So little time, Try to understand that I’m, Trying to make a move just to stay in the game, I try to stay awake and remember my name, But everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.
– “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane (2004)
It’s been all change in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) amateur game since the 46th Walker Cup match finished a month ago.
Of course each Walker Cup seems to mark the end of a mini-era with both those players selected and those overlooked looking to move on with their golfing careers.
However, the number of players turning professional in recent weeks feels much higher than normal with elite amateur golf in GB&I decimated.
We have already lost 7 of the 10 members of our Walker Cup team to the professional ranks: –
David BOOTE (WAL) Jack DAVIDSON (WAL) Scott GREGORY (ENG) Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) Alfie PLANT (ENG) Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) Connor SYME (SCO)
Of the remaining three players Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) and Harry ELLIS (ENG) have entered their Senior years at Wake Forest and Florida State respectively, whilst Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has resisted the temptation to jump to date. Could he have his sights set on a home Walker Cup appearance at Royal Liverpool in 2019 ? Wishful thinking on my part perhaps.
However, it is the number of other Internationals that have turned professional that makes the last few weeks so exceptional. Here’s a selection of names for you: –
Dan BROWN (ENG) Joshua DAVIES (WAL) Owen EDWARDS (WAL) Colin FAIRWEATHER (IRE) Tom GANDY (ENG) Stuart GREHAN (IRE) Evan GRIFFITH (WAL) Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) Bradley MOORE (ENG) Conor O’ROURKE (IRE) Marco PENGE (ENG) Craig ROSS (SCO) Will WHITEOAK (ENG) Jack YULE (ENG)
The exodus may not be over either.
Amateurs JR GALBRAITH (IRE)*, Josh HILLEARD (ENG) and Craig HOWIE (SCO) have all progressed to the Second Qualifying Stage of the European Tour’s Q-School series. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) is also this week out in Germany testing his game in the ProGolf Tour Q-School.
Whilst it’s sad to see all of these players move out of the amateur game I of course wish them all the best with their future careers. It will be interesting to see which ones survive and prosper in the coming years. Whatever happens I hope they can at least enjoy some of the journey.
Certainly playing in The Walker Cup is no guarantee of success in the professional golfing world. To date Paul DUNNE (who turned Pro in September 2015), Jordan SMITH (October 2014), Matthew FITZPATRICK (June 2014) and to a lesser degree Ashley CHESTERS (September 2015) and Callum SHINKWIN (September 2013) are the only players from the 2013 and 2015 Walker Cups to have made a notable transition. There is still time for some of the others to come through. A lot of very good elite amateurs have fallen by the way side, either unable to make the step up in play and / or get to grips with the demanding life of a touring pro.
Scotland’s Connor SYME leads the way for the 2017 crop at the moment with a tied 12th finish at the Portuguese Masters on debut and a tied 15th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last weekend. Earnings of €79,435 from two events has to be viewed as a dream start to his professional career.
One thing’s for sure, as day follows night, the next generation of young amateur golfers will soon appear. It will be interesting to see which players take the opportunity to step forward and fill the current void in 2018.
* In November 2017 JR GALBRAITH (IRE) also turned professional.
The United States of America (USA) won the 46th Walker Cup match at Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) beating Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) 19 – 7.
The wining score of 19 points matched the most ever in Walker Cup history. USA had previously reached that total in 1993 when they won 19 – 5 at a rain affected Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota.
Here is the Individual Player Contributions chart from the match: –
Doug GHIM, Maverick MCNEALY and Collin MORIKAWA each went 4 – 0, the first time three players had accomplished this for one team in the same Walker Cup match. The previous record being two perfect 4 game records – USA in 1977 (John Fought and Lindy Miller), 1997 (John Harris and Brad Elder) and 2009 (Peter Uihlein and Rickie Fowler) and GB&I in 1999 (Luke Donald and Paul Casey).
Doug GHIM had also gone 4 – 0 in the Arnold Palmer Cup match earlier this summer. A memorable and unique double for him.
USA Celebrate Their Win At Los Angeles CC (Photo: GolfBible)
GB&I’s very slim hopes of staging a comeback on Day 2 depended on a strong morning Foursomes performance. Unfortunately they lost the series 3 – 1 to fall even further behind 11 – 5.
Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR were GB&I’s only Foursomes winners. Gregory in particular played some great shots down the stretch, memorably holeing out from a bunker on 14 and delivering a long iron into the heart of the 18th green to close out the game 2Up.
The United States therefore went into the ten afternoon Singles matches needing just 2.5 points to win the Walker Cup.
Despite this Captain “Spider” MILLER took nothing for granted and later said he had challenged each player before the final series of matches started, telling them, “You have to win your match. Each one of you must win your match. We must win all ten matches. I was as direct as I can be. We had a good lead but there was going to be no letting up. I expected each one of them to win.”
Braden THORNBERRY certainly responded well to the instruction, the 2017 NCAA Division I Individual champion, thumping Paul MCBRIDE, 6 and 5 in game number 5 to get the ball rolling for USA.
Shortly afterwards Stewart HAGESTAD, avenging his Saturday defeat to Singh Brar, won 2 and 1 on the 17th green before Norman XIONG, at 18 the youngest player on either team, secured the final 0.5 point required to reach the all important 13.5 mark.
The Americans ended up winning seven of the 10 singles matches on Sunday afternoon.
The Day 2 Results (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)
Scott GREGORY and Robert MACINTYRE provided some resistance for GB&I, halving their games. Gregory refused to accept defeat fighting back from 2 down against Norman XIONG with two to play to earn his half, sinking 30 foot and 8 foot par putts on the final two holes to do so. Similarly MacIntyre again demonstrated his match play credentials with an unbeaten Singles performance for GB&I. He beat long-hitting Cameron CHAMP easily yesterday before halving with him today.
The star man for GB&I on Sunday was David BOOTE who battled superbly to win his match against the reigning US Amateur champion Doc REDMAN. Surprisingly Redman ended up being the only US player not to contribute a point from the three games he participated in. Boote birdied the short 15th to go 2Up but the match was far from over given the three c.500 yard par 4 finishing holes still to be played. On 16 David got up and down from just short of the green before watching Redman trump him with a tap-in birdie. On 17, having called a penalty on himself for standing on his ball in the rough, he managed to get up and down from about 150 yards to secure an unlikely half in bogey. Finally on 18 Redman saw his accurate long iron approach run past the flag to the back of the green leaving himself a near impossible downhill putt. When he three putted for 5 the Welshman simply took two from 5 feet to secure a memorable win.
