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 117th U.S. Amateur Championship started last Monday at Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.
Within the field of 312 players from 29 different countries were nine players from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I).Here is a list of how they have got on in order of success: –
1. Connor SYME 21 (SCO)
SP – 72 BA / 70 RV (+2) Tied 35th
MP – Lost Quarter Finals 2&1 to Doug Ghim (USA)
2. Robert MACINTYRE 21 (SCO)
SP – 68 BA / 74 RV (+2) Tied 35th
MP – Lost Round of 32 3&1 to Dawson Armstrong (USA)
3. Jack SINGH BRAR 20 (ENG)
SP – 69 RV / 69 BA (-2) Tied 8th
MP – Lost Round of 64 3&1 to Joey Vrzich (USA)
4. Harry ELLIS 21 (ENG) – 2017 Amateur Champion
SP – 73 BA / 71 RV (+4) Tied 57th
Missed out in 13-for-8 play-off for a final MP spot
MP- Did Not Qualify
5. Scott GREGORY 22 (ENG)
SP – 70 BA / 75 RV (+5) Tied 66th
MP – Did Not Qualify
6. David BOOTE 22 (WAL)
SP – 76 RV / 70 BA (+6) Tied 81st
MP – Did Not Qualify
7. Alfie PLANT 25 (ENG)
SP – 74 RV / 76 BA (+10) Tied 130th
MP – Did Not Qualify
8. Stuart GREHAN 24 (IRE)
SP – 75 BA / 76 RV (+11) Tied 156th
MP – Did Not Qualify
9. Daniel SUTTON 21 (ENG)
SP – 79 RV / 76 BA (+15) Tied 206th
MP – Did Not Qualify
Riviera Country Club (Photo: California GOLF)
From a Walker Cup perspective the U.S. Amateur Championship for me was about whether David BOOTE, Scott GREGORY or Stuart GREHAN could deliver a performance that could underpin their potential selection for the GB&I team. Boote and Gregory may both still make the final R&A team but given the competition for places I believe the decision will be finely balanced.
Good luck to Connor SYME (USA) in his Quarter Final match today against Doug GHIM (USA). What a psychological boost it would be for our Walker Cup Team if he could get to the Semi-Finals or dare I dream even further.
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.
Todd CLEMENTS yesterday won the English Men’s Amateur Championship at The Berkshire Golf Club near Ascot.
In a match befitting the Final he eventually beat Staffordshire’s Jack GAUNT 2&1 in a rollercoaster affair where momentum swung from one side to the other.
Todd qualified in tied 3rd place on -9 after rounds of 66 (Blue) and 68 (Red).
David LANGLEY medalled after rounds of 61 and 68 respectively for a superb -14 score. Unfortunately the curse of the medalist struck him in his first match play game.
Prior to the Final the man from Braintree Golf Club in Essex reeled off a sequence of tight match play wins on the Red Course on route to securing the title at the famous heathland course: –
Round 2 Sam TURNER – 1 Hole
Round 3 Timothy SHIN – 3&2
Round 4 Joe LONG – 2&1
Quarter Final Jake BOLTON – 1 Hole
Semi-Final Nick POPPLETON – 1 Hole
Whilst by no means a favourite at the start of the week CLEMENTS has been building up to a breakthrough win so his victory was not a huge surprise.
For the last few years he has wintered in Dubai and produced a number of notable finishes on the professional MENA Golf Tour. His best came in October 2016 in the MENA Golf Tour Championship where he finished tied 5th.
Back home in 2017 he has produced some other reasonable finishes too – tied 7th at the Lytham Trophy, tied 25th at the Brabazon Trophy and tied 24th at the St. Andrews Links Trophy – but this prestigious title is clearly a big step forwards for him.
Todd, now 20, has risen to 207th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking. However, as the now 34th best Great British and Irish (GB&I) and 16th best English player in this list he is clearly too far back to make a late burst for the 2017 Walker Cup team. I trust he will be rewarded with a place in the England team for the upcoming Men’s Home Internationals though.
