ALL ARTICLES

151. USGA Seeks Donations To Fund The Walker Cup

27th February 2023

Ryan Herrington of Golf Digest reported on 24th February 2023 that the USGA had established an endowment plan to help fund future Walker Cup and Curtis Cup matches.

With a home event costing around $1.25m to run and an away trip around $0.5m, with neither generating much offsetting income, the thinking was that something needed to be done to protect the matches in the event tougher financial times in the future led to questions being asked about whether they should continue to be funded from the USGA’s annual budget.

As a result the USGA has discretely been seeking out donors willing to give $0.5m each to become the ‘Keepers of the Cups’ since May 2022. The plan being for 20 such donors to raise $10m and for the USGA to match this sum with money from its Strategic Investment Fund. The new $20 million total fund would then be ring-fenced to keep both amateur events going in perpetuity.

Encouragingly 11 donors have already committed to the program leaving Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, confident that the original two-year goal to raise the funds will be met.

Whan has suggested that the early donors are generally not past USGA champions but rather golfers who have a passion for the game and for keeping its history alive.

The ‘Keepers’ will travel to the events and be given behind the scenes access to the captains and players. Each will also be given a commemorative golf bag with a specially designed logo. There’s no such thing as a free golf bag !

Stu Francis, USGA President 2020-23 (Photo: USGA)

Outgoing USGA President, Stu Francis, became the 11th donor at the end of 2022. “I wanted to put my money where my mouth was,” Francis said. “I did want to show people that I really did care about it and was prepared to invest in it. I think the real interest level and commitment level to having a thriving Walker Cup and Curtis Cup is a pretty deep feeling within the golf community.”

It is important to note that the Keepers of the Cups Program will only cover USA team costs and that The R&A will still be responsible for all of the costs attaching to their two GB&I teams.

Given the income the USGA and R&A generate from the sale of TV rights for the U.S. Open and The Open Championships respectively it is surprising to me that this project was deemed necessary. I am sure costs could easily be cut for both Cups if both organisations wished to spend more of their money in different areas.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

150. USGA Launch A National Development Programme

27th February 2023

The USGA launched the U.S. National Development Program on 24th February 2023, a move that should ultimately pay dividends for future USA Walker Cup teams.

The Program will identify, train, develop, fund and support the nation’s most promising junior players to ensure that American golf is the global leader in the game. 

Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA, said “Today, nearly every other competitive golf country in the world offers a national development program to foster and develop its elite junior talent. The United States is at a huge competitive disadvantage in this regard, as we simply ask our athletes, parents and coaches to forge their own path, without any unified national guidance or financial support. Golf is the only major sport in the U.S. without a national development program.”

The U.S. National Development Program will focus on six key pillars, namely Talent Identification, Access to Competition, National Teams, Athlete Resources, Player Development and Relations and Athlete Financial Support.The program will create a sustainable grant program to financially assist identified talent with entry fees, travel, coaching costs, golf course access, equipment and more.

It will work alongside existing stakeholders such as the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), the PGA of America, LPGA Professionals and the Golf Coaches Association of America and Women’s Golf Coaches Association to develop a clear player pathway.

Elite juniors, amateurs and young professionals will be invited to join one of three national teams with dedicated staff and resources and compete internationally under the United States flag.

A commitment is also being made to reach players from underrepresented communities and ensure they have the resources to progress within the sport’s strongest competitive and developmental opportunities.

“The journey from junior golf to elite competition has become complicated and cost-prohibitive for many families,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, USGA managing director of Player Relations and Development. “It is our duty to unify and simplify the process by removing any barriers that prevent the most promising juniors from reaching their full potential. The success of this program will not only support and elevate the talent of today’s top players, but also diversify and strengthen the next generation of great American golfers.”

Starting in 2023, the program will fund 50 juniors. That number will grow each year and by 2027 the program aims to fund 1,000 juniors across the country and impact thousands more.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of the Program and to see whether it achieves its objectives in the coming years.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

149. Willie Milne Has Died Aged 71

24th February 2023

William Torbet Gray Milne passed away on 31st January 2023 aged 71.

Born in Scotland on 13th July 1951 Willie, who had been based in Germany since 2004, suffered a cardiac arrest whilst on holiday in Thailand.

He was a ‘larger than life’ character who stood 6 ft. 4” tall and weighed in at over 16 stones.

