The R&A announced their 10 man team for the 47th Walker Cup match on Monday 19th August.
The following players were selected: –
Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England Thomas PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland Euan WALKER (24) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland
There are five English, 3 Irish and 2 Scottish players in the team.
Reserves Benjamin SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England Benjamin JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England
GB&I captain Craig Watson said: “It has been a very difficult decision to select ten players for Great Britain and Ireland from a strong squad but we have been very impressed with the results of those we have picked and we believe they will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against a strong American team.
“The Walker Cup is a fantastic opportunity for these amateur golfers to demonstrate their talents on the big stage and it will be an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We are looking forward to the match at Hoylake and I’m sure the players will give it their very best to win.”
Here are the ten players I would select for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) 2019 Walker Cup team.
This is not a prediction of who will be selected. It would probably be different if it was. This is simply the team I’d go for based on my observations and selection criteria.
I am conscious I have a) not attended any of the three practice sessions at Hoylake to see who has taken to the course and b) am not overly familiar with the players so don’t know too much about their personalities and potential impact in the team room. I am sure these are both factors that will influence the formal selection.
The GB&I team is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August by The R&A.
I have included three Appendices below which show my selection criteria, the performance records over the last 12 months of all of the players mentioned and finally the latest amateur rankings available to us. You may want to refer to these in reaching your own selection decisions.
Here is my GB&I team in the order I have selected them, along with five honourable mentions, as our friends in the U.S.A. like to say, to describe those who have just missed out: –
SPWAR as at 18/08/19 / WAGR as at 14/08/19
1) Euan WALKER (23) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland
SPWAR #4 / WAGR #14
Euan won the African Amateur Championship early in the year and has enjoyed a very consistent season thereafter. His runner-up spots at the Amateur Championship and European Amateur have taken him to the top of the GB&I rankings and made him my No. 1 selection.
Euan Walker (Photo: European Golf Association)
2) Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland
SPWAR #13 / WAGR #23
Caolan has risen out of the pack in 2019 with a number of excellent results. The West of Ireland was his only win but look at the number of top 10s. He has a good links pedigree and has performed well in various match play events too.
Caolan Rafferty (Photo: Maynooth University)
3) Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England
SPWAR #27 / WAGR #35
The European Nations win at Sotogrande was the highlight of Tom’s season. He has a sound match play record and a well established foursomes partnership with Tom Plumb (see below). Current form looks good too with a strong qualification at last week’s U.S. Amateur.
Tom Sloman (Photo: England Golf / Leaderboard Photography)
4) Ben JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England
SPWAR #19 / WAGR #39
Ben secured his place with excellent results at The Amateur and European Amateur Championships. He is a competitive player with a good match play record. He has also won at Royal Liverpool before so should have positive memories of the host course.
Ben Jones (Photo: European Golf Association)
5) Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland
SPWAR #43 / WAGR #51
Sandy took his positive finish to his U.S. college season with Texas Tech. into the summer events back in Europe. He played well in the Arnold Palmer Cup, The Amateur and the European Amateur Team Championships. An experienced international I assume he will pair up with compatriot Euan Walker in the foursomes.
Sandy Scott (Photo: texastech.com)
6) Tom PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England
SPWAR #38 / WAGR #138
Tom won the Cape Province Open in South Africa and has enjoyed a very consistent season. He has played well in all of this summer’s links-based events too. An experienced match player his selection is supported by his long standing foursomes partnership with close friend Tom Sloman.
Tom Plumb (Photo: Pieter Els)
7) Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England
SPWAR #26 / WAGR #76
Harry graduated from UNLV this year and is one of our most experienced players. He impressed in the events he came back to play in this summer with a number of high finishes. I think he deserves his amateur swan song at Hoylake although his late withdrawal from the English Amateur may come back to haunt him if his selection is tighter than I perceive.
Harry Hall (Photo: Las Vegas Review Journal)
8) James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland
SPWAR #59 / WAGR #62
The Amateur champion enjoyed the best week of his golfing life just when it mattered most as far as 2019 Walker Cup selection is concerned. Anyone who wins The Amateur has earned their place and James brings a good links record and a solid match play record over a long period to the team.
James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes / Getty Images)
9) Jake BURNAGE (23) – Saunton, England
SPWAR #29 / WAGR #47
Jake’s win at the St. Andrews Links Trophy confirmed his credentials as one of GB&I’s best links players. Question marks over his match play record appear to have been partially answered with a recent run to the semi-finals of the English Amateur. He has been a little inconsistent this year but on his day is as good as anyone we can select. However, his non-selection for the 6-man England team at the European Team Championships suggests that one of The R&A selectors may not share my enthusiasm for him.
Jake Burnage (Photo: Burnage Family)
10) Ronan MULLARNEY (23) – Galway, Ireland
SPWAR #57 / WAGR #67
The more I have looked at Ronan’s record this summer, particularly in the major links events, the more I think he has every right to be included. He has an excellent match play record and won the Irish Close at Ballybunion just a few weeks ago so has form.
Ronan Mullarney (Photo: Pat Cashman Photography)
The following players were close to being included in my team: –
11) Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland
SPWAR #22 / WAGR #16
I thought Conor was an absolute lock for the team when he won the Australian Amateur early in the season. Whilst there have been some good results, notably at the West of Ireland, the Irish Amateur Open and the European Amateur Team, the missed cuts at Lytham, the St. Andrews Links and the Amateur (played at his home club but admittedly whilst he was injured), concern me. Sadly there was no suggestion of an upturn in form at the U.S. Amateur this week either.
12) Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England
SPWAR #242 / WAGR #2
Conor chose to concentrate on his exams this year and has therefore played a very restricted schedule. The 2018 Boys’ Amateur champion reminded us of his undoubted potential and tenacious match play skills though with his win at the English Amateur earlier this month. Worthy of consideration but lack of recent links golf and competition against GB&I peers make it hard for me to include him this time. He is our highest ranked player in the WAGR which may politically make it hard for The R&A selectors to leave him out.
13) Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England
SPWAR #54 / WAGR #41
Once Alex gained a place in the Wake Forest team he quickly found his feet, producing some notable finishes in the U.S. in 2019. I thought he would impose himself on the selectors when he returned to the U.K. this summer but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. He showed no liking for links golf missing the cut at both the St. Andrews Links and the Amateur Championship. If the match was in the U.S. one might give him the benefit of the doubt after his U.S. Amateur performances in 2018 and 2019 but unfortunately this year it isn’t.
14) Ben SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England
SPWAR #114 / WAGR #8
Another excellent prospect whose win at the Brabazon Trophy was one of the highlights of the amateur year. Limited experience of men’s golf, match play and links courses stops me from throwing him in now. His time will come.
