28. Jack Hume Turns Pro

3rd October 2016

Jack HUME today confirmed what everyone already knew – the man from Naas in Ireland was turning professional.

Having signed with International Sports Management (ISM) he will make his professional debut at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

He is the last of the ‘famous five’ Irish players who made the 2015 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team to do so, following in the footsteps of Paul DUNNE, Gary HURLEY, Gavin MOYNIHAN and Cormac SHARVIN.

Jack won 1.5 points out of a possible 4 at the 2015 Walker Cup; he won his opening morning foursomes with Gavin Moynihan 3&2 against Mike McCoy and Lee McCoy and halved his final day singles with Robby Shelton.

All 10 of the 2015 GB&I Walker Cup team have now turned pro. Gavin MOYNIHAN and Jack MCDONALD also signed for ISM, Gavin straight after the Lytham match and Jack in March 2016.

Jack, who will turn 23 this coming Saturday, has been one of the world’s leading amateurs for the last few years. He made a superb start to 2016 winning both the South African Stroke Play Championship and the European Nations Cup. Results that made him an obvious choice for the inaugural Golf Bible Player of the Quarter award (for Quarter 1 2016).

He also starred for Europe in the Bonallack Trophy in March winning all four of his matches, played well for Ireland in the European’s Men’s Amateur Team Championship and was a leading contributor for GB&I in the retained (halved) St. Andrews Trophy match.

In his amateur swan song last week he helped Ireland to a best ever tied 3rd finish at the World Amateur Team Championship, finishing in a share of 11th in the Individual standings in Mexico.

Jack first came to prominence in 2010 still when he won all four boys provincial championships in Ireland, a feat never achieved before or since.

Jack will be looking for some invites on to the European Challenge Tour in the next few weeks before teeing it up at one of the European Tour’s Second Qualifying Stage events in Spain in early November.

He said: “It’s been a great year but I want to move to the next level and I can’t wait to turn professional. I’m really looking forward to the weeks and months ahead and testing myself.

“Joining ISM is a big part of it. They’ve helped a lot of players from the very start of their careers and that’s obviously a path I’m hoping to follow.”

ISM’s Chief Executive Officer Chubby Chandler said: “We’ve monitored Jack for a long, long time and he’s a player with a huge amount of potential.

“He’s got all of the ingredients and we’re excited about doing what we can to help him be the best he can be and really flourish.”

Good luck to Jack this week and in his future professional career.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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27. Grant Forrest Turns Pro

29th September 2016

Grant FORREST (23) turned professional yesterday having already signed with new Scottish management company Bounce Sport earlier in 2016.

Grant, from Craigielaw, has received an invitation to next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and will therefore make a home debut in Scotland a week today.

No one can say that Grant hasn’t done his apprenticeship.

He first came to prominence in 2009 winning the Scottish Boys Under-16 Championship. In 2010 he followed it up with the Scottish Boys Championship (U18) before securing the Scottish Amateur Championship at Royal Dornoch in 2012.

He then went out to the University of San Diego. He graduated in 2015 having won four times during his spell on the United States college circuit.

During this time he qualified for the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield, won the 2014 St Andrews Links Trophy (which bodes well for next week) before playing his part in winning Arnold Palmer Cup (Europe) and St Andrews Trophy (GB&I) teams.

In 2015 Grant reached the final of The Amateur Championship at Carnoustie (which again bodes well for next week), where he lost to France’s Romain Langasque. This inevitably secured a spot in that year’s GB&I Walker Cup team albeit he struggled for form and was sparingly used by Captain Nigel Edwards at Royal Lytham.

He also played in the Scotland side that achieved back-to-back European Amateur Team titles in 2015 and 2016. His final amateur event came at the World Amateur Team Championship in Mexico, where despite being amongst the favourites, Scotland quickly fell down the Eisenhower Trophy rankings after an encouraging opening day.

Grant Forrest – 2016 Battle Trophy Winner (Photo: Crail GS)

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time playing amateur golf and will forever be grateful to both Scottish Golf and The R&A for the experiences and opportunities I’ve had over the years,” said Forrest.

Like stablemate Ewen Ferguson Grant has already benefitted from playing in some Challenge Tour events this season, albeit has failed to make the cut in any of these events.