In 1972 Milne was selected for a GB&I U21 Youths team in a match against Europe at Glasgow Gailes G.C. and for Scotland in the Men’s Home Internationals.

In 1973 he represented Scotland in the European Amateur Team Championship in Portugal. Scotland, who lost to England in the Final, and Milne – who tied for the leading score in the qualifying with a 71 before winning five of the six games he was involved in in the match play stages – both made a favourable impression.  

His performance earned him a place in the GB&I 1973 Walker Cup team that travelled in August to The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The team lost the match 14-10 mainly because they failed to win any of the eight Foursomes games that were played, losing six and halving two. Milne playing with Charlie Green on Day 1 lost to Danny Edwards and James Ellis by 2&1. On Day 2 he was paired with Hugh Stuart and in a tight match lost by 1 Hole to Bill Rogers and Michael Killian.

On a positive note Milne won both of his Singles games, defeating Mark Pfeil 4&3 on Friday and Mark Killian 2&1 on Saturday. Unusually GB&I won the two Singles sessions 9-7 that year.

Willie Milne Signs a Contract with his manager Derek Pillage in February 1974 

Milne turned professional shortly after playing in the Home Internationals in September 1973, competing on the European Tour with little success between 1973 and 1980.

His reputation was damaged in 1975 after he was fined £500 by the PGA for scoring irregularities in the Nigerian Open which led to his disqualification. He signed for a 5 on the 12th hole in the 3rd round when he had in fact taken 6. Despite subsequently realising his error he failed to report it and played out the 4th Round. 

He played in five Open Championships in the 1970s, the first as an amateur in 1973, but failed to make the cut in any of them.

Milne’s best result as a professional came in the 1979 French Open when he finished second to fellow Scot Bernard Gallacher at Golf Club de Lyon earning around €5,500. 

He represented GB&I in two PGA Cup matches in 1982 and 1986. 

During his playing career and from 1981 as a club pro. he was attached to a number of clubs, namely Tayside Golf, the Machrie Hotel on Islay, Sand Martins G.C. in Berkshire, the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle, Royal Dornoch and Carnoustie Golf Course Hotel & Resort.

Willie was at Carnoustie when it hosted the Open Championship in 1999. Ironically he earned more attention from playing as a 3rd Round marker, where he recorded a 76, than he had during his entire time as a Tour player. His time at Carnoustie came to a sad end when he was sacked in January 2001 for drunken behaviour at a Christmas party the previous month, albeit he successfully claimed for unfair dismissal at an industrial tribunal in Dundee in September 2002. 

Willie Milne’s Current LinkedIn Profile Photo

Willie moved to Germany in 2004, initially working at Olching G.C. near Munich for five years before representing Golfglobal Ltd as a consultant until the time of his sudden death.

Addition Sources: The PGA Obituary

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

148. Stuart Murray Has Died Aged 89

24th February 2023

Stuart William Thomas Murray died on 23rd January 2023 at the age of 89 following a short illness.

Murray was born in Paisley, Scotland on 10th November 1933, the middle of three brothers, and learned to play golf at the nearby Elderslie Golf Club. By the time he was 18 he had already won the club championship and played county golf.

He earned the nickname ‘The Sheriff’ from his peers due to a distinctive “cowboy-like” rolling gait, the result of a broken leg playing football during National Service, and his consistently strong play in the amateur game in the 1950s and early ‘60s.

Murray was very much a part-time golfer working for John Letters, the golf club manufacturer, after he finished school.

He represented Scotland in the Home Internationals five years running (1959-63) and picked up the prestigious West of Scotland Championship, Tennant Cup and the Edward Trophy titles in his amateur career.

Stuart successfully represented GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy, contributing to wins in against Europe in France in 1958 and Sweden in 1962.

Having lost in the Final the year before he won the Scottish Amateur Championship in 1962 defeating Ronnie Shade 2&1 in the final at Muirfield. Shade would go onto win this Championship in each of the next five years.

Stuart Murray is carried off Muirfield after winning the Scottish Amateur 

The victory helped earn Stuart selection for the 1963 GB&I Walker Cup team. 

USA won the match at Turnberry by 12-8 but Stuart made a positive contribution, particularly on the opening day when it rained heavily. Paired with Michael Bonallack in the Foursomes they beat Billy Joe Patton and Richard Sikes by 4&3. Murray then beat Deane Beman 3&1 in the opening game of the afternoon Singles. On a drier Day 2 the same foursomes pairings played again and this time the Americans prevailed by 1 Hole. Murray then lost to Patton in the Day 2 Singles by 3&2.  