The English Men’s Amateur in some respects was notable for those players who chose not to compete. These included Matthew JORDAN, Alfie PLANT, Harry ELLIS and Harry HALL. From a Walker Cup perspective, particularly if you already have some good results in the bag, as the first three players do, there can clearly be as much to be gained from not playing as actually teeing it up.
So let’s have a look at how those leading English players – those in the Walker Cup squad and current selection mix – that did make their way to The Berkshire got on (in order of success): –
Tom SLOMAN – SP 69 65 (-9) T3 / MP SF Lost to Jack Gaunt 1 Hole Scott GREGORY – SP 64 72 (-7) T10 / MP QF Lost to Tom Sloman 1 Hole Bradley MOORE – SP 71 70 (-2) T32 / MP Rd 4 Lost to Nick Poppleton 2&1 Gian-Marco PETROZZI – SP 71 71 (-1) T45 / MP Rd 4 Lost to Jack Gaunt 4&2 Daniel BROWN – SP 66 71 (-6) T13 / MP Rd 3 Lost to Bradley Moore 3&2 Josh HILLEARD – SP 70 68 (-5) T18 / MP Rd 3 Lost to Scott Gregory 4&2 Jack SINGH BRAR – SP 65 70 (-8) T6 / MP Rd 2 Lost to Harry Bayley 2 Holes James WALKER – SP 71 73 (+1) T76 / MP DNQ David WICKS – SP 73 71 (+1) T76 / MP DNQ Jake BURNAGE – SP 71 73 (+1) T76 / MP DNQ Marco PENGE – SP 73 77 (+7) T178 / MP DNQ
Somerset’s Tom SLOMAN continues to impress, following up his Amateur Championship Last 32 and recent Dutch U22 Open victory with another good performance here.
Scott GREGORY is clearly finding some form with a solid European Amateur Team competition and PGA EuroPro Top 5 followed up with a good run at The Berkshire. Is a Quarter Final result enough to force him into the Walker Cup reckoning though ?
Both Scott and Jack SINGH BRAR would do their chances the world of good by making the Match Play stage of the US Amateur Championship next week.
It was a shame to see JAKE BURNAGE come up short at the English Men’s Amateur given the run of form he’s been on. He will no doubt be selected for the England team at the Men’s Home Internationals so will get a further chance to show what can do then.
My current thinking re. English players in our 2017 GB&I Walker Cup team are that Matthew JORDAN, Alfie PLANT and Harry ELLIS are already assured of their places, that Jack SINGH BRAR is all but there and that SCOTT GREGORY still has every chance. It’s hard to see anyone else getting a look in at this stage given the competition for places.
The European Men’s Amateur Team Championship concluded yesterday at the Diamond CC in Austria. Spain were victorious beating England 4-3 in the Final.
ENGLAND came 2nd, SCOTLAND 5th, IRELAND 7th and WALES 16th.
So what does this mean from a Walker Cup perspective ?
Here’s my assessment of the individual performances of the 24 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players who were competing. I have tried to take into account stroke play qualifying scores, match play results, singles or foursomes games played and the quality of the opposition faced.
There are now just 36 days until the GB&I team is announced, assuming this will take place on 21st August, the day after the US Amateur finishes.
In conclusion events in Austria largely confirmed my initial thoughts on our team selection with most of the players previously listed doing well.
Unfortunately those on the periphery, save for Scott GREGORY, largely failed to take advantage of the opportunity this Championship gave them to state their cases more forcibly. England’s Gian-Marco PETROZZI also showed that his Walker Cup race may not yet be run with two singles wins.