With Jack Hume also expected to confirm that he is turning pro. shortly it now means that all of the 2015 GB&I Walker Cup team have made the switch. We now know for certain that GB&I will turn up in Los Angeles in 2017 with a completely new team made up of rookies.

Best wishes to Grant who will be looking to make an early mark in the European Tour’s Second Qualifying Stage in Spain in early November.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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26. The 2016 World Amateur Team Championship

25th September 2016

The AUSTRALIA team, consisting of Cameron DAVIS, Harrison ENDYCOTT and Curtis LUCK, won the 2016 World Amateur Team Championship in Mexico. Their 72-hole score of 534 (-38) equalled the best ever team score and helped them to a massive 19-shot win.

ENGLAND (-19) collected the silver medal with AUSTRIA and IRELAND (-18) sharing bronze. It is the first time that both ENGLAND and IRELAND have medalled since the home nations started competing individually rather than under the Great Britain & Ireland banner.

England – Nigel Edwards, Kevin Tucker, Scott Gregory, Jamie Bower, Alfie Plant, and Graham Walker  Celebrate their Silver Medals (Photo: Darren Plant). 

SCOTLAND (-11) finished a disappointing 11th given their strong team and great start to the event – they led after Round 1 on -10. WALES (-8), on the other hand, will be pleased with their encouraging T16 result.

Team Results
1. AUSTRALIA -38
2. ENGLAND -19
T3. IRELAND -18
11. SCOTLAND -11
T16. WALES -8

T6. USA -15

The full 2016 WATC Eisenhower Trophy team results can be accessed here: –
Eisenhower Trophy Team Results

AUSTRALIA’s Cameron DAVIS (269 / -17) recorded the Championship’s lowest individual score. His compatriot Curtis LUCK (271 / -15) finished second, helped in no small part by a 63 (-9) in Friday’s third round.

Looking ahead to the 2017 Walker Cup it is of course interesting to reflect on which of the 12 GB&I players performed in this elite company.

Individual Results
T3. Alfie PLANT (ENG) -12
9. David BOOTE (WAL) -9
T11. Jack HUME (IRE) -7
T20. Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) -5
T27. Robert MCINTYRE (SCO) -3
T38. Connor SYME (SCO) Ev
T38. Grant FORREST (SCO) Ev
T38. Scott GREGORY (ENG) Ev
T48. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) +2
T53. Jamie BOWER (ENG) +3
T71. Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +5
T100. Joshua DAVIES (WAL) +11

The 2016 WATC Eisenhower Trophy individual results can be accessed here: –
Eisenhower Trophy Individual Results

Clearly Alfie PLANT (-12), David BOOTE (-9), Jack HUME (-7) – reportedly now turning pro – Paul MCBRIDE (-5) and Robert MCINTYRE all played very well, finishing under par in the Top 30 Individual standings.

Ireland – Paul McBride, Neil Manchip, Tony Goode, Stuart Grehan and Jack Hume – Bronze Medalists (Photo: GUI Website).

Alfie PLANT – who holed a 9-foot birdie putt on the last green to secure second place for England – and David BOOTE both increasingly look probables for the 2017 Walker Cup team. Both seem to be playing consistently well at the moment with their potential selections having the aded benefit of bringing some experience and maturity to the team room.

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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21. Walker Cup Selector Michael Burns Talks To Brian Keogh

1st September 2016

In the 29th August 2016 issue of globalgolfpost.com journalist Brian Keogh discussed the state of the amateur game with Irish Walker Cup selector Michael Burns.

The main topic of conversation was how the R&A are finding it increasingly difficult to persuade players to stay amateur for long enough to reach their full potential and the knock on effects this is having on the selection of the GB&I Walker Cup team.

Burns, an Irish International in the 1970’s and ’80s, was quoted as saying: “They are going pro too early and they are ruining their lives.”

“The Walker Cup should be the ambition for them and while I know some of them will try for the first or second stage of the Q-School, the cost factor is prohibitive and they are simply not hitting the ball as well as pros yet, or playing as well as the pros yet”.

“And then there’s the pressure. Unless you play in front of 5,000 people at the Walker Cup, you are not ready. If you can handle that pressure, it’s another stepping stone in the right direction.” In looking ahead to the 2017 Walker Cup he went on: “We are hunting for the guys who have the savvy to control the pressure and get on with their game.”

