105. James Sugrue Wins The Amateur Championship

27th June 2019

James SUGRUE (22) won the 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock G.C. last Saturday, becoming the 8th Irish winner in the process.

He beat Scotland’s Euan WALKER (23) by 2 Holes in a Final which went the full 36 holes.

Sugrue (22) made a dream start leading by 5Up after the opening nine holes. Walker then settled into the match and set about whittling down the lead he had partially gifted his opponent. He had reduced the deficit to 3Down by lunch and finally achieved parity on the 34th hole of the match. Inexplicably he then played two poor holes allowing the steadier Irishman to collect the Championship trophy in front of a large group of delighted home supporters.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Sugrue said “It is hard to believe really. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable. Everything that comes with the win and all the crowds that were out there, it’s incredible.”

On his run to the final James also beat Harry Hall (2 Holes), Christopher Palsson (1 Hole), Sergio Parriego Cornejo (5&3), Koen Kouwenaar (19th) and David Micheluzzi (3&1).

James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes /  Getty Images)

The big hitting Corkman who plays his golf at Mallow now becomes exempt for The Open Championship, U.S. Amateur, The Masters and U.S. Open over the next 12 months.

He is now also assured of a place in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team which will face USA at Royal Liverpool G.C. in September.

This win lifted him to 43rd in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and 68th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Sugrue was already a member of the 2019 GB&I Walker Cup initial squad and was enjoying a steady season posting a number of top 20 finishes. His previous biggest win was the 2017 South of Ireland Amateur played at Lahinch G.C. James should be a good addition to the team as he is strong links player and has a good match play record.

In addition to the finalists, Sugrue and Walker, a number of other players did well at Portmarnock.

Tom PLUMB ENG (-4) was medalist in The Amateur’s Stroke Play Qualifying competition. Sandy SCOTT SCO (-3) finished 3rd, Harry HALL ENG (-2) tied 4th, Caolan RAFFERTY IRE, David LANGLEY ENG and Jake BOLTON ENG (all -1) T6 and Eanna GRIFFIN IRE and Joe PAGDIN ENG (both Ev) tied 11th.

In the Match Play stage Ben JONES ENG reached the Semi-Finals, Sandy SCOTT SCO and Ronan MULLARNEY IRE the Quarter Finals and Matty LAMB ENG and Bailey GILL ENG the Last 16.

To read more about this Championship please read my Golf Bible article – The Amateur Championship – 2019 Preview, Reports & Results

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Recent Brabazon Trophy winner Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) continued his good form by picking up the Boys’ Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters title at Nizels G.&C.C.

Ben posted rounds of 66, 71, 71 and 70 for a 278 (-10) total and a 5-shot victory over fellow English prospect Max HOPKINS.

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Regional Qualifying for the 148th Open Championship took place on Monday 24th June at 13 venues across GB&I.

9 of the 13 competitions were won by amateur players with a total of 50 amateurs progressing to Final Qualifying on the day. More earned Reserve status and will follow as the four fields are finalised in the coming days.

Here are a list of some of the more notable qualifiers in the context of the Walker Cup: –

Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) – 1st 68 -3 at Alwoodley
Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) – T3 70 -1 at Alwoodley
Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) – 1st 65 -7 at Berwick-upon-Tweed
Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) – T1 65 -7 at Burhill
Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) – 4th 67 -5 at Burhill
Tom MCKIBBIN (IRE) – T4 68 -4 at County Louth
Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) – T4 68 -4 at County Louth
Tom PLUMB (ENG) – T8 70 -2 at Frilford Heath
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) – 1st 65 -7 at Minchinhampton

Other amateurs have exemptions into Final Qualifying so I anticipate there being well over 60 players to follow next Tuesday.

There is more information on the amateurs at Regional and Final Qualifying on my Golf Bible website.

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The GB&I selectors will shortly be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad for the next training gathering at Royal Liverpool G.C.

Here is my assessment of how the original 26 and other players who have emerged over the last two months will fare when the announcement is presumably made next week. In my defence I don’t have the results of the European Amateur Championship which finishes on Saturday to help me.