Approaching 30 years old Stuart turned professional a few months after the Walker Cup pushed to a degree by changes in the amateur status rules. For 37 years he was attached to the Northamptonshire (1963-72) and Hendon (1972-2000) Golf Clubs in England. During this time he became a highly sought after teacher.

In early 1964 he received an invitation from Bobby Jones to  play in that year’s Masters. “It was a huge surprise at the time,” Stuart reflected later. “Bobby Jones was a hero. Everybody of my era was brought up with the great Jones. I never thought I’d get a letter from him inviting me to the Masters. I knew right away I wouldn’t go. I’d just a bought a house and it was a hell of a long trip in those days. Goodness knows how much the flight would have cost.….and I may have had to go by boat anyway. It’s the biggest regret I have in golf that I never got to go.”

Murray combined his club duties with attempts to qualify for elite level tournaments and, from 1972 onwards despite entering his 40’s, events on the newly created European Tour. He also played regularly in the Senior PGA Professional Championship and for a few years the PGA Super 60s which started in the early 1990’s. 

Stuart was predeceased by his wife Phyllis, who he married in 1957, and is survived by his sons, Iain and Alastair.

Additional Sources: The PGA Obituary, Jack Davidson’s Obituary in The Scotsman and Nick Rodger’s Obituary in The Herald 

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

147. Dr. Ed Updegraff Has Died Aged 100

26th December 2022

Dr. Edgar (Ed) Rice Updegraff, the former USA Walker Cup captain and player, sadly passed away at the age of 100 on Friday 23rd December 2022.

Dr. Ed Updegraff Receives The Bob Jones Award in 1999 (Photo: USGA)

Of German descent Updegraff was born on 1st March 1922 in Boone, Iowa. The family lived near to Boone G.&C.C. so it was natural that he would start to take an interest in the game, first caddying for his grandfather and then playing as a junior.

He showed early promise winning the 1938 Iowa state high school championship and three Northwest Amateurs (1940-’41-’47).

Updegraff earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State University and a medical degree from the University of Iowa in the 1940s. He then enlisted in the Navy, becoming a urologist at the Naval Hospital in Florida.

Attracted by the all year round golf in Arizona he moved to Tucson in 1951 to set up his medical practice and remained in the area for the rest of his life.

Updegraff won the Western Amateur in 1957 and 1959, the Sunnehanna Amateur in 1962 and the inaugural Pacific Coast Amateur in 1967, where he held off Hale Irwin and Johnny Miller. Since 2010 The Dr. Ed Updegraff Trophy has been presented to the winner of the Pacific Coast Amateur.

As one of their leading amateurs in the 1950s and ’60s he was selected to represent USA in three Walker Cup matches; at Turnberry G.C. in 1963 (won 8-12), at Baltimore C.C. 1965 (tied 11-11) and finally at Milwaukee C.C. in 1969 (won 13-11).

He won three, lost three and tied one of his seven games. The highlight being his 4&3 win against Joe Carr in the Day 2 Singles at Turnberry.

Ed captained the 1975 USA Walker Cup side to a 8.5-15.5 victory on the Old Course at St. Andrews. He was fortunate in that the USA team was exceptionally strong that year with Vinny Giles, Jay Haas, Gary Koch, Jerry Pate, Craig Stadler and Curtis Strange amongst his line-up.

Updegraff also participated in the short-lived America’s Cup golf team match contested by Canada, Mexico and USA between 1952 and 1967. He played in 1963 and captained in 1967 with USA winning both.

He played in 17 U.S. Amateur Championships during his career. His best finish came in 1969 at Oakmont C.C. when he ended up 7th during the short period when it was played as a 72-hole stroke-play competition.

Updegraff played in one Amateur Championship, the one held the week after the 1963 Walker Cup match. He lost by 1 Hole in the semi-finals at St. Andrews to the eventual champion Michael Lunt.

He also competed in six Masters Tournaments, with his best finish a tie for 44th in 1966.

Dr. Ed Updegraff Tees Off In January 1962 (Photo: Tucson Citizen)

Updegraff remained a lifelong amateur and continued to play to a high level well into his early 80’s. It is said that he shot his age over 2,500 times.

