With 278 days to go until the match starts Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) selection options were further reduced last week with the news that both Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Nick POPPLETON (ENG) had decided to turn professional.
Both Waite and Poppleton played for GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy match against Europe last July. At the time of the announcement Waite was also GB&I’s highest rated player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.
Of the nine man team and two reserves selected for the St. Andrews Trophy just four remain amateur heading into 2019; David HAGUE (ENG), John MURPHY (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and Euan WALKER (SCO).
The Continent of Europe (Photo: European Golf Association)
The R&A Selection Committee, including Non-Playing Captain Craig WATSON, announced GB&I’s nine man team for the match on 16th July. This was exactly the same team that I would have picked.
Todd CLEMENTS (21) – England Robin DAWSON (22) – Ireland David HAGUE (21) – England Matthew JORDAN (22) – England John MURPHY (20) – Ireland Gian-Marco PETROZZI (21) – England Nick POPPLETON (24) – England Conor PURCELL (21) – Ireland Mitch WAITE (23) – England
Following last September’s record breaking 19 – 7 defeat by the United States in the Walker Cup this heavy loss was another sobering experience for GB&I’s leading players.
The fact the European team was also weaker than may have been expected due to a number of their leading players competing at this week’s Porsche European Open on the European Tour or preferring to play in amateur events in the Unites States arguably makes the result even harder to take.
In The R&A’s match report GB&I Captain Craig WATSON said: “The team is obviously very disappointed but if you look at the scoring by the Continent of Europe you can see we were up against a very high standard of golf. This is the level that the players need to aspire to and achieve and when they look back on the performance there will be many learning points to take away. If you are to win a match like this you obviously need to make your fair share of putts when it matters. We just couldn’t match the Continent of Europe today. I don’t think we were complacent.”
In conclusion it would appear that the best GB&I team we could put out were simply outplayed by the Europeans, albeit only on the final day.
It should be noted that Matthew JORDAN (ENG) certainly left Finland with his reputation intact after winning three of his four matches.
The 2019 Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool G.C. is now just over 400 days away and the GB&I group clearly need to see some improvement between now and then if that match is to be competitive.
It will be interesting to see how many of the nine players who played this week are still amateur in a year’s time and, if they are, whether they have maintained their form sufficiently to be selected for our Walker Cup team.
Earlier this week The R&A announced that the 2020 St. Andrews Trophy match will be played at Royal Porthcawl G.C. in South Wales on 23-24 July.
England’s Nick Poppleton (24) was added to the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) St. Andrews Trophy squad last week following his recent victory in the Brabazon Trophy.
The squad were meeting up ahead of the St. Andrews Links Trophy which was played last weekend so it made sense for Nick to be added to the group ahead of this.
He becomes the 11th Englishman in the squad which has now been increased to 21 players.
GB&I’s captain Craig Watson said, “Nick played exceptional golf to win the Brabazon Trophy last week and his selection for the Great Britain and Ireland squad is a reflection of his overall form. Nick’s inclusion shows there is still time for players to play their way into contention for the match and we are following the key amateur events closely.”
The St. Andrews Links Trophy saw three other players step firmly into the reckoning after shining on the New and Old Courses.
Ireland’s John Murphy won the event after a sudden death play off whilst England’s Jake Burnage and Laird Shepherd finished tied 3rd and 5th respectively. This competition enjoyed a much stronger field than the Brabazon so one must assume that all of them are now under close consideration too.
There may not be a formal announcement to this effect as I am not sure there are any further plans for the squad to meet up before the final team is selected.
Today’s SPWAR for all of the players mentioned above are shown below: –
Jake Burnage, England
Laird Shepherd, England
John Murphy, Ireland
Nick Poppleton, England
With Harry Ellis (56th) expected to turn pro after this week’s U.S. Open Championship and Matthew Jordan (12th) rumoured to be following him after the Amateur Championship (assuming he doesn’t win it) all of the other GB&I player rankings are set for a boost shortly.
With Paul McBride signing with Hambric Sports and turning pro last week should Harry and Matthew follow suit it will mean that all of our 2017 Walker Cup team will have been lost to the amateur game within 10 months of the last match.
The big one’s up next. The Amateur Championship starts at Royal Aberdeen G.C. and Murcar Links G.C. on Monday 18th June 2018. Events in Scotland will certainly be an important yardstick when it comes to the final St. Andrews Trophy team selection.
By way of reminder the St. Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe will be played at Linna Golf in Finland on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th July 2018. Our nine-man team is set to be confirmed after the European Men’s Team Championship which concludes on 14th July.