Todd CLEMENTS yesterday won the English Men’s Amateur Championship at The Berkshire Golf Club near Ascot.
In a match befitting the Final he eventually beat Staffordshire’s Jack GAUNT 2&1 in a rollercoaster affair where momentum swung from one side to the other.
Todd qualified in tied 3rd place on -9 after rounds of 66 (Blue) and 68 (Red).
David LANGLEY medalled after rounds of 61 and 68 respectively for a superb -14 score. Unfortunately the curse of the medalist struck him in his first match play game.
Prior to the Final the man from Braintree Golf Club in Essex reeled off a sequence of tight match play wins on the Red Course on route to securing the title at the famous heathland course: –
Round 2 Sam TURNER – 1 Hole
Round 3 Timothy SHIN – 3&2
Round 4 Joe LONG – 2&1
Quarter Final Jake BOLTON – 1 Hole
Semi-Final Nick POPPLETON – 1 Hole
Whilst by no means a favourite at the start of the week CLEMENTS has been building up to a breakthrough win so his victory was not a huge surprise.
For the last few years he has wintered in Dubai and produced a number of notable finishes on the professional MENA Golf Tour. His best came in October 2016 in the MENA Golf Tour Championship where he finished tied 5th.
Back home in 2017 he has produced some other reasonable finishes too – tied 7th at the Lytham Trophy, tied 25th at the Brabazon Trophy and tied 24th at the St. Andrews Links Trophy – but this prestigious title is clearly a big step forwards for him.
Todd, now 20, has risen to 207th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking. However, as the now 34th best Great British and Irish (GB&I) and 16th best English player in this list he is clearly too far back to make a late burst for the 2017 Walker Cup team. I trust he will be rewarded with a place in the England team for the upcoming Men’s Home Internationals though.
The English Men’s Amateur in some respects was notable for those players who chose not to compete. These included Matthew JORDAN, Alfie PLANT, Harry ELLIS and Harry HALL. From a Walker Cup perspective, particularly if you already have some good results in the bag, as the first three players do, there can clearly be as much to be gained from not playing as actually teeing it up.
So let’s have a look at how those leading English players – those in the Walker Cup squad and current selection mix – that did make their way to The Berkshire got on (in order of success): –
Tom SLOMAN – SP 69 65 (-9) T3 / MP SF Lost to Jack Gaunt 1 Hole Scott GREGORY – SP 64 72 (-7) T10 / MP QF Lost to Tom Sloman 1 Hole Bradley MOORE – SP 71 70 (-2) T32 / MP Rd 4 Lost to Nick Poppleton 2&1 Gian-Marco PETROZZI – SP 71 71 (-1) T45 / MP Rd 4 Lost to Jack Gaunt 4&2 Daniel BROWN – SP 66 71 (-6) T13 / MP Rd 3 Lost to Bradley Moore 3&2 Josh HILLEARD – SP 70 68 (-5) T18 / MP Rd 3 Lost to Scott Gregory 4&2 Jack SINGH BRAR – SP 65 70 (-8) T6 / MP Rd 2 Lost to Harry Bayley 2 Holes James WALKER – SP 71 73 (+1) T76 / MP DNQ David WICKS – SP 73 71 (+1) T76 / MP DNQ Jake BURNAGE – SP 71 73 (+1) T76 / MP DNQ Marco PENGE – SP 73 77 (+7) T178 / MP DNQ
Somerset’s Tom SLOMAN continues to impress, following up his Amateur Championship Last 32 and recent Dutch U22 Open victory with another good performance here.
Scott GREGORY is clearly finding some form with a solid European Amateur Team competition and PGA EuroPro Top 5 followed up with a good run at The Berkshire. Is a Quarter Final result enough to force him into the Walker Cup reckoning though ?
Both Scott and Jack SINGH BRAR would do their chances the world of good by making the Match Play stage of the US Amateur Championship next week.
It was a shame to see JAKE BURNAGE come up short at the English Men’s Amateur given the run of form he’s been on. He will no doubt be selected for the England team at the Men’s Home Internationals so will get a further chance to show what can do then.
My current thinking re. English players in our 2017 GB&I Walker Cup team are that Matthew JORDAN, Alfie PLANT and Harry ELLIS are already assured of their places, that Jack SINGH BRAR is all but there and that SCOTT GREGORY still has every chance. It’s hard to see anyone else getting a look in at this stage given the competition for places.