Aged 59 he won the 1981 U.S. Senior Amateur Championship defeating Dale Morey 2&1 in the 18-hole final at Seattle G.C. Updegraff also reached the final the following year at his home club, Tucson C.C., but this time lost out by 2 Holes to Alton Duhon.

He won 27 club championships at Tucson C.C., 12 Tucson City Amateurs and 5 Arizona Amateur titles.

Updegraff was inducted into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 1969. The Arizona Golf Association, of whom he was President in 1981-82, also honoured him by establishing The Ed Updegraff Award in 1990. It is given annually in recognition of those who, by their actions and accomplishments, exemplify the spirit of the game.

He was the recipient of the USGA’s highest honour, The Bob Jones Award, in 1991. This is awarded for distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Bill Campbell said in his nomination speech that “Whether winning or losing, he was the same unassuming, modest and courteous person, which is why his circle of good and lasting friends grew wider wherever he played. His dry wit adds to the fun of being with him, on and off the course.”

Dr. Ed Updegraff Bob Jones Award Video (Photo: Oregon Golf Association)

The Iowa Golf Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 2006.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

146. The R&A Announce A 19 Player Squad For The 2023 Walker Cup

16th December 2022

The R&A have announced an initial squad of 19 players for the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team to play the USA in the 49th Walker Cup match.

Here is a list of the players with their ages, golf clubs, nationalities and current world rankings (in alphabetical order): –

James ASHFIELD (21) – Delamere Forest, Wales
– SPWAR #204 / WAGR #195 *

Josh BERRY (17) – Doncaster, England
– SPWAR #199 / WAGR #960

Barclay BROWN (21) – Hallamshire / Stanford University – England
– SPWAR #80 / WAGR #34

Archie DAVIES (21) – Carlisle / East Tennessee State University – Wales
– SPWAR #64 / WAGR #65

Arron EDWARDS-HILL (23) – Chelmsford – England
– SPWAR #37 / WAGR #135

Hugh FOLEY (25) – Royal Dublin – Ireland
– SPWAR #62 / WAGR #142

John GOUGH (24) – Beaconsfield – England
– SPWAR #25 / WAGR #20

Connor GRAHAM (16) – Blairgowrie – Scotland
– SPWAR #146 / WAGR #249

Josh HILL (18) – Trump International Dubai – England
– SPWAR #322 / WAGR #55

Frank KENNEDY (17) – Trump National Jupiter – England
– SPWAR #274 / WAGR #127

Matthew MCCLEAN (29) – Malone – Ireland
– SPWAR #53 / WAGR #75

Robert MORAN (23) – Castle – Ireland
– SPWAR #70 / WAGR #101

Liam NOLAN (22) – Galway – Ireland
– SPWAR #135 / WAGR #335

Peter O’KEEFFE (41) – Douglas – Ireland
– SPWAR #155 / WAGR #298

Mark POWER (22) – Kilkenny / Wake Forest University – Ireland
– SPWAR #233 / WAGR #125

Calum SCOTT (19) – Nairn / Texas Tech. University – Scotland
– SPWAR #49 / WAGR #59

Dylan SHAW-RADFORD (17) – Huddersfield – England
– SPWAR #318 / WAGR #360

Harley SMITH (17) – The Rayleigh Club – England
– SPWAR #154 / WAGR #255

Tyler WEAVER (17) – Bury St Edmunds – England
– SPWAR #309 / WAGR #477

* Amateur rankings as at 16th December 2022.

Nine players from England, six from Ireland and two each from Scotland and Wales have been selected.

Barclay Brown and Mark Power are both aiming to play in their second Walker Cup having previously been selected at Seminole in 2021.

The final ten-man GB&I team will be announced in August just a few weeks before the match starts.

Whilst there are no major surprises in this squad announcement players who may consider themselves unlucky not to be included, assuming they haven’t unbeknown to me expressed an intention to turn pro shortly, include (in alphabetical order):-

Jack BIGHAM (ENG) – SPWAR #339 / WAGR #308

Jack BROOKS (ENG) – SPWAR #124 / WAGR #423

Paul CONROY (IRL) – SPWAR #162 / WAGR #724

Charlie CROCKETT (ENG) – SPWAR #161 / WAGR #421

Sam EASTERBROOK (ENG) – SPWAR #259 / WAGR #907

Will HOPKINS (ENG) – SPWAR #217 / WAGR #625

Alex MAGUIRE (IRL) – SPWAR #137 / WAGR #486

Gregor TAIT (SCO) – SPWAR #179 / WAGR #763

GB&I captain Stuart Wilson said, “We have selected a talented group of players who are key to our preparations for the Walker Cup and share our determination to win back the trophy from the United States of America.”

