19th March 2021
With 50 days to go until the 2021 Walker Cup match starts at Seminole G.C. here are the 10 players I would currently select for the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team.
In the spirit of fairness I have tried to find a balance between players who have been performing well overseas and those that have been unable to play due to the COVID-19 pandemic but were previously trending towards selection.
My selection is primarily an objective one based on playing results, preferably recent as I would prefer a ‘match fit’ team. I do not know the players well enough to take into account personalities and team dynamics which I accept would be a part of a wider selection decision.
On 20th October 2020 I wrote an article entitled ‘My Current GB&I Team And Squad With 200 Days To Go’ which listed the leading 20 players at that time. I have assessed all 20 players again.
This is not a prediction of what The R&A Selection Committee will do. Indeed if it were a few names would be different, particularly as the Chairman Pádraig Hogan has publically stated they will automatically be including the two highest ranked WAGR players at the end of March.
I have included extracts from each player’s SPWAR and WAGR playing records so you can view their form and results for yourself. Unfortunately due to some recent IT issues the SPWAR is still catching up on some events in March. I consider the SPWAR to be far more accurate so always favour it’s ranking over that of WAGR.
Here are my leading 10 players: –
1. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) ⇑18
SPWAR #24 / WAGR #24
I didn’t pick Alex for my 2019 team (which he made) and back in October I had him in 19th place in my 2021 team list. All I’ve ever wanted was results to back up his longstanding reputation as a great prospect. I have been pleased to see that he’s consistently delivered them over the last 6 months. With two wins, including this week’s Valspar Collegiate (not yet shown in the tables below), the in form Wake Forest man has separated himself from the pack.
Alex Fitzpatrick – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Alex Fitzpatrick – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
2. Mark POWER (IRL) ⇑1
SPWAR #44 / WAGR #28
Mark enjoyed a strong summer back home playing very well in the Amateur Championship and Brabazon Trophy. He has continued to play well for Wake Forest on the US College circuit in his sophomore year and finished T16 in the Valspar Collegiate this week (not shown below). He has plenty of match play experience representing Ireland and GB&I in boys and men’s tournaments.
Mark Power – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Mark Power – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
3. Jack DYER (ENG) ⇑11
SPWAR #31 / WAGR #238
Jack has backed up his good summer on the British amateur circuit by performing very well in South Africa in recent months. To feature prominently in five big events over there, including medalist and runner-up honours in the South African Amateur Championship, gives me a lot of confidence. I have a much higher regard for South African golf and golfers than the WAGR does. He offers what few other GB&I potential players can at the moment – U.S. experience from his college days (the first two years of which were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), recent match play results and competitive form.
Jack Dyer – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Jack Dyer – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
4. Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) ⇑6
SPWAR #63 / WAGR #31
Ben secured his place in my team with his T11 result at the Jones Cup in February which showed he had lost none of his ability or competitive spirit during the COVID-19 lock down. He has been one of our better players since 2019 and deserves his chance on the biggest stage in May.
Ben Schmidt – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Ben Schmidt – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
5. Joe LONG (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #18 / WAGR #47
Joe returned to South Africa again during the winter. After a couple of disappointing European Tour pro events in late 2020 he only played in one of the South African amateur events where he was disqualified. As the reigning Amateur champion and on the back of an impressive couple of seasons he must be selected for the GB&I team but his lack of recent outings are a concern. We will see where his game is when he takes up his Masters invitation at Augusta in a few weeks time.
Joe Long – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Joe Long – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
6. Matty LAMB (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #90 / WAGR #86
Matty proved to be one of our better players in 2020 when play recommenced after lockdown winning both the Tillman Trophy and North of England Amateur. It was encouraging to see him also perform well against a strong field at the Jones Cup in February. With a 2021 EuroPro Tour card already earned he deserves his Walker Cup amateur send off.
Matty Lamb – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Matty Lamb – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
7. John MURPHY (IRL) ⇑13
SPWAR #76 / WAGR #117
John has played his way on to my team on the back of his T6 at the Jones Cup and continued solid play for Louisville University. Not shown below he also finished 2nd at the V1 Sports General Hackler Invitational in South Carolina this week. If he can follow that up with another solid outing at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational in Florida on 28-29 March the experienced Irishman must be worth a go.
John Murphy – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
John Murphy – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
8. Jake BOLTON (ENG) ⇓2
SPWAR #58 / WAGR #59
Limited competitive action in 2021 has seen Jake slide a little but for me it would be unfair for him to miss out on the Walker Cup team due to the pandemic. Since winning the Scottish Open Amateur in 2019 Jake has played consistently well. He reached the semi-finals of the Amateur and South African Amateur Championships last year and also has two top 5’s finishes to his name in Florida in recent years which bode well for him.
Jake Bolton – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Jake Bolton – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
9. Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) ⇓5
SPWAR #95 / WAGR #41
Angus performed very well in the Western Amateur last summer – 72 hole medalist honours there shows his class – and has a number of recent wins in Minnesota where he continues to study. He now has lots of experience in big events but would help his case further with the men that matter if he could produce a top 10 for the Gophers in The Goodwin event in California next week.
Angus Flanagan – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Angus Flanagan – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
10. Barclay BROWN (ENG) ⇓3
SPWAR #70 / WAGR #133
Barclay produced a string of fine results in the English Amateur, the Brabazon Trophy and The Amateur last summer. Whilst he hasn’t quite made his mark at Stanford yet, not always making their starting line up, he is playing regularly in the U.S. and hopefully his T5 at Bandon Dunes in early March will boost his confidence. He may still need a high finish in the Cardinal’s home event, The Goodwin, on 25-27 March to seal the deal.