Kyle MCCLATCHIE (-10) won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last weekend at Woodhall Spa becoming the fifth South African to lift the famous Brabazon Trophy.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a good event for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players in the field, including many of the Walker Cup squad members.
The main plaudits this week go to Jamie STEWART (SCO), Jake BURNAGE (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) who all finished on -9 to tie for second place. Interestingly none of the three are in the current Walker Cup squad.
Jamie STEWART had a superb weekend shooting the two lowest scores in rounds 3 and 4; a 67 (-6) and a 68 (-5) respectively. Coming quickly on the heels of his tied 7th place at the Lytham Trophy, as well as a number of other good finishes this year, he is increasingly looking like a potential dark horse for the Walker Cup. A couple more top 10s and the selectors will certainly have to look more closely at his credentials.
Jake BURNAGE fits a similar mould to Stewart. He continued his rich vein of form at Woodhall. Having finished 3rd at the Lytham Trophy he put together a very consistent 71, 70, 70 and 72 at Woodhall Spa. I was particularly impressed with his three birdies in a row finish on the final day.
Barring a complete collapse in form over the coming weeks Lytham Trophy winner Jack SINGH BRAR‘s tied second place at the Brabazon with scores of 67 70 74 72 must surely have secured his spot in the GB&I Team. It certainly has in mine.
Jack Singh Brar (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)
Another non-Squad member Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has also started to show up well. He has now finished in the Top 10 at the Lytham Trophy (T7), Irish Amateur Open (T4) and the Brabazon Trophy (5th) in the last month. Coming from a little further back than some of his peers he still has work to do if he is to make our Walker Cup team but few others are demonstrating his consistency and 2017 form.
Dan BROWN (ENG) finished in 6th place, the best from the Walker Cup squad players, to get back on track after a relatively quiet spell.
David BOOTE (WAL) finished 7th and Connor SYME (SCO) tied 8th. As I have stated previously Syme is a certain Walker Cup pick for me and Boote, if not yet quite at that level, is a very strong probable.
In an aside David Boote nearly made himself a Walker Cup certainty on Monday when he just missed out on a spot in the 2017 US Open Championship at Erin Hills. Whilst the Sectional Qualifier at Walton Heath, his home club, played to his strengths his new course record 62 (-10) on the New Course was hugely impressive. A slightly disappointing 73 on the Old Course in the afternoon saw him ultimately miss out in a -9 ‘7 for 4’ play-off unfortunately. US Open SQ Results
16 of the 21 GB&I Walker Cup Squad players competed at the Brabazon Trophy. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –
Robin DAWSON 68 – 83 MC Marco PENGE 79 – 73 MC Owen EDWARDS 74 – 78 MC Colm CAMPBELL 73 – 79 MC Bradley MOORE WD (+9 after 10 holes)
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) had entered but withdrew before play commenced having only just returned from Texas Tech in the US.
Barry HUME (SCO), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) were the other four squad players that didn’t compete last weekend. Gregory of course has an interesting few weeks ahead of him with invitations to The Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour followed by the US Open Championship to enjoy.
Given his limited 2017 schedule I can only assume Barry Hume is working and therefore unable to compete as often as he would like.
Last weekend saw impressive wins for English pair Josh HILLEARD and Gian-Marco PETROZZI.
Josh HILLEARD won the French International Amateur at Chantilly. Having shot a final round 64 to post a -6 total he beat the young Frenchman Pierre PINEAU on the second hole of their play-off. He became the first Englishman to win this prestigious title.
HILLEARD arrived in France in good form having finished 13th in the Lytham Trophy and tied 4th in the Irish Open Amateur. We know from his exploits of last year that when he finds his game he is more than capable of putting a string of good results together and this seems to be happening again in 2017.
The French International Amateur was his fifth win in just over 12 months. To my knowledge no other GB&I player has won this many events in the same period. Of course this was by far his best career performance and he has now jumped up to 105th in the SPWAR. With Sam HORSFIELD turning Pro over the weekend he is now the 13th highest ranked GB&I player in this list.
Josh Hilleard With The Murat Cup (Photo: French Golf Federation)
Like a few others before him this year his exclusion from the Walker Cup squad, perhaps understandable at the time, has helped to get the best out of him. He must surely now be just one Top 10 result from being a very strong candidate for a pick.