We will be getting together in St Andrews so that the players can really get to grips with the Old Course, understand its subtleties and learn from those individuals who have vast experience of the links.”

Our aim is to select a team which will give us the best chance of winning the match next year. In that regard, we will continue to monitor the players’ performances in amateur events over the coming months and provide them with support and advice. There is also still time for golfers not included in the squad to play their way into our plans and we will be keeping a close eye on their results too.”

The 2023 match is scheduled to be played on the Old Course in St. Andrews on the weekend of  2nd – 3rd September.

The second Walker Cup match, and first in Great Britain, was played on the Old Course on 18th and 19th May 1923 so the forthcoming fixture will mark the anniversary of this occasion.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

145. Sixteen Players Selected For USA 2023 Walker Cup Practice Session

15th November 2022

The USGA’s International Team Selection Committee announced today that it had invited 16 players to attend a USA Walker Cup practice session on 15-18 December 2022 in Jupiter, Florida.

The following players have accepted invitations: –

Evan BECK, 32, of Virginia Beach, VA (Wake Forest, 2013 graduate)
– SPWAR #171 / WAGR #66 *

Michael BRENNAN, 20, of Leesburg, VA (Wake Forest, junior)
– SPWAR #29 / WAGR #18

David FORD, 20, of Peachtree Corners, GA (North Carolina, sophomore)
– SPWAR #5 / WAGR #7

Nicholas GABRELCIK, 20, of Trinity, FL (North Florida, junior)
– SPWAR #12 / WAGR #9

Stewart HAGESTAD, 31, of Newport Beach, CA (South. Cal., 2013 grad.)
– SPWAR #118 / WAGR #8

Derek HITCHNER, 23, of Minneapolis, MN (Pepperdine, grad. student)
– SPWAR #20 / WAGR #36

Palmer JACKSON, 21, of Murrysville, PA (Notre Dame, senior)
– SPWAR #30 / WAGR #43

Benjamin JAMES, 17, of Milford, CT (Virginia, freshman)
– SPWAR #33 / WAGR #21

Bryce LEWIS, 22, of Hendersonville, TN (Tennessee, junior)
– SPWAR #17 / WAGR #30

Dylan MENANTE, 21, of Carlsbad, CA (North Carolina, senior)
– SPWAR #9 / WAGR #6

Maxwell MOLDOVAN, 20, of Uniontown, OH (Ohio State, junior)
– SPWAR #11 / WAGR #23

Gordon SARGENT, 19, of Birmingham, AL (Vanderbilt, sophomore)
– SPWAR #4 / WAGR #3

Cole SHERWOOD, 20, of Austin, TX (Vanderbilt, junior)
– SPWAR #18 / WAGR #12

Ross STEELMAN, 21, of Atlanta, GA (Georgia Tech, senior)
– SPWAR #14 / WAGR #22

Caleb SURRATT, 18, of Indian Trail, NC (Tennessee, freshman)
– SPWAR #3 / WAGR #13

Michael THORBJORNSEN, 21, of Wellesley, MA (Stanford, junior)
– SPWAR #1 / WAGR #4

Stewart Hagestad, the 2016 and 2021 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, is the only player with previous Walker Cup experience (in 2017, 2019, 2021) to be attending the practice session.

Notable omissions include William MOUW (SPWAR #6 / WAGR #15), Austen GREASER (SPWAR #7 / WAGR #5), Sam BENNETT (SPWAR #8 / WAGR #2), Travis VICK (SPWAR #15 / WAGR #10) Kelly CHINN (SPWAR #19 / WAGR #90), Ben CARR (SPWAR #21 / WAGR #56), Ricky CASTILLO (SPWAR #27 / WAGR #24) and John BUTLER (SPWAR #28 / WAGR #39). These players are expected to turn pro once the college season has been completed in May 2023 and all are believed to have excused themselves.

