The R&A has announced that Sandy SCOTT has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team due to a wrist ligament injury.
Scott first picked up the injury in October 2020 and subsequently underwent minor surgery in January. He had originally been expected to return to competitive action for Texas Tech University in mid-March. However, having missed a number of recent college events it had become clear that his recovery was not going as planned.
The R&A had been obligated to select Scott at the end of March, despite his lack of recent play, due to him being one of the two highest ranked GB&I players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He was 8th in WAGR and GB&I’s highest ranked player when the Selection Committee met.
Jack DYER will now step up from first reserve to take his place in the GB&I side that will play USA in 24 days time at Seminole Golf Club on 8th-9th May. Dyer enjoyed an excellent tour of South Africa earlier this year and should arrive match fit and with confidence.
Jack Dyer – South African Amateur Medalist (Photo: Ernest Blignault / Golf RSA)
Following this change the GB&I team will now consist of 8 English players and 2 Irish with no Scottish or Welsh representation.
Jake BOLTON moves up to first reserve.
Florida-based Englishman Joe PAGDIN (19) has been added to the squad as second reserve. The University of Florida freshman has plenty of experience and has previously successfully represented GB&I in the Jacques Leglise Trophy and England in the R&A Boys’ Home Internationals and the European Boys Amateur Team Championship.
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.
The R&A announced their 10 man team for the 47th Walker Cup match on Monday 19th August.
The following players were selected: –
Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England Thomas PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland Euan WALKER (24) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland
There are five English, 3 Irish and 2 Scottish players in the team.
Reserves Benjamin SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England Benjamin JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England
GB&I captain Craig Watson said: “It has been a very difficult decision to select ten players for Great Britain and Ireland from a strong squad but we have been very impressed with the results of those we have picked and we believe they will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against a strong American team.
“The Walker Cup is a fantastic opportunity for these amateur golfers to demonstrate their talents on the big stage and it will be an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We are looking forward to the match at Hoylake and I’m sure the players will give it their very best to win.”
Here are the ten players I would select for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) 2019 Walker Cup team.
This is not a prediction of who will be selected. It would probably be different if it was. This is simply the team I’d go for based on my observations and selection criteria.
I am conscious I have a) not attended any of the three practice sessions at Hoylake to see who has taken to the course and b) am not overly familiar with the players so don’t know too much about their personalities and potential impact in the team room. I am sure these are both factors that will influence the formal selection.
The GB&I team is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August by The R&A.
I have included three Appendices below which show my selection criteria, the performance records over the last 12 months of all of the players mentioned and finally the latest amateur rankings available to us. You may want to refer to these in reaching your own selection decisions.
Here is my GB&I team in the order I have selected them, along with five honourable mentions, as our friends in the U.S.A. like to say, to describe those who have just missed out: –
SPWAR as at 18/08/19 / WAGR as at 14/08/19
1) Euan WALKER (23) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland
SPWAR #4 / WAGR #14
Euan won the African Amateur Championship early in the year and has enjoyed a very consistent season thereafter. His runner-up spots at the Amateur Championship and European Amateur have taken him to the top of the GB&I rankings and made him my No. 1 selection.
Euan Walker (Photo: European Golf Association)
2) Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland
SPWAR #13 / WAGR #23
Caolan has risen out of the pack in 2019 with a number of excellent results. The West of Ireland was his only win but look at the number of top 10s. He has a good links pedigree and has performed well in various match play events too.
Caolan Rafferty (Photo: Maynooth University)
3) Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England
SPWAR #27 / WAGR #35
The European Nations win at Sotogrande was the highlight of Tom’s season. He has a sound match play record and a well established foursomes partnership with Tom Plumb (see below). Current form looks good too with a strong qualification at last week’s U.S. Amateur.
Tom Sloman (Photo: England Golf / Leaderboard Photography)
4) Ben JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England
SPWAR #19 / WAGR #39
Ben secured his place with excellent results at The Amateur and European Amateur Championships. He is a competitive player with a good match play record. He has also won at Royal Liverpool before so should have positive memories of the host course.
Ben Jones (Photo: European Golf Association)
5) Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland
SPWAR #43 / WAGR #51
Sandy took his positive finish to his U.S. college season with Texas Tech. into the summer events back in Europe. He played well in the Arnold Palmer Cup, The Amateur and the European Amateur Team Championships. An experienced international I assume he will pair up with compatriot Euan Walker in the foursomes.
