In another blow to the potential 2017 GB&I Walker Cup team England International Ashton TURNER turned pro yesterday.
He was ranked 74th in the SPWAR and 76th in the WAGR at the time of his decision.
Having signed up with the Georgia Golf management company in mid-August he made his professional debut today in the Clipper Logistics Championship, an event on the PGA EuroPro tour. He shot 68 (-3) to lie tied 6th after the first round*.
Ashton Turner (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)
Ashton has enjoyed a good 2016 season and notably starred at the Men’s Home Internationals where he was the only player to deliver a 100% unbeaten record.
However his most impressive, confidence building performances have come on the European Challenge Tour. He firstly finished T8 at the Made in Denmark Challenge before a T55 result at the Bridgestone Challenge in England.
Ashton has entered the European Tour First Qualifying Stage Section D event at Frilford Heath which starts on 4th October. In the equivalent event last year he finished T10 before just missing out (T25) at Lumine in the Second Stage.
* Ashton shot 68, 68 and 71 (-6) to finish tied 4th at Moor Allerton GC, near Leeds.
From a 2017 Walker Cup perspective it is difficult to draw too many conclusions from this historic Team event as it was once again scheduled against the US Amateur Championship which is being played at Oakland Hills CC in Detroit next week. This left the teams, most notably England and Scotland, without many of GB&I’s leading amateur players.
Here is the individual player performance analysis from the 2016 Home Internationals: –
As you can see there were a number of impressive performances. England’s Ashton Turner won the Fairstone Player of the Championship award after winning all six of his games. He paired up well with James Walker in the foursomes and beat Sandy Scott (SCO) 5&3, Evan Griffith (WAL) 3&2 and most impressively Stuart Grehan (IRE) 3&2 in the Singles.
This year’s Home Internationals were very competitive. With the exception of one match all the results were very close which hopefully will have done all the players the world of good and toughen them up for future Team challenges that may be ahead.
I thought it was worth recording the two biggest wins in Great British and Irish (GB&I) amateur golf in 2016 to date.
These being Alfie Plant (ENG) in the Lytham Trophy and Conor O’Rourke (IRE) in the St. Andrews Links Trophy.
Both are notable because of the quality of the fields that contested the events and because of the Open Championship venues that staged them. Rarely does anyone win a 72-hole stroke play competition at Royal Lytham or St. Andrews without being some player.
There were some similarities in the wins too. Both players came into the events relatively unheralded and both proceeded to get off to good starts before happily leading throughout.
Alfie Plant (Photo: Darren Plant)
Alfie Plant won the Lytham Trophy by 7-shots in what were largely awful playing conditions. Rounds of 67, 73, 74 and 70 gave him a +4 total and enabled him to overcome compatriot Bradley Moore (ENG) who had pinched the Rd. 3 lead on the morning of the final day. Moore finished T2 on +11 with Ugo Coussard (FRA) and Jamie Savage (SCO) after a disappointing final back-9.
Other GB&I Top 10 finishers were James Walker (ENG) and Grant Forrest (SCO), both +12 tied 5th, and Ashton Turner (ENG) and Gian-Marco Petrozzi (ENG), +13 and tied 8th.
The Lytham Trophy results can be viewed in detail by clicking this link – Results
Conor O’Rourke won the Links Trophy yesterday with a magnificent performance. He showed admirable composure and no shortage of game to complete a famous wire-to-wire victory at The Home of Golf.
Conor shot 65 on the New Course on Friday and followed it up with weekend rounds of 69, 71 and 70 on the Old to pick up by far the biggest title of his amateur career with a 275 (-12) total.
More so than Plant this win seemed to come from absolutely nowhere. Prior to play commencing O’Rourke was ranked 1,245th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR). Admittedly he was a lower, at 549th, in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) but either way this was one of the biggest amateur competitions in the world with a field to reflect it’s status.
Scottish players were very well represented in the final standings with seven appearing in the top 20. Sandy Scott (-11 / 2nd), Ewen Ferguson (-10 / 3rd), Calum Fyfe and Jamie Savage (both -9 / tied 5th) -9 all standing out.
Ireland had Dermot McElroy (-8 / 7th) and Colm Campbell (-2 / 20th) in the Top 20. However, England will be disappointed that they only had Adam Chapman (-6 / tied 9th), who continues to show a welcome return to form in 2016, to shout about. Joshua Davies (WAL), a regular winner at home, finished tied 21st on -1 showing he’s capable of mixing it with the best on his day too.