Jack SINGH BRAR chose to make himself unavailable for England last week, preferring to travel to New York to try and qualify for the US Amateur. A potentially high risk strategy but one that in the end paid off. He won the qualifier at Paramount CC by 4 shots with two rounds of 66. Results
So if I had to pick the GB&I Walker Cup team today this is who I would go for (in order): –
1. Matthew JORDAN (ENG)
2. Connor SYME (SCO)
3. Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG)
4. Liam JOHNSTON (SCO)
5. Craig HOWIE (SCO)
6. Robert MACINTYRE (SCO)
7. Alfie PLANT (ENG)
8. Harry ELLIS (ENG) *
9. David BOOTE (WAL)
10. Paul MCBRIDE (IRE)
* Selection supposedly confirmed following Amateur Championship win.
I think the first eight, probably nine, in the above list are increasingly secure based on 2017 results and current form. With there being four each from both England and Scotland one would hope foursomes pairings could be found fairly easily amongst them too.
David BOOTE continues to be a consistent performer with a number of solid results this season. When you add in his four years experience of playing in the US at Stanford – let’s not forget the 2017 match is an AWAY one – you have to say his exclusion from our 2017 team would be a big surprise. With Jack DAVIDSON having lost a bit of form in recent weeks the potential all Welsh foursomes partnership appears to be drifting away from his case though. Nevertheless I am sure there will be a list of team mates delighted to have him as their partner in Los Angeles.
Paul MCBRIDE qualified well in Austria (-3 / Tied 2nd) but will have been disappointed to lose all three of his singles games, albeit these were all tight affairs – two were by 1 hole and the other on the 19th. McBride has played very well since returning home from the US and what gives him the edge for me at the moment is his three years of US College experience. McBride will be a Senior at Wake Forest next Autumn. Interestingly one of his teammates, Will Zalatoris, has a good chances of making the US team too. It was also interesting to read this morning that McBride has been granted a place in the European Tour’s Porsche European Open in Hamburg in two week’s time. If he can make the cut there then that would certainly be a huge boost to his chances.
Whilst by no means the primary concern, which is of course selecting the best team to win, BOOTE and McBRIDE also enable a full house to be delivered, i.e. a representative from all four of the GB&I nations to be included. This hasn’t happened that often in recent years but would no doubt be beneficial for the profile of the match on our side of the Atlantic.
After this week it is probably Scott GREGORY now, rather than Jack DAVIDSON, Robin DAWSON or John Ross GALBRAITH, who is pushing hardest for inclusion. Whilst he was only the tied 10th best GB&I stroke play qualifier Scott once again showed what a tough match player he is in the later stages.
So what events are left that can move the GB&I Walker Cup dial over the next four weeks ?
First up are the closed English, Scottish and Welsh Amateur Championships which are all being played at the start of August. The Irish Amateur continues to be played in late August, starting this year on 22nd. In a Walker Cup year this is a huge scheduling error and one that could prove costly in a tight selection race, particularly as things stand for Paul MCBRIDE. *
*The South of Ireland Championship starts on 26th July and whilst not as prestigious as the Irish Amateur in fact may be more important this year.
The US Amateur (14-20 August) is of course the big one but I anticipate that will have a relatively limited GB&I field with no more than 8 of our players competing.
The Men’s Home Internationals (16-18 August) will also be an important event but as it is scheduled against the US Amateur some of it’s value to the selectors will inevitably be lost.
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.
There was good news from Gailes Links earlier this week when Scotland’s Connor SYME came through Final Qualifying to earn his place at this month’s 146th Open Championship.
Connor shot rounds of 71 and 67 in often wet and windy conditions to finish tied 1st on -4 alongside USA’s Julian Suri.
Connor Syme (Photo: Matthew Lewis)
Like Alfie Plant last weekend at the European Amateur, who is 25 today, Syme gave himself an early golfing birthday present with his performance. He is 22 on 11th July.
Connor’s likely Walker Cup teammates Matthew JORDAN (ENG) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) also did well in Ayrshire finishing 10th and tied 11th respectively.
Down in Nottinghamshire Stefano Mazzoli (ITA) and Rhys NEVIN-WHARTON (ENG) both recorded -7 results at Hollinwell but sadly missed out in a 1-from-3 play-off with Pro Laurie Canter.
