71. Todd Clements Wins The English Men’s Amateur

7th August 2017

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.

For more information on the English Men’s Amateur Championship please click these links – Stroke Play Qualifying Results and Match Play Results

Todd Clements (Photo: Leaderboard Photography) 

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.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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53. JSB Secures His Walker Cup Place At The Brabazon Trophy

30th May 2016

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: –

Dan BROWN                 72 – 68 – 75 – 72      -5      6th
David BOOTE               74 – 69 – 72 – 73      -4      7th
Connor SYME               78 – 70 – 70 – 71      -3      T8
Conor O’ROURKE        71 – 72 – 72 – 75      -2      T13
Craig ROSS                    70 – 67 – 79 – 76       E      T20
Alex GLEESON             76 – 71 – 75 – 72     +2      T25
Robert MACINTYRE   68 – 70 – 83 – 73     +2      T25
Craig HOWIE                74 – 74 – 71 – 75     +2      T25
Jack DAVIDSON           72 – 70 – 75 – 78      +3     T35
Alfie PLANT                  71 – 70 – 81 – 74     +4     T37
James WALKER            71 – 79 – 75 – 80    +13    T59

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.

Click this link to view the – Brabazon Trophy Final Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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52. Wins For Josh Hilleard and Gian-Marco Petrozzi

23rd May 2017

Last weekend saw impressive wins for English pair Josh HILLEARD and Gian-Marco PETROZZI.

Josh HILLEARD won the French International Amateur at Chantilly. Having shot a final round 64 to post a -6 total he beat the young Frenchman Pierre PINEAU on the second hole of their play-off. He became the first Englishman to win this prestigious title.

HILLEARD arrived in France in good form having finished 13th in the Lytham Trophy and tied 4th in the Irish Open Amateur. We know from his exploits of last year that when he finds his game he is more than capable of putting a string of good results together and this seems to be happening again in 2017.

The French International Amateur was his fifth win in just over 12 months. To my knowledge no other GB&I player has won this many events in the same period. Of course this was by far his best career performance and he has now jumped up to 105th in the SPWAR. With Sam HORSFIELD turning Pro over the weekend he is now the 13th highest ranked GB&I player in this list.

Josh Hilleard With The Murat Cup (Photo: French Golf Federation) 

Like a few others before him this year his exclusion from the Walker Cup squad, perhaps understandable at the time, has helped to get the best out of him. He must surely now be just one Top 10 result from being a very strong candidate for a pick.

England took a team of six players to France including four Walker Cup squad members. Bradley MOORE did the best of these, albeit a disappointing final round and a tied 9th result didn’t fully reflect how well he played over the three days of competition. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –

Bradley MOORE  68 – 71 – 68 -75   -2   T9
Daniel BROWN    71 – 69                       WD in Rd 3 with a foot injury
Marco PENGE      78 – 69                 +4   MC
Alfie PLANT         74 – 76                 +8   MC

Gian-Marco PETROZZI also arrived in Wales in good form and like Hilleard was able to keep it going. He had finished 16th at Lytham and tied 16th in the Irish at Royal County Down in his previous two events.

PETROZZI has been ‘up and coming’ for a while and this was undoubtedly his breakthrough performance. Rounds of 66, 69, 70 and 74 and a -13 total took him to an impressive wire-to-wire 9-shot win.

Gian-Marco Petrozzi (Photo: Golf Union of Wales)

The Staffordshire player said in an interview reported on the England Golf website “It’s been coming. All of last season and the start of this season I’ve been playing good golf. I knew I had it in there, I just needed to prove to myself I could cross the line. I’m over the moon with this and hopefully it catches the eye of the Walker Cup selectors. That’s my goal for the end of the year and hopefully this will put my name in the hat.”

His dominant Welsh win has certainly put him on the Walker Cup radar but there are, in my view, as many as 30 players as at today still in with a shout of selection. In other words for Gian-Marco to make it he will need to keep this current run going and deliver at least one more big result between now and August.