I have listed the players as I see their current form and my selection order: –

Current Team (if picked today)
Euan WALKER – Scotland
Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland
Harry HALL – England
James SUGRUE – Ireland
Sandy SCOTT – Scotland
Conor PURCELL – Ireland
Thomas PLUMB – England
Ben JONES – England
Jake BURNAGE – England
Tom SLOMAN – England

July Squad Member
Bailey GILL – England
Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW
Matty LAMB – England NEW
Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW
David LANGLEY – England NEW
Ronan MULLARNEY – Ireland NEW
Alex FITZPATRICK – England

Dropped From Squad
Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland
Robin WILLIAMS – England
David HAGUE – England
Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland
Joseph PAGDIN – England
John MURPHY – Ireland
Mark POWER – Ireland
Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland
Jamie STEWART – Scotland
Jake HAPGOOD – Wales
Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales
Tom THURLOWAY – England
Conor GOUGH – England
Archie DAVIES – Wales

ME.

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

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64. Scott Gregory: The Walker Cup Conundrum

7th July 2017

At the end of my News Article ‘61. Alfie Plant Wins The European Amateur’ dated 2nd July 2017 I floated a potential Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup Team based solely on 2017 performances to date.

I named 10 players but mentioned 13 in total who had all enjoyed strong golfing year’s. Scott GREGORY (ENG) was not one of them.

Yesterday I received the following Comment to this Article and my team selection from Mike Gregory, Scott’s Dad: –

“You leave out Scott Gregory who was Amateur Champion last year and NSW Amateur Champion this year, plus experience of playing in 3 Majors plus Memorial. Also currently 6 in the world. Would you really leave him out?”

My answer is ‘Yes’ Mr. Gregory I would – at least at the moment.

Let me explain in detail because Scott Gregory has the potential to be one of the GB&I selectors’ biggest dilemma’s.

The first thing to say is I do have some empathy with Mike’s view. Scott is clearly a very good player and his 2016 Amateur Championship victory was an outstanding achievement, one I would certainly rate more highly than playing in any Walker Cup. He has also represented both GB&I and England in recent years and has always done well. There is no question he has a strong match play pedigree and would be an experienced and competitive member of our Walker Cup team if called upon.

My position is not in any way meant as a criticism of Scott but simply a reflection of the fact I currently believe there are 10 more deserving players based on 2017 form and results. If the Walker Cup had been last year he would have strolled selection. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t.

Scott Gregory (Photo: Andrew Griffin)

Scott’s problem in my eyes is his 2016 Amateur win has proven to be something of a poisoned chalice when it comes to the 2017 amateur golf season and in turn the Walker Cup selection debate.

Here is a list of Scott’s events and results this year: –

03-07/1/17   Australian Master of the Amateurs – 81 75 76 75 T59
17-18/1/17   Australian Amateur SP Qualifying – 69 75 +2 T12
19-22/1/17   Australian Amateur MP – Lost to Kevin Yuan (AUS) in Rd 3
24-27/1/17   Avondale Amateur Medal – 70 69 73 71 -1 21st
30-31/1/17   New South Wales Amateur SP Qualifying – 69 69 -6 T3
01-03/2/17   New South Wales MP – 5 rounds Champion
28/3/17   Georgia Cup – beat Curtis Luck 19th hole Won
06-09/4/17   The Masters (Pro) – 82 75 MC
29-30/4/17   England v. Spain – Foursomes W1 L1 / Singles W1 L1
04-07/5/17   Lytham Trophy – 80 72 MC
10-14/5/17   Irish Amateur Open – 75 75 73 72 T26
29-04/6/17   The Memorial Tournament (Pro) – 76 72 MC
15-18/6/17   The US Open Championship (Pro) – 75 73 MC
28-01/7/17   European Amateur Championship – 71 74 66 71 T32
04/7/17  The Open Final Qualifying (Royal Cinque Ports) – 71 71 T7 DNQ

I am sure Scott will have benefitted from playing in two Major’s, as well as in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, but he has missed the cut in all of them. If he had a made a cut in one of these, like a number of the potential US Walker Cup players did, then I would be pleased to view these collective performances more positively.

