There are 7 English, 2 Irish, 1 Scottish and 0 Welsh players in the 2021 GB&I team.
Joe LONG (ENG) earned his place on the team by winning the 125th Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. in August 2020.
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) and Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) secured their places as the two highest ranked GB&I players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) at the time of selection. They are also the only two players to return from the 2019 match at Royal Liverpool G.C.
The remaining seven players and two reserves were selected by the four-man Selection Committee which comprised Pádraig HOGAN (Chairman / Ireland), Stuart WILSON (Captain / Scotland), Nigel EDWARDS (England) and Carl ROWE (Wales).
The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the selection process with home-based players largely unable to make their cases with few competitive opportunities in the last 6 months.
It is therefore no surprise to see six of the ten-man team made up of US college players, namely, Barclay Brown (Stanford), Alex Fitzpatrick (Wake Forest), Angus Flanagan (Minnesota), John Murphy (Louisville), Mark Power (Wake Forest) and Sandy Scott (Texas Tech).
Callum FARR (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL), Joe PAGDIN (ENG) and Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL), who were all in the original 15-man GB&I Walker Cup Squad announced on 2nd December, missed out.
Jack DYER (ENG) played his way into the picture from outside the Squad with a series of very good results in South Africa early in 2021.
With 50 days to go until the 2021 Walker Cup match starts at Seminole G.C. here are the 10 players I would currently select for the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team.
In the spirit of fairness I have tried to find a balance between players who have been performing well overseas and those that have been unable to play due to the COVID-19 pandemic but were previously trending towards selection.
My selection is primarily an objective one based on playing results, preferably recent as I would prefer a ‘match fit’ team. I do not know the players well enough to take into account personalities and team dynamics which I accept would be a part of a wider selection decision.
This is not a prediction of what The R&A Selection Committee will do. Indeed if it were a few names would be different, particularly as the Chairman Pádraig Hogan has publically stated they will automatically be including the two highest ranked WAGR players at the end of March.
I have included extracts from each player’s SPWAR and WAGR playing records so you can view their form and results for yourself. Unfortunately due to some recent IT issues the SPWAR is still catching up on some events in March. I consider the SPWAR to be far more accurate so always favour it’s ranking over that of WAGR.
Here are my leading 10 players: –
1. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) ⇑18 SPWAR #24 / WAGR #24
I didn’t pick Alex for my 2019 team (which he made) and back in October I had him in 19th place in my 2021 team list. All I’ve ever wanted was results to back up his longstanding reputation as a great prospect. I have been pleased to see that he’s consistently delivered them over the last 6 months. With two wins, including this week’s Valspar Collegiate (not yet shown in the tables below), the in form Wake Forest man has separated himself from the pack.
Alex Fitzpatrick – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Alex Fitzpatrick – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
2. Mark POWER (IRL) ⇑1 SPWAR #44 / WAGR #28
Mark enjoyed a strong summer back home playing very well in the Amateur Championship and Brabazon Trophy. He has continued to play well for Wake Forest on the US College circuit in his sophomore year and finished T16 in the Valspar Collegiate this week (not shown below). He has plenty of match play experience representing Ireland and GB&I in boys and men’s tournaments.
Mark Power – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Mark Power – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
3. Jack DYER (ENG) ⇑11 SPWAR #31 / WAGR #238
Jack has backed up his good summer on the British amateur circuit by performing very well in South Africa in recent months. To feature prominently in five big events over there, including medalist and runner-up honours in the South African Amateur Championship, gives me a lot of confidence. I have a much higher regard for South African golf and golfers than the WAGR does. He offers what few other GB&I potential players can at the moment – U.S. experience from his college days (the first two years of which were in Fort Lauderdale, Florida), recent match play results and competitive form.
Jack Dyer – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Jack Dyer – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
4. Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) ⇑6 SPWAR #63 / WAGR #31
Ben secured his place in my team with his T11 result at the Jones Cup in February which showed he had lost none of his ability or competitive spirit during the COVID-19 lock down. He has been one of our better players since 2019 and deserves his chance on the biggest stage in May.
Ben Schmidt – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Ben Schmidt – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
5. Joe LONG (ENG) ⇓4 SPWAR #18 / WAGR #47
Joe returned to South Africa again during the winter. After a couple of disappointing European Tour pro events in late 2020 he only played in one of the South African amateur events where he was disqualified. As the reigning Amateur champion and on the back of an impressive couple of seasons he must be selected for the GB&I team but his lack of recent outings are a concern. We will see where his game is when he takes up his Masters invitation at Augusta in a few weeks time.
Joe Long – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Joe Long – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
6. Matty LAMB (ENG) ⇓4 SPWAR #90 / WAGR #86
Matty proved to be one of our better players in 2020 when play recommenced after lockdown winning both the Tillman Trophy and North of England Amateur. It was encouraging to see him also perform well against a strong field at the Jones Cup in February. With a 2021 EuroPro Tour card already earned he deserves his Walker Cup amateur send off.
Matty Lamb – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Matty Lamb – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
7. John MURPHY (IRL) ⇑13 SPWAR #76 / WAGR #117
John has played his way on to my team on the back of his T6 at the Jones Cup and continued solid play for Louisville University. Not shown below he also finished 2nd at the V1 Sports General Hackler Invitational in South Carolina this week. If he can follow that up with another solid outing at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational in Florida on 28-29 March the experienced Irishman must be worth a go.
John Murphy – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
John Murphy – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
8. Jake BOLTON (ENG) ⇓2 SPWAR #58 / WAGR #59
Limited competitive action in 2021 has seen Jake slide a little but for me it would be unfair for him to miss out on the Walker Cup team due to the pandemic. Since winning the Scottish Open Amateur in 2019 Jake has played consistently well. He reached the semi-finals of the Amateur and South African Amateur Championships last year and also has two top 5’s finishes to his name in Florida in recent years which bode well for him.
Jake Bolton – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Jake Bolton – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
9. Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) ⇓5 SPWAR #95 / WAGR #41
Angus performed very well in the Western Amateur last summer – 72 hole medalist honours there shows his class – and has a number of recent wins in Minnesota where he continues to study. He now has lots of experience in big events but would help his case further with the men that matter if he could produce a top 10 for the Gophers in The Goodwin event in California next week.
Angus Flanagan – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Angus Flanagan – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
10. Barclay BROWN (ENG) ⇓3 SPWAR #70 / WAGR #133
Barclay produced a string of fine results in the English Amateur, the Brabazon Trophy and The Amateur last summer. Whilst he hasn’t quite made his mark at Stanford yet, not always making their starting line up, he is playing regularly in the U.S. and hopefully his T5 at Bandon Dunes in early March will boost his confidence. He may still need a high finish in the Cardinal’s home event, The Goodwin, on 25-27 March to seal the deal.
Barclay Brown – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Barclay Brown – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
Looking at the rest of the players I originally selected in my 20 man squad: –
11. Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL) ⇑2 SPWAR #118 / WAGR #108
A well known name and reputation but are the recent results really there to justify his selection after a positive Winter 2020 touring Australia and South Africa ? Whether relevant or not I was also disappointed to read in a Golf channel article in December that he had chosen not to complete his school exams and in the process had chosen to forego his 2021 scholarship to the University of Florida. Tom’s playing in the Azalea Invitational this week in South Carolina and hopefully can get that good 2021 finish under his belt.