Michael Burns in 2009 (Photo: The Munster Express)

Whilst acknowledging that there have been and there will always be exceptions Michael Burns believes that the reality is that only those GB&I players who qualify for and then perform in the Walker Cup environment can really ever hope to make a proper living out of the pro game. “Look at guys like Daan Huizing, who won Lytham by 14 shots and the St Andrews Links Trophy by 11. He is still not making any money. But we have guys who are going pro after winning a minor championship – very minor – and standards are too high (for them).”

Like many other amateur golf commentators Burns is not slow to apportion blame: “I think the management companies have a lot to answer for. Too many promises being made to the guys…money, contracts, starts in this and that. They promote some of these mini-tours and bring guys on, if they do well. If they don’t do well, they get pushed back.”

Mr. Burns is right in saying too many players are turning pro that simply aren’t good enough. However, I also believe there is no right time to turn pro. Everyone is different both in terms of the development of their game and equally as importantly their personalities and mindset. As such what might be right for one person may be wrong for another. Of course there is only a limited number of players who can play in the Walker Cup too. The quality of ones decision making has always determined an individuals success in life. For a professional golfer this statement is perhaps even truer.

Thanks to Brian for catching up with Michael and sharing his views with us. An interesting article albeit the final paragraph, outlining how Jack HUME plans to turn pro after the World Amateur Team Championship in Mexico in a few weeks time, was not the ending I was hoping for.

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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17. GB&I Retain The St. Andrews Trophy

23rd July 2016

Great Britain & Ireland retained the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy earlier this week in an exciting match against the Continent of Europe.

The 31st contest in the series was halved 12.5-12.5 at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent but as the holders GB&I were able to keep the Trophy on home soil. It was the first time the match had been halved, GB&I winning 25 times and Europe just five times previously.

GB&I St Andrews Trophy 2016 Photo 2

Great Britain & Ireland (Photo: Darren Plant)

David BOOTE (WAL) proved to be the hero of the day bravely parring the 18th hole to secure a 1Up win in the final singles game of Day 2 against Spain’s Ivan CANTERO GUTIERREZ (ESP). 

GB&I had got off to the worse possible start losing the Day 1 foursomes 0-4. A recovery of sorts looked possible for the home team in the afternoon singles but some late reverses saw Europe rescue a 4-4 series result.

Going into Day 2 behind 4-8 few predicted GB&I could recover the situation. However, a 3.5-1.5 result in the Day 2 foursomes gave the team every reason to believe prior to the 9 singles commencing.  The singles were again a rollercoaster affair but GB&I managed to sneak them 5-4 to secure a dramatic half.

Whilst it does not take into account the quality of each player’s opposition it is still interesting to review the high level individual player contributions: –

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 06.40.38

From a GB&I perspective Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Stuart GREHAN (IRE) were our star men this week securing two singles wins and one foursome success.

Connor SYME (SCO), Jack HUME (IRE), David BOOTE (WAL) and Alfie PLANT (ENG) also played important point scoring roles during the competition.

Jamie BOWER (ENG), Grant FORREST (SCO) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) will be disappointed with their contributions.

GB&I and new captain Craig WATSON will no doubt be delighted to retain the St. Andrews Trophy. The Team showed real determination and fight to turn around a horrific start.

However, the reality is this was a disappointing performance and result.

Save for the inclusion of Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) and possibly Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) GB&I were able to put out their strongest team. Europe were sadly not in the same position. Adrian MERONK (POL) and Antoine ROZNER (FRA) would certainly have been included if not for the fixture clash with the European Challenge Tour event in France. Ugo COUSSAUD (FRA) and Gregoire SCHOEB (FRA), also playing in France, would probably have been considered too.

Europe have only won five St. Andrews Trophy matches out of 30, with just one of these victories coming away from the Continent. GB&I clearly have an advantage when playing such matches on links courses which they have far more experience of.

So, harsh as it may seem, I for one am not going to get too excited about a halved home match against a weakened Continent of Europe team. Much improvement will be needed if GB&I are going to give a hurt USA team a match on a parkland course in sunny Los Angeles at the 2017 Walker Cup.

