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98. Euan Walker And Tom Plumb Win In South Africa

7th March 2019

With all of the Australian and South African amateur events completed and both the Portuguese and Spanish International Amateurs played I thought it was time to recognise a few GB&I players who have made a strong start to the season.

Scotland’s Euan WALKER has enjoyed an excellent start to 2019; his consistency and high finishes, including a win, making him an obvious standout.

Here is a summary of his recent results: –

African Amateur Stroke Play – WON (72 67 67 71)

South African Amateur – SPQ 4th (71 65) / MP Rd 2

South African Stroke Play – Tied 7th (66 71 69 72)

Euan Walker (© Ian Rae)

At the time of writing Euan has risen to 34th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR), second in the GB&I-only list behind Conor PURCELL (IRE) who is 20th.

Conor has continued his good form in recent weeks producing more strong performances in South Africa. As he’s already in ‘my Team’ I’ve chosen to write about others on this occasion (See Article 97).

It is a little early to say Euan will make the GB&I Walker Cup team but he has certainly put himself in a very nice position. Compatriot Liam Johnston also won the African Amateur at Leopard Creek in 2017 and subsequently the Scottish Open Amateur but still managed to miss out on a trip to Los Angeles that September so he will know nothing can be taken for granted.

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Thomas PLUMB (ENG) showed some class in winning the Cape Province Open Championship in South Africa earlier this week with scores of 70 66 69 and 65 (-18).

Coming on the back of a tied 3rd place finish in the South American Amateur Championship in January he appears to also be trending positively towards Walker Cup selection. His reward for his win in George – a 38 place jump to 67th in the SPWAR.

Tom Plumb (© Pieter Els)

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Ben JONES (ENG) was relatively quiet last year as he transitioned from the junior to men’s ranks but seems to be nicely back on track now. He’s currently 98th in the SPWAR. Good match play results are obviously beneficial too: –

New South Wales Amateur – SPQ Tied 7th (69 72) / MP Semi-Finals

Spanish International Amateur – Medalist (71 66 -5) / MP Rd of 16

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Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) is a player I like a lot. He’s one of the few GB&I amateurs that seem to be able to go very low. The Dundalk man, now 47th in the SPWAR, did well on the Irish team trip to South Africa and looks set to remain within the GB&I Walker Cup picture throughout the coming months: –

South African Amateur – SPQ Tied 2nd (69 66) / MP Semi-Finals

South African Stroke Play – Tied 11th (75 67 68 71)

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Bailey GILL (ENG) is also coming on to my radar with a solid string of overseas results added to his résumé with some match play victories thrown in too. Currently 121st in the SPWAR I think he could be a player to watch closely this year.

Australian Amateur – MP Rd of 32

New South Wales Amateur – MP Rd of 16

Avondale Amateur – Tied 19th

Portuguese International Amateur – Tied 5th (71 70 67 72)

Spanish International Amateur – SP Tied 7th (70 72) / MP Rd of 16

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Many others have shown flashes of what they can do but will be looking for more consistency as the year continues. Callum FARR (ENG) SPWAR 334th, Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) 185th, David LANGLEY (ENG) 94th, Joe LONG (ENG) 151st, Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) 171st, Laurie OWEN (ENG) 663rd and Mark POWER (IRE) 141st immediately spring to mind here.

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Over on the United States College circuit Sandy SCOTT (SCO), who was yesterday picked for the Arnold Palmer Cup International Team, also continues to gain confidence and impress. He’s 109th in the SPWAR.

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As the amateur calendar moves back home it will be interesting to see who can maintain their momentum and which other players start to come through.

By my calculation there is around 170 days left before the GB&I selectors have to make their final decisions. There is plenty of time for everyone to make their mark albeit I feel the countdown clock has certainly started to tick.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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97. Conor Purcell Wins The 2019 Australian Amateur Championship

20th January 2019

Ireland’s Conor PURCELL has won the Australian Men’s Amateur at Woodlands G.C. in Victoria.

Conor Purcell (© Golf Australia)

He beat Nathan BARBIERI on the 37th hole of an exciting championship match after the Australian pulled an approach into the par 4 1st’s green and was unable to get up and down.

Purcell had led the Final 4 Up with 10 holes to play so having been pegged back will have been delighted to finally get the job done. His brother Gary, a tennis coach in Australia, caddied for him making it a family affair.

His victory comes with two nice playing exemptions; the ISPS Handa Vic Open (7-10 February) and the Emirates Australian Open (5-8 December).

In a nice gesture by Woodlands G.C. Conor was also awarded honorary membership of the host course at the prize giving.

Having chosen to leave the University of North Carolina, Charlotte after his sophomore year in 2018 this represents a superb start to the new season for the man from Malahide, near Dublin.

In my opinion he has now assured himself, even at this early stage, of a place in the 2019 Great Britain and Ireland 10-man Walker Cup team.

A win in 2019, a strong match play track record and a high ranking in the SPWAR tick the three main boxes I would be looking at as a selector.

Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking 20/01/19 – Conor Purcell

As you can see from the above table this victory lifted Conor to a career high of 20th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.

Having also reached the Semi-Finals of the 2018 Amateur Championship and Irish Amateur Close and enjoyed a winning record in last year’s Men’s Home internationals no one can question his match play credentials.

With some of the pressure now off him I expect Conor to continue to perform well this year. He can also look forward to the 2019 Amateur Championship, the most important event on the path to Walker Cup selection, being staged at his home club Portmarnock G.C. in June.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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96. Tickets Go On Sale For Royal Liverpool 2019

3rd December 2018

Tickets have today gone on sale for the 47th Walker Cup match which will be played at Royal Liverpool G.C. on the weekend of 7th – 8th September 2019.

Day tickets will cost £25.00 for adults and £15.00 for youths (16-24).

A weekend pass will cost £40.00 for adults and £20.00 for youths.

Under 16’s will be granted free access on both days as long as they are accompanied by a youth or adult.

It appears that entry will be free on the practice days and for the opening ceremony on the Friday afternoon.

Click here to buy – Walker Cup 2019 Tickets

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With 278 days to go until the match starts Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) selection options were further reduced last week with the news that both Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Nick POPPLETON (ENG) had decided to turn professional.

Both Waite and Poppleton played for GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy match against Europe last July. At the time of the announcement Waite was also GB&I’s highest rated player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.

Of the nine man team and two reserves selected for the St. Andrews Trophy just four remain amateur heading into 2019; David HAGUE (ENG), John MURPHY (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and Euan WALKER (SCO).

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

95. 2019 Walker Cup Practice Squads Revealed

19th November 2018

The USGA’s International Team and The R&A Men’s Selection Committees have invited various players to attend 2019 Walker Cup practice sessions in December.

The U.S. gathering is scheduled to take place between December 14th– 18th  at Seminole G.C. in Florida.