Tom McKibbin – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Tom McKibbin – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
12. Sandy SCOTT (SCO) ⇓4 SPWAR #216 / WAGR #6
Sandy was GB&I’s star player in the 2019 match at Hoylake and has huge amounts of experience. However, accepting he has been playing an elite schedule for Texas Tech, his results haven’t been good enough to make my 2021 line up. Worse still he hasn’t played competitively since 18th October having injured his wrist during Round 1 of the Maridoe Collegiate invitational. He is due to make his comeback around now following minor surgery. Texas Tech are scheduled to play in the Old Waverley Collegiate in Mississipi on 26-28 March. It won’t be easy for him to make his university team, who have been doing well in his absence, but let’s hope he’s fit enough to give it a go. He may be our highest ranked player in the WAGR but sadly that says more about its accuracy than it does about his current standing.
Sandy Scott – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Sandy Scott – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
13. Haider HUSSAIN (ENG) ⇓8 SPWAR #79 / WAGR #111
I thought Haider was very unlucky not to be included in the formal R&A Squad given his 2020 results which were arguably as good collectively as anyone else’s. Unfortunately he hasn’t appeared since the European Amateur last September so has fallen down the pecking order.
Haider Hussain – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Haider Hussain – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
14. Ben JONES (ENG) ⇓5 SPWAR #52 / WAGR #42
In my opinion Ben should have been selected in 2019 but his case for inclusion this time is weaker. I had him 9th in October but his late withdrawal from the Jones Cup and his lack of action in recent months means I reluctantly can’t find a place for him.
Ben Jones – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Ben Jones – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
15. Olly HUGGINS (ENG) ⇓4 SPWAR #105 / WAGR #134
Olly enjoyed a good 2020 season and must have been close to inclusion in the official R&A squad. However, the pandemic has snookered him in 2021 and by not finding any competitive action has now missed the chance to play at Seminole.
Arron is another very good English player who has performed consistently well for a few years now. He has recently played in the Spanish International Amateur and in a few events on the Evolve Pro Tour but sadly another one who has been deprived of the chance to make a run at the team in 2021.
Arron Edwards-Hill – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Arron Edwards-Hill – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
17. Joe PAGDIN (ENG) ⇑1 SPWAR #169 / WAGR #91
I was really hoping our resident Floridian could make this 2021 GB&I team. Joe has an excellent match play record and massive potential but unfortunately hasn’t been able to make a big enough impression in his freshman year at the University of Florida. Sadly the Gators had to withdrawal from this week’s Tiger Invitational due to a positive COVID-19 test within their golf program thus depriving him of a timely playing opportunity.
Joe Pagdin – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Joe Pagdin – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
18. Callan BARROW (ENG) ⇓1 SPWAR #169 / WAGR #427
Callan had a good 2020 but has been unable to play any events in 2021 so like a few others has slipped out of the picture.
Callan Barrrow – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Callan Barrrow – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
19. Jack COPE (ENG) ⇓3 SPWAR #197 / WAGR #613
After a long spell on the sidelines Jack came back well in 2020 culminating in a commanding win at Woodhall Spa in the English Amateur and a top 10 in the subsequent Brabazon Trophy. No events since last September means he has sadly not had the opportunity before this year’s match to build on his comeback season.
Jack Cope – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Jack Cope – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
20. Callum FARR (ENG) ⇓3 SPWAR #185 / WAGR #129
English International Callum is a consistent performer and has a number of high finishes in match play events over the years but hasn’t done enough to make the GB&I 2021 team. Sadly failed to make an impression in the Jones Cup his only event in the last 6 months.
Callum Farr – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Callum Farr – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
Caolan Rafferty wasn’t in my 20 man squad in October but his high WAGR means he is worthy of further comment in this article.
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) N/a SPWAR #109 / WAGR #22
Caolan suffered a thumb injury in 2020 and his strict adherence to the COVID-19 travel guidance in Ireland saw him miss out on all of the major British events last summer. He played in the rescheduled Arnold Palmer Cup at Bay Hill in December having originally been selected for the International Team in March 2020. I like Caolan and he was my 2nd pick for the 2019 match at Hoylake but his lack of action must go against him this year.
Caolan Rafferty – SPWAR Playing Record 2020-21
Caolan Rafferty – WAGR Playing Record 2020-21
It would be wrong of me not to mention in passing Dan BRADBURY (ENG) SPWAR #152 / WAGR #99 and Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG) SPWAR #131 / WAGR 361 who have both been playing well on the US College circuit in 2020/21. Enrique’s Florida Athletic University is about 60 miles south of Seminole G.C.
Appendix 1 – World Amateur Rankings – Top 20 GB&I Players on 18th March 2021
The Walker Cup match is being played on 8-9th May at Seminole GC in Florida.
The actual GB&I squad is being selected in the week commencing 29th March with an announcement expected in early April. In such a difficult year it will be interesting to see who the Selection Committee opt for.
Benjamin SCHMIDT (18) – England – SPWAR #40 / WAGR #34
Sandy SCOTT (22) – Scotland – SPWAR #97 / WAGR #8
As expected the squad is dominated by English players of whom there are ten. Ireland have contributed four, Scotland one and Wales none.
Alex Fitzpatrick, Caolan Rafferty and Sandy Scott were all members of the losing GB&I team at Royal Liverpool in 2019.
Whilst all of these players have justified their selection the Committee do appear to have given the benefit of any doubt to those with US playing experience, which makes sense for an away match, and higher WAGR rankings.
In my opinion English trio Haider Hussain SPWAR #46 (7th) / WAGR #143, Olly Huggins SPWAR #51 (9th) / WAGR #162 and Arron Edwards-Hill SPWAR #75 (14th) / WAGR #157 can consider themselves unfortunate to be overlooked for the squad.
Eight of the squad, if you include Tom McKibbin, are US-based and given the additional complications created by the COVID-19 pandemic it seems unlikely a practice / team building session will be held before the team gather in Florida. GB&I captain Stuart Wilson said “We have selected a talented group of players to work with in preparation for the match against the United States of America next year. We will be closely monitoring their form and results in a number of important events over the coming months while other players still have time to play their way into contention before we finalise the team which will travel to Florida. We will go to Seminole with belief in ourselves and will give it our best shot to win back the trophy.”
Given the small number of events scheduled to be played between now and when the final team will be announced in April, let alone the complications of travelling abroad to compete in many of them, it is going to take something exceptional for a player outside this initial group to break into the GB&I team.
The 48th Walker Cup match will be played at Seminole Golf Club in Florida on 8th and 9th May 2021.
There are 200 days to go until the 2021 Walker Cup match starts on 8th May at Seminole GC in Florida.
So how is the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team shaping up and what opportunities to impress remain for the players before an announcement has to be made by The R&A presumably in early April ?
This was always going to be a challenging Walker Cup for the GB&I selectors given the early May start date. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse for them.
With the 2020 European amateur golf season effectively over the evidence to make an initial selection is now largely to hand so I thought I’d give the powers that be a helping hand.
Here are the ten GB&I players I would select, in order, if I had to choose the team today: –
N.B. Each player’s current SPWAR record shows only their counting performances of note.
1. Joe LONG (ENG)
Joe guaranteed himself a place in the GB&I team with his Amateur Championship win at Royal Birkdale. He has been impressive throughout the last two years and would have been a certainty for me even without his standout victory.