For my full St. Andrews Trophy preview and daily match reports please visit my sister website www.golfbible.co.uk – St. Andrews Trophy – 2016 Preview and Results

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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14. The 2016 St. Andrews Trophy Team – My Selection

7th July 2016

Here’s my stab at the 2016 Great Britain & Ireland St. Andrews Trophy Team.

The St. Andrews Trophy has been played biennially between GB&I and Europe since 1956.

GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came recently in 2010 and 2012. GB&I won the 2014 match, played in Barsebäck, Sweden, 14-10.

I anticipate this year’s match being a very close encounter.

With the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship coming to a conclusion at Golf de Chantilly in France on Saturday I expect the GB&I Team to be named by The R&A and Captain Craig Watson early next week.

These are the questions I’ve asked myself before selecting my Team: –

How many players do I need, where are we playing and what’s the format ?

The match is to be contested by a team of 9 GB&I players.

It is to be played on the links of Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July.

On Day 1 4 foursomes and 8 singles will be played. On Day 2 there are again 4 foursomes but in a change to the recent format all 9 players will then compete in singles this year. I know from past experience that there is always a tendency to prefer pairs from the same country so need to consider that.

Who’s in the frame ? 

An 18-man St. Andrews Trophy Squad was announced on 24th March 2016.

This included 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) and Ashton TURNER (ENG).

There were 7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales in the initial squad.

We can of course remove Jack McDonald from the above group as he turned pro on 31st March.

Who has performed well this year ?

Here is my 29th June 2016 Rankings Assessment which clearly shows who our leading players have been in the year to date, at least according to the two main Amateur Rankings.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 21.06.37

It seems unlikely to me that anyone outside my Combined Top 20 listed above will be selected. Unless of course The R&A go for a completely Scottish team – which given current form is not as outlandish a statement as it may at first seem.

Who’s showing form at this week’s European Men’s Amateur Championship ?

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 18.40.34

EMATC GB&I Stroke Play Scores

The above table clearly shows who performed well in the stroke play qualifying and how today’s first round match play has gone for our leading players.

In Division 2 David BOOTE was the medalist in the stroke play qualifying with a -9 36-hole total in Luxembourg.

Notable Omissions ?

At the end of June our highest ranked player was Sam HORSFIELD (ENG). I understand that Craig Watson watched and met with him at the Arnold Palmer Cup a few weeks ago at Formby but I don’t envisage him being considered or dare I say making himself available for this event. I am sure Sam will be committed to the series of major amateur events that are played in the United States during July and August.

Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) has been struggling with a wrist injury in recent weeks, withdrawing from three events in succession. I have therefore chosen to exclude him from my thoughts on fitness grounds. This is a shame for Ewen as he has started to show some good form lately with a 3rd place in the St Andrews Links Trophy and a good run at The Amateur.

So excluding Sam and Ewen here’s my team of 9, in order of selection: –

1. Grant FORREST (SCO) – since winning the Battle Trophy in Scotland he has strung to together a series of top quality results. Playing well in France and now back to his very best.

2. Jack HUME (IRE) – the South African SP and European Nations Individual 2016 champion was solid in the 2015 Walker Cup and outstanding in the Bonallack Trophy earlier this year.

3. Connor SYME (SCO) – the 2016 Australian Amateur champion has enjoyed an excellent season and is now undoubtedly one of GB&I’s top amateur players.

4. Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – has peaked perfectly for this selection. Finalist in The Amateur and has taken that form into his last two events on the Challenge Tour and this week in France.

5. Scott GREGORY (ENG) – having just won The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl he obviously must play. He’s delivered winning results for England in two international matches this year also.

6. Alfie PLANT (ENG) – a fantastic winner of the Lytham Trophy who has enjoyed good finishes at the French International Amateur (T11) and Brabazon Trophy (T7) since. A Kent-lad too which should help with local support.

7. Jamie BOWER (ENG) – he’s won three events this year including the prestigious Brabazon Trophy in Kent, albeit on an inland course. Jamie also got to the last 16 of the Amateur so has certainly backed up his early season wins in South Africa.

It starts to get a bit trickier from here on in, particularly around foursomes pairings, but I’ve given the benefit of the doubt to: –

8. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – a strong performance this week for Ireland on the back of a positive contribution at the Arnold Palmer Cup. Stuart seems to be on an upward curve to me.