Sandy Scott (Photo: texastech.com)
6) Tom PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England
SPWAR #38 / WAGR #138
Tom won the Cape Province Open in South Africa and has enjoyed a very consistent season. He has played well in all of this summer’s links-based events too. An experienced match player his selection is supported by his long standing foursomes partnership with close friend Tom Sloman.
Tom Plumb (Photo: Pieter Els)
7) Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England
SPWAR #26 / WAGR #76
Harry graduated from UNLV this year and is one of our most experienced players. He impressed in the events he came back to play in this summer with a number of high finishes. I think he deserves his amateur swan song at Hoylake although his late withdrawal from the English Amateur may come back to haunt him if his selection is tighter than I perceive.
Harry Hall (Photo: Las Vegas Review Journal)
8) James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland
SPWAR #59 / WAGR #62
The Amateur champion enjoyed the best week of his golfing life just when it mattered most as far as 2019 Walker Cup selection is concerned. Anyone who wins The Amateur has earned their place and James brings a good links record and a solid match play record over a long period to the team.
James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes / Getty Images)
9) Jake BURNAGE (23) – Saunton, England
SPWAR #29 / WAGR #47
Jake’s win at the St. Andrews Links Trophy confirmed his credentials as one of GB&I’s best links players. Question marks over his match play record appear to have been partially answered with a recent run to the semi-finals of the English Amateur. He has been a little inconsistent this year but on his day is as good as anyone we can select. However, his non-selection for the 6-man England team at the European Team Championships suggests that one of The R&A selectors may not share my enthusiasm for him.
Jake Burnage (Photo: Burnage Family)
10) Ronan MULLARNEY (23) – Galway, Ireland
SPWAR #57 / WAGR #67
The more I have looked at Ronan’s record this summer, particularly in the major links events, the more I think he has every right to be included. He has an excellent match play record and won the Irish Close at Ballybunion just a few weeks ago so has form.
Ronan Mullarney (Photo: Pat Cashman Photography)
The following players were close to being included in my team: –
11) Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland
SPWAR #22 / WAGR #16
I thought Conor was an absolute lock for the team when he won the Australian Amateur early in the season. Whilst there have been some good results, notably at the West of Ireland, the Irish Amateur Open and the European Amateur Team, the missed cuts at Lytham, the St. Andrews Links and the Amateur (played at his home club but admittedly whilst he was injured), concern me. Sadly there was no suggestion of an upturn in form at the U.S. Amateur this week either.
12) Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England
SPWAR #242 / WAGR #2
Conor chose to concentrate on his exams this year and has therefore played a very restricted schedule. The 2018 Boys’ Amateur champion reminded us of his undoubted potential and tenacious match play skills though with his win at the English Amateur earlier this month. Worthy of consideration but lack of recent links golf and competition against GB&I peers make it hard for me to include him this time. He is our highest ranked player in the WAGR which may politically make it hard for The R&A selectors to leave him out.
13) Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England
SPWAR #54 / WAGR #41
Once Alex gained a place in the Wake Forest team he quickly found his feet, producing some notable finishes in the U.S. in 2019. I thought he would impose himself on the selectors when he returned to the U.K. this summer but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. He showed no liking for links golf missing the cut at both the St. Andrews Links and the Amateur Championship. If the match was in the U.S. one might give him the benefit of the doubt after his U.S. Amateur performances in 2018 and 2019 but unfortunately this year it isn’t.
14) Ben SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England
SPWAR #114 / WAGR #8
Another excellent prospect whose win at the Brabazon Trophy was one of the highlights of the amateur year. Limited experience of men’s golf, match play and links courses stops me from throwing him in now. His time will come.
15) Josh MCMAHON (ENG) – Wallasey, England
SPWAR #126 / WAGR #149
Josh’s win at the Lytham Trophy in early May brought him in to the Walker Cup picture. Whilst it would have been nice to have local representation at Hoylake he simply hasn’t done as much over the season as the others listed above to warrant selection.
I have selected players who have demonstrated as many of the following characteristics to me as possible: –
1) Current form.
2) Championship wins in the last 12 months.
3) Links experience / results.
4) Match play experience / results.
5) Potential foursomes pairings.