15) Josh MCMAHON (ENG) – Wallasey, England
SPWAR #126 / WAGR #149
Josh’s win at the Lytham Trophy in early May brought him in to the Walker Cup picture. Whilst it would have been nice to have local representation at Hoylake he simply hasn’t done as much over the season as the others listed above to warrant selection.
I have selected players who have demonstrated as many of the following characteristics to me as possible: –
1) Current form.
2) Championship wins in the last 12 months.
3) Links experience / results.
4) Match play experience / results.
5) Potential foursomes pairings.
Here is a summary of the results of all of the players I have considered for selection above as tabulated by both the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR):-
#2 Conor GOUGH (ENG)
#8 Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)
#14 Euan WALKER (SCO)
#16 Conor PURCELL (IRL)
#23 Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL)
#30 Joseph PAGDIN (ENG)
#35 Tom SLOMAN (ENG)
#39 Ben JONES (ENG)
#41 Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
#47 Jake BURNAGE (ENG)
#51 Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
#62 James SUGRUE (IRL)
#67 Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL)
#73 Alex GLEESON (IRL)
#76 Harry HALL (ENG)
#85 Robin WILLIAMS (ENG)
#87 Mark POWER (IRL)
#88 David HAGUE (ENG)
#90 Bailey GILL (ENG)
#94 Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG)
#98 Jamie LI (ENG)
#107 Joe LONG (ENG)
#110 Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG)
#132 Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
#136 Jake BOLTON (ENG)
#138 Tom PLUMB (ENG)
School’s out for summer and it’s two English school boys that have been making most of the noise since my last report.
But have either of them done enough to make the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team…..
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) won the English Boys’ U18 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the Carris Trophy at Moor Park G.C. on 26th July.
Ben Schmidt (Photo: Schmidt Family)
Having won the Brabazon Trophy earlier this summer he became just the fourth player to win both the boys’ and men’s English Open Amateur Stroke Play titles in the same year. A remarkable achievement.
Ben’s rise to No. 7 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), which makes him GB&I’s highest ranked player, has had a number of observers understandably calling for his inclusion in our 2019 Walker Cup team.
I am still to be convinced.
I agree with his supporters that Ben has enjoyed a great season and is clearly one of Europe’s best U18 prospects. I am just not sure he is ready for the 2019 Walker Cup match or that his inclusion would necessarily be good for his development.
He justifiably should be under consideration by the selectors but I have a question mark over his lack of experience of both men’s amateur golf and elite match play games.
I also think he may have hampered his chances with his playing schedule over the critical final weeks. Indeed I wonder if his high WAGR will actually end up being his undoing.
Ben’s top 50 WAGR ranking on 26th June gained him an exemption in to the U.S. Amateur Championship which he is taking up. Play starts at Pinehurst in North Carolina on Monday 12th August.
The U.S. Amateur clashes with The R&A’s Boys’ Amateur Championship which is being played at Saunton. Ben would clearly have been one of the favourites for this title.
Ahead of this, for whatever reason, he chose not to enter last week’s English Men’s Amateur (30th July – 4th August) or take up his place in England’s team at The R&A Boys’ Home Internationals which start tomorrow in South Wales and finishes on Thursday 8th August.
Good performances at one or even both of these events – along with the Boys’ Amateur instead of the U.S. Amateur – could have easily pushed him over the line.
As it is all of his eggs are now in the U.S. Amateur Championship basket. Only time will tell if this strategy proves to be a successful one. If he makes the match play stage and can win a few games he will deserve his place in our team.
If Ben is selected he will probably become the first player to receive the honour without ever having played in any R&A Championship or selected GB&I team beforehand. His rise has been that meteoric.
In many ways Conor GOUGH was last year’s Ben SCHMIDT. A string of wins albeit exclusively at the boys’ level. The main one of course being the prestigious Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.
Conor was selected for the original GB&I Walker Cup squad but due to focussing on his exams played none of the major amateur events during May and June. As a result it was no surprise to see him left out of the reduced 16-man squad a few weeks ago.
Like Schmidt Conor also received a WAGR generated exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship on 26th June. However, and I accept their circumstances were different, Conor chose to play the English Men’s Amateur and will be participating in the Boys’ Home Internationals before travelling to the United States.
In a stunning performance Gough won the English Men’s Amateur beating Callum Farr 3&2 in the Final at Hankley Common. On the way to the final he beat Jamie Li, Joshua McMahon, Curtis Knipes and Jake Burnage, once again highlighting his match play pedigree.
Conor Gough (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)
This win inevitably brings Conor back to the table for GB&I Walker Cup selection.
Another major match play victory by the Englishman within two weeks of the 2019 selection date is hugely persuasive.
However, as you will see below I am not yet ready to add him into my team. As Aristotle said ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ and I need to see more. However, if he does well this week at Ashburnham and shows up at the U.S. Amateur Championship he could very easily force his way in to the final line up.
Conor Gough was clearly the star of the show at the English Men’s Amateur but in the context of the Walker Cup perhaps the real winner was fellow Englishman Jake BURNAGE.
Eight of the ten English members of the 16-man Walker Cup squad competed in what was, at least for me, an unofficial Walker Cup eliminator. It is after all a large group of English players that are in effect competing for the five remaining places.
Burnage ended up being the leading player out of the eight. Playing under some pressure he reached the Semi-Finals, winning four match play games, having also qualified well in 9th on 138 (-3). It was just the result the Devonian needed having already placed the St. Andrews Links Trophy on his C.V. in June.
The other squad players, some of whom really needed to move the dial to make the team, to differing degrees simply didn’t get it done – Tom SLOMAN (SP 37th / MP Rd4), Joshua MCMAHON (SP 45th / MP Rd4) Alex FITZPATRICK (SP 5th / MP Rd3), Matty LAMB (SP 24th / MP Rd3), Tom PLUMB (SP 7th / MP Rd2), Bailey GILL (SP 69th / MP Rd2) and David LANGLEY (SP MC).
Of the two missing players Harry HALL withdrew a week before to return to Las Vegas and I believe will not be playing again before the team is selected. Ben JONES chose to play in the Western Amateur Championship and will stay in the States before playing in the U.S. Amateur.
Archie DAVIES, an original GB&I Walker Cup squad member, won the Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) last week at Tenby G.C.
Unfortunately in the context of this year’s Walker Cup selection this win is unlikely to bring Archie back into the discussion. He is another good young player who has every chance of making future teams though.
Runner Up Connor Jones (l) and Champion Archie Davies (r) Photo: Steve Jones)
The Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) was also played last week and the Irish Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) started yesterday at Ballybunion.
Unfortunately none of the remaining Scottish or Irish Walker Cup panelists – Sandy SCOTT, Euan WALKER, Mark POWER, Conor PURCELL, Caolan RAFFERTY and James SUGRUE – entered so it is hard to see how these Championships will impact the Walker Cup selection.