16 players will be in attendance (current SPWAR / WAGR): –

John AUGENSTEIN – Owensboro, Kentucky (6 / 27)
Akshay BHATIA – Wake Forest, North Carolina (104 / 29)
Will GORDON – Davidson, North Carolina (9 / 37)
Stewart HAGESTAD – Newport Beach, California (80 / 15)
Cole HAMMER – Houston, Texas (15 / 11)
Brandon MANCHENO – Jacksonville, Florida (39 / 50)
Bryson NIMMER – Bluffton, South Carolina (11 / 38)
Kevin O’CONNELL – Cary, North Carolina (270 / 21)
Matt PARZIALE – Brockton, Massachusetts (130 / 155)
Chandler PHILLIPS – Huntsville, Texas (22 / 12)
Trent PHILLIPS – Inman, South Carolina (105 / 37) *
Isaiah SALINDA – South San Francisco, California (13 / 32)
Alex SMALLEY – Wake Forest, North Carolina (16 / 24)
Tyler STRAFACI – Davie, Florida (21/ 75)
Matthew WOLFF – Agoura Hills, California (14 / 5)
Brandon WU – Scarsdale, New York (19 / 47)

* Davis RILEY – Hattiesburg, Mississippi (10 / 8) withdrew on 25th November having decided to forego his final semester of eligibility at Alabama University and turn professional. He was replaced by Trent PHILLIPS.

Stewart Hagestad is the only member of the 2017 USA Team who will attend the practice session and one of three mid-amateurs invited; the others being Matt Parziale and Kevin O’Connell.

The absence of Collin Morkikawa (2 / 2), Braden Thornberry (3 / 3) and Justin Suh (4 / 1) suggests all three have made their intentions to turn Pro at the end of the current U.S. College season known to the USGA.

Zachary Bauchou (12 / 18) and Philip Knowles (20 / 69) are two of the more noteworthy U.S. players missing from the list.

John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships said: “This practice session presents an excellent opportunity for the players, the captain (Nathaniel Crosby) and the USGA to become familiar with each other as we begin the process of team selection. While these 16 talented individuals represent the first pool of potential team members, we expect many others will be considered as the selection process moves toward its conclusion next August.”

Looking back at recent Walker Cup practice sessions six of the 16 players named in 2017 made the final 10-man USA Team whilst nine of the 16 did so in both 2013 and 2015.

The final 2019 USA Walker Cup team will potentially include five automatic selections drawn from: –

– the top 3 USA players in the WAGR (as of early August).

– the 2019 U.S. Amateur champion (if eligible);

– the Mark H. McCormack Award winner (WAGR world No.1 immediately after U.S. Amateur – if eligible);

The remaining five to seven U.S. players will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee after the U.S. Amateur concludes.

The R&A, who chose not to make a formal announcement, have also recently invited a group of players to a practice session to be held at the 2019 venue Royal Liverpool G.C. on 18-19 December 2018 *.

Unfortunately the dates clash with the South Beach International Amateur which a number of Great British and Irish players have already committed to. Amongst those planning to be in South Florida and high in the rankings are Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Conor GOUGH (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Ben JONES (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG) and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG). I assume all of them will be sending their apologies.

*Subsequently photos were released by The R&A reporting that 10 players attended the two day session. These were: –

Bailey GILL (ENG)
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
Jake HAPGOOD (WAL)
Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
Conor PURCELL (IRE)
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE)
Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
Jamie STEWART (SCO)
Tom THURLOWAY (ENG)
Euan WALKER (SCO)

The 47th Match will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England on September 7th– 8th 2019.

ME.

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94. Kevin O’Connell Wins the 2018 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship

28th September 2018

Kevin O’CONNELL (30) has won the 38th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Charlotte Country Club.

He beat Brett BONER (44) 4&3 in yesterday’s 36 hole final. The day before Boner had beaten 2016 champion and 2017 Walker Cup player Stewart HAGESTAD 1Up in the semi-finals, holing a lengthy birdie putt on the 18th.

Kevin O’Connell with the Robert T. Jones Jr Memorial Trophy (© USGA / Chris Keane)

The victory must make Kevin the early favourite for the mid-amateur berth in the 2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup team.

The 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship takes place a few weeks after the next Walker Cup match so there are few remaining ‘move the dial’ events for the over 25’s before the selection is made.

Meanwhile, assuming he stays amateur, Kevin will have plenty of opportunities to shine next year. His win has secured him exemptions into the 2019 Masters Tournament at Augusta National, the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the next two U.S. Amateur Championships (at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in 2019 and Bandon Dunes Resort in 2020).

Kevin O’Connell, who hails from Cary, North Carolina, studied at and played golf for the University of North Carolina before turning pro and trying three times to qualify for the PGA Tour. After his third failed attempt he applied and regained his amateur status in 2015.

“To be the champion right now is probably what I am most proud of and focused on. Just simply being a champion. All the stuff that comes along with it, I think that will hit me a little big later on.” said O’Connell, probably not even thinking about the Walker Cup, after hoisting the Robert T. Jones Jr Memorial Trophy.

Click here to view the – 2018 US Mid-Amateur Championship Results

ME.

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93. England Win the 2018 Men’s Home Internationals

15th September 2018

The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals were played at Conwy Golf Club in Wales between 12th and 14th September.

ENGLAND won the tournament beating IRELAND 9 – 6 in the final day’s championship match. Ireland had won the event four years in a row but had to settle for second this year.

SCOTLAND finished third and WALES fourth.

The England Team With The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Wales Golf)

11-man teams play against each other in a round robin format. There are five foursomes and ten singles match play games contested in each match. The overall winner is the country with the highest number of match points. 1 point is awarded for a win, 0.5 for a half and 0 for a loss.

Here is a summary of the 2018 results: –

2018 Men’s Home Internationals (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)

Click here to view the full – 2018 Men’s Home Internationals Results

With the exception of some lads who had returned to their U.S. Colleges earlier in September we had the 11 best players from each of the home nations playing competitive foursomes and singles match play golf in Conwy.

Even a year before the next Walker Cup match, and accepting that some of the participants may turn pro in the coming months, this was clearly a good event for a prospective 2019 player to find and establish a foursomes partnership and to hopefully record a few singles wins. The GB&I selectors will certainly have been watching.

Here is an analysis of the English and Irish individual performances at Conwy: –

It was a great week for David HAGUE (ENG) and Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) who both finished the tournament with 100% records, winning all six of their games.

Tom PLUMB (ENG) was also unbeaten, winning four of his games and halving two of his foursomes.

Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Andrew WILSON (ENG) lost just once in their six games. Mark POWER (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and James SUGRUE (IRE) all recorded four wins too.

David HAGUE and Andrew WILSON (ENG) won all three of their foursomes games leading England out in all three matches, which normally means you are playing your opponents best pairing.

Tiarnan MCLARNON and Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) also won all three of their foursomes matches albeit they were sent out in the fifth game on each day. Another Irish pairing, Conor PURCELL and Mark POWER, also impressed winning two games and halving the other.

The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals reaffirmed the view that our 2019 Walker Cup team is likely to be dominated by English and Irish players.

Looking at the Scottish and Welsh individual performances:-

Euan WALKER was outstanding for Scotland winning five of his six games. Likewise Ryan LUMSDEN did his prospects no harm with four wins.

Paddy MULLINS did well for Wales and will have been particularly pleased with his two singles wins.

It appears that the Scottish and Welsh contingent will need to up their games over the next 12 months if they are to have anything other than a modest 2019 Walker Cup representation.

The 2019 Men’s Home Internationals will be played at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland. The England Golf website suggests that has been scheduled to be played on 11-13th September next year, the week after the Walker Cup match.

In 2017 the Home Internationals were brought forward to August so that they could in theory be used to assist with GB&I Walker Cup team selection. However, because the 16-18th August dates then clashed with the U.S. Amateur it proved to be largely pointless as a competition and as a final selection trial. Just three of the final 10 man GB&I team competed at Moortown in 2017 with most of our leading amateurs choosing to play in the U.S. Amateur.