2. Matty LAMB (ENG)
Matty has been superb since play recommenced after lockdown winning both the Tillman Trophy and North of England Amateur both of which enjoyed much stronger fields than normal in 2020.
3. Mark POWER (IRL)
Mark has enjoyed a great last 12 months. He transitioned to Wake Forest University and US College golf seamlessly in his freshman season. His decision to return home and travel to England for this year’s majors paid dividends enabling him to demonstrate beyond any doubt that he clearly belongs at the top table.
4. Angus FLANAGAN (ENG)
Angus stayed in the USA over the summer but whilst out of sight he certainly hasn’t been out of my mind. He seems to be loving life in Minnesota smashing it locally but also performing well in the biggest amateur events in the world.
5. Haider HUSSAIN (ENG)
Haider has arguably had as strong a set of results, admittedly without securing a win, as any GB&I amateur in 2020. His effort in travelling to Switzerland for the European Amateur was rewarded with a notable 3rd place finish.
6. Jake BOLTON (ENG)
Since winning the Scottish Open Amateur in 2019 Jake has cemented his place in the upper echelons of GB&I amateurs. He performed well in the big summer events this year and his 4th place finish at the South Beach International Amateur in Miami last December is encouraging given the match will take place just up the coast.
7. Barclay BROWN (ENG)
Barclay didn’t make that big an impression on me during his freshman season at Stanford University. However, he delivered back home this summer forcing his way into my Walker Cup team with his play in the English Amateur, the Brabazon Trophy and The Amateur.
8. Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
His results don’t jump out at you but Sandy was a rock in the 2019 match for GB&I at Hoylake and he has been playing an elite schedule for Texas Tech. He also competed in the 2020 U.S. Open. With his experience he has to be in the team particularly as he also brings some welcome Scottish representation to the party.
9. Ben JONES (ENG)
In my opinion Ben should have been selected in 2019 and played well around the subsequent year end. Whilst his results post lockdown in 2020 haven’t been as persuasive as I would have ideally liked I am staying loyal to him given his experience and overall track record.
10. Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)
Ben had an unbelievable 2019 albeit mainly in junior golf and started this year very well in Australia. This highly promising Yorkshireman has done more than enough to be included.
The other players knocking on the door and who would be included in my 20 man Squad are: –
11) Olly HUGGINS (ENG)
Olly has enjoyed a good season but needs to find a few more results to force his way into the ten man team.
12) Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG)
Arron is another very good player who has performed consistently well for a few years now.
13) Tom MCKIBBIN (IRL)
This Walker cup may come a bit too soon for Tom but he’s playing a lot (which I like) and as he is clearly capable of winning any tournament on his day could still easily force his way into the team.
14. Jack DYER (ENG)
Jack enjoyed an excellent summer on the British amateur circuit featuring well in nearly all of the majors as well as winning the South East of England Links.
15. Callan BARROW (ENG)
Like Jack Dyer above Callan deserves to be in the Squad in my opinion due to his current form which has elevated his status on the national stage in recent months.
16. Jack COPE (ENG)
After a long spell on the sidelines Jack has come back well in 2020 culminating in a commanding win at Woodhall Spa in the English Amateur and a top 10 in the subsequent Brabazon Trophy.
17. Callum FARR (ENG)
Always the bridesmaid never the bride English International Callum continues to be a consistent performer and has a number of high finishes in match play events to his name in recent years.
18. Joe PAGDIN (ENG)
I was really hoping our resident Floridian could make this 2021 GB&I team. An excellent match play record and massive potential but needs to find his feet quickly at the University of Florida if he is to move up this list. I am sure his time will come if not this year.
19. Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
Alex was selected in 2019 but his results since the last match haven’t yet been sufficiently persuasive for me to include him in 2021. I wish he’d followed his Wake Forest teammate Mark Power home this summer and sought to earn his place out on the course.
20. John MURPHY (IRL)
Good US experience and continues to perform well for Louisville University but needs to deliver in higher class events to prove he is worthy of a place in my top 10.
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL) and James SUGRUE (IRL), who both played in 2019, are obvious absentees from the above list. I have assumed James will be turning pro once he has played in The Masters next month whilst Caolan has suffered with a thumb injury in 2020 and his strict adherence to the COVID-19 travel guidance in Ireland saw him miss out on all of the major events.
Other players to impress me this year include Sam BAIRSTOW (ENG), Enrique DIMAYUGA (ENG), Mark BOUCHER (IRL) and Connor MCKINNEY (SCO) who have all stood out but don’t quite make my top 20.
Looking ahead the big unknown remains the future impact of COVID-19. Unfortunately the pandemic raises more questions than answers.
Will the match even take place and if it does, will it be behind closed doors ? Could it be postponed like the 2020 Curtis Cup match was ?
Restrictions are again tightening in many jurisdictions as we head into the higher risk winter period so how much golf will actually be played between now and the match ?
Will our leading players be able to travel to the USA for the South Beach International Amateur in Miami (December) or Jones Cup in Georgia (February) ?
Will golf union funds be available and will players be able to travel on tour to Australia and South Africa early next year as has become the norm in recent years ?
Those players attached to US Colleges will have a few events in the Fall and Spring seasons to help them make their cases with those based at home hoping the Portuguese and Spanish International Amateurs are staged.
There is an opportunity for some clubs to bring forward their 2021 competitions to March / early April to support the Walker Cup selection process. Perhaps The R&A needs to create a new tournament or even consider staging formal squad trials as used to happen.
I look forward to The R&A announcing their Squad in due course and to seeing how the amateur golf world pans out over the next six months.
Joe LONG (ENG) won the 2020 Amateur Championship at Royal Birkdale G.C. yesterday beating Joe HARVEY (ENG) 4&3 in the 36 hole Final.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s Championship was postponed from June and limited to a single venue. More importantly the field was reduced from the normal 288 players to 120. The countries represented fell from 34 in 2019 to just 13 this year and 75 or 63% of the players ultimately came from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) lowering the overall quality.
Strong winds and heavy rain on the opening day saw the stroke play qualifying reduced to 18 holes. Stroke play qualifying was introduced in 1983 and this was the first time in 37 years that The R&A have been unable to complete the full 36 holes.
Given the above it would not have been a major surprise to see an outsider pick up the title. The R&A will therefore be delighted that one of the leading amateurs in the world came through their demanding Amateur test.
Joe Long (Photo: Richard Heathcote / The R&A / R&A via Getty Images)
Joe Long became the 51st Englishman to win the Championship following most recently in the footsteps of Harry Ellis who won at Royal St George’s in 2017.
The Lansdown G.C. member secured exemptions into the Open, Masters Tournament and US Open in 2021.
With the match starting in 250 days time in May 2021 Joe also guaranteed a place in the GB&I Walker Cup Team. His performances over the last 12 months had probably already assured him of selection so the result has in no way weakened the team.
Joe started the week in Lancashire ranked 102nd and 31st in the WAGR and SPWAR respectively so he was clearly one of the favourites for the title. Long jumped up to 65th and 5th in the WAGR and SPWAR following his victory.
In addition to runner-up Joe Harvey (ENG), Mark POWER (IRL) and Jake BOLTON (ENG), who reached the Semi-Finals, and Callan BARROW (ENG) and Barclay BROWN (ENG), who made the Quarter Finals, all raised their 2021 Walker Cup profiles.
School’s out for summer and it’s two English school boys that have been making most of the noise since my last report.
