66. Alfie Plant Wins The Silver Medal At The Open

24th July 2017

Englishman Alfie PLANT (25) yesterday collected the Silver Medal at the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

The Silver Medal is awarded to the lowest amateur competitor who makes the cut at The Championship. It was first awarded in 1949 and previous recipients include José Mariá Olazábel (1985), Tiger Woods (1996), Justin Rose (1998) and Rory McIlroy (2007).

The 2017 Open will of course be remembered for Jordan Spieth’s fine win – amazing to think he is 1 year and 21 days younger than Alfie – and Brandon Grace’s record breaking 62 in Round 3; the lowest Major score in 157 years and 442 Championships.

Alfie shot rounds of 71 73 69 and 73 for a 286 (+6) total. He finished tied 62nd ahead of both Andy Sullivan (-7) and Danny Willet (+9).

This prestigious prize was secured on Friday when he was the only amateur to make the cut with a 144 (+4) 36-hole score.

Alfie Plant With The Silver Medal (Photo: Golf Monthly)

The other competing amateurs, Connor SYME (73 76 +9), Luca Cianchetti (75 76 +11), Maverick McNealy (78 74 +12), Harry ELLIS (77 75 +12), all missed the +5 cut.

I am sure Captain Craig Watson will have been pleased to see Alfie, already a certainty for our Walker Cup team after his performances in recent weeks, once again deliver at the highest level and under the most extreme pressure.

Click here to view the – 2017 Open Championship Results

In other news…..

Scott GREGORY also showed that he can mix it with the Pros last week. He finished tied 4th at the COBRA PUMA GOLF Championship on the PGA EuroPro Tour. Scott shot rounds of 65, 74 and 73 (-4) at Machynys Peninsula GC. He is pushing hard for inclusion in our Walker Cup Team.

The above reports are certainly encouraging from the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) perspective. However, need to be tempered by some of the results our amateur friends in the USA are delivering with the ‘big boys’.

Sam Burns was the latest to impress in USA. He shot rounds of 68 66 66 and 66 (-18) to finish tied 6th in the Barbasol Championship on the US PGA Tour last weekend.

Other US amateurs to deliver on the PGA Tour this year include: –
Braden Thornberry – T4 FedEx St Jude Classic
Scottie Scheffler – T27 US Open
Cameron Champ – T32 US Open
Stewart Hagestad – T36 The Masters
Maverick McNealy – T44 John Deere Classic
Sahith Theegala – T49 Genesis Open, Los Angeles
Nick Hardy – T55 John Deere Classic

I think it’s hard picking a GB&I Walker Cup Team but it doesn’t compare to the job facing the USA selectors.

I noticed today that Maverick McNealy, the golden boy of US college and amateur golf, is only the 15th highest ranked US player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking. He is rated 18th in the World. Could he miss out given that Mid-Amateurs Stewart Hagestad (63rd) and Scott Harvey (85th) are relative outliers meaning there may only be 8 spots available for US college players ?

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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62. Connor Syme Qualifies For The Open Championship

6th July 2017

There was good news from Gailes Links earlier this week when Scotland’s Connor SYME came through Final Qualifying to earn his place at this month’s 146th Open Championship.

Connor shot rounds of 71 and 67 in often wet and windy conditions to finish tied 1st on -4 alongside USA’s Julian Suri.

Connor Syme (Photo: Matthew Lewis)

Like Alfie Plant last weekend at the European Amateur, who is 25 today, Syme gave himself an early golfing birthday present with his performance. He is 22 on 11th July.

Connor’s likely Walker Cup teammates Matthew JORDAN (ENG) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) also did well in Ayrshire finishing 10th and tied 11th respectively.

Down in Nottinghamshire Stefano Mazzoli (ITA) and Rhys NEVIN-WHARTON (ENG) both recorded -7 results at Hollinwell but sadly missed out in a 1-from-3 play-off with Pro Laurie Canter.

It was also a close thing down at Royal Cinque Ports for some of our other leading amateurs too.

David BOOTE (WAL) made the 1-from-4 play-off after rounds of 71 and 70 (-1) but like at Walton Heath for the US Open Qualifier a few weeks ago just came up short in the final reckoning.

Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Harry HALL (ENG) both finished on Even par to miss out on the same Kent play-off. Josh HILLEARD (ENG) on +2 was also in the mix.

Finally, Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG), paired with home favourite Ian Poulter, did well at Woburn. His rounds of 72 and 68 (-4) on The Marquess’ Course saw him finish tied 8th.

So I make it a total of five amateurs competing this year at Royal Birkdale: –
Luca Cianchetti (ITA) – 2016 European Amateur Champion
Harry ELLIS (ENG) – 2017 Amateur Champion
Maverick McNealy (USA) – 2016 Mark McCormack Medal Winner
Alfie PLANT (ENG) – 2017 European Amateur Champion
Connor SYME (SCO) – via Final Qualifying at Gailes Links

Australia’s Curtis LUCK, the 2016 US Amateur Champion, also held an exemption for Royal Birkdale but gave this up when he chose to turn Professional after The Masters.