Walker Cup squad players Jack DAVIDSON and Owen EDWARDS, as well as Scottish defending champion Barry HUME, were also in action at the Vale Resort. All did well with both Welshman finishing in the Top 5. Here are all of their scores and finishing positions: –

Jack DAVIDSON     71 – 80 – 68 – 70   -3   3rd
Owen EDWARDS   74 – 73 – 75 – 75   -1   4th
Barry HUME           74 – 73 – 75 – 75   +5  16th

Clearly DAVIDSON is moving, event by event, into that select group of Walker Cup ‘Probables’. Hopefully he can just keep ticking over between now and August to make his selection the formality it increasingly appears to be.

Click the links below to view the full results of both of these Championships: –
Welsh Open Amateur Stroke Play Results
French International Amateur (Murat Cup) Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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50. Jack Singh Brar Wins The 2017 Lytham Trophy

7th May 2017

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 Sandy SCOTT, 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: –

Owen EDWARDS          76 – 74 – 74 – 71  (+15)  9th
Jack DAVIDSON            79 – 70 – 72 – 75  (+16)  14th
Robert MACINTYRE    76 – 73 – 70 – 78  (+17)  21st
David BOOTE                76 – 76 – 77 – 71  (+20)  29th
Dan BROWN                  78 – 71 – 77 – 77  (+23)  34th

13 of the GB&I squad members missed the +12 36-hole cut as you can see below:-

Alfie PLANT                   80 – 73  (+13)  46th
Scott GREGORY             80 – 73  (+13)  47th
Craig HOWIE                 79 – 74  (+13)  48th
Stuart GREEHAN          79 – 74  (+13)  50th
Alex GLEESON              82 – 72  (+14)  56th
James WALKER             82 – 73  (+15)  74th
Bradley MOORE            79 – 76  (+15)  80th
Connor SYME                 80 – 76  (+16)  85th
Colm CAMPBELL          79 – 77  (+16)  86th
Conor O’ROURKE         79 – 78  (+17)  91st
Robin DAWSON            83 – 76  (+19)  104th
Craig ROSS                     82 – 78  (+20)  111th
Marco PENGE                94 – 74  (+28)  139th

Click here to view the – 2017 Lytham Trophy Results

Click here to read my report – GolfBible 2017 Lytham Trophy Preview & Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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49. Spain v. England – 29/30 April 2017 – Results

1st May 2017

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.

The detailed match results can be viewed here – Spain v. England Results

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.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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45. GB&I Amateur Golf Rankings – 31st March 2017

7th April 2017

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 PENGEAlex 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.

For more information on the Amateur Golf Rankings please click here – Golf Bible’s Rankings Page.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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42. Jack Davidson Reigns In Spain

6th March 2017

Jack DAVIDSON won the Spanish International Amateur Championship yesterday at the challenging El Saler course near Valencia.

For the man from Newport, Wales this was by far the best result of his career. The Spanish Amateur is one of the world’s top 20 amateur events nowadays enjoying a strong entry from across Europe every year. First played in 1911 former winners include Philip Walton (1981), Jose Maria Olazábel (1983-84), Darren Clarke (1990), Sergio García (1998), Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño (2003), Joost Luiten (2005), Danny Willet (2008) and Romain Langasque (2016).

Jack Davidson (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

The 36-hole stroke play qualifier was played in strong winds which caused havoc with the scoring, particularly in Round 1. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) eventually achieved medalist honours with an impressive 143 (-1) total. He was the only player to record an under par score. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) 144 (E) was 2nd whilst Alfie PLANT (ENG) and Harry GODDARD (ENG), both 146 (+2), also qualified well finishing in tied 4th. Interestingly the eventual Champion shot rounds of 76 and 75 to secure the 32nd and final place in the match play stage with a 151 (+7) total.

Amongst those to miss out on the match play were Initial Walker Cup Squad members Barry HUME (+8), Bradley MOORE (+8), Conor O’ROURKE (+10), Robert MACINTYRE (+11), Colm CAMPBELL (+11), Alex GLEESON (+14) and Owen EDWARDS (+16). In addition in form Irish player Robin DAWSON (+8) also just missed out.