But have either of them done enough to make the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team…..
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) won the English Boys’ U18 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the Carris Trophy at Moor Park G.C. on 26th July.
Ben Schmidt (Photo: Schmidt Family)
Having won the Brabazon Trophy earlier this summer he became just the fourth player to win both the boys’ and men’s English Open Amateur Stroke Play titles in the same year. A remarkable achievement.
Ben’s rise to No. 7 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), which makes him GB&I’s highest ranked player, has had a number of observers understandably calling for his inclusion in our 2019 Walker Cup team.
I am still to be convinced.
I agree with his supporters that Ben has enjoyed a great season and is clearly one of Europe’s best U18 prospects. I am just not sure he is ready for the 2019 Walker Cup match or that his inclusion would necessarily be good for his development.
He justifiably should be under consideration by the selectors but I have a question mark over his lack of experience of both men’s amateur golf and elite match play games.
I also think he may have hampered his chances with his playing schedule over the critical final weeks. Indeed I wonder if his high WAGR will actually end up being his undoing.
Ben’s top 50 WAGR ranking on 26th June gained him an exemption in to the U.S. Amateur Championship which he is taking up. Play starts at Pinehurst in North Carolina on Monday 12th August.
The U.S. Amateur clashes with The R&A’s Boys’ Amateur Championship which is being played at Saunton. Ben would clearly have been one of the favourites for this title.
Ahead of this, for whatever reason, he chose not to enter last week’s English Men’s Amateur (30th July – 4th August) or take up his place in England’s team at The R&A Boys’ Home Internationals which start tomorrow in South Wales and finishes on Thursday 8th August.
Good performances at one or even both of these events – along with the Boys’ Amateur instead of the U.S. Amateur – could have easily pushed him over the line.
As it is all of his eggs are now in the U.S. Amateur Championship basket. Only time will tell if this strategy proves to be a successful one. If he makes the match play stage and can win a few games he will deserve his place in our team.
If Ben is selected he will probably become the first player to receive the honour without ever having played in any R&A Championship or selected GB&I team beforehand. His rise has been that meteoric.
In many ways Conor GOUGH was last year’s Ben SCHMIDT. A string of wins albeit exclusively at the boys’ level. The main one of course being the prestigious Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.
Conor was selected for the original GB&I Walker Cup squad but due to focussing on his exams played none of the major amateur events during May and June. As a result it was no surprise to see him left out of the reduced 16-man squad a few weeks ago.
Like Schmidt Conor also received a WAGR generated exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship on 26th June. However, and I accept their circumstances were different, Conor chose to play the English Men’s Amateur and will be participating in the Boys’ Home Internationals before travelling to the United States.
In a stunning performance Gough won the English Men’s Amateur beating Callum Farr 3&2 in the Final at Hankley Common. On the way to the final he beat Jamie Li, Joshua McMahon, Curtis Knipes and Jake Burnage, once again highlighting his match play pedigree.
Conor Gough (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)
This win inevitably brings Conor back to the table for GB&I Walker Cup selection.
Another major match play victory by the Englishman within two weeks of the 2019 selection date is hugely persuasive.
However, as you will see below I am not yet ready to add him into my team. As Aristotle said ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ and I need to see more. However, if he does well this week at Ashburnham and shows up at the U.S. Amateur Championship he could very easily force his way in to the final line up.
Conor Gough was clearly the star of the show at the English Men’s Amateur but in the context of the Walker Cup perhaps the real winner was fellow Englishman Jake BURNAGE.
Eight of the ten English members of the 16-man Walker Cup squad competed in what was, at least for me, an unofficial Walker Cup eliminator. It is after all a large group of English players that are in effect competing for the five remaining places.
Burnage ended up being the leading player out of the eight. Playing under some pressure he reached the Semi-Finals, winning four match play games, having also qualified well in 9th on 138 (-3). It was just the result the Devonian needed having already placed the St. Andrews Links Trophy on his C.V. in June.
The other squad players, some of whom really needed to move the dial to make the team, to differing degrees simply didn’t get it done – Tom SLOMAN (SP 37th / MP Rd4), Joshua MCMAHON (SP 45th / MP Rd4) Alex FITZPATRICK (SP 5th / MP Rd3), Matty LAMB (SP 24th / MP Rd3), Tom PLUMB (SP 7th / MP Rd2), Bailey GILL (SP 69th / MP Rd2) and David LANGLEY (SP MC).
Of the two missing players Harry HALL withdrew a week before to return to Las Vegas and I believe will not be playing again before the team is selected. Ben JONES chose to play in the Western Amateur Championship and will stay in the States before playing in the U.S. Amateur.
Archie DAVIES, an original GB&I Walker Cup squad member, won the Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) last week at Tenby G.C.
Unfortunately in the context of this year’s Walker Cup selection this win is unlikely to bring Archie back into the discussion. He is another good young player who has every chance of making future teams though.
Runner Up Connor Jones (l) and Champion Archie Davies (r) Photo: Steve Jones)
The Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) was also played last week and the Irish Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) started yesterday at Ballybunion.
Unfortunately none of the remaining Scottish or Irish Walker Cup panelists – Sandy SCOTT, Euan WALKER, Mark POWER, Conor PURCELL, Caolan RAFFERTY and James SUGRUE – entered so it is hard to see how these Championships will impact the Walker Cup selection.
George BURNS beat Lewis IRVINE in the final of the Scottish Amateur on their 19th hole at Crail Golfing Society.
With the exception of Power, the other three Irish lads are playing in the U.S. Amateur next week and therefore were unable to enter due to the clashing dates.
7th August Update Ronan MULLARNEY, who also won the stroke play qualifying by 6-shots, beat Rob BRAZILL in the final of the Irish Amateur by 1 hole at Ballybunion G.C.
The previous week also saw the playing of the South of Ireland Amateur Championship at Lahinch G.C. (on the 24th-28th July).
Five Irish Walker Cup panelists, four of whom attended the practice session at Hoylake which clashed with the Stroke Play Qualifying, were given byes into the Match Play competition.
Unfortunately all of them struggled to make much of an impression. John MURPHY reached the Quarter Finals but James SUGRUE, Mark POWER, Conor PURCELL and Caolan RAFFERTY all lost their Round 2 matches.
Two weeks today, the day after the U.S. Amateur Championship has concluded, I believe the GB&I Walker Cup squad will be announced.
Here are my current thoughts on the team and likely foursomes pairings as at 5th August: –
Euan WALKER (24) – Scotland Sandy SCOTT (20) – Scotland
The R&A today formally announced a revised GB&I squad of 16 players for September’s Walker Cup match against USA.
The players selected are:- Jake BURNAGE, Saunton, 23 Alex FITZPATRICK, Hallamshire, 20 Bailey GILL, Lindrick, 21 Harry HALL, West Cornwall, 21 Benjamin JONES, Northamptonshire County, 19 Matty LAMB, Hexham, 21 David LANGLEY, Castle Royle, 25 Joshua MCMAHON, Wallasey, 23 Thomas PLUMB, Yeovil, 20 Mark POWER, Kilkenny, 18 Conor PURCELL, Portmarnock, 21 Caolan RAFFERTY, Dundalk, 26 Sandy SCOTT, Nairn, 20 Tom SLOMAN, Taunton & Pickeridge, 22 James SUGRUE, Mallow, 22 Euan WALKER, Kilmarnock (Barassie), 24
The players were invited to attend a practice session taking place today and tomorrow on Monday 15th July following a selection meeting immediately following the European Men’s and Boys’ Team Championships.