The arrival of LIV Golf, who have shown an interest in signing up top amateurs,  and subsequent changes to the PGA Tour University programme, which is now offering the No. 1 college player direct access to the PGA Tour after the conclusion of the NCAA Div. I Championship, are both expected to accentuate the above issue, particularly where graduated seniors are concerned.

USA Team Practice Session (Graphic: USGA)

Mike McCoy, captain of the 2023 USA Team, said “The young golf talent in this country is impressive, and I’m thrilled to gather with this group for a practice session next month. We have a strong list of young men attending; a mixture of seasoned veterans as well as up-and-coming stalwarts of the amateur game. I’m excited to spend more time with this group.”

John Bodenhamer, USGA chief championships officer, said “This serves as another step in the process of team selection and is an opportunity for all involved to become more familiar with each other and begin to build team camaraderie. These decorated amateurs represent a talented group of potential team members, but we expect others will also be considered as the selection process moves toward its conclusion.”

Picking up on this final point 10 of the 16 players from the December 2020 USA practice session competed in the May 2021 match at Seminole whilst 7 of the 16 players who attended the December 2018 practice session made the final USA Team for the 2019 match at Royal Liverpool.

The 49th Match will be played on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland on 2nd-3rd September 2023.

* Amateur rankings as at 15th November 2022.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

144. Chicago G.C. To Host The 2036 Walker Cup Match

1st November 2022

The USGA has announced that the 2036 Walker Cup match will be played at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Illinois.

Chicago Golf Club (Photo: USGA / Fred Vuich)

The USGA made the announcement alongside confirmation that Chicago would also be staging the 2033 U.S. Women’s Open.

Founded in 1892 and one of the five founding member clubs of the USGA Chicago G.C. has previously hosted 12 USGA championships, namely the U.S. Open (1897, 1900 and 1911); U.S. Amateur (1897, 1905, 1909 and 1912); U.S. Women’s Amateur (1903); Walker Cup (1928 and 2005); U.S. Senior Amateur (1979) and U.S. Senior Women’s Open (2018).

USA won both of the Walker Cup matches played at Chicago G.C.; 11-1 in 1928 and 12½-11½ in 2005 to reclaim the Cup after three straight defeats.

“Hosting the best players in the world – men, women, amateur and professional – for USGA events is a point of pride for our club and a significant part of our long history,” said Herb Getz, Chicago Golf Club president. “We very much look forward to building upon that history and continuing our valued partnership with the USGA on an even larger stage well into the future.”

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

143. Dr. David Marsh Has Died Aged 88

20th August 2022

Dr. David Max Marsh MBE, the former Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup captain and player, has sadly passed away at the age of 88.

David was first selected for the GB&I Walker Cup team in 1959. However, captain Gerald Micklem chose not to select him in either of the then two 36-hole series of games. Marsh, who was in the middle of University exams at the time and had played little golf prior to the contest, was not overly displeased by the decision.

His second Walker Cup appearance in 1971 proved to be far more memorable. GB&I defeated the USA at St Andrews 13-11 for only their second win in the history of the match and first since 1938. Marsh played in three of the four series, winning one foursomes (with George Macgregor) but losing the second (with captain Michael Bonallack) before delivering a famous singles win on the final afternoon. Playing in the penultimate game against Bill Hyndman, and the final one out on the course, he found himself 1Up on the 17th tee. He then played what Donald Steel described as “one of the finest single strokes in the history of the Walker Cup”, a 3-iron onto the Road Hole green. A par there and another on the 18th saw him maintain his lead and secure a full point for the team.

David Marsh Competing In The 1971 Walker Cup Match (Photo: Cowpar/Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

David captained the GB&I Walker Cup team in 1973 and 1975. In 1973 a determined USA team won back the trophy 14-10 at The Country Club in Brookline. Marsh’s luck didn’t improve next time out either with the American’s fielding one of their strongest teams ever at St.Andrew’s in 1975 and running out easy 15.5-8.5 victors.

Marsh first represented GB&I in 1958 in the St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe, helping his side to a 10-5 away success at Golf de Saint-Cloud in France.

His greatest individual performances came in the English Amateur Championship which he won in 1964 at Hollinwell, beating Rodney Foster by 1 Hole in the Final, and in 1970 at Royal Birkdale, where he overcame S. Geoff Birtwell 6&4.