George BURNS beat Lewis IRVINE in the final of the Scottish Amateur on their 19th hole at Crail Golfing Society.
With the exception of Power, the other three Irish lads are playing in the U.S. Amateur next week and therefore were unable to enter due to the clashing dates.
7th August Update Ronan MULLARNEY, who also won the stroke play qualifying by 6-shots, beat Rob BRAZILL in the final of the Irish Amateur by 1 hole at Ballybunion G.C.
The previous week also saw the playing of the South of Ireland Amateur Championship at Lahinch G.C. (on the 24th-28th July).
Five Irish Walker Cup panelists, four of whom attended the practice session at Hoylake which clashed with the Stroke Play Qualifying, were given byes into the Match Play competition.
Unfortunately all of them struggled to make much of an impression. John MURPHY reached the Quarter Finals but James SUGRUE, Mark POWER, Conor PURCELL and Caolan RAFFERTY all lost their Round 2 matches.
Two weeks today, the day after the U.S. Amateur Championship has concluded, I believe the GB&I Walker Cup squad will be announced.
Here are my current thoughts on the team and likely foursomes pairings as at 5th August: –
Euan WALKER (24) – Scotland Sandy SCOTT (20) – Scotland
The R&A today formally announced a revised GB&I squad of 16 players for September’s Walker Cup match against USA.
The players selected are:- Jake BURNAGE, Saunton, 23 Alex FITZPATRICK, Hallamshire, 20 Bailey GILL, Lindrick, 21 Harry HALL, West Cornwall, 21 Benjamin JONES, Northamptonshire County, 19 Matty LAMB, Hexham, 21 David LANGLEY, Castle Royle, 25 Joshua MCMAHON, Wallasey, 23 Thomas PLUMB, Yeovil, 20 Mark POWER, Kilkenny, 18 Conor PURCELL, Portmarnock, 21 Caolan RAFFERTY, Dundalk, 26 Sandy SCOTT, Nairn, 20 Tom SLOMAN, Taunton & Pickeridge, 22 James SUGRUE, Mallow, 22 Euan WALKER, Kilmarnock (Barassie), 24
The players were invited to attend a practice session taking place today and tomorrow on Monday 15th July following a selection meeting immediately following the European Men’s and Boys’ Team Championships.
The Squad Practicing Today At Hoylake (Photo: Royal Liverpool G.C.)
There are 10 players from England, 4 from Ireland, 2 from Scotland and 0 from Wales.
This new squad includes three players not included in the initial panel of 26 selected in April; namely Matty LAMB, David LANGLEY and Joshua MCMAHON.
GB&I captain Craig Watson said “We have monitored results of the players originally selected since we last got together as a squad, while also keeping an eye on the performances of other players not included. We have brought in three new players who have had encouraging results in recent events and we look forward to working with them and the other players when we meet up at Royal Liverpool this week.”
The following 13 players have in effect been dropped from the squad – Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales Archie DAVIES – Wales Conor GOUGH – England David HAGUE – England Jake HAPGOOD – Wales Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland John MURPHY – Ireland Joseph PAGDIN – England Jamie STEWART – Scotland Tom THURLOWAY – England Robin WILLIAMS – England
It is hard to argue with this new squad selection particularly as it was made before Joe PAGDIN‘s run to the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship semi-finals last week.
No one can be written off yet but the probability is the final 10-man GB&I team will come from these newly selected 16 players.
When I picked my latest squad on 14th July (107. Learnings From The European Team Championships ) I also reduced it to 16 players and included all of the above players except for Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick. I chose Ben HUTCHINSON and Ben SCHMIDT instead, although I did acknowledge Schmidt had entered the Carris Trophy at Moor Park and therefore would probably be replaced by Fitzpatrick.
The only sour note is the timing of this latest practice session even accepting the packed amateur golf calendar at this time of year. The South of Ireland Amateur Championship has had to issue byes to the match play stage for the Irish players who are competing at Lahinch this week and the Walton Heath Trophy has had to accept the late withdrawals of Messrs. Langley, Plumb and Sloman from its field.
I think we have the makings of a very competitive Walker Cup team and am increasingly looking forward to this being tested in 6 weeks time.
Yesterday saw the conclusion of the Men’s and Boys’ European Team Championships played respectively in Sweden and France.
Both Championships combined 36 holes of stroke play qualifying with three rounds of match play, including foursomes and singles.
ENGLAND finished 2nd, disappointingly losing in the Final for the third year running, this time to host’s Sweden. In what proved to be a good Championship for the home nations SCOTLAND finished 3rd, IRELAND 5th and WALES a very creditable 6th.
Here’s my assessment of the individual GB&I men’s team performances. You will appreciate this is an art not a science but I am confident the list is broadly correct.
Euan WALKER (SCO) continued to enjoy his rich vein of form, winning the stroke play qualifying easily and playing relatively well in the match play stage. If he had won all of his match play games he may well have risen to No. 1 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking; as it is he has stayed in 4th but the gap has been closed.
I have been bullish about Sandy SCOTT (SCO) for the Walker Cup for some time on the back of his strong play for Texas Tech in the U.S. this season. Sandy performed very well in Sweden fully justifying my faith in him. It’s a shame that Scotland’s needs meant he and Euan Walker couldn’t be paired together in the foursomes this week.
Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Tom PLUMB (ENG) both qualified well and won all three of their foursomes games together. Their selection and pairing looks a certainty to me now.
From an Irish perspective Conor PURCELL presented a welcome return to form right on cue and Caolan RAFFERTY ticked along nicely, albeit his match play results were disappointing. However, Mark POWER (IRE) is the player that really grasped the opportunity presented by this event. A solid qualification was followed by singles wins (playing at No. 2) over John Axelsen DEN (4&3), Maximillian Hermann GER (20th) and Jacob Davies WAL (19th).
Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO), Gaelen TREW (WAL) and Harry HALL (ENG) also won all three of their singles in Sweden. Interestingly they all qualified poorly over the opening two days but clearly found something as the week progressed. In the context of the Walker Cup the wins were particularly useful for Hall.
For the record Trew, playing No. 1 for Wales, impressively beat Ben Jones ENG (1 Hole), Alejandro Del Ray ESP (1 Hole) and Conor Purcell IRE (4&3).
Ben JONES ENG, who had played so well at the Amateur Championship a few weeks ago, qualified strongly but lost his way in the match play stage losing all three of his games.
From a Walker Cup perspective it would have been good to see Hall and Jones given a foursomes run out at some point as they are both strong candidates for selection and this is therefore a possible pairing.