It is disappointing that the four home nation golf unions can not come up with a date in early August next year so that the Men’s Home internationals can properly fulfil it’s potential role in our 2019 Walker Cup preparations.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

92. Matthew Jordan Turns Pro

10th September 2018

Matthew JORDAN today confirmed he was turning Professional and had signed with management company Sportcircle.

Matthew is the last member of the 2017 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team to transfer over to the paid ranks. The announcement came exactly one year after the conclusion of the match in Los Angeles.

Matthew Jordan At The KLM Open Today (Photo: Jeremy Morgan)

Uniquely he was selected for Bonallack Trophy (Europe), Walker Cup (GB&I), St. Andrews Trophy (GB&I), Eisenhower Trophy (England) and Home Internationals (England) men’s teams in recent years.

The individual highlights for the 22 year old from Royal Liverpool G.C. were his St. Andrews Links Trophy (2017) and Lytham Trophy (2018) wins.

Fittingly his final round as an amateur was a low one; a bogey free 65 (-8) last Saturday on Carton House’s O’Meara Course in the World Amateur Team Championship event.

He was ranked 16th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and 5th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking today reflecting his stellar amateur career.

He will make his debut at this week’s KLM Open on the European Tour. He also has further entries lined up at the Portugal Masters (20-23 September) and Dunhill Links (4-7 October) in the next few weeks.

Following hot on the heels of Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) over the weekend, the impending departure of Robin DAWSON (IRE) next week and the start tomorrow of the 2018 European Tour Qualifying School series it will be interesting to see who is left in a few month’s time to contest a place in our 2019 Walker Cup team.

Good luck to Matthew. Fingers crossed for a fast start this week in The Netherlands.

ME.

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91. GB&I Win The 2018 Jacques Léglise Trophy

5th September 2018

Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) won the 2018 Jacques Léglise Trophy match against Continent of Europe 15.5 – 9.5.

The GB&I Team With The Jacques Léglise Trophy (Photo: Joe Pagdin)

The match took place at Kytäjä Golf in Finland on Friday 31st August and Saturday 1st September.

This annual match is contested by two nine-player U18 boys’ teams. It is essentially the junior equivalent of the biennial men’s St. Andrews Trophy match. Four foursomes games are played each morning with Singles in the afternoon; eight on Day 1 and nine on Day 2.

This year GB&I were represented by: –

Barclay BROWN (17) – England
Archie DAVIES (17) – Wales
Conor GOUGH (15) – England
Max HOPKINS (15)  – England
Tom MCKIBBIN (15) – Ireland
Connor MCKINNEY (16) – Scotland
Joseph PAGDIN (16) – England
Mark POWER (18) – Ireland
Robin WILLIAMS (16) – England

Seven players were making their GB&I debuts in Finland. Mark Power and Robin Williams both played in 2017.

Click here to view the detailed – 2018 Jacques Léglise Trophy Results

GB&I’s Non-Playing Captain, Stuart WILSON, winner of the 2004 Amateur Championship, said afterwards: “We brought together the best team of golfers that we could assemble for this match and everyone performed brilliantly over the two days. We’re delighted with the performance and the players were really focussed on getting a result. I think we were strong on and around the greens and we knew we had a team of very good putters. The players definitely brought their A game this week.”

The win was GB&I’s 29th in the match since it was re-started with a new trophy in 1977. However, the Team had not enjoyed an outright victory since the 2014 match at Barsebäck in Sweden.

In a strong team performance where everyone contributed Conor GOUGH, Robin WILLIAMS and Barclay BROWN were the star men for GB&I.

Jacques Léglise Trophy GB&I Player Analysis (Photo: @GolfBible)

Given the number of GB&I players planning to turn Pro in the coming weeks I would not be surprised to see one or two of these players graduate to our 2019 Walker Cup team.

It will certainly be interesting to see if any of them can make the quick step up to the men’s ranks next year.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

90. GB&I Lose The 2018 St. Andrews Trophy Match

27th July 2018

The 32nd St. Andrews Trophy match was played on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th July at Linna Golf in Finland.

Like the Walker Cup the St. Andrews Trophy is played over two days and consists of match play foursomes and singles matches.

The Continent of Europe beat Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) 15.5 – 9.5 today.

GB&I entered the final day leading 7 – 5 but ended up being comprehensively outplayed by an inspired European team who won the Day 2 games 10.5 – 2.5 to run away with the match.

This was just the sixth time Europe had won the St. Andrews Trophy and their 6 point margin of victory was their best ever.

For more detail on the match please take a look at my preview and report on GolfBible – The St. Andrews Trophy Match – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

The Continent of Europe (Photo: European Golf Association)

The R&A Selection Committee, including Non-Playing Captain Craig WATSON, announced GB&I’s nine man team for the match on 16th July. This was exactly the same team that I would have picked.

Todd CLEMENTS (21) – England
Robin DAWSON (22) – Ireland
David HAGUE (21) – England
Matthew JORDAN (22) – England
John MURPHY (20) – Ireland
Gian-Marco PETROZZI (21) – England
Nick POPPLETON (24) – England
Conor PURCELL (21) – Ireland
Mitch WAITE (23) – England

Following last September’s record breaking 19 – 7 defeat by the United States in the Walker Cup this heavy loss was another sobering experience for GB&I’s leading players.

The fact the European team was also weaker than may have been expected due to a number of their leading players competing at this week’s Porsche European Open on the European Tour or preferring to play in amateur events in the Unites States arguably makes the result even harder to take.

In The R&A’s match report GB&I Captain Craig WATSON said: “The team is obviously very disappointed but if you look at the scoring by the Continent of Europe you can see we were up against a very high standard of golf. This is the level that the players need to aspire to and achieve and when they look back on the performance there will be many learning points to take away. If you are to win a match like this you obviously need to make your fair share of putts when it matters. We just couldn’t match the Continent of Europe today. I don’t think we were complacent.”

In conclusion it would appear that the best GB&I team we could put out were simply outplayed by the Europeans, albeit only on the final day.

It should be noted that Matthew JORDAN (ENG) certainly left Finland with his reputation intact after winning three of his four matches.

The 2019 Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool G.C. is now just over 400 days away and the GB&I group clearly need to see some improvement between now and then if that match is to be competitive.

It will be interesting to see how many of the nine players who played this week are still amateur in a year’s time and, if they are, whether they have maintained their form sufficiently to be selected for our Walker Cup team.

Earlier this week The R&A announced that the 2020 St. Andrews Trophy match will be played at Royal Porthcawl G.C. in South Wales on 23-24 July.

ME.

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89. USGA Introduce New Team Selection Guidelines

5th July 2018

The USGA have today announced the introduction of automatic selections to their international team selection process.

These new guidelines will be used for the first time for the men’s and women’s USA teams that will compete in this September’s World Amateur Team Championships in Ireland.

They will then be adopted for the 2019 Walker Cup Match and 2020 Curtis Cup Match.The selection of the 10-man 2019 USA Walker Cup team will now take place in two segments in the preceding August: –

1. a) The top 3 ranked USA players in the WAGR (as of early August and before the U.S. Amateur)*.

2. a) The 2019 U.S. Amateur champion*;

2. b) The 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner (Men’s WAGRTM No. 1 / announced immediately after the U.S. Amateur Championship)*; and

2. c) The remaining selections, which will include at least one mid-amateur (25 years and older) player, will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee (ITSC).

*subject to the respective players being U.S. citizens and / or remaining amateur these individuals will now be automatically selected.