David Boote Celebrates His Singles Win With His Family And Caddie (Photo: GolfBible)
To view the USGA highlight packages of the final day’s play please take a look at my ‘Past Results’ page.
As one would expect GB&I Acting Captain Andrew INGRAM accepted the loss in good spirit. He said: “The Americans were amazing. I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They have been superb all week and good luck to them. We just couldn’t get going, we couldn’t get anything moving forward. The big advantage here has been the length of the course, our guys aren’t used to courses this long. We have worked hard. I asked the team when I came for 100 percent and they gave me 100 percent. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Asked how he thought GB&I could improve their away performances Ingram suggested: “I know it costs money but any chance of us getting our Squad out to America to let them see what it’s like, come to the venue, and play some golf so they can get a feel of it (would be beneficial). I think it’s quite a shock to the system when they come and play a course like this. Our guys aren’t used to playing courses this long.”
“Spider” MILLER was understandably delighted for his team: “We had a choice to be the 2017 Walker Cup team or the winning 2017 Walker Cup team. There’s certain things in their careers as golfers they will remember and playing and winning the Walker Cup is one of those defining moments they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
As always the GB&I team lacked the strength in depth of their opponents and in this match USA were able to bring this to bear, generally outplaying the visitors for the most part. Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and accept the better team won – this was one of those occasions to my eyes.
It was always going to be a big ask for GB&I to go to Los Angeles and be competitive let alone win. After all GB&I have only ever won twice in the USA and home teams have now won 11 of the last 13 matches.
I don’t believe a lengthy post-mortem is necessary but would add from what I saw myself – and in addition to the length point made by Andy Ingram – that the USA team also putted better on the quick and undulating greens and made better strategic decisions, particularly down the stretch.
Looking forward GB&I will next get the opportunity to regain the Walker Cup on 7th and 8th September 2019 when it will be staged at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England.
Meanwhile GB&I players David BOOTE, Jack DAVIDSON, Scott GREGORY, Robert MACINTYRE, Alfie PLANT, Jack SINGH BRAR and Connor SYME are all expected to turn pro in the coming weeks. Good luck to all of them. Not the Amateur swan song they would have hoped for but nevertheless a trip and experience they will all remember for the rest of their lives.
USA lead GB&I 8 – 4 after Day 1 of the 2017 Walker Cup match being played at the superb Los Angeles CC.
The Day 1 Results (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)
Day 1 Mornings Foursomes – USA 2 – 2 GB&I
I followed the match between Connor Syme / Paul McBride and Doc Redman / Will Zalatoris. The GB&I pair both played well once they had got over their initial nerves. The defining factors were the USA’s poor play on the par 3 holes (they bogeyed all three), McBride’s accurate approach play and most importantly Syme’s putting. The Scotsman holed 9 missable putts from within 10 feet which either halved or won holes. In the end they ran out comfortable winners.
Connor Syme and Paul McBride (Photo: GolfBible)
Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar beat Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ 3&2 to ensure the Day 1 Foursomes finished halved 2 – 2. In what was a tight match up until the turn the USA pair simply fell away on the back nine handing the game to GB&I with two bogeys and a double bogey on holes 14 – 16.
Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar ( Photo: GolfBible)
The other two matches represented humbling experiences for the GB&I pairs.
In Game 1 Collin Morikawa and Norman Xiong thrashed Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant 8&7. This was the biggest Foursomes win in 18 hole Walker Cup match history. The Americans birdied the first 4 holes winning them all and parred in to the 11th where hands were shaken. The GB&I pair were 5-over par at the conclusion. 18 year old Norman Xiong is starring in Los Angeles. He appears to have both the build and game to really make a name for himself in the future.
Maverick McNealy and Doug Ghim proved too strong for the Welsh pairing of David Boote and Jack Davidson in the final match of the series. USA birdied four of the first 6 holes to jump into a big lead which they defended comfortably with par golf. As GB&I sought to chase the game further errors allowed the USA to run out easy winners.
Day 1 Afternoon Singles – USA 6 – 2 GB&I
This session will probably prove to be the defining one of the 46th Walker Cup match. USA moved out in front and it is in all honesty hard to see how the GB&I team will be able to recover the position.
I was attracted to the match of Robert MacIntyre and Cameron Champ, having read that Bob didn’t have much family or friend support out here. Bob also has an excellent match play record so it was inevitable that he would give the big hitting American a good game. The fact he had been left out of the morning Foursomes was also likely to be a motivator for him. Whilst Champ was out of sorts, struggling for pars all the way round as well as with his short game, the Scotsman was simply outstanding. Gaining confidence as the match proceeded from his opponents difficulties Bob played a large number of great shots demonstrating an excellent all round game. By the time the match ended on the 14th green Champ was almost alone having lost his US gallery long before.
GB&I’s only other winner in the afternoon was Jack Singh Brar. He will take an unbeaten W2-L0-H0 record in to Day 2. Jack appears to have played very well looking at his hole scores. Five 3’s in his first 11 holes enabled him to take a 5Up lead on mid-amateur and LACC member Stewart Hagestad. Whilst he stumbled a little coming home he regrouped quickly to finish off a comfortable win.
Robert MacIntyre Enjoys His Singles Win (Photo: GolfBible)
Harry Ellis was 2Up in game 1 with with 5 holes to play. Unfortunately he bogeyed three of them – poor drives being largely to blame – and allowed Braden Thornberry, surprisingly left out of the morning Foursomes, to gain a flattering 2 holes win.
Connor Syme started well, leading Norman Xiong by 3Up after 6 holes. However, once Xiong settled he quickly came back and helped by three birdies won out impressively 2&1 against one of GB&I’s strongest players.
McBride appears to have played well but was simply unlucky to draw Collin Morikawa. The Californian was 3-under for the 16 holes played before winning 3&1. Against many of the other US players Paul may well have secured a win given his overall play.
Matthew Jordan also seems to have played well in his first match at this Walker Cup, coming out on the wrong side of a tight match. Will Zalatoris played the tough finishing holes a little better to eventually win by 2 holes on the 18th.
David Boote got off to a poor start bogeying three of the opening 4 holes and going 3 Down. Once he settled the Welshman played well, showing a great deal of fight. Doug Ghim certainly knew he had been in a game by the time he had seen out a 2&1 win on the 17th green.
In the final game Scott Gregory also played well. Leading 2Up after 11 holes he fell foul of the brutal finishing holes which to his credit Maverick McNeally negotiated very impressively. McNeally ended up winning 3&1 on the 17th green.
Day 2 – Morning Foursomes
At the end of play on Saturday the pairings / draws for Day 2 were announced.