The Links Trophy results can be viewed in detail by clicking this link– Results
The question now is can Alfie Plant and Conor O’Rourke build on these two outstanding performances in the coming weeks to stake a strong claim for inclusion in the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy team squad and who knows possibly the 2017 Walker cup one.
England defeated France 14-10 at Formby Golf Club in a hard fought contest played in near perfect conditions.
The English Team Celebrate Their Victory Over France (Photo: GolfBible)
The following table shows the Individual Contributions of all of the England team members. Scott Gregory and Josh Hilleard enjoyed impressive W3 / H0 / L1 records and given their two Singles performances were joined by Bradley Moore and Alfie Plant as England’s star men this weekend.
In what was an impressive performance against a reasonable French side it was pleasing to see each member of the team contribute at least a point to the win.
Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret stood out for the French and certainly can take no blame for their team’s defeat.
8th May 2016
Any Home Nation team match needs to be studied carefully. Selection, pairings and performance all provide useful information.
Every year England play Spain or France in biennial international amateur team matches.
Last year England beat Spain 19-11 at Burnham & Berrow G.C. in Somerset. This victory, for the first time contested as a mixed match, extended their winning record against Spain to 14-2. Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, who went on to play in the 2015 Walker Cup, starred for England winning all four of their matches.
This year it’s the turn of France who England will take on at Formby G.C., Lancashire, on 14th-15th May. The match against France dates back to 1934 with England leading the series 28-5.
Four foursomes and eight singles will be contested on each day.
The French team will consist of Edgar Catherine, Ugo Coussaud, Andoni Etchenique, Jeong Weon Ko, Adrien Pendaries, PierrePineau, Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret.
On 3rd May England confirmed their 8-man team:-
Jamie Bower (23) – Meltham G.C., Yorkshire
Jamie has risen up the world rankings in 2016 after a successful early season tour of South Africa where he won both the Gauteng North Amateur and the Southern Cape Open. He was also third in the African Open.
Scott Gregory (21) – Corhampton G.C., Hampshire
Scott was runner-up in the 2016 Spanish Amateur and helped England win the Costa Ballena Quadrangular tournament earlier this season.
Paul Kinnear (22) – Formby G.C., Lancashire
Paul represented England on their tour of South Africa earlier this season and will hopefully bring some home course knowledge to the Team.
Bradley Moore (18) – Kedleston Park G.C., Derbyshire
Bradley was joint runner-up in the Lytham Trophy earlier this month and helped Europe beat Asia Pacific in the 2016 Bonallack Trophy.
Alfie Plant (23) – Sundridge Park G.C., Kent
Alfie won the 2016 Lytham Trophy by 7-shots and toured South Africa with England earlier this year.
Ashton Turner (20) – Kenwick Park, Lincolnshire
Ashton helped Europe beat Asia Pacific in the Bonallack Trophy and toured Australia with England earlier this season.
James Walker (22) – The Oaks G.C., Yorkshire
James has been in good form this year winning the Selborne Salver and reaching the semi-finals of the Spanish Amateur championship, unluckily losing to eventual champion Romain Langasque on the 19th hole following a series of chip-ins from the Frenchman. He was 6th at the Lytham Trophy.
It’s difficult to argue with the above selection.
Marco Penge is the most obvious omission but as he celebrates his 18th birthday on 15th May he probably asked not to be considered. Marco has also been ploughing his own furrow this year playing in both the PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley recently instead of more obvious GB&I amateur events; the Lytham Trophy being his most obvious miss.
Jonathan Thomson has been recovering from a back injury for a few months. Daniel Brown, Adam Chapman, Ryan Cornfield, JJ Grey, Sam Horsfield, Andrew Wilson and Jack Yule may also have been discussed by the selectors but are either finishing off the US College season or probably need a few more results to break in to the current 2016 England Men’s Team.
The R&A and new captain Craig Watson (SCO) yesterday announced an 18-man GB&I Squad for the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.
7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales have been selected. They are listed below in alphabetical order: –
David BOOTE (WAL) Jamie BOWER (ENG) Owen EDWARDS (WAL) Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) Grant FORREST (SCO) John Ross GALBRAITH (IRE) Alex GLEESON (IRE) Stuart GREHAN (IRE) Scott GREGORY (ENG) Jack HUME (IRE) Jack MCDONALD (SCO) Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) Greg MARCHBANK (SCO) Bradley MOORE (ENG) Marco PENGE (ENG) Craig ROSS (SCO) Connor SYME (SCO) Ashton TURNER (ENG)
The current GB&I Scratch Players World Amateur Golf Ranking is shown below: –
The current GB&I World Amateur Golf Ranking is also shown below: –
As one would expect the Squad largely reflects the current rankings.