It was also a close thing down at Royal Cinque Ports for some of our other leading amateurs too.
David BOOTE (WAL) made the 1-from-4 play-off after rounds of 71 and 70 (-1) but like at Walton Heath for the US Open Qualifier a few weeks ago just came up short in the final reckoning.
Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Harry HALL (ENG) both finished on Even par to miss out on the same Kent play-off. Josh HILLEARD (ENG) on +2 was also in the mix.
Finally, Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG), paired with home favourite Ian Poulter, did well at Woburn. His rounds of 72 and 68 (-4) on The Marquess’ Course saw him finish tied 8th.
So I make it a total of five amateurs competing this year at Royal Birkdale: –
Luca Cianchetti (ITA) – 2016 European Amateur Champion Harry ELLIS (ENG) – 2017 Amateur Champion
Maverick McNealy (USA) – 2016 Mark McCormack Medal Winner Alfie PLANT (ENG) – 2017 European Amateur Champion Connor SYME (SCO) – via Final Qualifying at Gailes Links
Australia’s Curtis LUCK, the 2016 US Amateur Champion, also held an exemption for Royal Birkdale but gave this up when he chose to turn Professional after The Masters.
Good luck to them all but particularly Messrs. Ellis, Plant and Syme !
England’s Alfie PLANT yesterday won the European Mens Amateur Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club.
This was no ordinary victory either. The quality of the event and venue, the nature of the win and it’s timing even surpassed Plant’s win at the Lytham Trophy last year.
The European Amateur had an exceptionally strong field, expected to be the fifth best in amateur golf this year.
Plant, who is 25 next Thursday, shot rounds of 72, 66, 67 and 68 for an impressive 273 (-15) total. His birdie on his 72nd hole will live long in the memory as he forced his way into a play off with Italian pair Luca CIANCHETTI, the defending champion, and Lorenzo SCALISE, both of whom bogeyed the 18th in an exciting finale in Surrey.
Plant and Scalise (both Even) saw off Cianchetti (+1) in the initial three hole aggregate play-off before the Englishman birdied the 2nd sudden death play-off hole to secure the most prestigious win of his career. Plant did not miss a shot in the play-off and can now look forward to competing in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in a few weeks time.
Alfie Plant (Photo: GolfBible)
Plant’s win, like Harry ELLIS’ last week at The Amateur Championship, has just thrown another grenade into the GB&I Walker Cup team selection box. Neither player was probably in the Walker Team prior to their wins. Whilst Ellis is assured of his place, because of the ‘selection rule’ concerning The Amateur, Plant’s position is not quite as clear cut. Having said that it would be a surprise to most commentators if he was to now miss out, certainly to those who witnessed yesterday’s action.
Plant has the added selection value of appearing to be a really nice lad, often with a smile on his face, who would be an experienced and welcome member of any amateur golf team. There was perhaps evidence of this when England Golf selected Alfie last week for their 6-man European Team Championship team. What seemed a debatable choice at the start of this week of course now looks like an inspired one. His entourage – he is probably the best supported amateur golfer in the world – would certainly add something to the atmosphere in Los Angeles too !
In the context of the 2017 Walker Cup a number of our leading players took the opportunity to reassert their cases with good performances. These included: –
If I had to pick the Walker Cup team today, and let’s not forget there are now no major amateur events left, save for the short field European Men’s Amateur Team Championship, where everyone will be able to play against each other, I would go for (in order) 1. Jordan, 2. Singh Brar, 3. Syme, 4. Johnston, 5. MacIntyre, 6. Boote, 7. Howie, 8. Ellis, 9. Plant and 10. McBride. For this last spot I did have to toss a coin to exclude Davidson, Dawson and Galbraith who are all still pushing hard for a spot.
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.
Jack SINGH BRAR today won the prestigious Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. His rounds of 68, 73, 72 and 75 for a +8 total earned him a memorable wire-to-wire victory.
On the back of a good set of results in Australia and his recent Hampshire Salver win Jack is now clearly very well placed to secure a spot within the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.