The USGA’s ITSC will continue to place primary emphasis on playing accomplishments, rankings and awards over the past two years, with particular focus on results in USGA competitions. It will also continue to adhere to an overarching guideline that a player named to any of its teams must have an unquestioned ability to appropriately represent the USA and USGA with character, sportsmanship and integrity.

The ITSC consists of 10 members, including representatives of the USGA Championship Committee, Executive Committee and international competition staff members. It is currently chaired by Martha Lang, who has competed in more than 60 USGA championships and is a former Curtis Cup player (1992) and captain (1996).

The Walker Cup captain will not have a formal vote on who makes the team but will provide “significant input” behind the scenes.

John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships & Governance, said: “Adding these elements of transparency to our selections helps players understand the process and aspire to earn coveted spots on these top teams.”

The USA Team will defend the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, 7-8th September 2019.

ME.

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88. Nick Poppleton Added To St. Andrews Trophy Squad

12th June 2018

England’s Nick Poppleton (24) was added to the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) St. Andrews Trophy squad last week following his recent victory in the Brabazon Trophy.

The squad were meeting up ahead of the St. Andrews Links Trophy which was played last weekend so it made sense for Nick to be added to the group ahead of this.

He becomes the 11th Englishman in the squad which has now been increased to 21 players.

GB&I’s captain Craig Watson said, “Nick played exceptional golf to win the Brabazon Trophy last week and his selection for the Great Britain and Ireland squad is a reflection of his overall form. Nick’s inclusion shows there is still time for players to play their way into contention for the match and we are following the key amateur events closely.”

Nick Poppleton (Photo © GolfBible)

The St. Andrews Links Trophy saw three other players step firmly into the reckoning after shining on the New and Old Courses.

Ireland’s John Murphy won the event after a sudden death play off whilst England’s Jake Burnage and Laird Shepherd finished tied 3rd and 5th respectively. This competition enjoyed a much stronger field than the Brabazon so one must assume that all of them are now under close consideration too.

There may not be a formal announcement to this effect as I am not sure there are any further plans for the squad to meet up before the final team is selected.

Today’s SPWAR for all of the players mentioned above are shown below: –

Player SPWAR GB&I Rank
Jake Burnage, England 66 6
Laird Shepherd, England 94 12
John Murphy, Ireland 143 16
Nick Poppleton, England 193 24

With Harry Ellis (56th) expected to turn pro after this week’s U.S. Open Championship and Matthew Jordan (12th) rumoured to be following him after the Amateur Championship (assuming he doesn’t win it) all of the other GB&I player rankings are set for a boost shortly.

With Paul McBride signing with Hambric Sports and turning pro last week should Harry and Matthew follow suit it will mean that all of our 2017 Walker Cup team will have been lost to the amateur game within 10 months of the last match.

The big one’s up next. The Amateur Championship starts at Royal Aberdeen G.C. and Murcar Links G.C. on Monday 18th June 2018. Events in Scotland will certainly be an important yardstick when it comes to the final St. Andrews Trophy team selection.

By way of reminder the St. Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe will be played at Linna Golf in Finland on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th July 2018. Our nine-man team is set to be confirmed after the European Men’s Team Championship which concludes on 14th July.

ME.

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87. GB&I 2018 St. Andrews Trophy Squad Selected

14th May 2018

The R&A have today announced a 20 player Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) squad for the 2018 St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.

The match, played in alternate years to the Walker Cup, will take place at Linna Golf in Finland on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 July 2018.

It was also confirmed that Scotland’s Craig Watson would return to the GB&I captaincy role after he was unfortunately unable to fulfil these duties at the 2017 Walker Cup due to a family bereavement.

Watson captained GB&I in the last St. Andrews Trophy match at Prince’s G.C., Kent in 2016. A 12.5 – 12.5 draw back then was good enough for GB&I to retain the trophy.

Captain Watson and Alfie Plant with the St. Andrews Trophy

(Photo: Darren Plant)

Watson said in the R&A announcement: “I’m delighted to resume the role and am excited about the potential of the new crop of players coming through and contending for a place in the team.”

As always the captain left the door open for other players to step forward in the coming months: “We know we will be in for a tough match in Finland and we will need a strong team if we are to win the trophy. I am sure the players we have identified, and others not currently in the squad, will be working hard to impress the selectors.”

The squad will meet up before the St Andrews Links Trophy event which starts on 8th June.

The final 9-man team will be announced after the European Men’s Team Championships, which conclude on 14th July.

Here is a list of the 20 players selected, along with their current Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR) and GB&I SPWAR rank.

Player SPWAR GB&I Rank
Todd Clements, England (21) 21 2
Robin Dawson, Ireland (22) 128 12
Alex Fitzpatrick, England (19) 332 32
Calum Fyfe, Scotland (20) 182 15
Alex Gleeson, Ireland (24) 127 11
David Hague, England (21) 90 6
Harry Hall, England (20) 64 4
Benjamin Jones, England (19) 151 14
Matthew Jordan, England (22) 14 1
Rowan Lester, Ireland (22) 361 35
Sam Locke, Scotland (19) 205 18
Ryan Lumsden, Scotland (21) 102 8
Billy McKenzie, England (23) 211 19
Gian-Marco Petrozzi, England (21) 91 7
Caolan Rafferty, Ireland (25) 104 9
Sandy Scott, Scotland (19) 111 10
Jamie Stewart, Scotland (18) 131 13
Euan Walker, Scotland (22) 281 27
Robin Williams, England (16) 279 26
Andrew Wilson, England (24) 420 38

No one would argue that any of the above aren’t worthy of consideration for the GB&I team.

There are 10 English players in the squad, 6 from Scotland and 4 from Ireland. Sadly no one from Wales made the initial grade.

Only Royal Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan remains in the above selection from the 2017 Walker Cup team. Seven of the 10-man team having turned professional since the heavy loss in Los Angeles.

As the SPWAR rankings suggest GB&I currently has two outstanding players, Jordan and compatriot Todd Clements. To my eyes both have already done enough this season to warrant selection. However, the other 7 team spots are still broadly up for grabs, albeit fellow Englishman Harry Hall and Gian-Marco Petrozzi must also be close.

Below is a list of those players who are also highly ranked in the SPWAR and whose omission is therefore worthy of further discussion.

Player SPWAR GB&I Rank
Harry Ellis, England 48 3
Paul McBride, Ireland 71 5
Tom Plumb, England 197 16
Jake Burnage, England 204 17
Conor Purcell, Ireland 229 20
Daniel O’Loughlin, England 236 21
Mitch Waite, England 243 22

The two most obvious omissions for me are England’s Mitch Waite, who has won the Hampshire Salver this year and finished runner-up at the recent Lytham Trophy, and Conor Purcell, who has done well for Charlotte this year in the U.S., culminating in an invitation by the NCAA to play in this week’s Division I Regionals as an individual.

Finally, a quick word on the two other 2017 Walker Cup players who remain amateur and are listed in the second table above.

Harry Ellis withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Cup selection process in April signalling a clear intention to turn Pro after his forthcoming U.S. Open appearance in June. Hence his absence from the list is understandable.

Paul McBride is perhaps more of a surprise. He had intimated that he may stay amateur until the Autumn once he graduates from Wake Forest in the next few weeks. The World Amateur Team Championship (for the Eisenhower Trophy) is being held at Carton House, Ireland in September and this was supposedly a factor in his thinking. However, his omission from this squad is a clear indicator that he too will be turning pro very shortly.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

86. The 2018 Bonallack Trophy Match

13th March 2018

Asia-Pacific won the 2018 Bonallack Trophy match against Europe 16.5 – 15.5. This was just the third time in ten matches that Asia-Pacific had prevailed.