GB&I go into Day 2 requiring an exceptional performance. A victory in the Sunday Foursomes series is essential if they are to stage a comeback and perhaps more likely add some respectability to the final score.
Unsurprisingly the GB&I pairing of Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant have been dropped with Matthew Jordan and Robert MacIntyre introduced in game 4.
The Day 2 Foursomes Draw (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)
Day 2 – Afternoon Singles
Sunday sees 10 games and all 20 players out on the course contesting the Singles series.
The draw shows a number of repeat matches from Day 1 – Jack Singh Brar and Robert MacIntyre will again play Stewart Hagestad and Cameron Champ. Hopefully the results are the same on Day 2 !
Best of luck to GB&I. Let’s make USA work for every point today.
The Day 2 Singles Draw (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)
I spent yesterday at the Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) looking at the course and watching all of the players practice.
This is some of what I heard, saw and experienced: –
1. The North Course is even better than I thought it would be – and I arrived with high expectations having read a lot about the recent Gil Hanse renovation.
2. The clue was in the location – Beverly Hills – but it is far more hilly and undulating than any of the photos I had seen suggested.
3. Holes 3 – 8 in particular are magnificent. The land in this most northerly part of the property is stunning with height changes, steep banking and barranca framing all of the holes.
4. The Par 3’s are all excellent. The 4th (230 yards) and 11th (289 yards) are very long but both severely downhill so hugely inviting when stood on the tee.
5. In passing Lionel Ritchie’s house (see photo below) beside the 4th green is one of the finest properties I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. As I was admiring it one of the LACC members volunteered that the owner, no names were obviously mentioned, also owned the two properties next door (to the left) in addition to the main house.
Lionel Ritchie’s Property Overlooking The 4th Green (Photo: GolfBible)
6. The course is very long, particularly the back nine which plays 3,875 yards. There are four Par 4’s which are 500+ yards, including the three closing holes.
7. The fairways are very wide on all of the holes so I expect players will be using driver off many of the tees.
8. The rough looks low, almost non existent, but it is thick and tangly. Balls can sit up in it but equally fall through and penalise players for inaccuracy.
9. The bunkering is exceptional. Superbly shaped, large and often deep. Most of the bunkers, particularly those greenside, have a very thick collar of rough around them. Players will be shouting for their misdirected shots to find the sand as balls that finish here will be almost ‘dead’.
10. The greens are generally very large and looked quick. Getting the speed early on will be critical as will being on the right side of some of the tougher hole locations. The two exceptions being the Par 4 6th and the front portion of the short 17th which are very narrow targets.
The 46th Walker Cup Programme (Photo: GolfBible)
11. Many of the larger greens have small promontories, surrounded by sand, which will enable the USGA to really tuck some flags away if they wish.
12. LACC looks like being a very good match play course with a number of sporty risk reward holes evident.
13. The GB&I players – who played in group’s of 5, (1) Ellis / Davidson / Boote / Syme / Singh Brar and (2) Gregory / McBride / MacIntyre / Plant / Jordan – seemed to have been given free reign during the final practice session.
14. GB&I Group 1 didn’t play the full 18. They played holes 1, 2 and 9 before playing the back nine and walking in early. They then practiced their putting and went to the range.
A Signed 46th Walker Cup Flag (Photo: GolfBible)
15. There didn’t seem to be any competitive play going on yesterday and there didn’t seem to be a huge amount of R&A Selector observation taking place. It was as if the Day 1 foursomes pairings / singles order had already been determined and Friday’s play was irrelevant in this regard.
16. I anticipate that some players are going to be exposed by the length and severity of the LACC test. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some very one sided matches.
17. Understandably there are very few GB&I supporters in Los Angeles outside of each player’s family and close friends. You have to be pretty committed to make a 5,400 mile journey for an amateur golf event. Therefore this is going to be an away match in the strictest sense with a large partisan home crowd.
18. Recent Walker Cup matches have tended to go to the home team and historically GB&I have always struggled over here. I certainly travelled more in hope than expectation and reluctantly have to accept it is hard to see anything other than a comfortable USA win. As is always the case a good start to quieten the home crowd and build a little momentum this morning will be imperative for GB&I. I obviously wish GB&I well and hope our players can do themselves justice when proceedings begin. It would be great to witness a big sporting upset live.
19. The Day 1 pairings were announced at the opening ceremony and as with the original team selection it is hard before a ball has been struck to overly question them. It’s now down to the players to deliver.
20. Finally, the LACC is a very special place and everyone on site is delighted they have the opportunity to showcase their club and course. All of the membership / volunteers I came into contact with were proactive, friendly and welcoming. With two courses and superb practice facilities it has the space to accommodate any match or tournament.
Here is my Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team for the Walker Cup match to be played on 9th and 10th September against USA at the Los Angeles Country Club.
My selection has primarily been driven by a wish to pick players with consistent and winning records in 2017. However, I have also had to temper this with the fact this is an away match likely to be played in sunny, near perfect conditions.
In previous years stronger foursomes partnerships have been established in prior international matches. For various reasons I do not believe this is the case in 2017 and as such have largely ignored pairings, although I am confident that sound partnerships can be formed from the players I have selected.
2017 – US Amateur MP – Quarters
2017 – European Amateur Team A MP – W3/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T8
2017 – British Open Final Qualifying – Co-Medalist
2017 – European Amateur – T17
2017 – British Amateur – T67
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – 5th
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T8
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T7 2017 – Battle Trophy (SCO) – Champion
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T7
2017 – African Amateur – 2nd
Connor is an experienced player who has performed consistently well on the international stage for some time now. Not quite at his very best this year but he pleasingly seems to be finding some form as the match approaches. His performance this week at the U.S. Amateur clearly demonstrates his pedigree.
2. MATTHEW JORDAN (England)
2017 – US Amateur Qualifying – 1st Alt
2017 – European Amateur Team A MP – W3/H0/L3
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T2
2017 – European Amateur – 6th
2017 – British Amateur – 64’s 2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – Champion
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – 2nd
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – 5th
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T4
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T7
2017 – Hampshire Salver (ENG) – 8th
2017 – Quadrandular (ENG, ESP, ITA, GER) MP – W4/H1/L1
Matthew has probably enjoyed the best overall year of any GB&I amateur golfer. His superb run of results in the heart of our season, culminating in a win at the St Andrews Links Trophy, saw him move swiftly through the ranks and in to a fully deserved place on our team.
