23. Jamie Savage Turns Pro

14th September 2016

The European Tour’s First Qualifying Stage started yesterday with the two Section A events.

Cawder’s Jamie SAVAGE, who was 22 on the 24th July, turned Pro ahead of The Roxburghe qualifier in his Scottish homeland.

Prior to the event commencing Jamie was ranked 100th in the SPWAR and 261st in the WAGR. The highlights of his 2016 season being a 2nd place at the inaugural African Amateur Stroke Play Championship and a tied 2nd at the Lytham Trophy.

Jamie’s biggest amateur win came in 2014 when he won the Irish Amateur Open at Royal Dublin.

He was subsequently named in the 2014 GB&I St. Andrews Trophy team and the initial 2015 Walker Cup squad.  However, he struggled to recapture his form from the previous season and was ultimately omitted from our final 10-man Walker Cup team.

Best wishes to Jamie who follows in the recent footsteps of Jack MCDONALD and Ewen FERGUSON and represents the loss of another experienced Scottish amateur to the Pro game.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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22. Ewen Ferguson Turns Pro

2nd September 2016

On the 29th August 2016 Scotland’s Ewen FERGUSON formally announced he was turning pro and that he would be making his debut at the Cordon Golf Open in France on the European Challenge Tour.

Ewen, who turned 20 in July, is a former British Boys Amateur champion and was a member of the 2015 Walker Cup team that defeated USA at Royal Lytham.

Whilst his pedigree is undoubted 2016 has not really provided him with the platform he will have hoped for. He has delivered few notable amateur performances and has been hampered by a troubling wrist injury.

Despite this he has appeared committed to this course of action for some time and his announcement has come as no surprise to anyone. Having already played in the Walker Cup and achieved more than most in the amateur game who can blame him. He may now have to endure a few more quiet seasons but hopefully he will gain experience of the pro game and keep moving forward.

Ferguson’s decision leaves just Grant FORREST and Jack HUME as the remaining amateur players from the last GB&I Walker Cup team.

Back in May 2016 I reported on changes that the European Tour had made to amateur playing rights on their feeder tour –  ‘Amateurs and the European Challenge Tour‘ – whereby amateurs could now earn points in the Road to Oman competition.

Ferguson and compatriot Grant Forrest (23), who also played in the last Walker Cup match, have grasped this opportunity benefiting from a new partnership between Scottish Golf and management company, Bounce Golf.

Earlier this year Ferguson played in both the Turkish Airlines Challenge and then the Montecchia Open by Lyoness, to his credit making the cut in both events. Unfortunately in France this week his two 75’s for a +10 total left him languishing in tied 137th spot 9 shots adrift of the +1 cut mark. Here’s a link to the Cordon Open Golf scores.

Forrest, who also missed the cut in these two early season Challenge tour events, again found the going surprisingly tough in France. Rounds of 74 and 79 and a +13 total saw him finish in tied 146th place, a long way off the pace.

Grant Forrest, unlike Ferguson, also competed for GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy in July 2016 at Prince’s Golf Club. In his playing defence he has enjoyed a good amateur season with high finishes in the Lytham Trophy, Scottish Open Amateur, St Andrews Links Trophy, The Amateur and the European Amateur.

It is obviously too early to assess the success of the Scottish Golf / Bounce Golf alliance. The acid test for this will of course be whether the likes of Ferguson and his successors can make it onto and stay on the main European Tour in the years to come.

With Robert MACINTYRE and Connor SYME having both delivered better amateur seasons than Messrs. Ferguson and Forrest I expect they will be invited to experience the ‘bright lights’ of professional golf next year with Bounce Golf. Indeed I see both are teeing it up at next week’s Volopa Irish Challenge event at Mount Wolseley, presumably on the back of Scottish Golf invites. With both currently probables for the 2017 Walker Cup team I hope they don’t have their heads turned too soon. I think we may need both of them in Los Angeles if they maintain their form next year.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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20. The 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship

21st August 2016

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: –

T80    Jack SINGH BRAR 19 (ENG)      +3    71 SC, 72 NC
T80    Ewen FERGUSON 20 (SCO)       +3    72 NC, 71 SC
T99    Robert MACINTYRE 20 (SCO)  +4    68 NC, 76 SC
T185  Grant FORREST 23 (SCO)          +9    73 NC, 75 SC
T243  Jamie BOWER 23 (ENG)            +11   74 SC, 77 NC

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’.

Click here to access all of the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship Results 

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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11. The 2016 Lytham Trophy And St. Andrews Links Trophy

6th June 2016

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 Lytham Trophy 2016 Photo 2

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.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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10. Amateurs and the European Challenge Tour

22nd May 2016

On 24th February 2016 the European Challenge Tour announced changes to it’s regulations to allow amateurs to earn points in an amended 2016 Road to Oman competition.

A maximum of 6 amateur invites are now allowed for each tournament with any one amateur allowed to play in no more than 7 events during the season. Invites largely remain a gift of the National Golf Unions and Federations and can be traded for different events as they have been with pros for many years.

European Challenge Tour Logo

Subject to paying a membership fee an amateur can therefore now accumulate points and potentially graduation to the main European Tour if they finish in the Top 15 season ranking. Previously amateurs were unrewarded for their performances on the Challenge Tour.

Romain Langasque, who subsequently turned pro after The Masters, currently lies 4th in the ranking and is quickly showing how the new rules can be made to work to an amateur’s advantage. In March he finished 2nd in The Barclays Kenya Open as an amateur to get his Challenge Tour season off to a flying start. He has built on this to win more points in each of his subsequent four events as a pro.

Of course I am interested in seeing how the new rules work for GB&I amateurs and the impact it has on them turning pro.

The first to get on the bandwagon have been leading Scottish amateurs Ewen Ferguson and Grant Forrest. Last weekend the two of them completed the second of four European Challenge Tour events allocated to them by Scottish Golf and management company, Bounce Golf. The 2015 Walker Cup-winning pair played in both the Turkish Airlines Challenge and then the Montecchia Open by Lyoness.

To his credit Ferguson made the cut in both events. In Turkey he shot 70, 70, 76 and 67 to finish on -5 (€705). In Italy, where the event was reduced to 54-holes he shot 69, 66 and 74 to finish on -4. If he had been a pro he would have earned c.€1,400 for his two weeks work.

Forrest missed the cut in Turkey after rounds of 68 and 76. In Italy rounds of 70, 67 and 78 saw him finish on +2. Again if he had been a pro he would have earned c.€550 for his week’s work.

The potential monetary rewards they would have received would clearly not have covered either player’s costs which once again highlights the difficulties of turning pro. Of course the last two weeks were about experience rather than prize money for both of the Scottish lads but nevertheless the harsh realities of professional golf can never be completely ignored.

In an interview with the Challenge Tour on 18th May 2016 Forrest said: “To be able to mix your schedule up with some Challenge Tour events really gives you an insight into what the pro game is like. Now that there’s been the rule change where we can get points, it’s a huge step that’s really encouraging. There’s a bit of a difference between the amateur game and the Challenge Tour I’ve noticed. Everyone does their own thing out here but it surprised me a little bit how relaxed it was.”

Ferguson told the Challenge Tour in the same article: “The plan would be to turn professional at the end of this season. You never know how everything’s going to go in golf though – if you win the Amateur Championship or you win a pro event then everything could change. Turning pro is the end goal – sooner rather than later – and definitely by the end of this year. I still have targets in the amateur game that would be nice to achieve, and I just want to keep learning.”

I am pleased both players appear to have enjoyed and benefited from their recent Challenge Tour experiences.

However, what is now very clear, particularly in the case of Ewen Ferguson, is that they both plan to turn pro later this year and certainly before the next Walker Cup in Summer 2017.

This begs the question of Captain Craig Watson and the other GB&I selectors as to what role, if any, the pair should play in the forthcoming St. Andrews Trophy match. Of course neither would be guaranteed selection at the moment based on their 2016 form and rankings but what’s the point in selecting either of them if they plan to turn pro a matter of weeks after the match ?

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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7. Jack McDonald Turns Pro

31st March 2016

Jack McDonald one of the stars of the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) 2015 Walker Cup team today announced he was turning professional.

Jack played in three matches at the recent Walker Cup.  He was unbeaten in both of his foursomes, where he partnered superbly with his fellow Stirling University friend Cormac Sharvin.  He halved his final day singles against Lee McCoy, who finished 4th as an amateur at the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour just a few weeks ago.

Jack is the 7th member of the 10-man GB&I Walker Cup team to turn Pro.  Just Ewen Ferguson, Grant Forrest and Jack Hume remain amateurs.  Ewen and Grant also today announced they had signed with Edinburgh-based Bounce Sport “ahead of expected switches to the professional ranks later this year”.  The move has secured them four starts on the European Challenge Tour in 2016 as part of a new alliance between Bounce and Scottish Golf.

Jack won the 2009 Scottish Boys’ Stroke Play Championship aged 16 and has twice been a semi-finalist in the Amateur championship, in 2012 and 2015 where he lost to Romain Langasque. In 2014 he was part of the successful 2014 European Palmer Cup team and last year he was a member of the Scotland team that won the European Men’s Team Championship.

It was only 6 days ago that Jack was included in the R&A’s GB&I St. Andrews Trophy Squad announcement having spent the winter with Scotland Golf playing in Australia and South Africa.  Therefore it seems he was either playing his cards close to his chest or a late decision has been made. He currently has no playing rights on any professional tour.

As he said today “I have done a lot in the amateur game now. I think I’m ready to make the transition and that my game is there so I’m looking to just keep improving.”  He turned 23 on the 12th February so it is difficult to argue with his decision and thinking.

Jack had already entered the Final Stage of the PGA EuroPro Tour Qualifying School.  His Walker Cup selection having exempted him from the First Stage qualifiers which concluded today.  He will now make his professional debut at Frilford Heath next week.  He was missing from yesterday’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, where he has been a Top 50 player for much of he last 12 months, so the writing was perhaps on the wall for an announcement this week.

Jack who plays out of the Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club in Scotland has signed for International Sports Management (ISM), the management company headed up by Chubby Chandler.  Fellow Walker Cupper Gavin Moynihan signed with ISM immediately after last September’s match at Lytham.

Jack McDonald signs for ISM 310316

Jack McDonald and Chubby Chandler (Photo: ISM)

Jack is expected to seek starts on the European Challenge Tour, the PGA EuroPro Tour and the MENA Tour (a well worn path for ISM clients).

I wish him every success as he embarks on the next chapter of his golfing life.  If he can get his game in order then commercially he should be a God send; he always seems to be smiling (even whilst playing) and appears to have a friendly personality to go with his youthful good looks.

I’ve got a 2016 target for him – qualify for The Open at Royal Troon, his ‘home’ Championship venue.

ME

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley All rights reserved.

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6. R&A Announces 2016 St. Andrews Trophy Squad

25th March 2016

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: –

SPWAR 240316

The current GB&I World Amateur Golf Ranking is also shown below: –

WAGR 240316

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.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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