The match was played at Doha GC in Qatar between 8th-10th March.

Three Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) players were selected for the European team; Todd Clements (ENG), Robin Dawson (IRE) and Matthew Jordan (ENG). Players are selected by the European Golf Association with reference to the World Amateur Golf Ranking and guidance from national coaches and officials. No more than two players may be selected from the same country.

Certainly no one would argue that our three representatives were not fully deserving of their places on the team – all three being in the Top 100 of the SPWAR.

Matthew Jordan played in the 2017 Walker Cup match in Los Angeles.

Here is the individual player contributions from the event: –

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 12.41.48

Todd Clements and Matthew Jordan were paired together in both the Fourballs and Foursomes and played in all four series over the first two days. They lost both matches on Day 1 before enjoying a more productive Day 2; they halved their morning Fourball before winning their Foursomes. Clements went on to win his Singles on the final day but Jordan lost the penultimate, and ultimately deciding, game of the series on the final hole. Matthew had a 2 metre putt on the final green to halve his game (and the match, which would have enabled Europe to retain the trophy) but unfortunately missed it.

Jordan, currently GB&I’s highest ranked amateur, seems to be struggling a bit in the match play format of the game. Following the Bonallack Trophy his overall record over the last 12 months now reads P25 W6 H4 L15. Maybe he’s just been unlucky with the draw, playing up the order and his opponents play on the day.

Todd Clements, by winning his Singles, was able to come out of the match on the ‘right side of the line’. On the back of his 2017 English Amateur triumph and good performance at last year’s Men’s Home internationals he seems to be developing a sound match play record.

Robin Dawson was paired with Germany’s Marc Hammer. Whilst they didn’t play on the first morning they quickly cemented their place in the line up with a win in the afternoon. On Day 2 the pair threw away a very big lead to end up halving their Fourball. However, in the afternoon they recovered to win a second Foursomes together. Both lost their Singles games on the final day.

Whilst not the result they or I would have wished for the match was no doubt good experience for all of them. I have my fingers crossed that all three will still be playing amateur golf in September 2019 and can put it to use when the next Walker Cup is played.

 Europe’s 2018 Bonallack Trophy and Patsy Hankins Trophy Teams
Todd Clements, Matthew Jordan and Robin Dawson (back row l-r)
(Photo: European Golf Association)

Click here to view the – 2018 Bonallack Trophy Final Results

Click to view my more detailed match preview and reports on GolfBible – 2018 Bonallack Trophy Match

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

85. Dr. Frank Deighton Has Died Aged 90

5th March 2018

Dr. Frank W.G. Deighton died on 23rd February 2018 at the Clarence Court Care Home in Glasgow.

Having reached the age of 90 he had been one of the oldest living former Walker Cup players.

He was first selected for the match at Birkdale GC in 1951 when he was 23. However, Raymond Oppenheimer, GB&I’s first true non-playing captain, chose not to play him as the team lost 6-3. In Oppenheimer’s defense all Deighton had done nationally by this time was make his debut for Scotland in 1950 in the Home internationals at Royal St. David’s GC. He went on to represent Scotland throughout the 1950’s.

Dr. Frank Deighton (Photo: 1951 Walker Cup Programme)

1956 proved to be his best playing year and the prelude to his second and final Walker Cup selection, this time in 1957 at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

In 1956 Dr. Deighton had won the Scottish Amateur Championship at Old Troon beating A. MacGregor 8&7 in the final. He also reached the quarter finals of the Amateur Championship where he lost 6&5 over 36 holes to the eventual winner John Beharrell.

In previewing the 1957 match for Sports Illustrated Bernard Darwin described Deighton as “formerly a moody player who did not seem to have sufficient belief in himself” but went on to say “at his best he can be very good.” Interestingly Darwin put Deighton’s upturn in fortunes down to a pep talk from Oppenheimer and a 6&5 singles win against Max Faulkner in the Amateurs v. Professionals match the previous summer.

Deighton played in both series in 1957, losing both his games. Paired with Joe Carr they lost their foursomes match 2&1 against Rex Baxter and Billy Joe Patton. The following day he lost his singles match to Bill Hyndman 7&6. GB&I lost the match 8-3.

His last major win came in 1959 when he won his second Scottish Amateur title. He beat R.M.K. Murray at St. Andrews 6&5.

In total he played in 10 Amateur Championships between 1950-63 and won 20 of his 30 matches during this period.

In 1965 a medical contact arranged for him to design Sconsor GC’s new 9 hole course. The club was renamed the Isle of Skye GC in 1987. In 1988 a new clubhouse was built and Dr. Deighton, as a sign of further gratitude, was invited back to the Isle to open it.

Deighton was born in Glasgow on 21st May 1927 and spent most of his life in the City. He trained with the Royal Army Medical Corps before becoming a General Practitioner. He married Marna and they had two daughters, Nicky and Ruth.

His home club was Hilton Park, where he became an honorary member. He also enjoyed memberships at Glasgow GC and Western Gailes GC. He was a long time member of The Royal & Ancient GC of St. Andrews and after amassing 60 years in 2013 was afforded the rare status of Life Member.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Sources:
1. Colin Farquharson, Scottish Golf View (26/02/18) – reproduced The Herald death notice and provided family information.
2. Colin Callander, Global Golf Post (05/03/18) – R&A membership information.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

84. St. Andrews To Host the 2023 Walker Cup Match

26th February 2018

The R&A today announced that St. Andrews will host the 49th Walker Cup match in 2023.

The match is to be played on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd September.

This will be the ninth time that the Old Course has hosted the Walker Cup. No other course has hosted the match more than twice.

The previous St. Andrews matches took place in 1923, 1926, 1934, 1938, 1947, 1955, 1971 and 1975. USA won 6 of these matches with GB&I picking up two victories in 1938 and 1971, their first and second.

The Old Course, St. Andrews

To read the full R&A Announcement click here – St. Andrews To Host 2023 Walker Cup

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

83. Nathaniel Crosby Will Captain The U.S.A. Team In 2019

13th December 2017

The U.S.G.A. today announced that 56 year old Nathaniel CROSBY had been selected to captain the U.S.A. team at the 2019 Walker Cup match.

Stuart Francis, U.S.G.A. Championship Committee chairman, said “Nathaniel Crosby has proven experience as an amateur player at the highest levels in both individual and team competition, and this will lend itself well to providing leadership for the USA Walker Cup team in 2019”. He has the key attributes of “sportsmanship, patriotism and a competitive spirit, that will assist him as captain.”

Crosby played in the 1983 Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool GC. His appointment therefore has a nice symmetry with the 2019 contest also being staged at the historic links in Hoylake, England.

Nowadays he plays much of his golf at Seminole G.C. where the Walker Cup is being staged in 2021. Whilst there are other candidates with links to this exclusive Florida Club it does seem likely that his appointment will be for the now standard two match term.

In the USGA announcement Crosby said: “I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain. It will again be a privilege to be a part of the Walker Cup competition. Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities.”

Former U.S. captains Jim Holtgrieve, Bob Lewis Jr and Jay Sigel were all teammates of Crosby’s in 1983.