The Squad Practicing Today At Hoylake (Photo: Royal Liverpool G.C.)
There are 10 players from England, 4 from Ireland, 2 from Scotland and 0 from Wales.
This new squad includes three players not included in the initial panel of 26 selected in April; namely Matty LAMB, David LANGLEY and Joshua MCMAHON.
GB&I captain Craig Watson said “We have monitored results of the players originally selected since we last got together as a squad, while also keeping an eye on the performances of other players not included. We have brought in three new players who have had encouraging results in recent events and we look forward to working with them and the other players when we meet up at Royal Liverpool this week.”
The following 13 players have in effect been dropped from the squad – Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales Archie DAVIES – Wales Conor GOUGH – England David HAGUE – England Jake HAPGOOD – Wales Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland John MURPHY – Ireland Joseph PAGDIN – England Jamie STEWART – Scotland Tom THURLOWAY – England Robin WILLIAMS – England
It is hard to argue with this new squad selection particularly as it was made before Joe PAGDIN‘s run to the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship semi-finals last week.
No one can be written off yet but the probability is the final 10-man GB&I team will come from these newly selected 16 players.
When I picked my latest squad on 14th July (107. Learnings From The European Team Championships ) I also reduced it to 16 players and included all of the above players except for Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick. I chose Ben HUTCHINSON and Ben SCHMIDT instead, although I did acknowledge Schmidt had entered the Carris Trophy at Moor Park and therefore would probably be replaced by Fitzpatrick.
The only sour note is the timing of this latest practice session even accepting the packed amateur golf calendar at this time of year. The South of Ireland Amateur Championship has had to issue byes to the match play stage for the Irish players who are competing at Lahinch this week and the Walton Heath Trophy has had to accept the late withdrawals of Messrs. Langley, Plumb and Sloman from its field.
I think we have the makings of a very competitive Walker Cup team and am increasingly looking forward to this being tested in 6 weeks time.
Yesterday saw the conclusion of the Men’s and Boys’ European Team Championships played respectively in Sweden and France.
Both Championships combined 36 holes of stroke play qualifying with three rounds of match play, including foursomes and singles.
ENGLAND finished 2nd, disappointingly losing in the Final for the third year running, this time to host’s Sweden. In what proved to be a good Championship for the home nations SCOTLAND finished 3rd, IRELAND 5th and WALES a very creditable 6th.
Here’s my assessment of the individual GB&I men’s team performances. You will appreciate this is an art not a science but I am confident the list is broadly correct.
Euan WALKER (SCO) continued to enjoy his rich vein of form, winning the stroke play qualifying easily and playing relatively well in the match play stage. If he had won all of his match play games he may well have risen to No. 1 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking; as it is he has stayed in 4th but the gap has been closed.
I have been bullish about Sandy SCOTT (SCO) for the Walker Cup for some time on the back of his strong play for Texas Tech in the U.S. this season. Sandy performed very well in Sweden fully justifying my faith in him. It’s a shame that Scotland’s needs meant he and Euan Walker couldn’t be paired together in the foursomes this week.
Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Tom PLUMB (ENG) both qualified well and won all three of their foursomes games together. Their selection and pairing looks a certainty to me now.
From an Irish perspective Conor PURCELL presented a welcome return to form right on cue and Caolan RAFFERTY ticked along nicely, albeit his match play results were disappointing. However, Mark POWER (IRE) is the player that really grasped the opportunity presented by this event. A solid qualification was followed by singles wins (playing at No. 2) over John Axelsen DEN (4&3), Maximillian Hermann GER (20th) and Jacob Davies WAL (19th).
Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO), Gaelen TREW (WAL) and Harry HALL (ENG) also won all three of their singles in Sweden. Interestingly they all qualified poorly over the opening two days but clearly found something as the week progressed. In the context of the Walker Cup the wins were particularly useful for Hall.
For the record Trew, playing No. 1 for Wales, impressively beat Ben Jones ENG (1 Hole), Alejandro Del Ray ESP (1 Hole) and Conor Purcell IRE (4&3).
Ben JONES ENG, who had played so well at the Amateur Championship a few weeks ago, qualified strongly but lost his way in the match play stage losing all three of his games.
From a Walker Cup perspective it would have been good to see Hall and Jones given a foursomes run out at some point as they are both strong candidates for selection and this is therefore a possible pairing.
Alex FITZPATRICK ENG followed a similar path to Jones, qualifying well before losing all three of his singles, albeit each by the slender margin of 1 Hole.
In addition to Trew Ben CHAMBERLAIN was the standout for Wales, qualifying in 10th and enjoying a good win over Ronan Mullarney on the final day.
Only IRELAND and ENGLAND played in the European Boys Team Championship in Chantilly, France. Ireland finished 4th and England 5th as France took the title.
SCOTLAND and WALES played in the Division 2 Championship in Poland.
Here’s my assessment of the individual GB&I boys’ Division 1 team performances.
Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Max HOPKINS (ENG), Tom MCKIBBIN (IRE) and Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) were the standout performers for me in the Boys’ Team Championship.
Pagdin, who won all four of his games in last week’s AJGA Wyndham Cup in North Carolina, continues to show encouraging match play form. If he had held on to his lead over the final holes of his Round 2 match against Tom Sloman in The Amateur I may be talking him up even more now.
Pagdin and McKibbin both fly to the USA today for this week’s U.S. Junior Amateur. They will need to go deep, as will Ben Schmidt in the U.S. Amateur in August, to have a chance of making the GB&I Walker Cup team.
Pagdin and McKibbin also have the opportunity to make a late Walker Cup case in the Boys’ Amateur Championship being played at Saunton G.C. in August. Both played well in this event last year at Royal Portrush G.C.
The Boys’ event clashes with the U.S. Amateur which is why Schmidt won’t be in Devon. Indeed it is possible that Pagdin may also be a late qualifier for the U.S. Amateur having now moved into the World Amateur Golf Ranking Top 50.
All three are of an age and have the potential to play multiple Walker Cup’s for GB&I but the 2019 match now looks like coming too soon for them.
The GB&I selectors will be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad this weekend with an announcement expected tomorrow.
The next squad training gathering is being held at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 23-24 July.
If the decision was mine I would select 16 players giving me 8 foursomes pairings to work with at Hoylake.
Here are my current thoughts on the team / squad and pairings (all in selection order): –
Team (as at 14th July) Euan WALKER – Scotland Sandy SCOTT – Scotland
Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland Conor PURCELL – Ireland
Tom SLOMAN – England Thomas PLUMB – England
Harry HALL – England Ben JONES – England
James SUGRUE – Ireland [Amateur Champion – Automatic Selection] Jake BURNAGE – England
Other Squad Players David LANGLEY – England NEW Josh MCMAHON – England NEW Mark POWER – Ireland Bailey GILL – England Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW [Training session clashes with U18 Carris Trophy]
Since my last squad selection I have taken out Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick and added Mark Power to the second group solely based on their performances at the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship.