There are now only 125 days until the match starts and around 110 until the Teams are selected.
Jack is currently not in the GB&I Walker Cup squad. He also chose to step away from the formal England Golf coaching set up at the start of this season. However, following his big win on the Fylde Coast he has risen to 48th in the SPWAR and is now the fifth highest GB&I player (fourth if Sam Horsfield, who is expected to turn Pro in early June, is excluded). Sometimes it pays to trust yourself and ‘plough your own furrow’ in this life.
Jack Singh Brar With His Father Ami (Photo: @AMcGlue)
Two other English players finished 2nd and 3rd at Lytham.
The Walker Cup claims of Charlie STRICKLAND (+10), who only turns 18 later this month, will have grown a little bit louder this weekend too. Charlie won both the Duncan Putter and U18 Peter McEvoy Trophy in April but his 2nd place at Lytham is a step up on both. A man who’s confidence is growing and now has it all to play for.
Jake BURNAGE (+11) also followed up his Hampshire Hog win at North Hants GC a few weeks ago with a creditable third place here.
This was the first major amateur men’s competition of the 2017 GB&I season. As such most of our likely Walker Cup candidates were on display. Out of the current 21-man GB&I Squad only Paul MCBRIDE and SandySCOTT, both still competing for their US Colleges, and Barry HUME, who chose not to enter, were not present in Lancashire.
I think it is fair to say that the 2017 Lytham Trophy was generally not a confidence boosting week for our leading players and Walker Cup hopes.
Owen EDWARDS (+15 / 9th) was the highest finisher from the 18 GB&I Walker Cup squad players competing.
Here are the Lytham Trophy scores of the Walker Cup squad players: –
England beat Spain 17-13 in their biennial mixed match last weekend to retain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy.
The England Team (Photo: Adolfo Luna)
England traditionally do well in this match which was originally a men’s only affair but moved to a mixed team format in 2015. The competing team’s now consist of six men and four women. Played over two days, five foursomes are played on each morning with ten singles in the afternoon. Yesterday’s 2017 win at El Saler near Valencia took England’s series record to an impressive P17 W15 H0 L2.
England picked a strong team which could not necessarily be said of their opponents who had some notable omissions. The relatively close result therefore gave both parties something to cheer about. England got the match win as expected but Spain could take heart from putting up a good fight, knowing they have reinforcements to call upon in the future.
England picked their strongest six men with all of them still hopeful of picking up a Walker Cup selection in August. It is therefore interesting to review their foursome pairings and the individual match play performances.
The male foursomes pairings for both days were: –
1. Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR
2. Bradley MOORE and Alfie PLANT
3. Dan BROWN and Marco PENGE.
Somewhat inconclusively these pairings all won on Day 1 and then proceeded to all lose on Day 2.
The singles results were similar too. Five of the players won one and lost one whilst Marco PENGE lost one and halved the other – he lost the 18th hole on Day 2 to let in Jorge Maicas in a close match.
On paper it appeared as if the Spanish Women may be their weak link and experienced English international pair Sophie LAMB and Gemma CLEWS took advantage of this. It is worth noting that England won because their four Women won their match within a match 8.5 – 3.5. The English men actually drew 8.5 – 8.5.
Here is my analysis of the individual match performances (which also shows all of the WAGR world rankings at the start of play): –
Congratulations to England on a good away win – certainly something I would never sniff at. However, from a Walker Cup perspective I am not sure the manner of the victory, the foursomes pairings or any of the overall individual performances, whilst all satisfactory, will have made Captain Watson jump for joy or strike fear into the other home nation players vying for the 10 available team places.
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.
Now that our players have returned from Australia I wanted to reflect on what we had learnt in the context of the 2017 Walker Cup.