England took a team of six players to France including four Walker Cup squad members. Bradley MOORE did the best of these, albeit a disappointing final round and a tied 9th result didn’t fully reflect how well he played over the three days of competition. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –
Bradley MOORE 68 – 71 – 68 -75 -2 T9 Daniel BROWN 71 – 69 WD in Rd 3 with a foot injury Marco PENGE 78 – 69 +4 MC Alfie PLANT 74 – 76 +8 MC
Gian-Marco PETROZZI also arrived in Wales in good form and like Hilleard was able to keep it going. He had finished 16th at Lytham and tied 16th in the Irish at Royal County Down in his previous two events.
PETROZZI has been ‘up and coming’ for a while and this was undoubtedly his breakthrough performance. Rounds of 66, 69, 70 and 74 and a -13 total took him to an impressive wire-to-wire 9-shot win.
Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Photo: Golf Union of Wales)
The Staffordshire player said in an interview reported on the England Golf website “It’s been coming. All of last season and the start of this season I’ve been playing good golf. I knew I had it in there, I just needed to prove to myself I could cross the line. I’m over the moon with this and hopefully it catches the eye of the Walker Cup selectors. That’s my goal for the end of the year and hopefully this will put my name in the hat.”
His dominant Welsh win has certainly put him on the Walker Cup radar but there are, in my view, as many as 30 players as at today still in with a shout of selection. In other words for Gian-Marco to make it he will need to keep this current run going and deliver at least one more big result between now and August.
Walker Cup squad players Jack DAVIDSON and Owen EDWARDS, as well as Scottish defending champion Barry HUME, were also in action at the Vale Resort. All did well with both Welshman finishing in the Top 5. Here are all of their scores and finishing positions: –
Clearly DAVIDSON is moving, event by event, into that select group of Walker Cup ‘Probables’. Hopefully he can just keep ticking over between now and August to make his selection the formality it increasingly appears to be.
Jack SINGH BRAR today won the prestigious Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. His rounds of 68, 73, 72 and 75 for a +8 total earned him a memorable wire-to-wire victory.
On the back of a good set of results in Australia and his recent Hampshire Salver win Jack is now clearly very well placed to secure a spot within the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.
There are now only 125 days until the match starts and around 110 until the Teams are selected.
Jack is currently not in the GB&I Walker Cup squad. He also chose to step away from the formal England Golf coaching set up at the start of this season. However, following his big win on the Fylde Coast he has risen to 48th in the SPWAR and is now the fifth highest GB&I player (fourth if Sam Horsfield, who is expected to turn Pro in early June, is excluded). Sometimes it pays to trust yourself and ‘plough your own furrow’ in this life.
Jack Singh Brar With His Father Ami (Photo: @AMcGlue)
Two other English players finished 2nd and 3rd at Lytham.
The Walker Cup claims of Charlie STRICKLAND (+10), who only turns 18 later this month, will have grown a little bit louder this weekend too. Charlie won both the Duncan Putter and U18 Peter McEvoy Trophy in April but his 2nd place at Lytham is a step up on both. A man who’s confidence is growing and now has it all to play for.
Jake BURNAGE (+11) also followed up his Hampshire Hog win at North Hants GC a few weeks ago with a creditable third place here.
This was the first major amateur men’s competition of the 2017 GB&I season. As such most of our likely Walker Cup candidates were on display. Out of the current 21-man GB&I Squad only Paul MCBRIDE and SandySCOTT, both still competing for their US Colleges, and Barry HUME, who chose not to enter, were not present in Lancashire.
I think it is fair to say that the 2017 Lytham Trophy was generally not a confidence boosting week for our leading players and Walker Cup hopes.
Owen EDWARDS (+15 / 9th) was the highest finisher from the 18 GB&I Walker Cup squad players competing.
Here are the Lytham Trophy scores of the Walker Cup squad players: –
England beat Spain 17-13 in their biennial mixed match last weekend to retain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy.
The England Team (Photo: Adolfo Luna)
England traditionally do well in this match which was originally a men’s only affair but moved to a mixed team format in 2015. The competing team’s now consist of six men and four women. Played over two days, five foursomes are played on each morning with ten singles in the afternoon. Yesterday’s 2017 win at El Saler near Valencia took England’s series record to an impressive P17 W15 H0 L2.
England picked a strong team which could not necessarily be said of their opponents who had some notable omissions. The relatively close result therefore gave both parties something to cheer about. England got the match win as expected but Spain could take heart from putting up a good fight, knowing they have reinforcements to call upon in the future.
England picked their strongest six men with all of them still hopeful of picking up a Walker Cup selection in August. It is therefore interesting to review their foursome pairings and the individual match play performances.