Barclay Brown – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Barclay Brown – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
Looking at the rest of the players I originally selected in my 20 man squad: –
11. Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) ⇑2
SPWAR #118 / WAGR #108
A well known name and reputation but are the recent results really there to justify his selection after a positive Winter 2020 touring Australia and South Africa ? Whether relevant or not I was also disappointed to read in a Golf channel article in December that he had chosen not to complete his school exams and in the process had chosen to forego his 2021 scholarship to the University of Florida. Tom’s playing in the Azalea Invitational this week in South Carolina and hopefully can get that good 2021 finish under his belt.
Tom McKibbin – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Tom McKibbin – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
12. Sandy SCOTT (SCO) ⇓4
SPWAR #216 / WAGR #6
Sandy was GB&I’s star player in the 2019 match at Hoylake and has huge amounts of experience. However, accepting he has been playing an elite schedule for Texas Tech, his results haven’t been good enough to make my 2021 line up. Worse still he hasn’t played competitively since 18th October having injured his wrist during Round 1 of the Maridoe Collegiate invitational. He is due to make his comeback around now following minor surgery. Texas Tech are scheduled to play in the Old Waverley Collegiate in Mississipi on 26-28 March. It won’t be easy for him to make his university team, who have been doing well in his absence, but let’s hope he’s fit enough to give it a go. He may be our highest ranked player in the WAGR but sadly that says more about its accuracy than it does about his current standing.
Sandy Scott – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Sandy Scott – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
13. Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) ⇓8
SPWAR #79 / WAGR #111
I thought Haider was very unlucky not to be included in the formal R&A Squad given his 2020 results which were arguably as good collectively as anyone else’s. Unfortunately he hasn’t appeared since the European Amateur last September so has fallen down the pecking order.
Haider Hussain – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Haider Hussain – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
14. Ben JONES (ENG) ⇓5
SPWAR #52 / WAGR #42
In my opinion Ben should have been selected in 2019 but his case for inclusion this time is weaker. I had him 9th in October but his late withdrawal from the Jones Cup and his lack of action in recent months means I reluctantly can’t find a place for him.
Ben Jones – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Ben Jones – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
15. Olly HUGGINS (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #105 / WAGR #134
Olly enjoyed a good 2020 season and must have been close to inclusion in the official R&A squad. However, the pandemic has snookered him in 2021 and by not finding any competitive action has now missed the chance to play at Seminole.
Olly Huggins – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
Olly Huggins – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
16. Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG) ⇓4
SPWAR #116 / WAGR #222
Arron is another very good English player who has performed consistently well for a few years now. He has recently played in the Spanish International Amateur and in a few events on the Evolve Pro Tour but sadly another one who has been deprived of the chance to make a run at the team in 2021.
Arron Edwards-Hill – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Arron Edwards-Hill – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
17. Joe PAGDIN (ENG) ⇑1
SPWAR #169 / WAGR #91
I was really hoping our resident Floridian could make this 2021 GB&I team. Joe has an excellent match play record and massive potential but unfortunately hasn’t been able to make a big enough impression in his freshman year at the University of Florida. Sadly the Gators had to withdrawal from this week’s Tiger Invitational due to a positive COVID-19 test within their golf program thus depriving him of a timely playing opportunity.
Joe Pagdin – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Joe Pagdin – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
18. Callan BARROW (ENG) ⇓1
SPWAR #169 / WAGR #427
Callan had a good 2020 but has been unable to play any events in 2021 so like a few others has slipped out of the picture.
Callan Barrrow – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Callan Barrrow – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
19. Jack COPE (ENG) ⇓3
SPWAR #197 / WAGR #613
After a long spell on the sidelines Jack came back well in 2020 culminating in a commanding win at Woodhall Spa in the English Amateur and a top 10 in the subsequent Brabazon Trophy. No events since last September means he has sadly not had the opportunity before this year’s match to build on his comeback season.
Jack Cope – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Jack Cope – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
20. Callum FARR (ENG) ⇓3
SPWAR #185 / WAGR #129
English International Callum is a consistent performer and has a number of high finishes in match play events over the years but hasn’t done enough to make the GB&I 2021 team. Sadly failed to make an impression in the Jones Cup his only event in the last 6 months.
Callum Farr – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Callum Farr – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
Caolan Rafferty wasn’t in my 20 man squad in October but his high WAGR means he is worthy of further comment in this article.
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) N/a
SPWAR #109 / WAGR #22
Caolan suffered a thumb injury in 2020 and his strict adherence to the COVID-19 travel guidance in Ireland saw him miss out on all of the major British events last summer. He played in the rescheduled Arnold Palmer Cup at Bay Hill in December having originally been selected for the International Team in March 2020. I like Caolan and he was my 2nd pick for the 2019 match at Hoylake but his lack of action must go against him this year.
Caolan Rafferty – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Caolan Rafferty – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
It would be wrong of me not to mention in passing Dan BRADBURY (ENG) SPWAR #152 / WAGR #99 and Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) SPWAR #131 / WAGR 361 who have both been playing well on the US College circuit in 2020/21. Enrique’s Florida Athletic University is about 60 miles south of Seminole G.C.
Appendix 1 – World Amateur Rankings – Top 20 GB&I Players on 18th March 2021
Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking – SPWAR
World Amateur Golf Ranking – WAGR
The Walker Cup match is being played on 8-9th May at Seminole GC in Florida.
The actual GB&I squad is being selected in the week commencing 29th March with an announcement expected in early April. In such a difficult year it will be interesting to see who the Selection Committee opt for.
Copyright © Mark Eley. All rights reserved.