The obvious omission is Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) who has made a strong start to his freshman year at Florida on the US College circuit and sits near the top of both rankings. It is unclear at the moment whether the R&A have ignored him after his late Walker Cup withdrawal last summer or Sam has simply made himself unavailable. It is interesting to note that he has made himself available for Europe’s Palmer Cup Team and the match taking place against the United States at Formby GC in June.
Jimmy ALLEN (ENG) who was well placed in the rankings turned pro ahead of the MENA Tour opener in Morocco this week and was therefore not considered.
From an analysis of the two rankings – and in particular looking at those players that either sit in the Top 18 or above others that have been selected – the following players may consider themselves unlucky (or additionally motivated for the next few months): Paul KINNEAR (ENG), Jamie SAVAGE (SCO), Paul MCBRIDE (IRE), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Craig HOWIE (SCO) and James WALKER (ENG).
A speedy recovery is hoped for both Jonathan THOMSON (ENG) and Sean TOWNDROW (ENG) who have both been battling injury and health issues in recent months and whose exclusions are understandable.
The match, which will be contested by a team of 9, is to be played at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July 2016. The St. Andrews Trophy has been played for since 1956. GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came in 2010 and 2012.
Looking ahead to July’s match Craig Watson said: “We have a strong group of players to call upon again this year and there is a good mixture of experience and youth in the squad. We know we will be in for a tough match at Prince’s so we have to pick the best team we can and the players will be working hard throughout this season to impress the selectors”.
GB&I won the 2014 match at Barsebäck, Sweden by a 14 – 10 scoreline. Grant Forrest is the only member of that winning team to be included in the 2016 Squad. His fellow Scottish Internationals Jamie Savage and Graeme Robertson are the only other members of the 2014 Team to remain amateur.
A long way to go until the 2017 Walker Cup but nevertheless it is worth recording the players that the R&A currently view as their strongest.
Europe comfortably beat Asia-Pacific 21.5 – 10.5 in the 2016 Bonallack Trophy in Portugal.
Here is my analysis of the individual player contributions: –
Jack Hume (IRE) starred for Europe winning all four of the matches he was selected for. He has made a superb start to the season. The only surprise in Portugal was that he was rested for a session, the Day Fourballs.
David Boote (WAL) won three of his four matches, only losing his Day 1 Fourball where he was paired with Stefano Mazzoli (ITA).
Ashton Turner (ENG) was the only other GB&I player to win 3 matches. Paired with Bradley Moore (ENG) he lost his Day 1 Foursomes and Day 2 Fourball.
Grant Forrest (SCO) and Jack McDonald (SCO), who were paired together in the Foursomes and Fourballs, and Bradley Moore all lost their Final Day Singles matches thus falling into ‘negative territory’ in my analysis.
Finally, I am starting to develop the view that Bradley Moore’s match play performances are not comparable with his consistently strong stroke play results. I am going to have to research this topic further.
The European Golf Association (EGA) have recently selected their Bonallack Trophy team for this year’s match against Asia-Pacific.
The 2014 Bonallack Trophy Winning European Team (Photo: EGA)
Players are supposedly selected with reference to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and guidance from national coaches and officials. No more than two players may be selected from the same country.
For the sake of completeness I thought it was worth recording the names of the six Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players that have been included in the team: –
David BOOTE (WAL) – WAGR 79 Grant FORREST (SCO) – WAGR 25 Jack HUME (IRE) – WAGR 24 Jack MCDONALD (SCO) – WAGR 36 Bradley MOORE (ENG) – WAGR 54 Ashton TURNER (ENG) – WAGR 100
The rest of the 12-man European team are noted below: –
It is clearly premature to link this match with the 2017 Walker Cup selection process. Nevertheless the six GB&I players that have been invited to Portugal in March can take confidence from their inclusion and do now have the opportunity to put a marker down. Who knows demonstrating some match-play tenacity, highlighting a new playing partnership or even just being a good team member may help one of them somewhere down the line.
Ashley Chesters (ENG) and Gavin Moynihan (IRE) were both members of the 2014 Bonallack Trophy Team who were victorious in India. Both made the 2015 Walker Cup Team the following year. Other GB&I players in the 2014 team included Ryan Evans (ENG), Dermot McElroy (IRE) and James Ross (SCO). Evans and Ross chose to turn Pro before the Walker Cup whilst McElroy just missed out on selection.
N.B. The WAGR quoted above was taken from the 17th February 2016 listing.