The male foursomes pairings for both days were: –
1. Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR
2. Bradley MOORE and Alfie PLANT
3. Dan BROWN and Marco PENGE.
Somewhat inconclusively these pairings all won on Day 1 and then proceeded to all lose on Day 2.
The singles results were similar too. Five of the players won one and lost one whilst Marco PENGE lost one and halved the other – he lost the 18th hole on Day 2 to let in Jorge Maicas in a close match.
On paper it appeared as if the Spanish Women may be their weak link and experienced English international pair Sophie LAMB and Gemma CLEWS took advantage of this. It is worth noting that England won because their four Women won their match within a match 8.5 – 3.5. The English men actually drew 8.5 – 8.5.
Here is my analysis of the individual match performances (which also shows all of the WAGR world rankings at the start of play): –
Congratulations to England on a good away win – certainly something I would never sniff at. However, from a Walker Cup perspective I am not sure the manner of the victory, the foursomes pairings or any of the overall individual performances, whilst all satisfactory, will have made Captain Watson jump for joy or strike fear into the other home nation players vying for the 10 available team places.
Jack DAVIDSON won the Spanish International Amateur Championship yesterday at the challenging El Saler course near Valencia.
For the man from Newport, Wales this was by far the best result of his career. The Spanish Amateur is one of the world’s top 20 amateur events nowadays enjoying a strong entry from across Europe every year. First played in 1911 former winners include Philip Walton (1981), Jose Maria Olazábel (1983-84), Darren Clarke (1990), Sergio García (1998), Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño (2003), Joost Luiten (2005), Danny Willet (2008) and Romain Langasque (2016).
Jack Davidson (Photo: Adolfo Luna)
The 36-hole stroke play qualifier was played in strong winds which caused havoc with the scoring, particularly in Round 1. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) eventually achieved medalist honours with an impressive 143 (-1) total. He was the only player to record an under par score. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) 144 (E) was 2nd whilst AlfiePLANT (ENG) and Harry GODDARD (ENG), both 146 (+2), also qualified well finishing in tied 4th. Interestingly the eventual Champion shot rounds of 76 and 75 to secure the 32nd and final place in the match play stage with a 151 (+7) total.
Amongst those to miss out on the match play were Initial Walker Cup Squad members Barry HUME (+8), Bradley MOORE (+8), Conor O’ROURKE (+10), Robert MACINTYRE (+11), Colm CAMPBELL (+11), Alex GLEESON (+14) and Owen EDWARDS (+16). In addition in form Irish player Robin DAWSON (+8) also just missed out.
Davidson beat Maclean (2&1), Javier Sainz (1Up), David Puig (3&2) and Kevin LEBLANC (2&1) in the semis to set up a 36-hole final with Englishman Marco PENGE.Penge went into lunch with a 1-hole lead but Davidson came out strongly in the afternoon. The Welshman moved into the lead after a birdie on the fourth and didn’t relinquish it, eventually running out a 4&3 winner on the 15th green.
Marco Penge will be disappointed that the Spanish title evaded him particularly as this was the second match play final he has lost this year. He reached the final of the New South Wales Amateur in Australia a month ago before losing by 1-hole to compatriot Scott GREGORY. Gregory who lost last year’s Spanish Amateur final to Langasque was missing this year as he paces himself ahead of his Masters appearance next month. Nevertheless Penge can take solace in the fact he has moved a few steps closer to the Amateur World’s top 50 (he’s now 55th in the SPWAR) and has once again demonstrated competitive match play skills. Both should stand him in good stead as this Walker Cup year progresses. He won’t have long to dwell on the final as next week he starts his defence of the Sunningdale Foursomes, which he and girlfriend Sophie Lamb won last year.
Jack started 2017 ranked 580th in the SPWAR. He is now 131st and 18th in the GB&I list. The Spanish International Amateur is clearly a prestigious title and it will be interesting to see if he can build on this in the coming months and push himself further into the Walker Cup reckoning. With David BOOTE already well placed could we see at least two Welsh players in the final 2017 GB&I team ?
Whatever happens no one can take this title off him and 2017 will be a memorable year. Well done to Jack on a great win and good luck for the rest of the year.
Jack Davidson Holes The Winning Putt (Photo: Adolfo Luna)
Now that our players have returned from Australia I wanted to reflect on what we had learnt in the context of the 2017 Walker Cup.
For those that don’t know a number of our leading English, Scottish and Welsh players have competed in the following elite tournaments and championships over the last four weeks: –
The Australian Master of the Amateurs (4-7 Jan)
The Australian Amateur Championship (17-22 Jan)
The Avondale Amateur (24-27 Jan)
The New South Wales Medal and Amateur Championship (30 Jan-3 Feb)
Nothing is certain in life but the selection of both Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) for the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup Team is increasingly looking so.