Scott did win the New South Wales Medal (NSW) in early February. Any overseas win is impressive and this one had a match play element too. However, the NSW Medal sits outside the Top 50 amateur golf events in the world and as such the field wasn’t of the very highest quality.

Save for Scott’s match play win over 2016 US Amateur champion Curtis Luck in the 18 hole Georgia Cup match there hasn’t really been much more to build a case for selection around in 2017.

Sadly I think Scott’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) of 6th tells us more about the inadequacies of that ranking system than Scott’s current standing in the amateur game. How can I take the WAGR seriously when at the same time it has Matthew Jordan 74th, Liam Johnston 92nd and Jack Singh Brar 95th after the seasons they have had ? I don’t take any pleasure in saying this but frankly any Walker Cup selector that looks at the WAGR for guidance as to our team should not be in their position.

The Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) is the only ranking worth considering for the selection task because, as I have said many times before, it ages points over time and therefore accurately reflects current form. Scott is today ranked 87th in the SPWAR, the 17th highest GB&I player, which may be a little harsh but better reflects his weighted results in amateur and pro golf over the last two years.

For more information on this area please take a look at my News Article ’63. GB&I Amateur Golf Rankings – 30th June 2017′ or for more detail the Rankings page on my sister website www.golfbible.co.uk.

The good news for Scott is there is still some golf to be played before the Team has to be finalised and there is also the matter of foursomes partnerships that need to be factored in to the final analysis.

Scott will have the opportunity to strengthen his case in the forthcoming European Amateur Team Championships, the English Men’s Amateur (Closed) and the US Amateur.

In terms of foursome partners he has played with Josh HILLEARD (England v. France), Stuart GREHAN (GB&I, St. Andrews Trophy) and Jack SINGH BRAR (Spain v. England) in recent times. Fellow Hampshire players Singh Brar and Harry ELLIS would appear to offer obvious Walker Cup options. However, alternatively the selectors also have the option of pairing Jack and Harry together.

I have nothing against Scott and I wish him all the best in the coming weeks.

Finally, as I mentioned to another correspondent a few days ago the ultimate response to such debates is who would you take out of the current ten to accommodate another player and why ? Not a question I would want Mr. Gregory to answer with regard to Scott but one I am sure the R&A’s Selection Committee will have to ponder in a few cases in the weeks ahead.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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29. Scott Gregory Targeting The Walker Cup

18th October 2016

The Amateur Champion, Scott Gregory, gave an interview to Sky Sports News at the British Masters last week.

In his third professional start after The Open Championship and The Bridgestone Challenge he confirmed that he was not looking to rush into the pro ranks after next year’s Major exemptions.

His Amateur Championship win at Royal Porthcawl will of course afford him invites to the 2017 Masters in April and US Open in June.

Scott Gregory (Photo: Andrew Griffin)

Talking about his future plans the 21 year old from Corhampton GC in Hampshire said: “I don’t feel I’m ready yet. For me to turn pro, I want to do it when I’m ready to compete. Obviously playing events like the British Masters gives me an idea. I’m just learning and getting better each day.”

Scott shot rounds of 74 and 69 at The Grove to finish tied 74th on +1. He missed the cut at his first European Tour event by 1-shot.

It was pleasing to hear him go on and say: “One of the events I’d love to play in is the Walker Cup, so I’m hoping to wait it out and play a nice season next year. It’s going to be a big year. I understand that I have to work hard and keep getting better. My objective now is just to keep winning as much as I can while I’m still an amateur and make the move professionally when I feel like it’s the right time.”

Given the recent number of players who have turned pro this will no doubt be music to the ears of Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team captain Craig Watson. Watson will have pencilled in Scott after his St. Andrews Trophy contribution for GB&I and more recent role for silver medal winning England at the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico.

Of course one strong performance in a US Major could change these plans but at least Scott is talking positively about hanging on until September 2017 at the moment.

[The quotes used above were first reported in an R&A article published on Global Golf Post on 17/10/16]

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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12. The 2016 Amateur Championship And Brabazon Trophy

4th July 2016

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

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

Scott Gregory Amateur Champion 2016

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

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

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

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

Jamie Bower Brabazon Trophy 2016

Jamie Bower (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)

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

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

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

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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