Nathaniel Crosby (Photo: USGA / Simon Dale)

Nathaniel Crosby – Golf Biography

Nathaniel (‘Nate’) Crosby was introduced to golf by his famous father, Bing. Bing was often described as a golfer that liked to sing given his obsession with the game.

He started playing golf when he was 4, taking lessons from Maurice Ver Brugge at the family’s home club, Burlinghame C.C., near San Francisco, and went on to become a very accomplished golfer.

His biggest achievement was his victory, aged 19, in the 1981 US Amateur Championship at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Playing number 3 for the University of Miami during the year and having showed little form beforehand his win was something of a surprise. He did however have the benefit of sleeping in his own bed at his parent’s house during the event. Huge crowds, drawn by the Crosby name, saw Nathaniel beat Brian Lindley on the 37th hole of the final. He staged a great comeback having been both 4 Down with 10 holes to play and 2 Down with 3 to play.

Sadly his father was unable to witness his achievement. Bing had died four years earlier on 14th October 1977, collapsing from a heart attack after playing 18 holes at La Moraleja G.C. near Madrid. His last words being “That was a great game of golf, fellas.” However, Nathaniel later revealed he wore Bing’s 1941 US Amateur competitor badge around his neck all week rubbing it occasionally when seeking inspiration or calmness. “It was a something to relax me. It was a way of keeping positive thoughts in my mind. I knew he was up there and he was on my side.”

In 1982 Nathaniel achieved low amateur honours at the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach, finishing 59th, won the prestigious Porter Cup and helped the USA win that year’s World Amateur Team Championship title in Switzerland.

The USA won the 1983 Walker Cup match 13.5 – 10.5 at Royal Liverpool. Captained by Jay Sigel (who also played himself), Crosby lost his Day 1 Singles 6&4 to Phil Parkin before he and William Hoffer beat George Macgregor and Philip Walton by 2 holes in their Day 2 Foursomes game. He sat out both the Day 1 Foursomes and Day 2 Singles.

Crosby graduated from the University of Miami in 1984 with a degree in politics and public administration. He then turned professional, playing briefly in the U.S. before trying his hand on the European Tour. With little success he ‘retired’ after three years, moving into the business world in 1988.

He regained his amateur status in 1994. This was initially so that he could play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a tournament that had grown out of his father’s Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur (also known as the Crosby Clambake). After Bing’s death in 1977, the tournament was hosted by the Crosby family for eight years, before the association was finally ended in 1985. Nathaniel had also planned to compete in Senior amateur events but this doesn’t appear to have come to anything in recent years.

Nathaniel Crosby – Personal Biography

Nathaniel Patrick Crosby was born on 29th October 1961 in Hillsborough, California but now lives in Jupiter, Florida.

He is the seventh child of Bing Crosby and the youngest of his three children with his second wife, the entertainer Kathryn Grant. Grant was 31 years Bing’s junior when they married.

His four half brothers are now all dead. He has an elder brother Harry and a sister Mary. Mary famously played Kristin Shepard, the mistress responsible for shooting J.R. Ewing in the hit television series ‘Dallas’. Nathaniel also performed on stage and screen many times with various family members when he was a child.

Nathaniel has four children of his own, all from his first marriage – Nathaniel Jr (27), Brendan (25), Bridget (23) and Claire (21). He is now remarried to another divorcee, Sheila (Biggs), who has two children of her own – Turner (26) and Courtney (24).

When his playing career came to an end he moved into the golf equipment business working firstly for Toney Penna (a touring pro. who had been Nathaniel’s teacher), then The Nicklaus Equipment Company and finally Orlimar Golf. He is currently chairman of AppleTree Golf Society, a membership programme that is tied to around 30 premier golf clubs in vacation and second-home destinations.

In 2016 he released a book, written with the assistance of golf journalist John Strege, entitled ’18 Holes With Bing: Golf, Life and Lessons From Dad’, where he talked about his relationship with his father through their shared love of golf.

Additional information

In June 2008 Michael Bamberger wrote an interesting profile of Nathaniel Crosby for Golf.com. Read it here – http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/why-nathaniel-crosby-holds-special-place-game

ME.

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

82. Everybody’s Changing And I Don’t Feel The Same

11th October 2017

So little time,
Try to understand that I’m,
Trying to make a move just to stay in the game,
I try to stay awake and remember my name,
But everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.

– “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane (2004)

It’s been all change in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) amateur game since the 46th Walker Cup match finished a month ago.

Of course each Walker Cup seems to mark the end of a mini-era with both those players selected and those overlooked looking to move on with their golfing careers.

However, the number of players turning professional in recent weeks feels much higher than normal with elite amateur golf in GB&I decimated.

We have already lost 7 of the 10 members of our Walker Cup team to the professional ranks: –

David BOOTE (WAL)
Jack DAVIDSON (WAL)
Scott GREGORY (ENG)
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO)
Alfie PLANT (ENG)
Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG)
Connor SYME (SCO)

Of the remaining three players Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) and Harry ELLIS (ENG) have entered their Senior years at Wake Forest and Florida State respectively, whilst Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has resisted the temptation to jump to date. Could he have his sights set on a home Walker Cup appearance at Royal Liverpool in 2019 ? Wishful thinking on my part perhaps.

However, it is the number of other Internationals that have turned professional that makes the last few weeks so exceptional. Here’s a selection of names for you: –

Dan BROWN (ENG)
Joshua DAVIES (WAL)
Owen EDWARDS (WAL)
Colin FAIRWEATHER (IRE)
Tom GANDY (ENG)
Stuart GREHAN (IRE)
Evan GRIFFITH (WAL)
Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) 
Bradley MOORE (ENG)
Conor O’ROURKE (IRE)
Marco PENGE (ENG)                 
Craig ROSS (SCO)
Will WHITEOAK (ENG)
Jack YULE (ENG)

The exodus may not be over either.

Amateurs JR GALBRAITH (IRE)*, Josh HILLEARD (ENG) and Craig HOWIE (SCO) have all progressed to the Second Qualifying Stage of the European Tour’s Q-School series. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) is also this week out in Germany testing his game in the ProGolf Tour Q-School.

Whilst it’s sad to see all of these players move out of the amateur game I of course wish them all the best with their future careers. It will be interesting to see which ones survive and prosper in the coming years. Whatever happens I hope they can at least enjoy some of the journey.

Certainly playing in The Walker Cup is no guarantee of success in the professional golfing world. To date Paul DUNNE (who turned Pro in September 2015), Jordan SMITH (October 2014), Matthew FITZPATRICK (June 2014) and to a lesser degree Ashley CHESTERS (September 2015) and Callum SHINKWIN (September 2013) are the only players from the 2013 and 2015 Walker Cups to have made a notable transition. There is still time for some of the others to come through. A lot of very good elite amateurs have fallen by the way side, either unable to make the step up in play and / or get to grips with the demanding life of a touring pro.

Scotland’s Connor SYME leads the way for the 2017 crop at the moment with a tied 12th finish at the Portuguese Masters on debut and a tied 15th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last weekend. Earnings of €79,435 from two events has to be viewed as a dream start to his professional career.

One thing’s for sure, as day follows night, the next generation of young amateur golfers will soon appear. It will be interesting to see which players take the opportunity to step forward and fill the current void in 2018.

* In November 2017 JR GALBRAITH (IRE) also turned professional.

ME.

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

81. Walker Cup Day 2 – USA Beats GB&I 19 – 7

10th September 2017 

The United States of America (USA) won the 46th Walker Cup match at Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) beating Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) 19 – 7.