This is a big statement to make this early in the season but one that I believe is entirely justified. They both enjoy strong amateur rankings and most importantly have again demonstrated in Australia that they are unquestionably two of our leading match play exponents. Both of course were finalists in the 2016 Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.
Scott Gregory (Photo: @ScottGregory5)
Corhampton’s Scott GREGORY saved his best golf for the last event – the New South Wales (NSW) Amateur. He qualified tied 9th in the 36-hole stroke play Medal before negotiating five rounds of match play to win the Championship, beating Marco PENGE (ENG) by 1-hole in the Final. Scott also played well in the Australian Amateur a few weeks before. He qualified tied 12th before losing his Round 3 match to medalist Kevin Yuan (AUS).
Robert MACINTYRE was on a shorter trip competing in the Australian Master of the Amateurs (AMOTA) and the Australian Amateur only. He withdrew from the AMOTA after Round 1 due to illness but fortunately recovered fully to make a great run at the Australian Amateur. Having qualified tied 20th he progressed serenely through to the semi-finals where Min Woo Lee, Australian’s reigning US Junior Amateur champion, just had too much for him on the day in a 3&1 defeat.
The other player who had a big tour was Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG). Jack has now stepped away from the England Golf coaching set up and presumably travelled out to Australia under his own steam. He didn’t play in the AMOTA but did very well in the three other events. He firstly snook into the Australian Amateur match play stage via a play off and got through to Round 3 before losing to Robbie Morrison (AUS). He was then 2nd in The Avondale Amateur with an impressive 72-hole score of -10. He finished the trip with a strong qualification in the NSW Medal (-3, tied 9th) and then progressed to the Quarter Finals where he lost by 1 hole to South Korea’s Dongmin Kim. He started the year in 270th place in the SPWAR. Today he is 85th and the 8th highest ranked GB&I player in this list. Whilst he wasn’t there a few weeks ago I am sure he must now have played his way into the selector’s minds with his string of results Down Under.
I am convinced that Marco PENGE (ENG) will have a successful Pro career simply because of his inconsistent play and positive mental attitude. When he is ‘on’ he is very good but when he is ‘off’ he can appear very average. The good thing is this appears to me to be exactly what is required in the pro game. When it’s your week you have to cash in big time and when it’s not you have to laugh it off and move on – Marco seems to do both. Penge was off the pace for much of the Tour, shooting big numbers and missing cuts. I am sure some observers were wondering what he was even doing out there. Then, almost out of nowhere he arrives at the NSW Amateur and plays beautifully. He qualified tied 3rd on -6 before battling his way through the match play stage and ultimately losing the close Final with Gregory. So he arrives back in the UK ranked 75th in the SPWAR, up about 60 places, and 7th in the GB&I ranking – job done. I hope he can find some more consistency back in Europe as this will help to secure the selector’s trust and perhaps cement a team spot. If not then establishing which Marco is going to turn up in Los Angeles will be difficult for them and make his inclusion something of a gamble.
Before finishing off this article I wanted to mention Evan GRIFFITH (WAL). He once again found Australia to his liking. Having reached the semi-finals of the Australian Amateur last year he once again played very well; this year reaching the quarter-finals. Let’s hope that in 2017 he can follow up this latest performance down under with a few Top 10’s back in Europe.
Other GB&I Walker Cup squad players to compete in Australia included David BOOTE (WAL), Owen EDWARDS (WAL), Bradley MOORE (ENG) and Alfie PLANT (ENG). All had their moments without necessarily playing at their very best.
Irrespective of whether their Walker Cup selection is now as certain as I suggest I am sure we can all agree to congratulate Scott and Robert for maintaining their form and competitiveness through our early winter and for delivering some good results in Australia.
Curtis LUCK (AUS) won the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion, beating Brad DALKE (USA) 6&4 in today’s 36-hole Championship match at Oakland Hills CC, in Detroit.
Whilst Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) are not celebrating a U.S. Amateur win this year the 2016 Championship proved to be a reasonably successful one for us.
I certainly can’t recall six of our players making the Top 64 cut in the stroke play qualifying before and therefore progressing to the match play stage. It was also good to see at least one of the six coming from each of the four home nations.
In exactly 12 month’s time the R&A will announce their 2017 Walker Cup team. So lets look at who put an early marker down at this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship and showed they have the ability to compete at the highest level.
