The R&A and European Golf Association have announced the cancellation of the St Andrews Trophy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biennial international match between 9-man teams from Great Britain and Ireland and Continent of Europe was scheduled to take place at Royal Porthcawl on 23-24 July 2020.
The Continent of Europe were defending the St. Andrews Trophy having won it 15.5-9.5 at Linna Golf in Finland in 2018.
The match will next be played at Penati in Slovakia on 21-22 July 2022.
Royal Porthcawl G.C. (Photo: golfadvisor.com)
The cancellation, which had become inevitable in recent weeks, adds to the difficulties GB&I were already seeking to overcome in preparing for the 2021 Walker Cup match.
The Walker Cup is being contested next year at Seminole, Florida on 8-9 May so the GB&I selectors were faced with the prospect of having to choose a team without the normal benefit of having seen all of their players compete throughout the European amateur season.
The COVID-19 pandemic has now added to the challenge as it appears they are unexpectedly also going to lose out on evidence from a great deal of the 2020 season.
The copycat St. Andrews Trophy event, played in alternate years to the Walker Cup, provides an excellent early opportunity for GB&I to build team spirit and develop foursomes partnerships against top class opposition so represents a particular loss.
The 2020 St. Andrews Trophy match was also set to be Stuart Wilson’s first outing as GB&I men’s team captain.
Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) won the 2018 Jacques Léglise Trophy match against Continent of Europe 15.5 – 9.5.
The GB&I Team With The Jacques Léglise Trophy (Photo: Joe Pagdin)
The match took place at Kytäjä Golf in Finland on Friday 31st August and Saturday 1st September.
This annual match is contested by two nine-player U18 boys’ teams. It is essentially the junior equivalent of the biennial men’s St. Andrews Trophy match. Four foursomes games are played each morning with Singles in the afternoon; eight on Day 1 and nine on Day 2.
This year GB&I were represented by: –
Barclay BROWN (17) – England Archie DAVIES (17) – Wales Conor GOUGH (15) – England Max HOPKINS (15) – England Tom MCKIBBIN (15) – Ireland Connor MCKINNEY (16) – Scotland Joseph PAGDIN (16) – England Mark POWER (18) – Ireland Robin WILLIAMS (16) – England
Seven players were making their GB&I debuts in Finland. Mark Power and Robin Williams both played in 2017.
GB&I’s Non-Playing Captain, Stuart WILSON, winner of the 2004 Amateur Championship, said afterwards: “We brought together the best team of golfers that we could assemble for this match and everyone performed brilliantly over the two days. We’re delighted with the performance and the players were really focussed on getting a result. I think we were strong on and around the greens and we knew we had a team of very good putters. The players definitely brought their A game this week.”
The win was GB&I’s 29th in the match since it was re-started with a new trophy in 1977. However, the Team had not enjoyed an outright victory since the 2014 match at Barsebäck in Sweden.
In a strong team performance where everyone contributed Conor GOUGH, Robin WILLIAMS and Barclay BROWN were the star men for GB&I.
Jacques Léglise Trophy GB&I Player Analysis (Photo: @GolfBible)
Given the number of GB&I players planning to turn Pro in the coming weeks I would not be surprised to see one or two of these players graduate to our 2019 Walker Cup team.
It will certainly be interesting to see if any of them can make the quick step up to the men’s ranks next year.
The R&A have today announced a 20 player Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) squad for the 2018 St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.
The match, played in alternate years to the Walker Cup, will take place at Linna Golf in Finland on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 July 2018.
It was also confirmed that Scotland’s Craig Watson would return to the GB&I captaincy role after he was unfortunately unable to fulfil these duties at the 2017 Walker Cup due to a family bereavement.
Watson captained GB&I in the last St. Andrews Trophy match at Prince’s G.C., Kent in 2016. A 12.5 – 12.5 draw back then was good enough for GB&I to retain the trophy.
Captain Watson and Alfie Plant with the St. Andrews Trophy
(Photo: Darren Plant)
Watson said in the R&A announcement: “I’m delighted to resume the role and am excited about the potential of the new crop of players coming through and contending for a place in the team.”
As always the captain left the door open for other players to step forward in the coming months: “We know we will be in for a tough match in Finland and we will need a strong team if we are to win the trophy. I am sure the players we have identified, and others not currently in the squad, will be working hard to impress the selectors.”
The squad will meet up before the St Andrews Links Trophy event which starts on 8th June.
The final 9-man team will be announced after the European Men’s Team Championships, which conclude on 14th July.
Here is a list of the 20 players selected, along with their current Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR) and GB&I SPWAR rank.