9. David BOOTE (WAL) – David has enjoyed a good season for Stanford in the US and delivered winning results at the Bonallack Trophy (where he played with Jack Hume) and Arnold Palmer Cup this year. He has also made a good start in Luxembourg this week for Wales at the Division 2 European Men’s Team Championship.

Having put my head above the parapet I have to say it would be hard for me to argue if any of Craig HOWIE (SCO – partnering Connor Syme at the Euros this week), Conor O’ROURKE (Naas GC, IRE – as is Jack Hume), Sandy SCOTT (SCO), Craig ROSS (SCO) or Bradley MOORE (ENG – a possible partner for Alfie Plant) were selected by The R&A based on 2016 performances and potential foursome pairings.

Let me know what you think by commenting below or on Twitter ?

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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5. Jack Hume Stars At The 2016 Bonallack Trophy

18th March 2016

Europe comfortably beat Asia-Pacific 21.5 – 10.5 in the 2016 Bonallack Trophy in Portugal.

Here is my analysis of the individual player contributions: –

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 19.54.24

Jack Hume (IRE) starred for Europe winning all four of the matches he was selected for. He has made a superb start to the season. The only surprise in Portugal was that he was rested for a session, the Day Fourballs.

David Boote (WAL) won three of his four matches, only losing his Day 1 Fourball where he was paired with Stefano Mazzoli (ITA).

Ashton Turner (ENG) was the only other GB&I player to win 3 matches. Paired with Bradley Moore (ENG) he lost his Day 1 Foursomes and Day 2 Fourball.

Grant Forrest (SCO) and Jack McDonald (SCO), who were paired together in the Foursomes and Fourballs, and Bradley Moore all lost their Final Day Singles matches thus falling into ‘negative territory’ in my analysis.

Finally, I am starting to develop the view that Bradley Moore’s match play performances are not comparable with his consistently strong stroke play results. I am going to have to research this topic further.

Bonallack Trophy 2016 Europe Winners Photo 2

Team Europe (Photo: Hugo Ribeiro / FPG) 

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley.  All rights reserved.

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4. Europe Announces It’s 2016 Bonallack Trophy Team

22nd February 2016

The European Golf Association (EGA) have recently selected their Bonallack Trophy team for this year’s match against Asia-Pacific.

Bonallack Trophy 2014 Europe Team

The 2014 Bonallack Trophy Winning European Team (Photo: EGA)

Players are supposedly selected with reference to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and guidance from national coaches and officials. No more than two players may be selected from the same country.

For the sake of completeness I thought it was worth recording the names of the six Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players that have been included in the team: –

David BOOTE (WAL) – WAGR 79
Grant FORREST (SCO) – WAGR 25
Jack HUME (IRE) – WAGR 24
Jack MCDONALD (SCO) – WAGR 36
Bradley MOORE (ENG) – WAGR 54
Ashton TURNER (ENG) – WAGR 100

The rest of the 12-man European team are noted below: –

Ivan CANTERO GUTIERREZ (ESP) – WAGR 11
Luca CIANCHETTI (ITA) – WAGR 85
Mario GALIANO AGUILA (ESP) – WAGR 20
Jeroen KRIETEMEIJER (NED) – WAGR 132
Stefano MAZZOLI (ITA) – WAGR 39
Robin PETERSSON (SWE) – WAGR 38

It is clearly premature to link this match with the 2017 Walker Cup selection process.  Nevertheless the six GB&I players that have been invited to Portugal in March can take confidence from their inclusion and do now have the opportunity to put a marker down.  Who knows demonstrating some match-play tenacity, highlighting a new playing partnership or even just being a good team member may help one of them somewhere down the line.

Ashley Chesters (ENG) and Gavin Moynihan (IRE) were both members of the 2014 Bonallack Trophy Team who were victorious in India. Both made the 2015 Walker Cup Team the following year. Other GB&I players in the 2014 team included Ryan Evans (ENG), Dermot McElroy (IRE) and James Ross (SCO). Evans and Ross chose to turn Pro before the Walker Cup whilst McElroy just missed out on selection.

N.B. The WAGR quoted above was taken from the 17th February 2016 listing.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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