11 GB&I players qualified for the 116th U.S. Amateur Championship: –
David BOOTE 22 (WAL) – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Jamie BOWER 23 (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Ewen FERGUSON 20 (SCO) – 2015 Walker Cup, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Grant FORREST 23 (SCO) – 2015 Walker Cup, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Scott GREGORY 21 (ENG) – 2016 Amateur Champion Sam HORSFIELD 19 (ENG) – 2016 US Open, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Jack HUME 22 (IRE) – 2015 Walker Cup, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Robert MACINTYRE 20 (SCO) – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Bradley MOORE 18 (ENG) – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16 Jack SINGH BRAR 19 (ENG) – Qualifier at Ada, Michigan (05/07/16) Connor SYME 21 (SCO) – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Stroke Play Qualifying Stage – 15th-16th August
The U.S. Amateur starts with a 36-hole stroke play qualifying event to identify the 64 players who will contest the match play stage that will ultimately determine the champion.
Alex SMALLEY (USA) earned medalist honours with a 133 (-7) total after two impressive rounds at Oakland Hills; a 65 on the North Course, followed on Day 2 by a 68 on the tougher South Course.
56 players automatically qualified on +1 with 23 others on +2 having to endure a sudden death play-off for the remaining 8 spots.
18th hole, South Course, Oakland Hills CC (Photo: Oakland Hills CC)
Here are the GB&I stroke play qualifying scores: –
T6 Scott GREGORY 21 (ENG) -3 69 NC, 68 SC
T11 Sam HORSFIELD 19 (ENG) -2 66 NC, 72 SC
T30 Connor SYME 21 (SCO) Ev 70 SC, 70 NC
T41 Jack HUME 22 (IRE) +1 72 SC, 69 NC
T57 David BOOTE 22 (WAL) +2 70 SC, 72 NC
T57 Bradley MOORE 18 (ENG) +2 71 NC, 71 SC
Scott GREGORY was our leading stroke play qualifier finishing a very creditable tied 6th. He recorded just three bogeys over his 36 holes which must have been amongst the lowest in the whole field.
Sam HORSFIELD set himself up for qualification with a five birdie 66 (-4) on the North Course. A satisfactory 72 (+2) on the South on Day 2 saw him qualify as the 17th seed.
Connor SYME qualified with two symmetrical par rounds. On Day 1 he had one birdie and one bogey on each side of the South and on Day 2 he had three bogies on the front nine before recovering his qualification with three birdies on the back.
Jack HUME left himself some work to do on Day 2 after a 72 over the South on Day 1. The fact he was able to shoot a 69 on the North when he needed it bode well for his chances later in the week.
David BOOTE and Bradley MOORE both showed strong resolve to battle their way to +2 and a shot at the 23-into-8 match play play-off. Within a few minutes of each other on the morning of Day 3 they both holed long birdie putts on the second play-off hole (11th on the North Course) to progress.
So in summary Sam HORSFIELD, Scott GREGORY, Connor SYME, Bradley MOORE and Jack HUME all qualified for the match play stage and therefore in my view could all leave Oakland Hills with their heads held high. When one considers the quality of the field at the U.S. Amateur and looks at our historic record in achieving this feat you have to say this is the right hurdle for defining a good GB&I Championship performance.
By the same definition those GB&I players who missed the match play cut have to accept that they fell short: –
Jack SINGH BRAR looked nicely on track when he posted a 71 (+1) on the South Course and followed it with a 34 (-1) over his first nine holes on the North on Day 2. Unfortunately three bogeys over his last 5 holes saw him drift from comfortable qualification (+1) to a missed cut position (+3).
Ewen FERGUSON started nervously bogeying and double bogeying his first two holes on the North Course. Three late birdies on Day 1 helped him recover to a 72 (+2) but with the South to come the odds were always going to be stacked against him. He managed a 71 on Day 2 to his credit but it in reality it was too little too late for the Scotsman. Not helped by injuries this is proving to be a season to forget for the 2015 Walker cup man.
I had high hopes for Robert MACINTYRE heading into the week. He backed them up for me with a 68 (-2) on the North Course to start the week off. Unfortunately five bogeys and two double bogeys on his way to a 76 (+6) on the South saw him tumble down the leaderboard.
Grant FORREST and Jamie BOWER, who were both a long way off the pace, will both be disappointed with their performances this week.