He represented England on 75 occasions, including being a member of the victorious European Amateur Team Championship side in 1971. He was also a member of nine winning English Men’s Home International Teams (1957-58-59-60-64-65-66-68-69).

He played in 13 Amateur Championships between 1957-73 winning 24 of his 37 matches. No doubt he will have been disappointed not to have got beyond the Last 16 which he did twice; in 1957 at Formby and also in 1971 at Carnoustie.

In addition to his numerous playing achievements Marsh also made a significant contribution to the administration of the game. He was a Past Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (1990-91), a former President of England Golf (1988), a former President of Lancashire Golf Union (1985-86) and Past Captain at his home club Southport & Ainsdale (1967). He was Chairman of the R&A Selection Committee between 1979-83.

David Marsh – Past Captain of The R&A G.C. of St. Andrews.

He was awarded the Gerald Micklem Award by England Golf in 1998 and an MBE in the 2011 New Year’s Honours List, both for outstanding service to amateur golf.

Marsh was born in Southport on 29th April 1934 and educated at King George V Grammar School and Cambridge University, where he captained the golf team. He went on to be Captain of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society in 1998 before becoming its President in 2003.

David also made a number of notable contributions to life away from the golf course. He was keen rugby union player for Southport R.F.C. in the 1950s, a popular and successful GP in Kirkby in his working life, a staunch supporter of Claire House Hospice on the Wirral and perhaps most interestingly a Director (1988-97) and Chairman of Everton Football Club (1991-94). 

He leaves a second wife, Katy, and three children, Simon, Nigel and Fiona. His first wife Jennifer died in 2001.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

142. GB&I Win The 2022 St. Andrews Trophy Match

25th July 2022

The 33rd St. Andrews Trophy match was played on Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd July at Penati Golf Resort in Slovakia.

The St. Andrews Trophy is played biennially in alternate years to the Walker Cup and like it’s ‘big brother’ consists of match play foursomes and singles games contested over two days in a team format.

Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) beat Continent of Europe 14.5-10.5, regaining the trophy that had been lost in 2018.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 match was cancelled with Royal Porthcawl G.C deferring it’s hosting until July 2024.

Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Mark POWER (IRL) and Calum SCOTT (SCO) were all unbeaten for GB&I in Slovakia.

Whilst all GB&I team victories should be valued and enjoyed it is important to put this one in context. Sadly the European Golf Association again struggled to attract their very best players to the match and therefore the opposition was far from top draw. None of this year’s team were in the SPWAR’s Continent of Europe top 10 and surprisingly just four were in the current top 30.

Great Britain & Ireland Team (Photo: EGA / The R&A)

The R&A Selection Committee, including Non-Playing Captain Stuart WILSON, announced GB&I’s nine man team for the match on 12th July.

With just over 400 days to go until the next Walker Cup this gives players – and interested observers – a strong indication of where they stand and how the potential GB&I team is shaping up.

Here is a list of the selected players, their current Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and their GB&I regional position in this ranking.

Sam BAIRSTOW (aged 24) – England #3 (1st)

Barclay BROWN (21) – England #54 (5th)

Archie DAVIES (21) – Wales #72 (7th)

John GOUGH (24) – England #13 (2nd)

Arron EDWARDS-HILL (23) – England #42 (3rd)

Matthew MCCLEAN (29) – Ireland #59 (6th)

Robert MORAN (23) – Ireland #52 (4th)

Mark POWER (22) – Ireland #193 (20th)

Calum SCOTT (19) – Scotland #74 (8th)

The Non-Travelling Reserves were James ASHFIELD (21) – Wales #175 (19th) and Olly HUGGINS (24) – England #126 (15th).

There were again no surprises in the selection and I would have picked the same nine players myself.

Captain Wilson’s foursomes pairings were a little surprising on both days as he chose to mix up the nations. The GB&I norm is for players from the same country to play together. John Gough (ENG) played with Rob Moran (IRL) on Day 1 and then Archie Davies (WAL) on Day 2. Sam Bairstow (ENG) & Matthew McClean (IRL), Mark Power (IRL) & Barclay Brown (ENG) and Arron Edwards-Hill (ENG) & Calum Scott (SCO) were paired on both days. Whilst GB&I were fortunate to come out of the first foursomes series with a 1.5-1.5 result they comfortably won the second one 3-1 so the choices were a success overall.