Alex FITZPATRICK ENG followed a similar path to Jones, qualifying well before losing all three of his singles, albeit each by the slender margin of 1 Hole.
In addition to Trew Ben CHAMBERLAIN was the standout for Wales, qualifying in 10th and enjoying a good win over Ronan Mullarney on the final day.
Only IRELAND and ENGLAND played in the European Boys Team Championship in Chantilly, France. Ireland finished 4th and England 5th as France took the title.
SCOTLAND and WALES played in the Division 2 Championship in Poland.
Here’s my assessment of the individual GB&I boys’ Division 1 team performances.
Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Max HOPKINS (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRE) and Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) were the standout performers for me in the Boys’ Team Championship.
Pagdin, who won all four of his games in last week’s AJGA Wyndham Cup in North Carolina, continues to show encouraging match play form. If he had held on to his lead over the final holes of his Round 2 match against Tom Sloman in The Amateur I may be talking him up even more now.
Pagdin and McKibbin both fly to the USA today for this week’s U.S. Junior Amateur. They will need to go deep, as will Ben Schmidt in the U.S. Amateur in August, to have a chance of making the GB&I Walker Cup team.
Pagdin and McKibbin also have the opportunity to make a late Walker Cup case in the Boys’ Amateur Championship being played at Saunton G.C. in August. Both played well in this event last year at Royal Portrush G.C.
The Boys’ event clashes with the U.S. Amateur which is why Schmidt won’t be in Devon. Indeed it is possible that Pagdin may also be a late qualifier for the U.S. Amateur having now moved into the World Amateur Golf Ranking Top 50.
All three are of an age and have the potential to play multiple Walker Cup’s for GB&I but the 2019 match now looks like coming too soon for them.
The GB&I selectors will be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad this weekend with an announcement expected tomorrow.
The next squad training gathering is being held at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 23-24 July.
If the decision was mine I would select 16 players giving me 8 foursomes pairings to work with at Hoylake.
Here are my current thoughts on the team / squad and pairings (all in selection order): –
Team (as at 14th July) Euan WALKER – Scotland Sandy SCOTT – Scotland
Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland Conor PURCELL – Ireland
Tom SLOMAN – England Thomas PLUMB – England
Harry HALL – England Ben JONES – England
James SUGRUE – Ireland [Amateur Champion – Automatic Selection] Jake BURNAGE – England
Other Squad Players David LANGLEY – England NEW Josh MCMAHON – England NEW Mark POWER – Ireland Bailey GILL – England Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW [Training session clashes with U18 Carris Trophy]
Since my last squad selection I have taken out Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick and added Mark Power to the second group solely based on their performances at the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship.
Dropped From Original Squad Alex FITZPATRICK – England [Training Session replacement for Schmidt ?] Joseph PAGDIN – England Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland David HAGUE – England Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales Jake HAPGOOD – Wales Tom THURLOWAY – England Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland Robin WILLIAMS – England John MURPHY – Ireland Jamie STEWART – Scotland Archie DAVIES – Wales Conor GOUGH – England
The final group of players, for a variety of reasons, simply haven’t done enough to stay in my Walker Cup squad.
The U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, The Open Championship, The English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh (Closed) Amateur Championships, The Boys’ Amateur Championship and The U.S. Amateur are now the only events left that can influence the GB&I team selection which is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August.
This week has seen the European Amateur Championship played in Austria and also confirmation of the team selections for the European Men’s Amateur Team Championships which will be played in Sweden next month.
Below are my observations on both of these important matters with regard to the Walker Cup and my latest views on how the Walker Cup squad is shaping up.
Matthias SCHMID (GER) won the European Amateur Championship at Diamond C.C. in Austria today. Rounds of 67, 73, a best of the week 63 and 70 took him to a 273 (-15) total and a comfortable 3 shot victory. The win brings with it an exemption into the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush G.C.
Matthias Schmid (Photo: European Golf Association)
Euan WALKER (SCO), bouncing back from his disappointment at The Amateur and confirming his status as Great Britain & Ireland’s (GB&I) No. 1 player, finished 2nd on -12. A final round 66 (-6) being the highlight of his week’s work.
Ben JONES (ENG) 68 and Joe LONG (ENG) 74 finished the Championship on -9 tied for 3rd place. Jones has come through strongly in recent weeks.
It was also another good week for Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) 69 who finished tied 6th on -8. Caolan seems to have played well all year.
Lytham Trophy winner Josh MCMAHON (ENG) -5 finished tied 13th which may be just what was required to help push him in to the next GB&I Walker Cup squad.
Harry HALL (ENG) will be disappointed with his tied 16th finish on -4. After a superb front nine of 31 (-5) today he looked like pushing Schmid all the way home but sadly a returning 43 (+7) destroyed much of his excellent work over the preceding three and half days. Hall has played very well since returning from Las Vegas in May.
The ever consistent David LANGLEY (ENG) was seventh and the last GB&I player to finish in the top 20 in Austria.
Here are the final results.
European Amateur Championship Leading Results (Photo: EGA / Golfbox)
Here are the top 30 GB&I players in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR), updated today with the European Amateur Championship results: –
Prior to the European Amateur Championship starting on Wednesday the home nations all had to confirm their teams for the 2019 European Men’s Amateur Team Championship.
This event will be played at Ljunghusen G.C. in Sweden on Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 July.
Ljunghusen is a heathland links course located on the Falsterbo Peninsula, south of Malmö.
16 teams, each consisting of 6 players, will be participating.
The first two days involve a stroke play qualifying competition with each team’s best five scores counting. Once completed the leading 8 teams contest the Championship match play whilst the bottom 8 play a separate second match play flight.
Ljunghusen G.C. (Photo: GEO Foundation / sustainable.golf)
In a Walker Cup year the home nation teams for this event are an important indicator as to where selectors mind’s are.
At the end of the day if you can’t make you own country’s 6-man team 6 weeks before the Walker Cup team selection then the message is fairly clear – you still have work to do to have a chance of playing for GB&I.
Team inclusion also provides the players with a unique opportunity to play foursomes and singles match play golf against the best players in Europe and potentially against their direct cometition for Walker Cup places.
Here are the home nation teams all of which had to be submitted by Wednesday 26th June and were therefore selected before the start of the European Amateur which finished today in Austria: –
Each player’s SPWAR as at 26th June 2019 – before the European Amateur – is in brackets after their name
Alex FITZPATRICK (#65)
Harry HALL (#26)
Ben JONES (#28)
Matty LAMB (#69)
Tom PLUMB (#30)
Tom SLOMAN (#31)
At the time of selection England had 11 players in the top 100 of the SPWAR so picking a team was never going to be easy.
