf events, official PGA Tour events and Major Championship performances in the preceding two years.

Performances in other leading amateur events, such as the Western Amateur, St. Andrews Links Trophy, European Amateur or South Beach International Amateur, will not be of assistance to a player in this Ranking.

Each player will also have to compete in a minimum of nine events, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Regional Championship, during their final Senior year.

The first PGA Tour University Ranking will be unveiled prior to the 2020-21 Division I season commencing with weekly updates provided every Thursday during the season.

Starting from 2021 the leading 5 players on the the final PGA Tour University Ranking List, produced after the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship (normally early June), will be awarded full tour membership of the Korn Ferry Tour. Players finishing 6th to 15th will be entitled to play on one of the three other International Tours. From here players will eventually hope to finish in the top 25 on the Korn Ferry Tour’s annual points list to earn promotion to the PGA Tour.It will be interesting to see how the PGA Tour University program affects players’ attitudes towards the Walker Cup and the selection of teams in the coming years.

The PGA Tour have clearly given some thought to this. Within their FAQ’s they state that if a top 15 PGA Tour University ranked player wishes to remain amateur to be considered for that year’s Walker Cup (or World Amateur Team Championship) they must declare this in writing to the PGA Tour within three days following the release of the final list. They will then be able to participate in tournaments as a non-member prior to these major amateur competitions. I assume they will be allocated order of merit points in the normal way so they are not disadvantaged by doing so. Thereafter, players will have 10 days following the conclusion of these amateur events to join the Tours they are eligible for membership of.

The emergence of a new ranking, highlighting the players that the PGA Tour considers best suited to fast tracking in to their own tournaments, may also produce a different dynamic for the two team Walker Cup selection committees, particularly the USGA, with the USA likely to have more players in the top 15 (and 25) than GB&I.

The PGA Tour University program appears to be an important new development for the elite amateur game and is therefore worth keeping an eye on with regard to its future impact on the Walker Cup.

ME.

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