For those that don’t know a number of our leading English, Scottish and Welsh players have competed in the following elite tournaments and championships over the last four weeks: –
The Australian Master of the Amateurs (4-7 Jan)
The Australian Amateur Championship (17-22 Jan)
The Avondale Amateur (24-27 Jan)
The New South Wales Medal and Amateur Championship (30 Jan-3 Feb)
Nothing is certain in life but the selection of both Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) for the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup Team is increasingly looking so.
This is a big statement to make this early in the season but one that I believe is entirely justified. They both enjoy strong amateur rankings and most importantly have again demonstrated in Australia that they are unquestionably two of our leading match play exponents. Both of course were finalists in the 2016 Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.
Scott Gregory (Photo: @ScottGregory5)
Corhampton’s Scott GREGORY saved his best golf for the last event – the New South Wales (NSW) Amateur. He qualified tied 9th in the 36-hole stroke play Medal before negotiating five rounds of match play to win the Championship, beating Marco PENGE (ENG) by 1-hole in the Final. Scott also played well in the Australian Amateur a few weeks before. He qualified tied 12th before losing his Round 3 match to medalist Kevin Yuan (AUS).
Robert MACINTYRE was on a shorter trip competing in the Australian Master of the Amateurs (AMOTA) and the Australian Amateur only. He withdrew from the AMOTA after Round 1 due to illness but fortunately recovered fully to make a great run at the Australian Amateur. Having qualified tied 20th he progressed serenely through to the semi-finals where Min Woo Lee, Australian’s reigning US Junior Amateur champion, just had too much for him on the day in a 3&1 defeat.
The other player who had a big tour was Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG). Jack has now stepped away from the England Golf coaching set up and presumably travelled out to Australia under his own steam. He didn’t play in the AMOTA but did very well in the three other events. He firstly snook into the Australian Amateur match play stage via a play off and got through to Round 3 before losing to Robbie Morrison (AUS). He was then 2nd in The Avondale Amateur with an impressive 72-hole score of -10. He finished the trip with a strong qualification in the NSW Medal (-3, tied 9th) and then progressed to the Quarter Finals where he lost by 1 hole to South Korea’s Dongmin Kim. He started the year in 270th place in the SPWAR. Today he is 85th and the 8th highest ranked GB&I player in this list. Whilst he wasn’t there a few weeks ago I am sure he must now have played his way into the selector’s minds with his string of results Down Under.
I am convinced that Marco PENGE (ENG) will have a successful Pro career simply because of his inconsistent play and positive mental attitude. When he is ‘on’ he is very good but when he is ‘off’ he can appear very average. The good thing is this appears to me to be exactly what is required in the pro game. When it’s your week you have to cash in big time and when it’s not you have to laugh it off and move on – Marco seems to do both. Penge was off the pace for much of the Tour, shooting big numbers and missing cuts. I am sure some observers were wondering what he was even doing out there. Then, almost out of nowhere he arrives at the NSW Amateur and plays beautifully. He qualified tied 3rd on -6 before battling his way through the match play stage and ultimately losing the close Final with Gregory. So he arrives back in the UK ranked 75th in the SPWAR, up about 60 places, and 7th in the GB&I ranking – job done. I hope he can find some more consistency back in Europe as this will help to secure the selector’s trust and perhaps cement a team spot. If not then establishing which Marco is going to turn up in Los Angeles will be difficult for them and make his inclusion something of a gamble.
Before finishing off this article I wanted to mention Evan GRIFFITH (WAL). He once again found Australia to his liking. Having reached the semi-finals of the Australian Amateur last year he once again played very well; this year reaching the quarter-finals. Let’s hope that in 2017 he can follow up this latest performance down under with a few Top 10’s back in Europe.
Other GB&I Walker Cup squad players to compete in Australia included David BOOTE (WAL), Owen EDWARDS (WAL), Bradley MOORE (ENG) and Alfie PLANT (ENG). All had their moments without necessarily playing at their very best.
Irrespective of whether their Walker Cup selection is now as certain as I suggest I am sure we can all agree to congratulate Scott and Robert for maintaining their form and competitiveness through our early winter and for delivering some good results in Australia.
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: –
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’.