Here is a summary of the results of all of the players I have considered for selection above as tabulated by both the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR):-
#2 Conor GOUGH (ENG)
#8 Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)
#14 Euan WALKER (SCO)
#16 Conor PURCELL (IRL)
#23 Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL)
#30 Joseph PAGDIN (ENG)
#35 Tom SLOMAN (ENG)
#39 Ben JONES (ENG)
#41 Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
#47 Jake BURNAGE (ENG)
#51 Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
#62 James SUGRUE (IRL)
#67 Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL)
#73 Alex GLEESON (IRL)
#76 Harry HALL (ENG)
#85 Robin WILLIAMS (ENG)
#87 Mark POWER (IRL)
#88 David HAGUE (ENG)
#90 Bailey GILL (ENG)
#94 Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG)
#98 Jamie LI (ENG)
#107 Joe LONG (ENG)
#110 Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG)
#132 Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
#136 Jake BOLTON (ENG)
#138 Tom PLUMB (ENG)
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.
James SUGRUE (22) won the 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock G.C. last Saturday, becoming the 8th Irish winner in the process.
He beat Scotland’s Euan WALKER (23) by 2 Holes in a Final which went the full 36 holes.
Sugrue (22) made a dream start leading by 5Up after the opening nine holes. Walker then settled into the match and set about whittling down the lead he had partially gifted his opponent. He had reduced the deficit to 3Down by lunch and finally achieved parity on the 34th hole of the match. Inexplicably he then played two poor holes allowing the steadier Irishman to collect the Championship trophy in front of a large group of delighted home supporters.
Speaking to The R&A afterwards Sugrue said “It is hard to believe really. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable. Everything that comes with the win and all the crowds that were out there, it’s incredible.”
On his run to the final James also beat Harry Hall (2 Holes), Christopher Palsson (1 Hole), Sergio Parriego Cornejo (5&3), Koen Kouwenaar (19th) and David Micheluzzi (3&1).
James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes / Getty Images)
The big hitting Corkman who plays his golf at Mallow now becomes exempt for The Open Championship, U.S. Amateur, The Masters and U.S. Open over the next 12 months.
He is now also assured of a place in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team which will face USA at Royal Liverpool G.C. in September.
This win lifted him to 43rd in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and 68th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Sugrue was already a member of the 2019 GB&I Walker Cup initial squad and was enjoying a steady season posting a number of top 20 finishes. His previous biggest win was the 2017 South of Ireland Amateur played at Lahinch G.C. James should be a good addition to the team as he is strong links player and has a good match play record.
In addition to the finalists, Sugrue and Walker, a number of other players did well at Portmarnock.
Tom PLUMB ENG (-4) was medalist in The Amateur’s Stroke Play Qualifying competition. Sandy SCOTT SCO (-3) finished 3rd, Harry HALL ENG (-2) tied 4th, Caolan RAFFERTY IRE, David LANGLEY ENG and Jake BOLTON ENG (all -1) T6 and Eanna GRIFFIN IRE and Joe PAGDIN ENG (both Ev) tied 11th.
In the Match Play stage Ben JONES ENG reached the Semi-Finals, Sandy SCOTT SCO and Ronan MULLARNEY IRE the Quarter Finals and Matty LAMB ENG and Bailey GILL ENG the Last 16.
Recent Brabazon Trophy winner Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) continued his good form by picking up the Boys’ Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters title at Nizels G.&C.C.
Ben posted rounds of 66, 71, 71 and 70 for a 278 (-10) total and a 5-shot victory over fellow English prospect Max HOPKINS.
Regional Qualifying for the 148th Open Championship took place on Monday 24th June at 13 venues across GB&I.
9 of the 13 competitions were won by amateur players with a total of 50 amateurs progressing to Final Qualifying on the day. More earned Reserve status and will follow as the four fields are finalised in the coming days.
Here are a list of some of the more notable qualifiers in the context of the Walker Cup: –
Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) – 1st 68 -3 at Alwoodley Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) – T3 70 -1 at Alwoodley Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) – 1st 65 -7 at Berwick-upon-Tweed Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) – T1 65 -7 at Burhill Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) – 4th 67 -5 at Burhill Tom MCKIBBIN (IRE) – T4 68 -4 at County Louth Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) – T4 68 -4 at County Louth Tom PLUMB (ENG) – T8 70 -2 at Frilford Heath Jake BURNAGE (ENG) – 1st 65 -7 at Minchinhampton
Other amateurs have exemptions into Final Qualifying so I anticipate there being well over 60 players to follow next Tuesday.
The GB&I selectors will shortly be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad for the next training gathering at Royal Liverpool G.C.