Dropped From Original Squad Alex FITZPATRICK – England [Training Session replacement for Schmidt ?] Joseph PAGDIN – England Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland David HAGUE – England Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales Jake HAPGOOD – Wales Tom THURLOWAY – England Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland Robin WILLIAMS – England John MURPHY – Ireland Jamie STEWART – Scotland Archie DAVIES – Wales Conor GOUGH – England
The final group of players, for a variety of reasons, simply haven’t done enough to stay in my Walker Cup squad.
The U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, The Open Championship, The English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh (Closed) Amateur Championships, The Boys’ Amateur Championship and The U.S. Amateur are now the only events left that can influence the GB&I team selection which is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August.
This week has seen the European Amateur Championship played in Austria and also confirmation of the team selections for the European Men’s Amateur Team Championships which will be played in Sweden next month.
Below are my observations on both of these important matters with regard to the Walker Cup and my latest views on how the Walker Cup squad is shaping up.
Matthias SCHMID (GER) won the European Amateur Championship at Diamond C.C. in Austria today. Rounds of 67, 73, a best of the week 63 and 70 took him to a 273 (-15) total and a comfortable 3 shot victory. The win brings with it an exemption into the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush G.C.
Matthias Schmid (Photo: European Golf Association)
Euan WALKER (SCO), bouncing back from his disappointment at The Amateur and confirming his status as Great Britain & Ireland’s (GB&I) No. 1 player, finished 2nd on -12. A final round 66 (-6) being the highlight of his week’s work.
Ben JONES (ENG) 68 and Joe LONG (ENG) 74 finished the Championship on -9 tied for 3rd place. Jones has come through strongly in recent weeks.
It was also another good week for Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) 69 who finished tied 6th on -8. Caolan seems to have played well all year.
Lytham Trophy winner Josh MCMAHON (ENG) -5 finished tied 13th which may be just what was required to help push him in to the next GB&I Walker Cup squad.
Harry HALL (ENG) will be disappointed with his tied 16th finish on -4. After a superb front nine of 31 (-5) today he looked like pushing Schmid all the way home but sadly a returning 43 (+7) destroyed much of his excellent work over the preceding three and half days. Hall has played very well since returning from Las Vegas in May.
The ever consistent David LANGLEY (ENG) was seventh and the last GB&I player to finish in the top 20 in Austria.
Here are the final results.
European Amateur Championship Leading Results (Photo: EGA / Golfbox)
Here are the top 30 GB&I players in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR), updated today with the European Amateur Championship results: –
Prior to the European Amateur Championship starting on Wednesday the home nations all had to confirm their teams for the 2019 European Men’s Amateur Team Championship.
This event will be played at Ljunghusen G.C. in Sweden on Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 July.
Ljunghusen is a heathland links course located on the Falsterbo Peninsula, south of Malmö.
16 teams, each consisting of 6 players, will be participating.
The first two days involve a stroke play qualifying competition with each team’s best five scores counting. Once completed the leading 8 teams contest the Championship match play whilst the bottom 8 play a separate second match play flight.
Ljunghusen G.C. (Photo: GEO Foundation / sustainable.golf)
In a Walker Cup year the home nation teams for this event are an important indicator as to where selectors mind’s are.
At the end of the day if you can’t make you own country’s 6-man team 6 weeks before the Walker Cup team selection then the message is fairly clear – you still have work to do to have a chance of playing for GB&I.
Team inclusion also provides the players with a unique opportunity to play foursomes and singles match play golf against the best players in Europe and potentially against their direct cometition for Walker Cup places.
Here are the home nation teams all of which had to be submitted by Wednesday 26th June and were therefore selected before the start of the European Amateur which finished today in Austria: –
Each player’s SPWAR as at 26th June 2019 – before the European Amateur – is in brackets after their name
Alex FITZPATRICK (#65)
Harry HALL (#26)
Ben JONES (#28)
Matty LAMB (#69)
Tom PLUMB (#30)
Tom SLOMAN (#31)
At the time of selection England had 11 players in the top 100 of the SPWAR so picking a team was never going to be easy.
[There are now 13 English players in the updated top 100 – see SPWAR table above]
Jake Burnage (#29), winner of the St. Andrews Links Trophy, David Langley (#39), Bailey Gill (#45), a member of the winning England team at the European Nations in April, Ben Hutchinson (#55), Ben Schmidt (#92), winner of the Brabazon Trophy and selected for the Boys’ event which is played concurrently, Angus Flanagan (#127) and Josh McMahon (#133), winner of the Lytham Trophy could all make a case for being unlucky here based on either recent wins or form.
Looking at the SPWAR, and I accept rankings are not everything, Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick appear to be the two debatable names in the England team. To be fair to Lamb he has enjoyed a good June, just missing out on the St. Andrews Links title and progressing to the Last 16 of The Amateur. Unfortunately at this moment in time a selection on form can’t really be used to support Fitzpatrick, a player of great promise but one whose results haven’t really matched this recently. After a good finish to his U.S. college season with Wake Forest he chose not to play in the Brabazon Trophy (accepting the very tight scheduling), missed the cut at St. Andrews and then The Amateur and then withdrew (for reasons admittedly I don’t know) from the European Amateur.
Tiarnan MCLARNAN (#101)
Ronan MULLARNEY (#49)
Mark POWER (#204)
Conor PURCELL (#14)
Caolan RAFFERTY (#12)
James SUGRUE (#42)
John Murphy (#140) and Rowan Lester (#166) are ranked higher than Mark Power, who has been in exam mode for the last month, but neither have done enough to make a persuasive case since returning from their U.S. colleges in May. Tom McKibbin (#211) may have been a consideration but like Schmidt for England he has been selected for the Boys Team Championship.
Ryan LUMSDEN (#171)
Euan MCINTOSH (#169)
Sandy SCOTT (#36)
Jamie STEWART (#265)
Euan WALKER (#7)
James WILSON (#105)
Connor Mckinney (#191) is also highly ranked and I assume is being sent to the Boys’ event for which I think he still qualifies.
Ben CHAMBERLAIN (#402)
Archie DAVIES (#1,393)
Jacob DAVIES (#559)
Jake HAPGOOD (#266)
Matt ROBERTS (#947)
Gaelen TREW (#401)
Tom Froom (#1,032), Lewis Sanges (#1,149), Tom Williams (#1,195), Paddy Mullins (#1,257), Kieron Harmon (#1,351) and Oly Brown (#1,381) would have been discussed but the Welsh team is as most would have expected.
The GB&I selectors will be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad after the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship for a training gathering to be held at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 23-24 July.
Here is my slightly revised assessment of how the original 26, and other players who have emerged over the last two months, currently fare with regard to this next selection. I now have the European Amateur Championship results and European Team Championship selections to hand which are obviously helpful.
I have listed all of the players in order of how I see their current form / Squad selection: –
Current Team (if picked on 29th June) Euan WALKER – Scotland Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland Harry HALL – England James SUGRUE – Ireland Ben JONES – England Sandy SCOTT – Scotland Thomas PLUMB – England Tom SLOMAN – England Conor PURCELL – Ireland Jake BURNAGE – England
England Golf’s decision to leave Jake Burnage out of their team is obviously not a vote of confidence from Mr. Edwards – who certainly knows what he is doing and is perhaps rightly focussing on match play records – but for me his win at St. Andrews and links pedigree keep him in my team. Conor Purcell‘s form is also a bit of a concern and he ideally needs to regain it quickly if my early confidence in his selection is to be borne out.
A few players below are pushing hard for consideration.