3. ALFIE PLANT (England)
2017 – British Open – T62
2017 – European Amateur Team A MP – W5/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T2 2017 – European Amateur – Champion
2017 – British Amateur – T78
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T34
2017 – Spanish International Amateur MP – 16’s
2017 – Spanish International Amateur Medal – T4
2017 – New South Wales Amateur (AUS) MP – 32’s
2017 – New South Wales Amateur Medal – T9
2017 – Australia Amateur MP – 32’s
2017 – Master of the Amateurs (AUS) – T14
A man for the big occasion Alfie was always going to find a way into our Walker Cup Team. Having said that for much of the year it looked unlikely for the 2016 Lytham Trophy winner. His memorable victory at the European Amateur changed his 2017 story completely and when he backed it up with a strong showing in the European Amateur Team and a silver medal winning performance at The Open he was assured of his place.
4. JACK SINGH BRAR (England)
2017 – US Amateur MP – 64’s
2017 – US Amateur Medal – T8
2017 – English Amateur Medal – T6
2017 – US Amateur Qualifying – Medalist
2017 – European Amateur – T7
2017 – British Amateur MP – 16’s
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – T18
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T2 2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – Champion
2017 – Hampshire Salver (ENG) – Champion
2017 – Spanish International Amateur MP – 32’s
2017 – Spanish International Amateur Medal – T9
2017 – New South Wales Amateur (AUS) MP – Quarters
2017 – New South Wales Amateur Medal – T9
2017 – Avondale Amateur Medal (AUS) – 2nd
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – 16’s
Jack has enjoyed an excellent season with consistently good results throughout. He secured his spot relatively early with wins at the Hampshire Salver and Lytham Trophy, followed by a 2nd at the Brabazon. A couple of surprising match play losses in recent weeks are a slight concern but are more than offset by his international experience and continued improvement.
The Walker Cup
5. JACK DAVIDSON (Wales)
2017 – Home Internationals (GB&I) – W4/H1/L1 2017 – Welsh Amateur (Closed) MP – Champion
2017 – Welsh Amateur Medal – T4
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T12
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – 9th
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T35
2017 – Welsh Open Amateur – 3rd
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T13 2017 – European Nations (ESP) – Champion 2017 – Spanish International Amateur MP – Champion
2017 – Portuguese International Amateur – T7
2017 – South American Amateur – 3rd
Jack is the only GB&I amateur to win three times this year – the Spanish International Amateur, European Nations and the Welsh Amateur – with two of these wins coming in match play events. When you add this to his other high finishes this season and impressive Home Internationals results this week he has become a strong pick for us.
6. HARRY ELLIS (England)
2017 – US Amateur Medal – T65
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W4/H0/L2
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T8 2017 – British Amateur MP – Champion
2017 – British Amateur Medal – 3rd
2017 – NCAA D1 Washington Regional (USA) – T5
2017 – USA Collegiate D1 Rank (all year, pre-Regionals) – 73
Harry’s superb comeback win in the Amateur Championship in June deservedly sealed his place in the team. It came on the back of a good US College season where he produced a number of impressive results for Florida State. He also delivered for England in the European Amateur Teams where his foursomes partnership with Alfie Plant was unbeaten.
7. PAUL MCBRIDE (Ireland)
2017 – Home Internationals (GB&I) – W4/H1/L0
2017 – European Open (European Tour) – T47
2017 – European Am Team Medal – T2
2017 – European Amateur – T13
2017 – British Amateur – Quarters
2017 – USA Collegiate D1 Rank (all year, pre-Regionals) – 53
I have been really impressed with Paul’s play this summer since he returned home from Wake Forest where he had also played well during the regular US College season. With his experience in the US and good current form, including an unbeaten Home Internationals this week, I expect him to play a leading role in Los Angeles.
8. SCOTT GREGORY (England)
2017 – US Amateur Medal – T70
2017 – English Amateur (Closed) MP – Quarters
2017 – English Amateur Medal – T10
2017 – Cobra Puma (PGA EuroPro Tour) – T4
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W3/H1/L1
2017 – European Amateur – T32
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T26 2017 – New South Wales Amateur (AUS) – Champion
2017 – New South Wales Amateur Medal – T3
2017 – Avondale Amateur Medal (AUS) – 21st
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – 16’s
2017 – Australian Amateur Medal – T12
Scott has played a mixed Pro / Am schedule this year, enjoying the fruits of his 2016 Amateur Championship win but making it hard for us to properly assess his standing. He has had a steady year on the amateur circuit, the highlight being an early season win in Australia, and has played relatively well in the last few weeks. His international experience and impressive match play record also underpin his selection. Finally, with fellow Hampshire men Singh Brar and Ellis already in my team his inclusion may bring useful foursomes flexibility too.
9. ROBERT MACINTYRE (Scotland)
2017 – US Amateur Medal and MP – 32’s 2017 – Vierumaki Finnish (Challenge Tour) – T53 2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W3/H0/L1 2017 – European Amateur – T4 2017 – British Amateur Medal and MP – 16’s 2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T24 2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T25 2017 – Match Play 9 (Challenge Tour) – T33 2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T16 2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T7 2017 – Australian Amateur MP – Semi’s
Robert has shown glimpses of what he is capable of in 2017 without delivering either the consistency or the win I would like to have seen. Again his international experience and strong match play record, including a good performance at this week’s US Amateur, mean he is well worth his place.
10. DAVID BOOTE (Wales)
2017 – US Amateur Medal – T85
2017 – Western Amateur (USA) – T52
2017 – European Amateur Team B Match – W2/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T16
2017 – British Open Final Qualifying (3 spots) – T4
2017 – European Amateur – T26
2017 – British Amateur – 64’s
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T4
2017 – US Open Sectionals (15 spots) – 18th
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – 7th
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T26
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T29
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T10
2017 – Portuguese International Amateur – T4
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – 32’s
I have wanted to select David from the start, albeit he has (or perhaps other players have) made it harder than I would have liked. A 2016 graduate of Stanford University he offers California / USA experience and has an excellent track record in international team competitions. His 2017 results offer good consistency in premier events, albeit there are few top 10s and no wins. A potential foursomes pairing with fellow Welshman Jack Davidson helps his selection. I hope his decision to play the Western Amateur rather than the South of England and Welsh Amateur doesn’t come back to haunt him when the selection that matters is made.
Scotsmen LIAM JOHNSTON and CRAIG HOWIE have every right to expect to be selected for this year’s GB&I team. Indeed they still maybe !
Look at their 2017 playing records below and then compare them with those of Scott Gregory, Robert MacIntyre and David Boote. Johnston has won two big events this year – how can he not be in the team you may ask ?
If this match was taking place on a links course at home then I would probably have both of them in my team. Unfortunately for them it is not and that has influenced me.