[There are now 13 English players in the updated top 100 – see SPWAR table above]
Jake Burnage (#29), winner of the St. Andrews Links Trophy, David Langley (#39), Bailey Gill (#45), a member of the winning England team at the European Nations in April, Ben Hutchinson (#55), Ben Schmidt (#92), winner of the Brabazon Trophy and selected for the Boys’ event which is played concurrently, Angus Flanagan (#127) and Josh McMahon (#133), winner of the Lytham Trophy could all make a case for being unlucky here based on either recent wins or form.
Looking at the SPWAR, and I accept rankings are not everything, Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick appear to be the two debatable names in the England team. To be fair to Lamb he has enjoyed a good June, just missing out on the St. Andrews Links title and progressing to the Last 16 of The Amateur. Unfortunately at this moment in time a selection on form can’t really be used to support Fitzpatrick, a player of great promise but one whose results haven’t really matched this recently. After a good finish to his U.S. college season with Wake Forest he chose not to play in the Brabazon Trophy (accepting the very tight scheduling), missed the cut at St. Andrews and then The Amateur and then withdrew (for reasons admittedly I don’t know) from the European Amateur.
Tiarnan MCLARNAN (#101)
Ronan MULLARNEY (#49)
Mark POWER (#204)
Conor PURCELL (#14)
Caolan RAFFERTY (#12)
James SUGRUE (#42)
John Murphy (#140) and Rowan Lester (#166) are ranked higher than Mark Power, who has been in exam mode for the last month, but neither have done enough to make a persuasive case since returning from their U.S. colleges in May. Tom McKibbin (#211) may have been a consideration but like Schmidt for England he has been selected for the Boys Team Championship.
Ryan LUMSDEN (#171)
Euan MCINTOSH (#169)
Sandy SCOTT (#36)
Jamie STEWART (#265)
Euan WALKER (#7)
James WILSON (#105)
Connor Mckinney (#191) is also highly ranked and I assume is being sent to the Boys’ event for which I think he still qualifies.
Ben CHAMBERLAIN (#402)
Archie DAVIES (#1,393)
Jacob DAVIES (#559)
Jake HAPGOOD (#266)
Matt ROBERTS (#947)
Gaelen TREW (#401)
Tom Froom (#1,032), Lewis Sanges (#1,149), Tom Williams (#1,195), Paddy Mullins (#1,257), Kieron Harmon (#1,351) and Oly Brown (#1,381) would have been discussed but the Welsh team is as most would have expected.
The GB&I selectors will be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad after the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship for a training gathering to be held at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 23-24 July.
Here is my slightly revised assessment of how the original 26, and other players who have emerged over the last two months, currently fare with regard to this next selection. I now have the European Amateur Championship results and European Team Championship selections to hand which are obviously helpful.
I have listed all of the players in order of how I see their current form / Squad selection: –
Current Team (if picked on 29th June) Euan WALKER – Scotland Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland Harry HALL – England James SUGRUE – Ireland Ben JONES – England Sandy SCOTT – Scotland Thomas PLUMB – England Tom SLOMAN – England Conor PURCELL – Ireland Jake BURNAGE – England
England Golf’s decision to leave Jake Burnage out of their team is obviously not a vote of confidence from Mr. Edwards – who certainly knows what he is doing and is perhaps rightly focussing on match play records – but for me his win at St. Andrews and links pedigree keep him in my team. Conor Purcell‘s form is also a bit of a concern and he ideally needs to regain it quickly if my early confidence in his selection is to be borne out.
A few players below are pushing hard for consideration.
July Squad Member David LANGLEY – England NEW Josh MCMAHON – England NEW Bailey GILL – England Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW Matty LAMB – England NEW Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW Ronan MULLARNEY – Ireland NEW Alex FITZPATRICK – England
I have pushed the experienced David Langley for some time now impressed by his consistent displays almost every week. Josh McMahon was unlucky not to be included in my July Squad earlier this week given his outstanding Lytham Trophy win. Today’s top 15 result at the European Amateur provides additional weight to his inclusion so I have added him.
My July squad is going to be England heavy but I believe this reflects recent results and form. The time for token selection gestures is over and we are now down to the serious business of finalising a team.
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
The final group of players, for a variety of reasons, simply haven’t done enough to stay in my Walker Cup squad assuming it is reduced to manageable numbers, which I have chosen to be 18.
The good or bad news for everyone, depending on where they sit, is I am not a selector and am simply expressing my own personal views.
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.
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.
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.
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
The 16 year old from Rotherham G.C. played some great golf to post four under par rounds of 69, 64, 69 and 69 for a 271 (-13) winning total.
Having taken the lead after Round 2 he impressively showed the composure to hold off far more experienced players over the weekend and ultimately deliver a 5 shot victory. He became the youngest ever winner of this prestigious title, overtaking Sandy Lyle who was 17 when he won it in 1977.
Harry HALL (ENG) will have been disappointed with his final round but a course record 63 on Saturday and a 2nd place finish, having only returned from college in the United States a few days earlier, represented an excellent week’s work for the Cornishman.
Euan WALKER (SCO) finished 3rd, David LANGLEY (ENG) tied 5th, Ben JONES tied 7th, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) & Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) both tied 10th, Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL), Conor PURCELL (IRE) & Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) all tied 13th and Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) & James SUGRUE (IRE) all tied 18th at Alwoodley. All of them further advanced their Walker Cup chances with top 20 finishes as we move into the key selection month of June.
So what about Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) for the Walker Cup – after all he’s just won a ‘Major’ and in the process moved to the top of the England Golf Men’s Order of Merit ?
Ben rose 337 places in the SPWAR on Sunday to 109th (he’s 106th now after a few leading players subsequently turned Pro) and 1,416 places to 142nd in today’s WAGR release.
A victory in the Brabazon Trophy and such high rankings would normally put a player well in the picture for Walker Cup selection.
However, with important school exams on the immediate horizon and given his previously low WAGR ranking Ben is now going to be sitting out both this week’s St. Andrews Links Trophy and the following week’s Amateur Championship. He is also not playing in the European Amateur Championship which starts on 26th June.
Like James NEWTON (ENG), winner of the Irish Amateur Open a few weeks ago, this in my opinion is likely to greatly reduce his chances of gaining selection for the forthcoming Walker Cup match.
It will be interesting to see if England Golf select him for their Men’s European Team Championship team later this month or whether he will stay with the Boys Team. The former would give him another opportunity to impress.
Time is of course on Ben’s side but in my view circumstances look like conspiring against him with regard to the 2019 match.
With around 75 days to go until the GB&I Walker Cup team is selected how’s our team shaping up ?
Conor PURCELL (IRE), Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE), Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Euan WALKER (SCO) look certainties today. All have 2019 wins to their names and consistent form to support their selections already.