Here is my assessment of how the original 26 and other players who have emerged over the last two months will fare when the announcement is presumably made next week. In my defence I don’t have the results of the European Amateur Championship which finishes on Saturday to help me.
I have listed the players as I see their current form and my selection order: –
Current Team (if picked today) Euan WALKER – Scotland Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland Harry HALL – England James SUGRUE – Ireland Sandy SCOTT – Scotland Conor PURCELL – Ireland Thomas PLUMB – England Ben JONES – England Jake BURNAGE – England Tom SLOMAN – England
July Squad Member Bailey GILL – England Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW Matty LAMB – England NEW Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW David LANGLEY – England NEW Ronan MULLARNEY – Ireland NEW Alex FITZPATRICK – England
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 16 year old from Rotherham G.C. played some great golf to post four under par rounds of 69, 64, 69 and 69 for a 271 (-13) winning total.
Having taken the lead after Round 2 he impressively showed the composure to hold off far more experienced players over the weekend and ultimately deliver a 5 shot victory. He became the youngest ever winner of this prestigious title, overtaking Sandy Lyle who was 17 when he won it in 1977.
Harry HALL (ENG) will have been disappointed with his final round but a course record 63 on Saturday and a 2nd place finish, having only returned from college in the United States a few days earlier, represented an excellent week’s work for the Cornishman.
Euan WALKER (SCO) finished 3rd, David LANGLEY (ENG) tied 5th, Ben JONES tied 7th, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) & Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) both tied 10th, Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL), Conor PURCELL (IRE) & Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) all tied 13th and Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) & James SUGRUE (IRE) all tied 18th at Alwoodley. All of them further advanced their Walker Cup chances with top 20 finishes as we move into the key selection month of June.
So what about Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) for the Walker Cup – after all he’s just won a ‘Major’ and in the process moved to the top of the England Golf Men’s Order of Merit ?
Ben rose 337 places in the SPWAR on Sunday to 109th (he’s 106th now after a few leading players subsequently turned Pro) and 1,416 places to 142nd in today’s WAGR release.
A victory in the Brabazon Trophy and such high rankings would normally put a player well in the picture for Walker Cup selection.
However, with important school exams on the immediate horizon and given his previously low WAGR ranking Ben is now going to be sitting out both this week’s St. Andrews Links Trophy and the following week’s Amateur Championship. He is also not playing in the European Amateur Championship which starts on 26th June.
Like James NEWTON (ENG), winner of the Irish Amateur Open a few weeks ago, this in my opinion is likely to greatly reduce his chances of gaining selection for the forthcoming Walker Cup match.
It will be interesting to see if England Golf select him for their Men’s European Team Championship team later this month or whether he will stay with the Boys Team. The former would give him another opportunity to impress.
Time is of course on Ben’s side but in my view circumstances look like conspiring against him with regard to the 2019 match.
With around 75 days to go until the GB&I Walker Cup team is selected how’s our team shaping up ?
Conor PURCELL (IRE), Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE), Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Euan WALKER (SCO) look certainties today. All have 2019 wins to their names and consistent form to support their selections already.
Harry HALL‘s (ENG) result at the Brabazon Trophy was just what was required from him. His experience could be invaluable to the team too. He’s now a probable for me.
Ben JONES (ENG) is playing well and building up a consistent body of 2019 results. His sound match play record and win in the Duke of York Champions event at Royal Liverpool a few years ago also bode well for him.
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) has played well for Wake Forest University since the turn of the year and if he can show up well against his GB&I peers – he hasn’t directly played against too many of them over the last year – in the big events coming up he will in my opinion be a strong candidate for selection.
The remaining three places are still open for me. I could currently make a case for Bailey GILL (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Josh MCMAHON (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG), Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) and Sandy SCOTT (SCO).
In a year of surprise winners the results of the St. Andrews Links Trophy and Amateur Championship, and to a lesser degree the European Amateur, may not help but they will certainly provide us with more clarity. Will the above players confirm their status as Walker Cup favourites or will new players have come to the fore by the team we reach the end of June ?
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 R&A have today announced a 20 player Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) squad for the 2018 St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.
The match, played in alternate years to the Walker Cup, will take place at Linna Golf in Finland on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 July 2018.
It was also confirmed that Scotland’s Craig Watson would return to the GB&I captaincy role after he was unfortunately unable to fulfil these duties at the 2017 Walker Cup due to a family bereavement.