However, our Captain, Craig Watson, is Scottish and I certainly would not question him if he pushed his fellow Selection Committee members for one or both of their inclusions.
The best I can offer is the opportunity to be my Reserves.
11. Liam JOHNSTON (Scotland)
2017 – Western Amateur (USA) – T18
2017 – European Amateur – T17
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – 7th 2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – Champion
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T10
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T13
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T24 2017 – African Amateur – Champion
2017 – South African Amateur – Quarters
2017 – Cape Province Open Am (RSA) – 26th
2017 – South African Stroke Amateur – T5
Liam started 2017 very well with a number of excellent performances in South Africa, including victory in the prestigious African Amateur. He has played well back home over the summer too culminating in a second win at the Scottish Open Amateur. His performance in the Western Amateur a few weeks ago was encouraging but a W0/H3/L3 performance at the Home Internationals was badly timed.
12. Craig HOWIE (Scotland)
2017 – Home Internationals (GB&I) – W2/D2/L2
2017 – Scottish Amateur (Closed) MP – 32’s
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W2/H0/L2
2017 – European Amateur – T32
2017 – British Amateur MP – 32’s
2017 – British Amateur Medal – T11
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T10
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – T3
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T25
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T7 2017 – Craigmillar Park Open Am (SCO) – Champion
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T19
2017 – African Amateur – 5th
2017 – South African Amateur Medal – T11
2017 – Cape Province Open Am (RSA) – T9
2017 – South African Stroke Amateur – T7
Craig has enjoyed a consistently good year with nine top 11 finishes recorded. He perhaps needed to convert one of them into a big win to really push himself into the selection picture for this away match. His match play results seem reasonably robust also.
The Men’s Home Internationals came to a dramatic conclusion this afternoon at Moortown Golf Club in Leeds.
The Raymond Trophy was won by IRELAND. They drew the deciding match with ENGLAND 7.5 – 7.5 but in doing so pipped the home nation by a half point in total match points earned, 26.5 against 26.0.
Ireland (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)
This was Ireland’s fourth consecutive victory in the event, a national record for them in the long history of this competition.
For the second year running Colm CAMPBELL found himself in the all important final Singles game. Once again he delivered. His half, having been 5 Down after 6 holes, against Jake BURNAGE pushed Ireland up to 7.5 points which they had known at the start of play would be enough for them to secure the title.
Here is the final Points Table with the ‘Countback’ information at the bottom: –
Points Table (Photo: England Golf Event Microsite)
His Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team is (in alphabetical order): –
David BOOTE (Wales) Jack DAVIDSON (Wales) Harry ELLIS (England) Scott GREGORY (England) Matthew JORDAN (England) Paul MCBRIDE (Ireland) Robert MCINTYRE (Scotland) Alfie PLANT (England) Jack SINGH BRAR (England) Connor SYME (Scotland)
Alistair’s GB&I team contains five players from England, two from Scotland, two from Wales and one from Ireland.
In his article Alistair suggests that performances and rankings are not the only selection considerations: “GB&I Walker Cup teams aren’t always the strongest teams assembled due to the inner politics of British amateur golf. The team always has to be at least slightly representative of the other nations, even if that means taking a slightly weaker side. On this occasion, there is good strength from Scotland, Ireland and Wales to complement the normally strong English contingent.”
The 2017 match at the Los Angeles Country Club is fast approaching with play scheduled for the weekend of 9th and 10th September.
Take a look at the full GolfWeek article by clicking on the link in the opening paragraph.
I will of course be announcing my own team this coming weekend so stay tuned.
Jack DAVIDSON won the 2017 Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship yesterday at Aberdovey Golf Club.
The win pushes him firmly back into the Walker Cup picture after he had drifted out a little in recent months, primarily due to the good form of other players.
Jack didn’t make a great start to this event. He was +4 after 5 holes of the Stroke Play Qualifier. However, he recovered well and after rounds of 71 and 69 he finished tied 4th, out of a field of 75 players, on -2. Evan GRIFFITH achieved medalist honours with impressive rounds of 68 and 64 (-10).
The Newport man went on to win five Match Play games to secure the title: –
Round 1 (18) Theo BAKER – 6&5
Round 2 (18) Zach GALLIFORD – 3&2
Quarter Final (18) Shaun HARPIN – 3&2
Semi-Final (18) Evan GRIFFITH – 2 holes
Final (36) Tim HARRY – 8&7
In picking up his home Championship Jack became the first Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) player to win three elite amateur titles in 2017.
Back in March Jack won the Spanish International Amateur Championship and the European Nations Individual (Wales also came first in the Team competition). The first of these also involved a Match Play second stage like the Welsh Amateur.
It was good to see Jack reassert his match play credentials after a disappointing European Amateur Team Championship in Austria. Having qualified well in tied 12th he lost all three of his single games as Wales collapsed to a 16th (last) place finish.
It is easy to be dismissive of the Welsh Amateur title, in terms of the field size and depth, but I thought this win spoke volumes for Jack and his Walker Cup credentials. My view is a win is a win and as such should not be demeaned in any way. It also shows a bit of character to win when you are the favourite to do so as Jack probably was in Aberdovey.
David BOOTE, Wales’ highest ranked player, missed the Championship to play in the Western Amateur at Skokie CC in Illinois. He made the 36 hole Stroke Play Qualifier cut but missed the 72 hole ‘Sweet 16’ Match Play cut after rounds of 68, 73, 75 and 74. He finished tied 52nd in the Stroke Play standings.
Jack Davidson wasn’t in my last Walker Cup team (see News Update 65) but I am now starting to think how can I not include someone who has won three times in 2017 ? When I do my imaginary gee-up speech before play begins in Los Angeles it would be nice to say “hey guys we’ve got the Spanish Amateur, the European Nations Individual and the Welsh Amateur champion on our side”.
The problem is someone else is going to have to come out to make way for him – who ?
The updated Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) has Jack up 8 places to 61st following his Welsh Amateur win. He is 12th in the GB&I only list on the back of a strong 2017.
Jack Davidson’s Performance Record (Source: SPWAR)
The table below summarises the ranking positions of the Top 30 GB&I amateur golfers as at the end of June 2017.
The Golf Bible Combined Amateur Ranking (GBCAR), shown in the blue columns on the right, uses the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WGAR – yellow) and the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR – green) to produce a composite ranking based on the average of the two main rankings.
As I have stated before my preference is for the SPWAR, which I consider to be far more accurate and therefore useful for team selections.