July Squad Member David LANGLEY – England NEW Josh MCMAHON – England NEW Bailey GILL – England Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW Matty LAMB – England NEW Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW Ronan MULLARNEY – Ireland NEW Alex FITZPATRICK – England
I have pushed the experienced David Langley for some time now impressed by his consistent displays almost every week. Josh McMahon was unlucky not to be included in my July Squad earlier this week given his outstanding Lytham Trophy win. Today’s top 15 result at the European Amateur provides additional weight to his inclusion so I have added him.
My July squad is going to be England heavy but I believe this reflects recent results and form. The time for token selection gestures is over and we are now down to the serious business of finalising a team.
Dropped From Squad Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland Robin WILLIAMS – England David HAGUE – England Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland Joseph PAGDIN – England John MURPHY – Ireland Mark POWER – Ireland Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland Jamie STEWART – Scotland Jake HAPGOOD – Wales Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales Tom THURLOWAY – England Conor GOUGH – England Archie DAVIES – Wales
The final group of players, for a variety of reasons, simply haven’t done enough to stay in my Walker Cup squad assuming it is reduced to manageable numbers, which I have chosen to be 18.
The good or bad news for everyone, depending on where they sit, is I am not a selector and am simply expressing my own personal views.
Newton recorded rounds of 66, 66, 69 and 74 for a 275 -9 total.
He held the lead after 36 holes and showed good composure to see out the Championship over the final two days. Sunday’s final round started shakily and his nerves weren’t helped by a late triple on the 16th but as you can see from his scorecard below there was also a lot of good golf played too.
Normally the winner of the Irish Amateur Open, played on a tough links course, would be thrown straight into Walker Cup selection discussions, particularly in the year of a match and certainly when it is a home one.
However, in the case of James Newton matters are a little more complicated.
This victory was completely out of the blue. He started the week ranked 1,879th in the SPWAR and 2,710th in the WAGR. He was 250-1 in the pre-event betting with BoyleSports.
As a result of this high WAGR he has already missed the entry cut-off for the Brabazon Trophy, St. Andrews Links Trophy and The Amateur Championship, three of the bigger events on the road to The Walker Cup. He tried to qualify for the Brabazon at Lindrick last Tuesday (14th May) but missed out in the 18 hole shoot out and with The Amateur field set over the weekend he has no way of playing in that either. The St. Andrews Links Trust may come to his rescue in Scotland though; they have four places that are still to be allocated for their event which starts on 7th June. I hope they do as he has earned it.
Perhaps England golf, who can be forgiven as they do stage two Brabazon qualifiers, and The R&A should afford themselves more flexibility to manage situations like this. At face value one would always want the reigning Irish Amateur Open champion in your field.
Newton rose 1,523 places to 356th in the SPWAR and is now the 47th best GB&I player according to this ranking. Nevertheless without the opportunity to play in these big three events in the coming weeks it is hard to see how he can make a late Walker Cup break through.
In a post round interview with the Golf Union of Ireland Alan Kelly asked what his plans were for the rest of the season. I think he was taken a back by Newton’s response: “I’ve not got too much on now, one event next week (the Lagonda Trophy)”, fully reflecting the above situation.
Looking at a few of the other performances in Ireland: –
Conor PURCELL (IRE) finished 2nd, five shots further back on 280 -4, further confirming his status as GB&I’s number 1 player.
Another Irishman Ronan MULLARNEY, who was a little unfortunate to miss out on selection for the Walker Cup squad, featured throughout. After an opening course record 62 (-9) he finished on Even par for 5th.
It was also good to see Josh MCMAHON (ENG) back up his Lytham Trophy win with a tied 7th finish on 286 +2.
Euan WALKER (SCO) +2 tied 7th and Mark POWER (IRE) +4 tied 17 were the best of the other Walker Cup squad members. There were nine members of the 26-man squad in total playing with chairman Andy Ingram and selector Padraig Hogan both in attendance at Rosses Point.
Tom THURLOWAY, England (21) – SPWAR 284 / WAGR 354
Euan WALKER, Scotland (23) – SPWAR 41 / WAGR 98
Robin WILLIAMS, England (17) – SPWAR T354 / WAGR 115
The initial squad includes 12 players from England, 6 from Scotland, 5 from Ireland and 3 from Wales.
Of those named above I am on record as already saying Tom Plumb, Conor Purcell, Caolan Rafferty, Tom Sloman and Euan Walker are already ‘probables’ based on their 2019 wins and high rankings.
I also believe Alex Fitzpatrick and Sandy Scott are moving in that direction given their strong recent form on the U.S. College circuit.
The timetable from here is now clear: –
A second practice session has been scheduled for July at the host venue which a reduced number of players will be invited to attend.
The final ten-man GB&I team is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August, the day after the U.S. Amateur Championship finishes.
The match against United States of America will then take place on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th September at Royal Liverpool G.C.
In the official R&A Announcement Craig Watson, GB&I captain, said, “We have selected a talented group of players who are all in contention for a place in the team to play the United States of America and will be continuing to monitor the form and results of these players over the course of the season. We will also be looking closely at the performances of other players who have not been included in the squad and there is still time for them to play their way into our plans ahead of the final team selection later text his year.”
Whilst there are no major surprises in the selection it is perhaps worth looking in more detail at those players who have missed out and now have to fight their way back into the group.
Here are ten players, in alphabetical order, who are ranked highly but have missed out on the initial squad selection: –
Oliver FARRELL, England (SPWAR 158 / WAGR 393)
Alex GLEESON, Ireland (SPWAR 292 / WAGR 114)
Ben HUTCHINSON, England (SPWAR 235 / WAGR 204)
David LANGLEY, England (SPWAR 114 / WAGR 278)
Rowan LESTER, Ireland (SPWAR 212 / WAGR 100)
Jamie LI, England (SPWAR 234 / WAGR 119)
Joe LONG, England (SPWAR 169 / WAGR 157)
Ronan MULLARNEY, Ireland (SPWAR 139 / WAGR 205)
Daniel O’LOUGHLIN, England (SPWAR 191 / WAGR 294)
Rory FRANSSEN, Scotland (SPWAR 210 / WAGR 283)
It will be interesting to see who makes the final 10-man team in August and how many of them were in the initial squad.
With all of the Australian and South African amateur events completed and both the Portuguese and Spanish International Amateurs played I thought it was time to recognise a few GB&I players who have made a strong start to the season.
Scotland’s Euan WALKER has enjoyed an excellent start to 2019; his consistency and high finishes, including a win, making him an obvious standout.
Here is a summary of his recent results: –
African Amateur Stroke Play – WON (72 67 67 71)
South African Amateur – SPQ 4th (71 65) / MP Rd 2
South African Stroke Play – Tied 7th (66 71 69 72)
At the time of writing Euan has risen to 34th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR), second in the GB&I-only list behind Conor PURCELL (IRE) who is 20th.
Conor has continued his good form in recent weeks producing more strong performances in South Africa. As he’s already in ‘my Team’ I’ve chosen to write about others on this occasion (See Article 97).
It is a little early to say Euan will make the GB&I Walker Cup team but he has certainly put himself in a very nice position. Compatriot Liam Johnston also won the African Amateur at Leopard Creek in 2017 and subsequently the Scottish Open Amateur but still managed to miss out on a trip to Los Angeles that September so he will know nothing can be taken for granted.