Harry HALL‘s (ENG) result at the Brabazon Trophy was just what was required from him. His experience could be invaluable to the team too. He’s now a probable for me.
Ben JONES (ENG) is playing well and building up a consistent body of 2019 results. His sound match play record and win in the Duke of York Champions event at Royal Liverpool a few years ago also bode well for him.
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) has played well for Wake Forest University since the turn of the year and if he can show up well against his GB&I peers – he hasn’t directly played against too many of them over the last year – in the big events coming up he will in my opinion be a strong candidate for selection.
The remaining three places are still open for me. I could currently make a case for Bailey GILL (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Josh MCMAHON (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG), Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) and Sandy SCOTT (SCO).
In a year of surprise winners the results of the St. Andrews Links Trophy and Amateur Championship, and to a lesser degree the European Amateur, may not help but they will certainly provide us with more clarity. Will the above players confirm their status as Walker Cup favourites or will new players have come to the fore by the team we reach the end of June ?
Newton recorded rounds of 66, 66, 69 and 74 for a 275 -9 total.
He held the lead after 36 holes and showed good composure to see out the Championship over the final two days. Sunday’s final round started shakily and his nerves weren’t helped by a late triple on the 16th but as you can see from his scorecard below there was also a lot of good golf played too.
Normally the winner of the Irish Amateur Open, played on a tough links course, would be thrown straight into Walker Cup selection discussions, particularly in the year of a match and certainly when it is a home one.
However, in the case of James Newton matters are a little more complicated.
This victory was completely out of the blue. He started the week ranked 1,879th in the SPWAR and 2,710th in the WAGR. He was 250-1 in the pre-event betting with BoyleSports.
As a result of this high WAGR he has already missed the entry cut-off for the Brabazon Trophy, St. Andrews Links Trophy and The Amateur Championship, three of the bigger events on the road to The Walker Cup. He tried to qualify for the Brabazon at Lindrick last Tuesday (14th May) but missed out in the 18 hole shoot out and with The Amateur field set over the weekend he has no way of playing in that either. The St. Andrews Links Trust may come to his rescue in Scotland though; they have four places that are still to be allocated for their event which starts on 7th June. I hope they do as he has earned it.
Perhaps England golf, who can be forgiven as they do stage two Brabazon qualifiers, and The R&A should afford themselves more flexibility to manage situations like this. At face value one would always want the reigning Irish Amateur Open champion in your field.
Newton rose 1,523 places to 356th in the SPWAR and is now the 47th best GB&I player according to this ranking. Nevertheless without the opportunity to play in these big three events in the coming weeks it is hard to see how he can make a late Walker Cup break through.
In a post round interview with the Golf Union of Ireland Alan Kelly asked what his plans were for the rest of the season. I think he was taken a back by Newton’s response: “I’ve not got too much on now, one event next week (the Lagonda Trophy)”, fully reflecting the above situation.
Looking at a few of the other performances in Ireland: –
Conor PURCELL (IRE) finished 2nd, five shots further back on 280 -4, further confirming his status as GB&I’s number 1 player.
Another Irishman Ronan MULLARNEY, who was a little unfortunate to miss out on selection for the Walker Cup squad, featured throughout. After an opening course record 62 (-9) he finished on Even par for 5th.
It was also good to see Josh MCMAHON (ENG) back up his Lytham Trophy win with a tied 7th finish on 286 +2.
Euan WALKER (SCO) +2 tied 7th and Mark POWER (IRE) +4 tied 17 were the best of the other Walker Cup squad members. There were nine members of the 26-man squad in total playing with chairman Andy Ingram and selector Padraig Hogan both in attendance at Rosses Point.
The 55th Lytham Trophy arguably provided more questions than answers when it comes to the selection of the 2019 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.
This is not unusual. Lytham is one of our more challenging courses and whilst conditions were relatively benign last weekend there was enough wind around to cause difficulties for those players that were unable to draw upon their A games.
The Lytham Trophy is always an important indicator in home Walker Cup years. The theory being if you can deliver here you may well be able to deliver on a similar links course in four months time. It’s no coincidence that most Lytham Trophy winners go on to be selected for the GB&I team.
Josh MCMAHON (ENG) won the competition with rounds of 71, 73, 73 and 71 for a 288 (+8) total. His 40 foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole will live long in the memory. It was a welcome return to form for the Wallasey man and rocketed him into Walker Cup contention. As he lives and plays just a few miles away from Hoylake his selection would certainly be good for the event and ticket sales.
Tom MCKIBBIN (N.I.) is another player who must now be on the selector’s radar. Arriving on the back of wins at The Peter McEvoy Trophy and Junior Invitational in USA he finished a very creditable tied 6th on (+11). What a three weeks he’s had. With exams on the horizon it will be interesting to see if he can maintain his current form and how he manages his schedule.
Of the recently announced 26 GB&I Walker Cup squad players 16 competed at Royal Lytham.
Eight of them made the cut; all advancing their causes in the process. Here is a summary of their scores and results: –
Bailey GILL (ENG) 70 75 70 76 (+11) T6 – leading after 54 holes.
Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL) 75 74 72 73 (+14) T12
James SUGRUE (IRE) 75 73 73 74 (+15) T14
Euan MCINTOSH (SCO) 72 73 72 79 (+16) T16
Tom PLUMB (ENG) 71 75 75 77 (+18) T20
Ben JONES (ENG) 71 74 74 79 (+18) T20
Tom SLOMAN (ENG) 74 72 75 78 (+19) T24
Euan WALKER (SCO) 72 76 77 77 (+22) T41
Other non-squad players from GB&I to perform well in Lancashire were Jack BROOKS (ENG) and Harry GODDARD (ENG) who both finished tied 2nd on +9, Max MARTIN (ENG), Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) and Stephen ROGER (SCO) tied 8th on +12 and Laurie OWEN (ENG) tied 12th on +14.
The other eight squad players on show missed the 36 hole top 40 and ties cut which fell at 149 (+9). 49 of the 144 starters advanced. Here is a summary of their scores: –
Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) 70 80 (+10) MC
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) 74 78 (+12) MC
Conor PURCELL (IRE) 75 79 (+14) MC
David HAGUE (ENG) 75 79 (+14) MC
Mark POWER (IRE) 77 78 (+15) MC
Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) 82 78 (+20) MC
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) 76 84 (+20) MC
Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) 77 84 (+21) MC
The ten remaining squad players did not play at Royal Lytham. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG), Harry HALL (ENG), Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO), John MURPHY (IRE), Sandy SCOTT (SCO), Jamie STEWART (SCO) are all still involved in the NCAA Division I Championships in USA and therefore they were understandably absent. Having said that Jake BENSON (ENG) is too and he teed it up; perhaps he received special dispensation from his Rice University coach. Tom THURLOWAY (ENG) travelled back from Jacksonville in Florida for the Hoylake squad session at the start of the week but perhaps didn’t enter expecting to still be involved in the NCAA’s with his University. Joe PAGDIN (ENG) is at high school in Florida so his entry would have been a surprise before the summer recess, even before considering the cost.