Good luck to them all but particularly Messrs. Ellis, Plant and Syme !

Here are the results from the five Final Qualifying events if you wish to investigate them further: –
Gailes Links
Hillside
Hollinwell
Royal Cinque Ports
Woburn

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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33. USA Selects 2017 Walker Cup Practice Squad

29th November 2016

Yesterday the USGA announced a 16-man squad to attend a 2017 Walker Cup practice session at the Los Angeles Country Club between 14th-18th December 2016.

Tom Hough, Chairman of the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee, said “This practice session will provide Captain Miller the opportunity to get to know prospective members of his 2017 team in an informal setting at the venue that will host the competition.”

The 16 players invited are (in alphabetical order / rankings as at today’s date): –

Dawson ARMSTRONG (21) – Brentwood, Tennessee
Lipscomb University (Senior)
SPWAR 25 / WAGR 29

Sean CROCKER (20) – Westlake Village, California
University of Southern California (Junior)
SPWAR 12 / WAGR 14

Brad DALKE (20) – Norman, Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma (Sophomore)
SPWAR 51 / WAGR 119 – US Amateur Runner Up 2016

Doug GHIM (20) – Arlington Heights, Illinois
University of Texas (Junior)
SPWAR 2 / WAGR 32

Stewart HAGESTAD (25) – Newport Beach, Califonia
US Mid-Amateur – 2016 Champion
SPWAR 272 / WAGR 1,139

Gavin HALL (22) – Pittsford, New York
University of Texas (Senior)
SPWAR 11 / WAGR 19

Nick HARDY (20) – Northbrook, Illinois
University of Illinois (Junior)
SPWAR 20 / WAGR 31

Scott HARVEY (38) – Greensboro, North Carolina
US Mid-Amateur – Champion 2015 / Runner-Up 2016
SPWAR 62 / WAGR 60

cropped-img_6769.jpg

Rico HOEY (21) – Rancho Cucamonga, California
University of Southern California (Senior)
SPWAR 10 / WAGR 24

Maverick MCNEALY (21) – Portola Valley, California
Stanford University (Senior)
SPWAR 4 / WAGR 1

Dylan MEYER (21) – Evansville, Indiana
University of Illinois (Junior)
SPWAR 8 / WAGR 9

Collin MORIKAWA (19) – La Cãnada, California
University of California (Sophomore)
SPWAR 3 / WAGR 16

John ODA (20) – Honolulu, Hawaii
University of Nevada – Las Vegas (Junior)
SPWAR 28 / WAGR 22

Scottie SCHEFFLER (20) – Dallas, Texas
University of Texas (Junior)
SPWAR 17 / WAGR 17

Jimmy STANGER (21) – Tampa, Florida
University of Virginia (Senior)
SPWAR 24 / WAGR 35

Will ZALATORIS (20) – Plano, Texas
Wake Forest University (Junior)
SPWAR 7 / WAGR 18

As always the USA look like having a very strong team on show in Los Angeles.

Scott Harvey and Maverick McNealy were both members of the USA’s 2015 Walker Cup team that lost at Royal Lytham & St. Annes so will bring some experience to the table if selected.

Those who follow this website will know that Harvey and Stewart Hagestad were the finalists in the 2016 US Mid-Amateur Championship and as such are very likely to be in the final team.  [See this News Article for more information on this – 24. Stewart Hagestad Wins The 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship]

Two other squad selections stood out for me.

Sean Crocker up until very recently, when he secured US citizenship, played under the Zimbabwean flag where he was born and brought up. However he has never represented Zimbabwe in international competition.

The same can’t be said for Rico Hoey. I believe he was born in the USA but has dual citizenship in the Philippines. He represented the Philippines in both the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, where he finished 28th behind Guan Tianlang (remember him ?), and the 2013 South East Asia Team Championship, where the Philippines won the team prize and he finished third individually. I know this is only the Walker Cup but nevertheless I personally don’t like to see nationalities being used as a badge of convenience.

Finally, a quick glance down the SPWAR and WAGR rankings highlights the following notable selection absentees: –

Patrick MARTIN – SPWAR 16 / WAGR 53

Sam BURNS – SPWAR 26 / WAGR 49

Corey PEREIRA – SPWAR 41  / WAGR 15

Noah GOODWIN – SPWAR 183 / WAGR 7

These players and a number of others will now have to use their non-selection as motivation for a strong 2017 playing year. They can of course take heart from the fact that both Lee McCoy and Jordan Niebrugge ended up making the 2015 USA team without having attended the previous winter’s practice session.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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