Todd Clements, England (21)
Robin Dawson, Ireland (22)
Alex Fitzpatrick, England (19)
Calum Fyfe, Scotland (20)
Alex Gleeson, Ireland (24)
David Hague, England (21)
Harry Hall, England (20)
Benjamin Jones, England (19)
Matthew Jordan, England (22)
Rowan Lester, Ireland (22)
Sam Locke, Scotland (19)
Ryan Lumsden, Scotland (21)
Billy McKenzie, England (23)
Gian-Marco Petrozzi, England (21)
Caolan Rafferty, Ireland (25)
Sandy Scott, Scotland (19)
Jamie Stewart, Scotland (18)
Euan Walker, Scotland (22)
Robin Williams, England (16)
Andrew Wilson, England (24)
No one would argue that any of the above aren’t worthy of consideration for the GB&I team.
There are 10 English players in the squad, 6 from Scotland and 4 from Ireland. Sadly no one from Wales made the initial grade.
Only Royal Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan remains in the above selection from the 2017 Walker Cup team. Seven of the 10-man team having turned professional since the heavy loss in Los Angeles.
As the SPWAR rankings suggest GB&I currently has two outstanding players, Jordan and compatriot Todd Clements. To my eyes both have already done enough this season to warrant selection. However, the other 7 team spots are still broadly up for grabs, albeit fellow Englishman Harry Hall and Gian-Marco Petrozzi must also be close.
Below is a list of those players who are also highly ranked in the SPWAR and whose omission is therefore worthy of further discussion.
Harry Ellis, England
Paul McBride, Ireland
Tom Plumb, England
Jake Burnage, England
Conor Purcell, Ireland
Daniel O’Loughlin, England
Mitch Waite, England
The two most obvious omissions for me are England’s Mitch Waite, who has won the Hampshire Salver this year and finished runner-up at the recent Lytham Trophy, and Conor Purcell, who has done well for Charlotte this year in the U.S., culminating in an invitation by the NCAA to play in this week’s Division I Regionals as an individual.
Finally, a quick word on the two other 2017 Walker Cup players who remain amateur and are listed in the second table above.
Harry Ellis withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Cup selection process in April signalling a clear intention to turn Pro after his forthcoming U.S. Open appearance in June. Hence his absence from the list is understandable.
Paul McBride is perhaps more of a surprise. He had intimated that he may stay amateur until the Autumn once he graduates from Wake Forest in the next few weeks. The World Amateur Team Championship (for the Eisenhower Trophy) is being held at Carton House, Ireland in September and this was supposedly a factor in his thinking. However, his omission from this squad is a clear indicator that he too will be turning pro very shortly.
Great Britain & Ireland retained the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy earlier this week in an exciting match against the Continent of Europe.
The 31st contest in the series was halved 12.5-12.5 at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent but as the holders GB&I were able to keep the Trophy on home soil. It was the first time the match had been halved, GB&I winning 25 times and Europe just five times previously.
Great Britain & Ireland (Photo: Darren Plant)
David BOOTE (WAL) proved to be the hero of the day bravely parring the 18th hole to secure a 1Up win in the final singles game of Day 2 against Spain’s Ivan CANTERO GUTIERREZ (ESP).
GB&I had got off to the worse possible start losing the Day 1 foursomes 0-4. A recovery of sorts looked possible for the home team in the afternoon singles but some late reverses saw Europe rescue a 4-4 series result.
Going into Day 2 behind 4-8 few predicted GB&I could recover the situation. However, a 3.5-1.5 result in the Day 2 foursomes gave the team every reason to believe prior to the 9 singles commencing. The singles were again a rollercoaster affair but GB&I managed to sneak them 5-4 to secure a dramatic half.
Whilst it does not take into account the quality of each player’s opposition it is still interesting to review the high level individual player contributions: –
From a GB&I perspective Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Stuart GREHAN (IRE) were our star men this week securing two singles wins and one foursome success.
Connor SYME (SCO), Jack HUME (IRE), David BOOTE (WAL) and Alfie PLANT (ENG) also played important point scoring roles during the competition.
Jamie BOWER (ENG), Grant FORREST (SCO) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) will be disappointed with their contributions.
GB&I and new captain Craig WATSON will no doubt be delighted to retain the St. Andrews Trophy. The Team showed real determination and fight to turn around a horrific start.
However, the reality is this was a disappointing performance and result.
Save for the inclusion of Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) and possibly Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) GB&I were able to put out their strongest team. Europe were sadly not in the same position. Adrian MERONK (POL) and Antoine ROZNER (FRA) would certainly have been included if not for the fixture clash with the European Challenge Tour event in France. Ugo COUSSAUD (FRA) and Gregoire SCHOEB (FRA), also playing in France, would probably have been considered too.
Europe have only won five St. Andrews Trophy matches out of 30, with just one of these victories coming away from the Continent. GB&I clearly have an advantage when playing such matches on links courses which they have far more experience of.
So, harsh as it may seem, I for one am not going to get too excited about a halved home match against a weakened Continent of Europe team. Much improvement will be needed if GB&I are going to give a hurt USA team a match on a parkland course in sunny Los Angeles at the 2017 Walker Cup.