It will be interesting to see how many of these players are still amateur in a year’s time and, if they are, whether they have maintained their form sufficiently to be selected for our 2023 Walker Cup team at St. Andrews.

Conor Purcell (IRL) was the only player to play in both the 2018 St. Andrew Trophy and 2019 Walker Cup matches. Six of the former team turned professional before the end of 2018 thus ruling themselves out of the Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool G.C. in the following September.

For more detail on thIS St. Andrews Trophy match please take a look at my preview and report on GolfBible – The St. Andrews Trophy Match – 2022 Preview & Results

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

141. Walker Cup Moves To Even Years From 2026

21st March 2022

The R&A and the USGA have announced that the Walker Cup match will be contested in even years from 2026 onwards.

The 49th Walker Cup match will be contested in September 2023 at St Andrews and the 50th at Cypress Point in September 2025.

The R&A had not yet announced their 2027 venue but given that this match has now been brought forward to 2026 a statement in this regard can be expected shortly.

The above calendar change means the USGA has confirmed that the matches previously scheduled by them for Bandon Dunes in 2029 and Oakmont Country Club in 2033 will now be played in 2028 and 2032 respectively.The move has been driven by the International Golf Federation moving the World Amateur Team Championship to odd years from 2023, a decision which was announced in 2020. This was in turn caused by golf returning to the Summer Olympic Games schedule in 2016 and now taking place in even years.

Phil Anderton, Chief Development Officer at The R&A, said, “We believe that this change creates the best schedule for the players and for the Walker Cup match itself. The Walker Cup is at the forefront of men’s amateur golf and we want to ensure that its status is reflected in its position in the golfing calendar.”

“This is just the next step as we make sure team competitions have a balanced schedule and in this case, encourage participation by the world’s best amateurs without unnecessary conflict,” said John Bodenhamer, Chief Championships Officer at USGA.ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

140. Mike McCoy and Nathan Smith Named US Captains

9th March 2022

The USGA has announced the selections of Mike McCoy and Nathan Smith as USA Team captains for the 2023 and 2025 Walker Cup matches respectively.

McCoy, 59, is from Des Moines, Iowa where he works in the insurance industry. He played in the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes where he became the third-oldest Walker Cup competitor in history aged 52. He won the 2013 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, becoming the second-oldest champion in the event’s history at age 50. He has competed in a total of 65 USGA championships, including 20 U.S. Amateurs during his career.

Nathan Smith and Mike McCoy (Photo: USGA)

Smith, 43, is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He played in three Walker Cups in 2009, 2011 and 2013. He has won a record four U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships (2003, 2009, 2010, 2012) as well as the inaugural 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, with partner Todd White. He has competed in 48 USGA championships in his career.

The 49th match will be played on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland on 2nd-3rd September 2023 whilst the 50th match will take place at Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California, USA on 6th-7th September 2025.

“Both Mike and Nathan have long, exceptional histories with the USGA and outstanding amateur golf resumes,” said Stu Francis, USGA president. “Given the historic nature of the next two matches being staged at St. Andrews and Cypress Point, we wanted to give both of them the time to enjoy this leadership opportunity and plan their next few years accordingly.”

This is the first time the USGA has announced two captains concurrently. It is also the first time since the early 1990s that a USA captain will not have been awarded a two match term of office. Back then Vinny Giles (1993 only) followed Jim Gabrielsen (1991, although he had previously done the job in 1981 too).

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

139. Oakmont C.C. To Host The 2032 Walker Cup Match

11th August 2021

The USGA has announced that the 2032* 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, except for Augusta National Golf Club, the permanent home of The Masters. 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.”

*On 21st March 2022 The R&A and USGA announced that the Walker Cup match would move to even years from 2026 to avoid future conflicts with the World Amateur Team Championships, which will be played in odd years beginning in 2023. The USGA had already announced its venues for 2029 and 2033 at this point so these two matches were brought forward by a year.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

138. Bandon Dunes To Host The 2028 Walker Cup Match

20th July 2021

The USGA has announced that the 2028* 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.”

*On 21st March 2022 The R&A and USGA announced that the Walker Cup match would move to even years from 2026 to avoid future conflicts with the World Amateur Team Championships, which will be played in odd years beginning in 2023. The USGA had already announced its venues for 2029 and 2033 at this point so these two matches were brought forward by a year.

ME.

Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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 © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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 © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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 © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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 © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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 © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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 © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.