Davidson beat Maclean (2&1), Javier Sainz (1Up), David Puig (3&2) and Kevin LE BLANC (2&1) in the semis to set up a 36-hole final with Englishman Marco PENGE. Penge went into lunch with a 1-hole lead but Davidson came out strongly in the afternoon. The Welshman moved into the lead after a birdie on the fourth and didn’t relinquish it, eventually running out a 4&3 winner on the 15th green.

Marco Penge will be disappointed that the Spanish title evaded him particularly as this was the second match play final he has lost this year. He reached the final of the New South Wales Amateur in Australia a month ago before losing by 1-hole to compatriot Scott GREGORY. Gregory who lost last year’s Spanish Amateur final to Langasque was missing this year as he paces himself ahead of his Masters appearance next month. Nevertheless Penge can take solace in the fact he has moved a few steps closer to the Amateur World’s top 50 (he’s now 55th in the SPWAR) and has once again demonstrated competitive match play skills. Both should stand him in good stead as this Walker Cup year progresses. He won’t have long to dwell on the final as next week he starts his defence of the Sunningdale Foursomes, which he and girlfriend Sophie Lamb won last year.

There is no denying that Jack Davidson’s win was a surprise but upon closer inspection he does appear to be a player growing in confidence and ability. This season he has already finished 3rd in the South American Amateur (74 67 69 68 -10) and followed that up with a tied 7th place result at the Portuguese International Amateur (71 75 74 66 -2) last month.

Jack started 2017 ranked 580th in the SPWAR. He is now 131st and 18th in the GB&I list. The Spanish International Amateur is clearly a prestigious title and it will be interesting to see if he can build on this in the coming months and push himself further into the Walker Cup reckoning. With David BOOTE already well placed could we see at least two Welsh players in the final 2017 GB&I team ?

Whatever happens no one can take this title off him and 2017 will be a memorable year. Well done to Jack on a great win and good luck for the rest of the year.

Jack Davidson Holes The Winning Putt (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

Spanish International Amateur Results
– Stroke Play
– Match Play
Final Hole-By-Hole

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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40. Notes From A Big Island – Australia

7th February 2017

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.

For more information on the results of these Australia amateur events click here – Golf Bible Website Results

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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39. GB&I Walker Cup Squad Announced

23rd January 2017

The R&A have today announced an initial Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) squad for the 46th Walker Cup match which will take place on 9-10 September 2017 at the Los Angeles Country Club.

GB&I Captain Craig Watson said “We have identified a strong group of players who are all in contention for a place on the team and we will be monitoring their performance and results over the coming season. We will also pay close attention to the progress and form of players who have not been included in this current squad as they also have the opportunity to play their way into contention for the team selected to play the USA in September.”

The following 19 players were included in the initial squad: –

ENGLAND
Daniel BROWN (Masham, Yorkshire)
Scott GREGORY (Corthampton, Hampshire)
Bradley MOORE (Kedleston Park, Derbyshire)
Marco PENGE (Golf at Goodwood, Sussex)
Alfie PLANT (Sundridge Park, Kent)
James WALKER (Oaks, Yorkshire)

IRELAND
Colm CAMPBELL (Warrenpoint, County Down)
Alex GLEESON (Castle, Dublin)
Stuart GREHAN (Tullamore, County Offaly)
Paul MCBRIDE (The Island, Dublin)
Conor O’ROURKE (Naas, County Kildare)

SCOTLAND
Craig HOWIE (Peebles, Borders)
Barry HUME (Haggs Castle, Glasgow)
Robert MACINTYRE (Glencruitten, Argyll & Bute)
Craig ROSS (Kirkhill, Lanarkshire)
Sandy SCOTT (Nairn, Nairnshire)
Connor SYME (Drumoig, Fife)

WALES
David BOOTE (Walton Heath, Surrey)
Owen EDWARDS (Llanwern, Newport)

The current rankings of the selected players are shown in the table below: –

As the above rankings clearly show the GB&I Team would have been much stronger with Sam HORSFIELD in it. However, his exclusion makes clear he is intending to turn Pro shortly after the US College season ends and certainly before the match in September. It’s a shame he couldn’t hang on a little longer – his golfing CV will be all the poorer for having never played in the Walker Cup.