The other UK-based squad members, Archie DAVIES (WAL) and Conor GOUGH (ENG), are embroiled in school exams so chose to pass. Davies attended the Hoylake session at the start of last week whilst Gough is in action at this week’s British Masters where he has been afforded an invite by the European Tour.
Tom THURLOWAY, England (21) – SPWAR 284 / WAGR 354
Euan WALKER, Scotland (23) – SPWAR 41 / WAGR 98
Robin WILLIAMS, England (17) – SPWAR T354 / WAGR 115
The initial squad includes 12 players from England, 6 from Scotland, 5 from Ireland and 3 from Wales.
Of those named above I am on record as already saying Tom Plumb, Conor Purcell, Caolan Rafferty, Tom Sloman and Euan Walker are already ‘probables’ based on their 2019 wins and high rankings.
I also believe Alex Fitzpatrick and Sandy Scott are moving in that direction given their strong recent form on the U.S. College circuit.
The timetable from here is now clear: –
A second practice session has been scheduled for July at the host venue which a reduced number of players will be invited to attend.
The final ten-man GB&I team is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August, the day after the U.S. Amateur Championship finishes.
The match against United States of America will then take place on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th September at Royal Liverpool G.C.
In the official R&A Announcement Craig Watson, GB&I captain, said, “We have selected a talented group of players who are all in contention for a place in the team to play the United States of America and will be continuing to monitor the form and results of these players over the course of the season. We will also be looking closely at the performances of other players who have not been included in the squad and there is still time for them to play their way into our plans ahead of the final team selection later text his year.”
Whilst there are no major surprises in the selection it is perhaps worth looking in more detail at those players who have missed out and now have to fight their way back into the group.
Here are ten players, in alphabetical order, who are ranked highly but have missed out on the initial squad selection: –
Oliver FARRELL, England (SPWAR 158 / WAGR 393)
Alex GLEESON, Ireland (SPWAR 292 / WAGR 114)
Ben HUTCHINSON, England (SPWAR 235 / WAGR 204)
David LANGLEY, England (SPWAR 114 / WAGR 278)
Rowan LESTER, Ireland (SPWAR 212 / WAGR 100)
Jamie LI, England (SPWAR 234 / WAGR 119)
Joe LONG, England (SPWAR 169 / WAGR 157)
Ronan MULLARNEY, Ireland (SPWAR 139 / WAGR 205)
Daniel O’LOUGHLIN, England (SPWAR 191 / WAGR 294)
Rory FRANSSEN, Scotland (SPWAR 210 / WAGR 283)
It will be interesting to see who makes the final 10-man team in August and how many of them were in the initial squad.
With all of the Australian and South African amateur events completed and both the Portuguese and Spanish International Amateurs played I thought it was time to recognise a few GB&I players who have made a strong start to the season.
Scotland’s Euan WALKER has enjoyed an excellent start to 2019; his consistency and high finishes, including a win, making him an obvious standout.
Here is a summary of his recent results: –
African Amateur Stroke Play – WON (72 67 67 71)
South African Amateur – SPQ 4th (71 65) / MP Rd 2
South African Stroke Play – Tied 7th (66 71 69 72)
At the time of writing Euan has risen to 34th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR), second in the GB&I-only list behind Conor PURCELL (IRE) who is 20th.
Conor has continued his good form in recent weeks producing more strong performances in South Africa. As he’s already in ‘my Team’ I’ve chosen to write about others on this occasion (See Article 97).
It is a little early to say Euan will make the GB&I Walker Cup team but he has certainly put himself in a very nice position. Compatriot Liam Johnston also won the African Amateur at Leopard Creek in 2017 and subsequently the Scottish Open Amateur but still managed to miss out on a trip to Los Angeles that September so he will know nothing can be taken for granted.
Thomas PLUMB (ENG) showed some class in winning the Cape Province Open Championship in South Africa earlier this week with scores of 70 66 69 and 65 (-18).
Coming on the back of a tied 3rd place finish in the South American Amateur Championship in January he appears to also be trending positively towards Walker Cup selection. His reward for his win in George – a 38 place jump to 67th in the SPWAR.
Ben JONES (ENG) was relatively quiet last year as he transitioned from the junior to men’s ranks but seems to be nicely back on track now. He’s currently 98th in the SPWAR. Good match play results are obviously beneficial too: –
New South Wales Amateur – SPQ Tied 7th (69 72) / MP Semi-Finals
Spanish International Amateur – Medalist (71 66 -5) / MP Rd of 16
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) is a player I like a lot. He’s one of the few GB&I amateurs that seem to be able to go very low. The Dundalk man, now 47th in the SPWAR, did well on the Irish team trip to South Africa and looks set to remain within the GB&I Walker Cup picture throughout the coming months: –
South African Stroke Play – Tied 11th (75 67 68 71)
Bailey GILL (ENG) is also coming on to my radar with a solid string of overseas results added to his résumé with some match play victories thrown in too. Currently 121st in the SPWAR I think he could be a player to watch closely this year.
Australian Amateur – MP Rd of 32
New South Wales Amateur – MP Rd of 16
Avondale Amateur – Tied 19th
Portuguese International Amateur – Tied 5th (71 70 67 72)
Spanish International Amateur – SP Tied 7th (70 72) / MP Rd of 16
Many others have shown flashes of what they can do but will be looking for more consistency as the year continues. Callum FARR (ENG) SPWAR 334th, Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) 185th, David LANGLEY (ENG) 94th, Joe LONG (ENG) 151st, Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) 171st, Laurie OWEN (ENG) 663rd and Mark POWER (IRE) 141st immediately spring to mind here.
Over on the United States College circuit Sandy SCOTT (SCO), who was yesterday picked for the Arnold Palmer Cup International Team, also continues to gain confidence and impress. He’s 109th in the SPWAR.
As the amateur calendar moves back home it will be interesting to see who can maintain their momentum and which other players start to come through.
By my calculation there is around 170 days left before the GB&I selectors have to make their final decisions. There is plenty of time for everyone to make their mark albeit I feel the countdown clock has certainly started to tick.
With 278 days to go until the match starts Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) selection options were further reduced last week with the news that both Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Nick POPPLETON (ENG) had decided to turn professional.
Both Waite and Poppleton played for GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy match against Europe last July. At the time of the announcement Waite was also GB&I’s highest rated player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.
Of the nine man team and two reserves selected for the St. Andrews Trophy just four remain amateur heading into 2019; David HAGUE (ENG), John MURPHY (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and Euan WALKER (SCO).