The table below looks at the Top 30 GB&I players currently listed in the SPWAR and reviews their ranking movement in the year to date.
This latest rankings analysis only confirms how fluid the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup selection picture remains when viewed in these purely objective terms.
Five players have fallen out of the SPWAR’s Top 10 since my last update at the end of March 2017. These being Sam HORSFIELD (ENG), who has turned Pro, Jack DAVIDSON (WAL), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Stuart GREHAN (IRE).
Back in early April I thought Davidson, after his two superb wins in Spain, and Gregory, after his win in Australia, were near certainties for the GB&I team. However, other players have taken their opportunities and with the momentum elsewhere both now appear to me to need a result or notable performance(s) urgently to regain their places.
In Quarter 2 Harry ELLIS (ENG), Liam JOHNSTON (SCO), Matthew JORDAN (ENG), Alfie PLANT (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) have all stepped up in to the SPWAR Top 10 following consistent performances and prestigious wins.
One of the things I am looking forward to in August is comparing our selected team to the two ranking lists.
Whilst I understand that foursomes pairings and team dynamics must also come in to the selectors’ thinking the ranking lists, and in particular, the SPWAR surely won’t be far from the table.
Talking of foursomes pairings I am not sure there is anything in 2017 as strong and proven as the Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen one that undoubtedly helped the latter gain selection in 2015 over more highly ranked players at the time.
On the 1st March Matthew JORDAN shot 92 (+20) in the first round of the Spanish International Amateur at El Saler. He inevitably missed the cut the following day despite shooting a respectable 74 in round 2.
Things were not going according to plan for the man from Royal Liverpool GC.
He had spent much of November and December in Spain practicing and had been expecting to come out strong in 2017. After all he had broken through in 2016 and posted a number of good results both at home and abroad.
In December he flew to Miami to play in the South Beach International Amateur. He made the cut but his +1 score was only good enough for a tied 51st finish.
In January he represented England in the Quadrangular Match at Costa Ballena in Spain where the team finished a disappointing 3rd despite a more encouraging individual W4 L1 H1 performance.
Unfortunately Matthew then found out that his entry to the Portuguese International Amateur had been incorrectly processed and as such there was no place for him in the field.
He needed his luck to change and what better way than to play in a competition you like and have done well in before – the Hampshire Salver. Matthew finished 8th in the two day aggregate event at Blackmoor and North Hants in April. Not as good as his tied 3rd in 2016, where he won the Hampshire Hog on the Sunday, but nevertheless a step in the right direction.
Despite this return to form it’s hard to believe the England selectors, having understandably overlooked him for the European Nations Cup in late March, spent too long considering whether to include him in their 6-man team for the mixed international against Spain at the end of April. A return to El Saler, the match venue and scene of the 92, wouldn’t have helped.
How the picture has changed.
Amazingly within the space of a few months it’s now a question of who the same England selectors will pick alongside Matthew for the European Men’s Team Championship in Austria in July.
I also think we can now say his place in the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team is assured. How can it not be ?
This is because Matthew has delivered a superb sequence of results in the heart of our season that have lifted him from 552nd (5/04/17) in the SPWAR to 26th (13/06/17) and which culminated in him winning the prestigious St. Andrews Links Trophy last weekend.
Matthew Jordan (Photo: Kenny Smith)
Just look at this playing record since mid-April: –
1st – St Andrews Links Trophy (9-11 June)
2nd – Scottish Open Amateur (2-4 June)
5th – Brabazon Trophy (25-28 May)
T4 – Irish Open Amateur (11-14 May)
T7 – Lytham Trophy (5-7 May)
8th – Hampshire Salver (15-16 April)
Whilst the main story has to be Matthew’s there were also a number of other noteworthy performances in Scotland.
JR GALBRAITH (IRE) finished 2nd at St. Andrews on -10. He led after a round 1 66 and consolidated his position with three rounds of 71, 70 and 71. This came on the back of an 8th place (-2) finish at the Scottish Open Amateur the week before.
Similarly Laird SHEPHERD (ENG) has also enjoyed his time in Scotland. He finished 4th (-8) at the Links Trophy having recorded a tied 9th (Ev) result the week before at Western Gailes.
Both Galbraith (SPWAR 70) and Shepherd (SPWAR 146) have moved up the rankings as a result of these performances. Whilst, at least for me, they both still have some work to do if they are to be selected for our Walker Cup team they at least now have the platform to do it.
A number of other Walker Cup hopefuls finished in the top 20 at the Links Trophy too (results shown after countback applied) : –
David BOOTE (WAL) 73 69 69 69 -8 6th
Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) 71 71 69 71 -6 7th
Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) 72 71 71 69 -5 8th
Jack DAVIDSON (WAL) 71 73 70 69 -5 9th
Robin DAWSON (IRE) 69 71 74 70 -4 11th
Craig HOWIE (SCO) 69 72 69 74 -4 14th
Colm CAMPBELL (IRE) 72 68 70 74 -4 17th
Dan BROWN (ENG) 72 72 72 69 -3 18th
In particular Boote, Davidson, Howie and Johnston all tightened their grip on a Walker Cup place after another solid week’s work.
The Walker Cup picture seems to be getting clearer but there’s still plenty of golf to be played, starting next week with the big one – The Amateur Championship. Will the existing form players continue their runs or will a new name take the opportunity to breakthrough ?
Kyle MCCLATCHIE (-10) won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last weekend at Woodhall Spa becoming the fifth South African to lift the famous Brabazon Trophy.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a good event for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players in the field, including many of the Walker Cup squad members.
The main plaudits this week go to Jamie STEWART (SCO), Jake BURNAGE (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) who all finished on -9 to tie for second place. Interestingly none of the three are in the current Walker Cup squad.
Jamie STEWART had a superb weekend shooting the two lowest scores in rounds 3 and 4; a 67 (-6) and a 68 (-5) respectively. Coming quickly on the heels of his tied 7th place at the Lytham Trophy, as well as a number of other good finishes this year, he is increasingly looking like a potential dark horse for the Walker Cup. A couple more top 10s and the selectors will certainly have to look more closely at his credentials.
Jake BURNAGE fits a similar mould to Stewart. He continued his rich vein of form at Woodhall. Having finished 3rd at the Lytham Trophy he put together a very consistent 71, 70, 70 and 72 at Woodhall Spa. I was particularly impressed with his three birdies in a row finish on the final day.
Barring a complete collapse in form over the coming weeks Lytham Trophy winner Jack SINGH BRAR‘s tied second place at the Brabazon with scores of 67 70 74 72 must surely have secured his spot in the GB&I Team. It certainly has in mine.