Thomas PLUMB (ENG) showed some class in winning the Cape Province Open Championship in South Africa earlier this week with scores of 70 66 69 and 65 (-18).
Coming on the back of a tied 3rd place finish in the South American Amateur Championship in January he appears to also be trending positively towards Walker Cup selection. His reward for his win in George – a 38 place jump to 67th in the SPWAR.
Ben JONES (ENG) was relatively quiet last year as he transitioned from the junior to men’s ranks but seems to be nicely back on track now. He’s currently 98th in the SPWAR. Good match play results are obviously beneficial too: –
New South Wales Amateur – SPQ Tied 7th (69 72) / MP Semi-Finals
Spanish International Amateur – Medalist (71 66 -5) / MP Rd of 16
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) is a player I like a lot. He’s one of the few GB&I amateurs that seem to be able to go very low. The Dundalk man, now 47th in the SPWAR, did well on the Irish team trip to South Africa and looks set to remain within the GB&I Walker Cup picture throughout the coming months: –
South African Stroke Play – Tied 11th (75 67 68 71)
Bailey GILL (ENG) is also coming on to my radar with a solid string of overseas results added to his résumé with some match play victories thrown in too. Currently 121st in the SPWAR I think he could be a player to watch closely this year.
Australian Amateur – MP Rd of 32
New South Wales Amateur – MP Rd of 16
Avondale Amateur – Tied 19th
Portuguese International Amateur – Tied 5th (71 70 67 72)
Spanish International Amateur – SP Tied 7th (70 72) / MP Rd of 16
Many others have shown flashes of what they can do but will be looking for more consistency as the year continues. Callum FARR (ENG) SPWAR 334th, Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) 185th, David LANGLEY (ENG) 94th, Joe LONG (ENG) 151st, Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) 171st, Laurie OWEN (ENG) 663rd and Mark POWER (IRE) 141st immediately spring to mind here.
Over on the United States College circuit Sandy SCOTT (SCO), who was yesterday picked for the Arnold Palmer Cup International Team, also continues to gain confidence and impress. He’s 109th in the SPWAR.
As the amateur calendar moves back home it will be interesting to see who can maintain their momentum and which other players start to come through.
By my calculation there is around 170 days left before the GB&I selectors have to make their final decisions. There is plenty of time for everyone to make their mark albeit I feel the countdown clock has certainly started to tick.
The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals were played at Conwy Golf Club in Wales between 12th and 14th September.
ENGLAND won the tournament beating IRELAND 9 – 6 in the final day’s championship match. Ireland had won the event four years in a row but had to settle for second this year.
SCOTLAND finished third and WALES fourth.
The England Team With The Raymond Trophy (Photo: Wales Golf)
11-man teams play against each other in a round robin format. There are five foursomes and ten singles match play games contested in each match. The overall winner is the country with the highest number of match points. 1 point is awarded for a win, 0.5 for a half and 0 for a loss.
Here is a summary of the 2018 results: –
2018 Men’s Home Internationals (Photo: Wales Golf / Golfbox Scoring)
With the exception of some lads who had returned to their U.S. Colleges earlier in September we had the 11 best players from each of the home nations playing competitive foursomes and singles match play golf in Conwy.
Even a year before the next Walker Cup match, and accepting that some of the participants may turn pro in the coming months, this was clearly a good event for a prospective 2019 player to find and establish a foursomes partnership and to hopefully record a few singles wins. The GB&I selectors will certainly have been watching.
Here is an analysis of the English and Irish individual performances at Conwy: –
It was a great week for David HAGUE (ENG) and Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) who both finished the tournament with 100% records, winning all six of their games.
Tom PLUMB (ENG) was also unbeaten, winning four of his games and halving two of his foursomes.
Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Andrew WILSON (ENG) lost just once in their six games. Mark POWER (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and James SUGRUE (IRE) all recorded four wins too.
David HAGUE and Andrew WILSON (ENG) won all three of their foursomes games leading England out in all three matches, which normally means you are playing your opponents best pairing.
Tiarnan MCLARNON and Ronan MULLARNEY (IRE) also won all three of their foursomes matches albeit they were sent out in the fifth game on each day. Another Irish pairing, Conor PURCELL and Mark POWER, also impressed winning two games and halving the other.
The 2018 Men’s Home Internationals reaffirmed the view that our 2019 Walker Cup team is likely to be dominated by English and Irish players.
Looking at the Scottish and Welsh individual performances:-
Euan WALKER was outstanding for Scotland winning five of his six games. Likewise Ryan LUMSDEN did his prospects no harm with four wins.
Paddy MULLINS did well for Wales and will have been particularly pleased with his two singles wins.
It appears that the Scottish and Welsh contingent will need to up their games over the next 12 months if they are to have anything other than a modest 2019 Walker Cup representation.
The 2019 Men’s Home Internationals will be played at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland. The England Golf website suggests that has been scheduled to be played on 11-13th September next year, the week after the Walker Cup match.
In 2017 the Home Internationals were brought forward to August so that they could in theory be used to assist with GB&I Walker Cup team selection. However, because the 16-18th August dates then clashed with the U.S. Amateur it proved to be largely pointless as a competition and as a final selection trial. Just three of the final 10 man GB&I team competed at Moortown in 2017 with most of our leading amateurs choosing to play in the U.S. Amateur.
It is disappointing that the four home nation golf unions can not come up with a date in early August next year so that the Men’s Home internationals can properly fulfil it’s potential role in our 2019 Walker Cup preparations.
Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) won the 2018 Jacques Léglise Trophy match against Continent of Europe 15.5 – 9.5.
The GB&I Team With The Jacques Léglise Trophy (Photo: Joe Pagdin)
The match took place at Kytäjä Golf in Finland on Friday 31st August and Saturday 1st September.
This annual match is contested by two nine-player U18 boys’ teams. It is essentially the junior equivalent of the biennial men’s St. Andrews Trophy match. Four foursomes games are played each morning with Singles in the afternoon; eight on Day 1 and nine on Day 2.
This year GB&I were represented by: –
Barclay BROWN (17) – England Archie DAVIES (17) – Wales Conor GOUGH (15) – England Max HOPKINS (15) – England Tom MCKIBBIN (15) – Ireland Connor MCKINNEY (16) – Scotland Joseph PAGDIN (16) – England Mark POWER (18) – Ireland Robin WILLIAMS (16) – England
Seven players were making their GB&I debuts in Finland. Mark Power and Robin Williams both played in 2017.
GB&I’s Non-Playing Captain, Stuart WILSON, winner of the 2004 Amateur Championship, said afterwards: “We brought together the best team of golfers that we could assemble for this match and everyone performed brilliantly over the two days. We’re delighted with the performance and the players were really focussed on getting a result. I think we were strong on and around the greens and we knew we had a team of very good putters. The players definitely brought their A game this week.”
The win was GB&I’s 29th in the match since it was re-started with a new trophy in 1977. However, the Team had not enjoyed an outright victory since the 2014 match at Barsebäck in Sweden.
In a strong team performance where everyone contributed Conor GOUGH, Robin WILLIAMS and Barclay BROWN were the star men for GB&I.
Jacques Léglise Trophy GB&I Player Analysis (Photo: @GolfBible)
Given the number of GB&I players planning to turn Pro in the coming weeks I would not be surprised to see one or two of these players graduate to our 2019 Walker Cup team.
It will certainly be interesting to see if any of them can make the quick step up to the men’s ranks next year.