On 23rd January 2015 a 20-man squad was announced for the Royal Lytham match. This included Bradley NEIL (SCO), Ashley CHESTERS (ENG), Grant FORREST (SCO), Sam HORSFIELD (ENG), Nick MARSH (ENG), Gavin MOYNIHAN (IRE), Paul HOWARD (ENG), Ben STOW (ENG), Paul DUNNE (IRE), Jack HUME (IRE), Jamie SAVAGE (SCO), Gary HURLEY (IRE), Adam CHAPMAN (ENG), Jack MCDONALD (SCO), Cormac SHARVIN (IRE), Jimmy MULLEN (ENG), Tomasz ANDERSON (ENG), Daniel BROWN (ENG), Graeme ROBERTSON (SCO) and David BOOTE (WAL). As you can see from the names highlighted above only Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) was able to break into this group and that only came about when Sam Horsfield withdrew.

Whilst the rankings mean little in the heat of match play golf the task facing GB&I later this year is emphasised by the fact that the United States currently has 9 players in the Top 20 of both the SPWAR and WAGR.

I had been unsure as to whether a GB&I Walker Cup Squad would be announced for the 2017 match.  Whilst Past Captain Nigel Edwards had announced one ahead of the 2015 home match at Royal Lytham he had previously been dismissive of a Squad for the 2013 away match at the National Golf links of America.

Speaking in 2013 Edwards said: “We’re not picking a squad this year simply because it works well when the match is played here, but with the match being in America there is no point bringing guys together to play a golf course that would bear no resemblance to the real thing. As for traveling over there for a site visit with them, the schedule is so busy that it’s almost impossible to get the guys together, especially with some players in college golf. Besides, often we would pick a squad in the past, and some of the guys would turn professional and drop out. Others playing in college golf would not be named in the original squad, then would play well in the winter and would look conspicuous by their absence from the squad.”

GB&I squads, with team gatherings in the build up to the match, were first introduced in 1995 to try and arrest a series of losses. The improved team spirit and better prepared foursome pairings have contributed to an upturn in GB&I fortunes over the last 20 years.

With no team practice sessions announced by The R&A today one may question what new Captain Craig Watson has got out of showing his hand in this way. Of course it provides some match PR and enables us to see how our leading players react to their inclusion or exclusion. Despite this I am sure their will be some informal dinners ahead of the Lytham Trophy and / or Brabazon Trophy events to start the team building.

For away matches, like Nigel Edwards suggested, I think it may be better to leave any formal statements until the actual team announcement. Then gather a little earlier so that more preparation is done immediately before the match. With the US Amateur Championship being played literally down the road in Los Angeles a few weeks before the Walker Cup the golfing calendar would certainly have appeared to suit this approach in 2017.

Either way with a GB&I Squad now announced the match is very much on the horizon. I am certainly looking forward to following the twists and turns of selection over the next 7 months.

Today’s full R&A announcement can be read here – ‘R&A Announce GB&I Walker Cup Squad’

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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18. The 2016 European Amateur Championship

10th August 2016

The 30th European Amateur Championship, a 72-hole stroke play event, was contested between 3rd – 6th August on the 7,100 yards Sea Course at the Estonia Golf & Country Club.

Italy’s Luca CIANCHETTI beat Norway’s Viktor HOVLAND on the seventh play-off hole to win this prestigious competition. Luca wins a nice trophy but more importantly an invitation to compete in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Luca Cianchetti Euro Mens Amateur 2016

Luca Cianchetti (Photo: Italian Golf Federation)

Once again from a Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) perspective Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) -13 and Connor SYME (SCO) -12 rose to the top, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) is now also starting to show up regularly; he finished an impressive T9 on -9.