Match Play Stage – 17th-21st August
Here’s is a summary of all of the GB&I match play results: –
Quarter Finals – Friday 19th August 2016 David Boote 62 (WAL) LOST 3&2 v. Brad Dalke 38 (USA)
Round of 16 – Thursday 18th August 2016 Dylan Meyer 33 (USA) WON 19th hole v. Sam Horsfield 17 (ENG) David Boote 62 (WAL) WON 2&1 v. Collin Morikawa 14 (USA)
Round of 32 – Thursday 18th August 2016 Doc Redman 49 (USA) LOST 5&4 v. Sam Horsfield 17 (ENG) Scott Gregory 9 (ENG) LOST 19th Hole v. Nick Carlson 41 (USA) David Boote 62 (WAL) WON 3&1 v. Ben Schlottman 35 (USA)
Round of 64 – Wednesday 17th August 2016 Connor Syme 32 (SCO) LOST 2 Up v. Dylan Meyer 33 (USA) Sam Horsfield 17 (ENG) WON 3&1 v. Hugo Bernard 48 (CAN) Scott Gregory 9 (ENG) WON 7&5 v. Raymond Knoll 56 (USA) Dawson Armstrong 2 (USA) WON 1 Up v. Bradley Moore 63 (ENG) Bryson Nimmer 23 (U SA) WON 1 Up v. Jack Hume 42 (IRE) Gavin Hall 3 (USA) LOST 3&2 v. David Boote 62 (WAL)
David BOOTE (WAL) was the most successful GB&I player at the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship reaching the quarter-finals of the match play stage.
David Boote made few mistakes in the match play stage and his consistent play enabled him to see off Gavin Hall, Ben Schlottman and most impressively Collin Morikawa. He saved his best till last too, playing very well against Brad Dalke, where despite giving nothing away he ended up losing his quarter final match to an inspired opponent on the day. Boote has been playing consistently to a high level this summer and is now right at the top of the GB&I amateur game. If he chooses to remain amateur and can maintain this form he will surely secure a place in next year’s Walker Cup team.
Sam HORSFIELD beat Hugo Bernard, winner of the Canadian Amateur title last weekend, 3&1 in the Round of 64. He then played his very best golf to beat Doc Redman, shooting 29 on the front nine before finishing the match 7-under par on the 14th. Dylan Meyer, who just a few week’s ago beat Sam in the final of the Western Amateur, was next up. In a tight match Horsfield missed a short 3 footer for par on their 19th hole to allow Meyer to get the better of him again. It says everything about Horsfield, who this week moved to No. 1 in the SPWAR rankings, that the fact he didn’t reach at least the semi-finals this week has to be viewed as both a disappointment and a surprise.
Scott GREGORY had an easy first match with Raymond Knoll bogeying 7 of the 13 holes they completed. Scott played well in his final match – he was 3-under for the 19 holes contested, with just one bogey – but simply came up against an in form Nick Carlson; the local Michigan man playing well above himself all week. Carlson of course went on to reach the semi-finals before losing to Australian Curtis Luck yesterday.
Connor SYME lost to Dylan Meyer, the recent Western Amateur champion and nemesis of Sam Horsfield in Round 1. Syme gave the in form American a good game and will have been disappointed to lose 2 Up, particularly as he lost the last two holes to par.
The tough finish on Oakland Hills South Course proved too much for both Bradley MOORE and Jack HUME in their Round of 64 matches. Moore did well to fight back to All Square against the No. 2 qualifier Dawson Armstrong having been 2 Down with 6 holes to play. However, having birdied the 13th and 16th, he bogied the last two holes to let Armstrong progress. Hume was 1 Up with 3 to play before he bogeyed 16 and 17 to give his opponent, Bryson Nimmer a 1 Up lead which he saw out on the final hole.
You don’t get anywhere near the first tee of the U.S. Amateur without being a very accomplished golfer. So in terms of a stepping stone to 2017 Walker Cup selection it is often a case of looking at who did not perform and understanding why rather than those that did. The six players who made it to the match play stage clearly did very well and confirmed their standing as 2017 Walker Cup ‘probables’. Those that did not will know they need to learn from the experience and work on both their games and consistency to demonstrate they are more than ‘possibles’.
Here’s my stab at the 2016 Great Britain & Ireland St. Andrews Trophy Team.
The St. Andrews Trophy has been played biennially between GB&I and Europe since 1956.
GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came recently in 2010 and 2012. GB&I won the 2014 match, played in Barsebäck, Sweden, 14-10.
I anticipate this year’s match being a very close encounter.