The wining score of 19 points matched the most ever in Walker Cup history. USA had previously reached that total in 1993 when they won 19 – 5 at a rain affected Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota.

Here is the Individual Player Contributions chart from the match: –

Doug GHIM, Maverick MCNEALY and Collin MORIKAWA each went 4 – 0, the first time three players had accomplished this for one team in the same Walker Cup match. The previous record being two perfect 4 game records – USA in 1977 (John Fought and Lindy Miller), 1997 (John Harris and Brad Elder) and 2009 (Peter Uihlein and Rickie Fowler) and GB&I in 1999 (Luke Donald and Paul Casey).

Doug GHIM had also gone 4 – 0 in the Arnold Palmer Cup match earlier this summer. A memorable and unique double for him.

USA Celebrate Their Win At Los Angeles CC (Photo: GolfBible)

GB&I’s very slim hopes of staging a comeback on Day 2 depended on a strong morning Foursomes performance. Unfortunately they lost the series 3 – 1 to fall even further behind 11 – 5.

Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR were GB&I’s only Foursomes winners. Gregory in particular played some great shots down the stretch, memorably holeing out from a bunker on 14 and delivering a long iron into the heart of the 18th green to close out the game 2Up.

The United States therefore went into the ten afternoon Singles matches needing just 2.5 points to win the Walker Cup.

Despite this Captain “Spider” MILLER took nothing for granted and later said he had challenged each player before the final series of matches started, telling them, “You have to win your match. Each one of you must win your match. We must win all ten matches. I was as direct as I can be. We had a good lead but there was going to be no letting up. I expected each one of them to win.”

Braden THORNBERRY certainly responded well to the instruction, the 2017 NCAA Division I Individual champion, thumping Paul MCBRIDE, 6 and 5 in game number 5 to get the ball rolling for USA.

Shortly afterwards Stewart HAGESTAD, avenging his Saturday defeat to Singh Brar, won 2 and 1 on the 17th green before Norman XIONG, at 18 the youngest player on either team, secured the final 0.5 point required to reach the all important 13.5 mark.

The Americans ended up winning seven of the 10 singles matches on Sunday afternoon.

The Day 2 Results (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

Scott GREGORY and Robert MACINTYRE provided some resistance for GB&I, halving their games. Gregory refused to accept defeat fighting back from 2 down against Norman XIONG with two to play to earn his half, sinking 30 foot and 8 foot par putts on the final two holes to do so. Similarly MacIntyre again demonstrated his match play credentials with an unbeaten Singles performance for GB&I. He beat long-hitting Cameron CHAMP easily yesterday before halving with him today.

The star man for GB&I on Sunday was David BOOTE who battled superbly to win his match against the reigning US Amateur champion Doc REDMAN. Surprisingly Redman ended up being the only US player not to contribute a point from the three games he participated in. Boote birdied the short 15th to go 2Up but the match was far from over given the three c.500 yard par 4 finishing holes still to be played. On 16 David got up and down from just short of the green before watching Redman trump him with a tap-in birdie. On 17, having called a penalty on himself for standing on his ball in the rough, he managed to get up and down from about 150 yards to secure an unlikely half in bogey. Finally on 18 Redman saw his accurate long iron approach run past the flag to the back of the green leaving himself a near impossible downhill putt. When he three putted for 5 the Welshman simply took two from 5 feet to secure a memorable win.

David Boote Celebrates His Singles Win With His Family And Caddie (Photo: GolfBible)

To view the USGA highlight packages of the final day’s play please take a look at my ‘Past Results’ page.

As one would expect GB&I Acting Captain Andrew INGRAM accepted the loss in good spirit. He said: “The Americans were amazing. I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They have been superb all week and good luck to them. We just couldn’t get going, we couldn’t get anything moving forward. The big advantage here has been the length of the course, our guys aren’t used to courses this long. We have worked hard. I asked the team when I came for 100 percent and they gave me 100 percent. I can’t ask for anything more.”

Asked how he thought GB&I could improve their away performances Ingram suggested: “I know it costs money but any chance of us getting our Squad out to America to let them see what it’s like, come to the venue, and play some golf so they can get a feel of it (would be beneficial). I think it’s quite a shock to the system when they come and play a course like this. Our guys aren’t used to playing courses this long.”

“Spider” MILLER was understandably delighted for his team: “We had a choice to be the 2017 Walker Cup team or the winning 2017 Walker Cup team. There’s certain things in their careers as golfers they will remember and playing and winning the Walker Cup is one of those defining moments they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

As always the GB&I team lacked the strength in depth of their opponents and in this match USA were able to bring this to bear, generally outplaying the visitors for the most part. Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and accept the better team won – this was one of those occasions to my eyes.

____________________________________________

It was always going to be a big ask for GB&I to go to Los Angeles and be competitive let alone win. After all GB&I have only ever won twice in the USA and home teams have now won 11 of the last 13 matches.

I don’t believe a lengthy post-mortem is necessary but would add from what I saw myself – and in addition to the length point made by Andy Ingram – that the USA team also putted better on the quick and undulating greens and made better strategic decisions, particularly down the stretch.

Looking forward GB&I will next get the opportunity to regain the Walker Cup on 7th and 8th September 2019 when it will be staged at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England.

Meanwhile GB&I players David BOOTE, Jack DAVIDSON, Scott GREGORY, Robert MACINTYRE, Alfie PLANT, Jack SINGH BRAR and Connor SYME are all expected to turn pro in the coming weeks. Good luck to all of them. Not the Amateur swan song they would have hoped for but nevertheless a trip and experience they will all remember for the rest of their lives.

ME.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

80. Walker Cup Day 1 – USA Leads GB&I 8 – 4

10th September 2017

USA lead GB&I 8 – 4 after Day 1 of the 2017 Walker Cup match being played at the superb Los Angeles CC.

The Day 1 Results (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

Day 1 Mornings Foursomes – USA 2 – 2 GB&I

I followed the match between Connor Syme / Paul McBride and Doc Redman / Will Zalatoris. The GB&I pair both played well once they had got over their initial nerves. The defining factors were the USA’s poor play on the par 3 holes (they bogeyed all three), McBride’s accurate approach play and most importantly Syme’s putting. The Scotsman holed 9 missable putts from within 10 feet which either halved or won holes. In the end they ran out comfortable winners.

Connor Syme and Paul McBride (Photo: GolfBible)

Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar beat Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ 3&2 to ensure the Day 1 Foursomes finished halved 2 – 2. In what was a tight match up until the turn the USA pair simply fell away on the back nine handing the game to GB&I with two bogeys and a double bogey on holes 14 – 16.

Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar ( Photo: GolfBible)

The other two matches represented humbling experiences for the GB&I pairs.

In Game 1 Collin Morikawa and Norman Xiong thrashed Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant 8&7. This was the biggest Foursomes win in 18 hole Walker Cup match history. The Americans birdied the first 4 holes winning them all and parred in to the 11th where hands were shaken. The GB&I pair were 5-over par at the conclusion. 18 year old Norman Xiong is starring in Los Angeles. He appears to have both the build and game to really make a name for himself in the future.

Maverick McNealy and Doug Ghim proved too strong for the Welsh pairing of David Boote and Jack Davidson in the final match of the series. USA birdied four of the first 6 holes to jump into a big lead which they defended comfortably with par golf. As GB&I sought to chase the game further errors allowed the USA to run out easy winners.