In total 37 GB&I players started the European Men’s Amateur Championship. In addition to the above the following 15 players had a good week making the Top 60 54-hole cut in a strong field: –
T13 Andrew WILSON (ENG)-8
T13 Craig ROSS (SCO) -8
T17 Ben AMOR (ENG) -7
T17 Daniel BROWN (ENG) -7
T17 Grant FORREST (SCO) -7
T26 Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) -5
T26 Stuart GREHAN (IRE) -5
T26 Sandy SCOTT (SCO) -5
T35 Matthew JORDAN (ENG) -4
T35 George BLOOR (ENG) -4
T44 Alex GLEESON (IRE) -2
T50 Marco PENGE (ENG) -1
T50 James WALKER (ENG) -1
T54 Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) Ev
T54 Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +1

Click here to review the complete final results from Estonia – 2016 European Amateur Championship Live Scores

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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8. Marco Penge & The 2016 PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School

8th April 2016

The 2016 PGA Euro ProTour Final Qualifying School came to a conclusion today at Frilford Heath G.C. in Oxfordshire.

For followers of amateur golf the entry of England’s Marco PENGE into the Q-School progress was of particular interest.

Marco Penge is one of GB&I’s leading amateurs ranking, at the time of writing, around 90th in the World (SPWAR 97 / WAGR 86). This despite only being 17 – he is 18 on 15th May. He has started the 2016 season well, recording a T6 finish in the South American Amateur, a T4 at the Portuguese Amateur, a T14 in the European Nations and of course winning the Sunningdale Foursomes with girlfriend Sophie Lamb last month.

Marco Penge Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship

Marco Penge – 2015 Scottish Men’s Amateur Champion (Photo: Kenny Smith Photography)

Marco qualified for the EuroPro Tour’s Final Stage Q-School comfortably on 30th and 31st March, finishing 4th at Burhill G.C., with rounds of 66 and 76 (-2). In the Final at Frilford rounds of 71, 73 and 72 saw him finish Even and Tied 22nd. This Top 30 finish saw him earn the highest card possible, a Category 3.

The good news is I believe Marco isn’t planning to turn Pro on the back of his solid start to the year and today’s securing of EuroPro Tour playing rights. I think he wants to play another amateur season, hopefully winning more men’s events and gaining selection for both the St. Andrews Trophy (20-21 July) and Junior Ryder Cup (26-27 September) teams.

The bad news is (at least from my perspective), assuming he maintains his form, he almost certainly will be moving into the Pro ranks towards the end of this year.

Looking at his situation from the perspective of this website it is clear that as things stand he doesn’t see the 2017 Walker Cup as part of his medium term plans. Of course no-one is guaranteed selection but I am sure he would be one of the players Captain Watson would currently like to have at his disposal in 2017. It is hard to criticise Marco for his ambitions. He continues to keep moving forward and the next match in Los Angeles, still over 500 days away, has always looked like being a year too far away for him.

Following his decision to turn Pro last week (click to read article) Jack McDONALD shot rounds of 71, 76 and 71 to finish on +2 and Tied 46th.  He secured a Category 6 card.

With the EuroPro offering 14 events between May and September and operating with fields of 168 both Jack and Marco (but only if he chooses to turn Pro) should be able to play most of the events they want to this season.

It will be interesting to see what Marco decides to do as the season progresses. Why enter the EuroPro Tour Q-School if you don’t plan to turn Pro ? For the time being I guess it can have done him no harm to use the Q-School for experience and to gauge where he currently stands in the pecking order. At 17 I am sure he must be pleased with what he found out.

18th August 2016 Update: Marco PENGE played in The Matchroom Sport Championship at East Sussex National as an amateur this week. He shot rounds of 77 and 76; his +9 score saw him finish a disappointing tied 133rd on his PGA EuroPro Tour debut.

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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