With the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship coming to a conclusion at Golf de Chantilly in France on Saturday I expect the GB&I Team to be named by The R&A and Captain Craig Watson early next week.
These are the questions I’ve asked myself before selecting my Team: –
How many players do I need, where are we playing and what’s the format ?
The match is to be contested by a team of 9 GB&I players.
It is to be played on the links of Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July.
On Day 1 4 foursomes and 8 singles will be played. On Day 2 there are again 4 foursomes but in a change to the recent format all 9 players will then compete in singles this year. I know from past experience that there is always a tendency to prefer pairs from the same country so need to consider that.
Who’s in the frame ?
An 18-man St. Andrews Trophy Squad was announced on 24th March 2016.
This included 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) and Ashton TURNER (ENG).
There were 7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales in the initial squad.
We can of course remove Jack McDonald from the above group as he turned pro on 31st March.
Who has performed well this year ?
Here is my 29th June 2016 Rankings Assessment which clearly shows who our leading players have been in the year to date, at least according to the two main Amateur Rankings.
It seems unlikely to me that anyone outside my Combined Top 20 listed above will be selected. Unless of course The R&A go for a completely Scottish team – which given current form is not as outlandish a statement as it may at first seem.
Who’s showing form at this week’s European Men’s Amateur Championship ?
EMATC GB&I Stroke Play Scores
The above table clearly shows who performed well in the stroke play qualifying and how today’s first round match play has gone for our leading players.
In Division 2 David BOOTE was the medalist in the stroke play qualifying with a -9 36-hole total in Luxembourg.
Notable Omissions ?
At the end of June our highest ranked player was Sam HORSFIELD (ENG). I understand that Craig Watson watched and met with him at the Arnold Palmer Cup a few weeks ago at Formby but I don’t envisage him being considered or dare I say making himself available for this event. I am sure Sam will be committed to the series of major amateur events that are played in the United States during July and August.
Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) has been struggling with a wrist injury in recent weeks, withdrawing from three events in succession. I have therefore chosen to exclude him from my thoughts on fitness grounds. This is a shame for Ewen as he has started to show some good form lately with a 3rd place in the St Andrews Links Trophy and a good run at The Amateur.
So excluding Sam and Ewen here’s my team of 9, in order of selection: –
1. Grant FORREST (SCO) – since winning the Battle Trophy in Scotland he has strung to together a series of top quality results. Playing well in France and now back to his very best.
2. Jack HUME (IRE) – the South African SP and European Nations Individual 2016 champion was solid in the 2015 Walker Cup and outstanding in the Bonallack Trophy earlier this year.
3. Connor SYME (SCO) – the 2016 Australian Amateur champion has enjoyed an excellent season and is now undoubtedly one of GB&I’s top amateur players.
4. Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – has peaked perfectly for this selection. Finalist in The Amateur and has taken that form into his last two events on the Challenge Tour and this week in France.
5. Scott GREGORY (ENG) – having just won The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl he obviously must play. He’s delivered winning results for England in two international matches this year also.
6. Alfie PLANT (ENG) – a fantastic winner of the Lytham Trophy who has enjoyed good finishes at the French International Amateur (T11) and Brabazon Trophy (T7) since. A Kent-lad too which should help with local support.
7. Jamie BOWER (ENG) – he’s won three events this year including the prestigious Brabazon Trophy in Kent, albeit on an inland course. Jamie also got to the last 16 of the Amateur so has certainly backed up his early season wins in South Africa.
It starts to get a bit trickier from here on in, particularly around foursomes pairings, but I’ve given the benefit of the doubt to: –
8. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – a strong performance this week for Ireland on the back of a positive contribution at the Arnold Palmer Cup. Stuart seems to be on an upward curve to me.
9. David BOOTE (WAL) – David has enjoyed a good season for Stanford in the US and delivered winning results at the Bonallack Trophy (where he played with Jack Hume) and Arnold Palmer Cup this year. He has also made a good start in Luxembourg this week for Wales at the Division 2 European Men’s Team Championship.
Having put my head above the parapet I have to say it would be hard for me to argue if any of Craig HOWIE (SCO – partnering Connor Syme at the Euros this week), Conor O’ROURKE (Naas GC, IRE – as is Jack Hume), Sandy SCOTT (SCO), Craig ROSS (SCO) or Bradley MOORE (ENG – a possible partner for Alfie Plant) were selected by The R&A based on 2016 performances and potential foursome pairings.
Let me know what you think by commenting below or on Twitter ?
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.