Jack Singh Brar (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)
Another non-Squad member Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has also started to show up well. He has now finished in the Top 10 at the Lytham Trophy (T7), Irish Amateur Open (T4) and the Brabazon Trophy (5th) in the last month. Coming from a little further back than some of his peers he still has work to do if he is to make our Walker Cup team but few others are demonstrating his consistency and 2017 form.
Dan BROWN (ENG) finished in 6th place, the best from the Walker Cup squad players, to get back on track after a relatively quiet spell.
David BOOTE (WAL) finished 7th and Connor SYME (SCO) tied 8th. As I have stated previously Syme is a certain Walker Cup pick for me and Boote, if not yet quite at that level, is a very strong probable.
In an aside David Boote nearly made himself a Walker Cup certainty on Monday when he just missed out on a spot in the 2017 US Open Championship at Erin Hills. Whilst the Sectional Qualifier at Walton Heath, his home club, played to his strengths his new course record 62 (-10) on the New Course was hugely impressive. A slightly disappointing 73 on the Old Course in the afternoon saw him ultimately miss out in a -9 ‘7 for 4’ play-off unfortunately. US Open SQ Results
16 of the 21 GB&I Walker Cup Squad players competed at the Brabazon Trophy. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –
Robin DAWSON 68 – 83 MC Marco PENGE 79 – 73 MC Owen EDWARDS 74 – 78 MC Colm CAMPBELL 73 – 79 MC Bradley MOORE WD (+9 after 10 holes)
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) had entered but withdrew before play commenced having only just returned from Texas Tech in the US.
Barry HUME (SCO), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) were the other four squad players that didn’t compete last weekend. Gregory of course has an interesting few weeks ahead of him with invitations to The Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour followed by the US Open Championship to enjoy.
Given his limited 2017 schedule I can only assume Barry Hume is working and therefore unable to compete as often as he would like.
Last weekend saw impressive wins for English pair Josh HILLEARD and Gian-Marco PETROZZI.
Josh HILLEARD won the French International Amateur at Chantilly. Having shot a final round 64 to post a -6 total he beat the young Frenchman Pierre PINEAU on the second hole of their play-off. He became the first Englishman to win this prestigious title.
HILLEARD arrived in France in good form having finished 13th in the Lytham Trophy and tied 4th in the Irish Open Amateur. We know from his exploits of last year that when he finds his game he is more than capable of putting a string of good results together and this seems to be happening again in 2017.
The French International Amateur was his fifth win in just over 12 months. To my knowledge no other GB&I player has won this many events in the same period. Of course this was by far his best career performance and he has now jumped up to 105th in the SPWAR. With Sam HORSFIELD turning Pro over the weekend he is now the 13th highest ranked GB&I player in this list.
Josh Hilleard With The Murat Cup (Photo: French Golf Federation)
Like a few others before him this year his exclusion from the Walker Cup squad, perhaps understandable at the time, has helped to get the best out of him. He must surely now be just one Top 10 result from being a very strong candidate for a pick.
England took a team of six players to France including four Walker Cup squad members. Bradley MOORE did the best of these, albeit a disappointing final round and a tied 9th result didn’t fully reflect how well he played over the three days of competition. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –
Bradley MOORE 68 – 71 – 68 -75 -2 T9 Daniel BROWN 71 – 69 WD in Rd 3 with a foot injury Marco PENGE 78 – 69 +4 MC Alfie PLANT 74 – 76 +8 MC
Gian-Marco PETROZZI also arrived in Wales in good form and like Hilleard was able to keep it going. He had finished 16th at Lytham and tied 16th in the Irish at Royal County Down in his previous two events.
PETROZZI has been ‘up and coming’ for a while and this was undoubtedly his breakthrough performance. Rounds of 66, 69, 70 and 74 and a -13 total took him to an impressive wire-to-wire 9-shot win.
Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Photo: Golf Union of Wales)
The Staffordshire player said in an interview reported on the England Golf website “It’s been coming. All of last season and the start of this season I’ve been playing good golf. I knew I had it in there, I just needed to prove to myself I could cross the line. I’m over the moon with this and hopefully it catches the eye of the Walker Cup selectors. That’s my goal for the end of the year and hopefully this will put my name in the hat.”
His dominant Welsh win has certainly put him on the Walker Cup radar but there are, in my view, as many as 30 players as at today still in with a shout of selection. In other words for Gian-Marco to make it he will need to keep this current run going and deliver at least one more big result between now and August.
Walker Cup squad players Jack DAVIDSON and Owen EDWARDS, as well as Scottish defending champion Barry HUME, were also in action at the Vale Resort. All did well with both Welshman finishing in the Top 5. Here are all of their scores and finishing positions: –
Clearly DAVIDSON is moving, event by event, into that select group of Walker Cup ‘Probables’. Hopefully he can just keep ticking over between now and August to make his selection the formality it increasingly appears to be.
Wales’ Davidson has had two major wins this season; the Spanish Amateur Championship last month and more recently the European Nations Cup Individual. He joins compatriots David BOOTE and Owen EDWARDS in the squad.
Irishman Dawson was runner-up to Davidson in the European Nations Cup Individual event. This followed two other runner-up spots earlier in 2017 at the South African Stroke Play Championship and the Cape Province Open, also in South Africa. Robin becomes the sixth Irishman in the squad, joining Colm CAMPBELL, Alex GLEESON, Stuart GREHAN, Paul MCBRIDE and Conor O’ROURKE.
The table below summarises the ranking positions of the Top 30 GB&I amateur golfers as at the end of March 2017.
The Golf Bible Combined Amateur Ranking (GBCAR), shown in the blue columns on the right, uses the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WGAR – yellow) and the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR – green) to produce a composite ranking based on the average of the two main rankings.
As I have stated before my preference is for the SPWAR, which I consider to be far more accurate and therefore useful for team selections.
The table below looks at the Top 30 GB&I players listed in the SPWAR and reviews their ranking trend for the last 12 months.
I have expressed the opinion in previous articles that Connor SYME, Robert MACINTYRE and Scott GREGORY are already as good as selected for the GB&I Team for me.
In Quarter 1 Robin DAWSON, Liam JOHNSTON and Jack DAVIDSON have stepped forward most impressively.
Other players trending well in the SPWAR Top 20 include Craig HOWIE, Stuart GREHAN, Marco PENGE, Alex GLEESON, Jack SINGH BRAR, Daniel BROWN and David WICKS.
Whilst many factors go into selecting the 10 man GB&I Walker Cup team there is no question that the two world ranking lists provide an important foundation for the future discussions that will take place around the Committee table.