Day 1 Afternoon Singles – USA 6 – 2 GB&I

This session will probably prove to be the defining one of the 46th Walker Cup match. USA moved out in front and it is in all honesty hard to see how the GB&I team will be able to recover the position.

I was attracted to the match of Robert MacIntyre and Cameron Champ, having read that Bob didn’t have much family or friend support out here. Bob also has an excellent match play record so it was inevitable that he would give the big hitting American a good game. The fact he had been left out of the morning Foursomes was also likely to be a motivator for him. Whilst Champ was out of sorts, struggling for pars all the way round as well as with his short game, the Scotsman was simply outstanding. Gaining confidence as the match proceeded from his opponents difficulties Bob played a large number of great shots demonstrating an excellent all round game. By the time the match ended on the 14th green Champ was almost alone having lost his US gallery long before.

GB&I’s only other winner in the afternoon was Jack Singh Brar. He will take an unbeaten W2-L0-H0 record in to Day 2. Jack appears to have played very well looking at his hole scores. Five 3’s in his first 11 holes enabled him to take a 5Up lead on mid-amateur and LACC member Stewart Hagestad. Whilst he stumbled a little coming home he regrouped quickly to finish off a comfortable win.

Robert MacIntyre Enjoys His Singles Win (Photo: GolfBible)

Harry Ellis was 2Up in game 1 with with 5 holes to play. Unfortunately he bogeyed three of them – poor drives being largely to blame – and allowed Braden Thornberry, surprisingly left out of the morning Foursomes, to gain a flattering 2 holes win.

Connor Syme started well, leading Norman Xiong by 3Up after 6 holes. However, once Xiong settled he quickly came back and helped by three birdies won out impressively 2&1 against one of GB&I’s strongest players.

McBride appears to have played well but was simply unlucky to draw Collin Morikawa. The Californian was 3-under for the 16 holes played before winning 3&1. Against many of the other US players Paul may well have secured a win given his overall play.

Matthew Jordan also seems to have played well in his first match at this Walker Cup, coming out on the wrong side of a tight match. Will Zalatoris played the tough finishing holes a little better to eventually win by 2 holes on the 18th.

David Boote got off to a poor start bogeying three of the opening 4 holes and going 3 Down. Once he settled the Welshman played well, showing a great deal of fight. Doug Ghim certainly knew he had been in a game by the time he had seen out a 2&1 win on the 17th green.

In the final game Scott Gregory also played well. Leading 2Up after 11 holes he fell foul of the brutal finishing holes which to his credit Maverick McNeally negotiated very impressively. McNeally ended up winning 3&1 on the 17th green.

Day 2 – Morning Foursomes

At the end of play on Saturday the pairings / draws for Day 2 were announced.

GB&I go into Day 2 requiring an exceptional performance. A victory in the Sunday Foursomes series is essential if they are to stage a comeback and perhaps more likely add some respectability to the final score.

Unsurprisingly the GB&I pairing of Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant have been dropped with Matthew Jordan and Robert MacIntyre introduced in game 4.

The Day 2 Foursomes Draw (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

Day 2 – Afternoon Singles

Sunday sees 10 games and all 20 players out on the course contesting the Singles series.

The draw shows a number of repeat matches from Day 1 – Jack Singh Brar and Robert MacIntyre will again play Stewart Hagestad and Cameron Champ. Hopefully the results are the same on Day 2 !

Best of luck to GB&I. Let’s make USA work for every point today.

The Day 2 Singles Draw (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

ME

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

79. 20 Quick Observations From The Official Practice Day

9th September 2017

I spent yesterday at the Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) looking at the course and watching all of the players practice.

This is some of what I heard, saw and experienced: –

1. The North Course is even better than I thought it would be – and I arrived with high expectations having read a lot about the recent Gil Hanse renovation.

2. The clue was in the location – Beverly Hills – but it is far more hilly and undulating than any of the photos I had seen suggested.

3. Holes 3 – 8 in particular are magnificent. The land in this most northerly part of the property is stunning with height changes, steep banking and barranca framing all of the holes.

4. The Par 3’s are all excellent. The 4th (230 yards) and 11th (289 yards) are very long but both severely downhill so hugely inviting when stood on the tee.

5. In passing Lionel Ritchie’s house (see photo below) beside the 4th green is one of the finest properties I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. As I was admiring it one of the LACC members volunteered that the owner, no names were obviously mentioned, also owned the two properties next door (to the left) in addition to the main house.

Lionel Ritchie’s Property Overlooking The 4th Green (Photo: GolfBible)

6. The course is very long, particularly the back nine which plays 3,875 yards. There are four Par 4’s which are 500+ yards, including the three closing holes.

7. The fairways are very wide on all of the holes so I expect players will be using driver off many of the tees.

8. The rough looks low, almost non existent, but it is thick and tangly. Balls can sit up in it but equally fall through and penalise players for inaccuracy.

9. The bunkering is exceptional. Superbly shaped, large and often deep. Most of the bunkers, particularly those greenside, have a very thick collar of rough around them. Players will be shouting for their misdirected shots to find the sand as balls that finish here will be almost ‘dead’.

10. The greens are generally very large and looked quick. Getting the speed early on will be critical as will being on the right side of some of the tougher hole locations. The two exceptions being the Par 4 6th and the front portion of the short 17th which are very narrow targets.

The 46th Walker Cup Programme (Photo: GolfBible)

11. Many of the larger greens have small promontories, surrounded by sand, which will enable the USGA to really tuck some flags away if they wish.

12. LACC looks like being a very good match play course with a number of sporty risk reward holes evident.

13. The GB&I players – who played in group’s of 5, (1) Ellis / Davidson / Boote / Syme / Singh Brar and (2) Gregory / McBride / MacIntyre / Plant / Jordan – seemed to have been given free reign during the final practice session.

14. GB&I Group 1 didn’t play the full 18. They played holes 1, 2 and 9 before playing the back nine and walking in early. They then practiced their putting and went to the range.

A Signed 46th Walker Cup Flag (Photo: GolfBible)

15. There didn’t seem to be any competitive play going on yesterday and there didn’t seem to be a huge amount of R&A Selector observation taking place. It was as if the Day 1 foursomes pairings / singles order had already been determined and Friday’s play was irrelevant in this regard.

16. I anticipate that some players are going to be exposed by the length and severity of the LACC test. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some very one sided matches.

17. Understandably there are very few GB&I supporters in Los Angeles outside of each player’s family and close friends. You have to be pretty committed to make a 5,400 mile journey for an amateur golf event. Therefore this is going to be an away match in the strictest sense with a large partisan home crowd.

18. Recent Walker Cup matches have tended to go to the home team and historically GB&I have always struggled over here. I certainly travelled more in hope than expectation and reluctantly have to accept it is hard to see anything other than a comfortable USA win. As is always the case a good start to quieten the home crowd and build a little momentum this morning will be imperative for GB&I. I obviously wish GB&I well and hope our players can do themselves justice when proceedings begin. It would be great to witness a big sporting upset live.

19. The Day 1 pairings were announced at the opening ceremony and as with the original team selection it is hard before a ball has been struck to overly question them. It’s now down to the players to deliver.

20. Finally, the LACC is a very special place and everyone on site is delighted they have the opportunity to showcase their club and course. All of the membership / volunteers I came into contact with were proactive, friendly and welcoming. With two courses and superb practice facilities it has the space to accommodate any match or tournament.

ME.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail