21st May 2019
James NEWTON (ENG) from Prestbury G.C. won the Irish Amateur Open Championship last weekend at County Sligo G.C.
Clearly players from Cheshire have got the memo that the Walker Cup is coming to the county in 2019. Josh McMAHON (ENG) from nearby Wallasey G.C. also won the Lytham Trophy just a few weeks ago.
James Newton (© Pat Cashman Photography / @GUIGolf)
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.
James Newton’s Complete Scorecard (© GUI / Golfbox)
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.
For more information on this event, including a link to the full Results, please take a look at my Golf Bible article: Irish Amateur Open – 2019 Preview, Reports & Results
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