The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals were played at Conwy Golf Club in Wales between 12th and 14th September.
ENGLAND won the tournament beating IRELAND 9 – 6 in the final day’s championship match. Ireland had won the event four years in a row but had to settle for second this year.
SCOTLAND finished third and WALES fourth.
The England Team With The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Wales Golf)
11-man teams play against each other in a round robin format. There are five foursomes and ten singles match play games contested in each match. The overall winner is the country with the highest number of match points. 1 point is awarded for a win, 0.5 for a half and 0 for a loss.
Here is a summary of the 2018 results: –
2018 Men’s Home Internationals (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)
With the exception of some lads who had returned to their U.S. Colleges earlier in September we had the 11 best players from each of the home nations playing competitive foursomes and singles match play golf in Conwy.
Even a year before the next Walker Cup match, and accepting that some of the participants may turn pro in the coming months, this was clearly a good event for a prospective 2019 player to find and establish a foursomes partnership and to hopefully record a few singles wins. The GB&I selectors will certainly have been watching.
Here is an analysis of the English and Irish individual performances at Conwy: –
It was a great week for David HAGUE (ENG) and Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) who both finished the tournament with 100% records, winning all six of their games.
Tom PLUMB (ENG) was also unbeaten, winning four of his games and halving two of his foursomes.
Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Andrew WILSON (ENG) lost just once in their six games. Mark POWER (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and James SUGRUE (IRE) all recorded four wins too.
David HAGUE and Andrew WILSON (ENG) won all three of their foursomes games leading England out in all three matches, which normally means you are playing your opponents best pairing.
Tiarnan MCLARNON and Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) also won all three of their foursomes matches albeit they were sent out in the fifth game on each day. Another Irish pairing, Conor PURCELL and Mark POWER, also impressed winning two games and halving the other.
The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals reaffirmed the view that our 2019 Walker Cup team is likely to be dominated by English and Irish players.
Looking at the Scottish and Welsh individual performances:-
Euan WALKER was outstanding for Scotland winning five of his six games. Likewise Ryan LUMSDEN did his prospects no harm with four wins.
Paddy MULLINS did well for Wales and will have been particularly pleased with his two singles wins.
It appears that the Scottish and Welsh contingent will need to up their games over the next 12 months if they are to have anything other than a modest 2019 Walker Cup representation.
The 2019 Men’s Home Internationals will be played at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland. The England Golf website suggests that has been scheduled to be played on 11-13th September next year, the week after the Walker Cup match.
In 2017 the Home Internationals were brought forward to August so that they could in theory be used to assist with GB&I Walker Cup team selection. However, because the 16-18th August dates then clashed with the U.S. Amateur it proved to be largely pointless as a competition and as a final selection trial. Just three of the final 10 man GB&I team competed at Moortown in 2017 with most of our leading amateurs choosing to play in the U.S. Amateur.
It is disappointing that the four home nation golf unions can not come up with a date in early August next year so that the Men’s Home internationals can properly fulfil it’s potential role in our 2019 Walker Cup preparations.
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.
Daniel SUTTON – GS 225th (72.78) / SPWAR 305th (38th)
In Division II GB&I had two players in the top 25 of the GolfStat standings: –
Richard MANSELL – GS 4th (71.01) / SPWAR 371 (40th)
Sam BROADHURST – GS 21st (72.08) / SPWAR 1361 (154th)
Harry Hall (Photo: UNLV Men’s Golf)
If one looks at the GB&I SPWAR positions alone, which fully reflect US College performances, then clearly Paul MCBRIDE and Harry HALL are right in the mix with David WICKS, and to a lesser degree Ryan LUMSDEN and Harry ELLIS, also knocking on the door.
The reality is I am not sure any of our US College players would make the team if I had to be pick it today. Perhaps Harry HALL would just sneak in but it would be close.
Certainly to my eyes all five of the above players could do with another ‘result’ or two in the coming weeks to draw the selectors towards them.
However, a possible twist to this story comes next week in the form of the Arnold Palmer Cup. This match between College players from the United States and Europe is being played at the Atlantic Athletic Club.
As a result of their performances this year Harry ELLIS, Rory FRANSSEN, Harry HALL, Richard MANSELL and David WICKS have all been selected for the European team. Stuart GREHAN, who is studying at Maynooth University in Ireland, is also playing for Europe.
The United States Arnold Palmer Cup team probably contains 6 or possibly 7 of their likely Walker Cup team so if one or more of the GB&I players in Europe’s team can deliver a standout performance it will undoubtedly raise their profiles.
There can be no better way to show you belong in the GB&I Walker Cup team than by delivering in what will effectively be a dress rehearsal for it.
What ever happens with the Walker Cup team in the coming months all of these lads have enjoyed good seasons over in America and have clearly shown they can compete at the highest level.
Appendix 1 – Additional Leading Division I Player Notes
Harry HALL (UNLV, Sophomore)
– 2016/17 stats: 14 events, 43 rounds (low 65), T2nd best finish, 71.63 average score.
– Harry led the way for GB&I in the 2016/17 Division I College season.
– His UNLV team reached the Nationals having finished first in the Indiana Regional where Harry secured 6th in the Individual.
– At Rich Harvest Farms he finished tied 39th in the Individual Stroke Play. Seeded 16th UNLV did well to qualify for the Top 8 Team Match Play but lost their Quarter Final to Vanderbilt 3-2. Harry lost his match with Patrick Martin (SPWAR 12) by 1 hole.
Harry ELLIS (Florida State, RJ Junior)
– 2016/17 stats: 13 events, 39 rounds (low 65), 2nd best finish, 71.62 average score.
– Harry had a very good season leading his Florida State team through to the Nationals with a tied 5th result in their Washington Regional.
– He finished T43 in the Individual Stroke Play at the Nationals, his team failing to make the Match Play Stage.
David WICKS (Jacksonville, Senior)
– 2016/17 stats: 12 events, 34 rounds (low 66), 1st best finish, 71.00 average score.
– David did very well for Jacksonville all year. He delivered in the Louisiana Regional with a tied 7th place and then helped his Team to a play off win over a Northwestern team containing Ryan LUMSDEN, who finished 16th in the Individual.
– At the Nationals he narrowly missed the Individual 54 hole cut.
Paul MCBRIDE (Wake Forest, Junior)
– 2016/17 stats: 11 events, 32 rounds (65 low), T2nd best finish, 71.69 average score.
– Paul played reasonably well during the season but will be disappointed with his finish to the year.
– His +12 tied 57th finish at the Texas Regional, where two of his three rounds were discounted, clearly played it’s part in Wake Forest’s surprise failure to qualify for the Nationals.