WALES, represented by David BOOTE, Jack DAVIDSON, Joshua DAVIES and Owen EDWARDS, yesterday won the European Nations Cup in Spain.
The recently renovated RGC Sotogrande course, presented with super fast greens, proved to be a very stern test for all of the teams competing due to the windy conditions.
This was a great win for Wales. Their total of +13 was 11 shots better than second placed IRELAND (+24) and 21 shots better than fourth placed SCOTLAND (+34). ENGLAND (+61), never really got to grips with the conditions, and finished a disappointing 12th.
Wales – l-r Josh Davies, David Boote, Jack Davidson and Owen Edwards (Photo: GUW)
In the context of the Walker Cup it was Jack DAVIDSON who once again stole the headlines. Rounds of 70, 70, 70 and 73 (-5) gave him the Individual European Nations Cup title by 4-shots.
Whilst the overall field – consisting of 16 four man teams – wasn’t as a strong as the Spanish International Amateur Championship, which he won up the coast at El Saler last month, in many ways this was the more impressive win. No longer under the radar he certainly arrived at Sotogrande with more expectation on his shoulders. He then proceeded to complete a near wire-to-wire win holding off a select international field with a total of 20 birdies and 2 eagles.
The Newport man has certainly given himself a magnificent platform to build on with regard to his potential 2017 Walker Cup selection. For me he now has a spot on our Team and it’s his to lose.
Whilst there are nine or ten major amateur events still to be played over the next 4 months Jack has moved into the Top 10 in the Great British and Irish (GB&I) rankings, there is now less than 150 days until the team is announced and I ask myself how many of the candidates will have two major (overseas) wins to their name come the middle of August. I see no reason why he shouldn’t continue playing well and go from strength to strength. Of course, in many ways the pressure is also now off him.
Ireland’s Robin DAWSON (-1) finished second and was the only other player to complete the 72-holes under par. This was his third runner-up finish of the season. Robin is clearly in form and building a persuasive 2017 playing record for his own inclusion in the GB&I Walker Cup team.
The fact that the Czech Republic’s Nicolas SCHELLONG (+6) was third shows the degree of separation that Davidson and Dawson achieved this week.
Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE and Connor SYME (both +11) both battled hard to achieve a tied 7th finish. I have already said in previous articles that both of these players, along with Scott GREGORY (over in Augusta, ahead of The Masters) are certainties in my GB&I Team, so their continued solid play was good to see.
Davidson’s teammates Owen EDWARDS and David BOOTE (both +12) finished tied 10th. No one would be surprised to see Edwards continue in this vein given his closeness to Jack – he won’t want him having all the glory for long ! I am also pulling for Boote who has been one of GB&I’s leading players for a few years. Having graduated last year from Stanford his knowledge of the U.S. opposition, California and the Los Angeles Country Club course, which I imagine he has played, would probably be useful for the Team.
Irish pair Alex GLEESON and Stuart GREHAN (both +15) finished tied 16th. These results would have been much higher save for disappointing final days; Gleeson shooting 80 and Grehan 82 after both made poor starts on Sotogrande’s front nine. Both remain very much in the Walker Cup picture.
With Davidson and Dawson, neither of whom were selected for the initial GB&I Walker Cup squad but both presumably being added as I write, continuing to play well the GB&I selection story remains intriguing. What is clear is some of the ‘early favourites’ for inclusion need to find some form and results – and quickly. The Lytham Trophy early in May will be everyone’s next opportunity to shine.
Jack DAVIDSON won the Spanish International Amateur Championship yesterday at the challenging El Saler course near Valencia.
For the man from Newport, Wales this was by far the best result of his career. The Spanish Amateur is one of the world’s top 20 amateur events nowadays enjoying a strong entry from across Europe every year. First played in 1911 former winners include Philip Walton (1981), Jose Maria Olazábel (1983-84), Darren Clarke (1990), Sergio García (1998), Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño (2003), Joost Luiten (2005), Danny Willet (2008) and Romain Langasque (2016).
Jack Davidson (Photo: Adolfo Luna)
The 36-hole stroke play qualifier was played in strong winds which caused havoc with the scoring, particularly in Round 1. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) eventually achieved medalist honours with an impressive 143 (-1) total. He was the only player to record an under par score. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) 144 (E) was 2nd whilst AlfiePLANT (ENG) and Harry GODDARD (ENG), both 146 (+2), also qualified well finishing in tied 4th. Interestingly the eventual Champion shot rounds of 76 and 75 to secure the 32nd and final place in the match play stage with a 151 (+7) total.
Amongst those to miss out on the match play were Initial Walker Cup Squad members Barry HUME (+8), Bradley MOORE (+8), Conor O’ROURKE (+10), Robert MACINTYRE (+11), Colm CAMPBELL (+11), Alex GLEESON (+14) and Owen EDWARDS (+16). In addition in form Irish player Robin DAWSON (+8) also just missed out.
Davidson beat Maclean (2&1), Javier Sainz (1Up), David Puig (3&2) and Kevin LEBLANC (2&1) in the semis to set up a 36-hole final with Englishman Marco PENGE.Penge went into lunch with a 1-hole lead but Davidson came out strongly in the afternoon. The Welshman moved into the lead after a birdie on the fourth and didn’t relinquish it, eventually running out a 4&3 winner on the 15th green.
Marco Penge will be disappointed that the Spanish title evaded him particularly as this was the second match play final he has lost this year. He reached the final of the New South Wales Amateur in Australia a month ago before losing by 1-hole to compatriot Scott GREGORY. Gregory who lost last year’s Spanish Amateur final to Langasque was missing this year as he paces himself ahead of his Masters appearance next month. Nevertheless Penge can take solace in the fact he has moved a few steps closer to the Amateur World’s top 50 (he’s now 55th in the SPWAR) and has once again demonstrated competitive match play skills. Both should stand him in good stead as this Walker Cup year progresses. He won’t have long to dwell on the final as next week he starts his defence of the Sunningdale Foursomes, which he and girlfriend Sophie Lamb won last year.
Jack started 2017 ranked 580th in the SPWAR. He is now 131st and 18th in the GB&I list. The Spanish International Amateur is clearly a prestigious title and it will be interesting to see if he can build on this in the coming months and push himself further into the Walker Cup reckoning. With David BOOTE already well placed could we see at least two Welsh players in the final 2017 GB&I team ?
Whatever happens no one can take this title off him and 2017 will be a memorable year. Well done to Jack on a great win and good luck for the rest of the year.
Jack Davidson Holes The Winning Putt (Photo: Adolfo Luna)