Watson captained GB&I in the last St. Andrews Trophy match at Prince’s G.C., Kent in 2016. A 12.5 – 12.5 draw back then was good enough for GB&I to retain the trophy.
Captain Watson and Alfie Plant with the St. Andrews Trophy
(Photo: Darren Plant)
Watson said in the R&A announcement: “I’m delighted to resume the role and am excited about the potential of the new crop of players coming through and contending for a place in the team.”
As always the captain left the door open for other players to step forward in the coming months: “We know we will be in for a tough match in Finland and we will need a strong team if we are to win the trophy. I am sure the players we have identified, and others not currently in the squad, will be working hard to impress the selectors.”
The squad will meet up before the St Andrews Links Trophy event which starts on 8th June.
The final 9-man team will be announced after the European Men’s Team Championships, which conclude on 14th July.
Here is a list of the 20 players selected, along with their current Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR) and GB&I SPWAR rank.
Todd Clements, England (21)
Robin Dawson, Ireland (22)
Alex Fitzpatrick, England (19)
Calum Fyfe, Scotland (20)
Alex Gleeson, Ireland (24)
David Hague, England (21)
Harry Hall, England (20)
Benjamin Jones, England (19)
Matthew Jordan, England (22)
Rowan Lester, Ireland (22)
Sam Locke, Scotland (19)
Ryan Lumsden, Scotland (21)
Billy McKenzie, England (23)
Gian-Marco Petrozzi, England (21)
Caolan Rafferty, Ireland (25)
Sandy Scott, Scotland (19)
Jamie Stewart, Scotland (18)
Euan Walker, Scotland (22)
Robin Williams, England (16)
Andrew Wilson, England (24)
No one would argue that any of the above aren’t worthy of consideration for the GB&I team.
There are 10 English players in the squad, 6 from Scotland and 4 from Ireland. Sadly no one from Wales made the initial grade.
Only Royal Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan remains in the above selection from the 2017 Walker Cup team. Seven of the 10-man team having turned professional since the heavy loss in Los Angeles.
As the SPWAR rankings suggest GB&I currently has two outstanding players, Jordan and compatriot Todd Clements. To my eyes both have already done enough this season to warrant selection. However, the other 7 team spots are still broadly up for grabs, albeit fellow Englishman Harry Hall and Gian-Marco Petrozzi must also be close.
Below is a list of those players who are also highly ranked in the SPWAR and whose omission is therefore worthy of further discussion.
Harry Ellis, England
Paul McBride, Ireland
Tom Plumb, England
Jake Burnage, England
Conor Purcell, Ireland
Daniel O’Loughlin, England
Mitch Waite, England
The two most obvious omissions for me are England’s Mitch Waite, who has won the Hampshire Salver this year and finished runner-up at the recent Lytham Trophy, and Conor Purcell, who has done well for Charlotte this year in the U.S., culminating in an invitation by the NCAA to play in this week’s Division I Regionals as an individual.
Finally, a quick word on the two other 2017 Walker Cup players who remain amateur and are listed in the second table above.
Harry Ellis withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Cup selection process in April signalling a clear intention to turn Pro after his forthcoming U.S. Open appearance in June. Hence his absence from the list is understandable.
Paul McBride is perhaps more of a surprise. He had intimated that he may stay amateur until the Autumn once he graduates from Wake Forest in the next few weeks. The World Amateur Team Championship (for the Eisenhower Trophy) is being held at Carton House, Ireland in September and this was supposedly a factor in his thinking. However, his omission from this squad is a clear indicator that he too will be turning pro very shortly.
Sam LOCKE yesterday won the 90th Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship at Prestwick Golf Club, beating Ryan LUMSDEN 9&8 in the 36-hole Final.
The win, and certainly the size of it, was something of a surprise as LUMSDEN, who plays US college golf at Northwestern, entered the final as the favourite being the more experienced and highly ranked player.
Relatively unknown outside Scotland up until this week 18 year old Sam LOCKE is from the Banchory Golf Club in Aberdeenshire. He has been supported by the Paul Laurie Foundation since he was 14 and is coached by his father Andrew.
From a starting field of 264 players Sam finished tied 5th in the Stroke Play Qualifier after rounds of 67 (PSC) and 73 (PGC).
He then beat Duncan MCNEILL (19th hole), Michael SMYTH (1 hole), James WILSON (4&3), Sandy SCOTT (3&2) and Alasdair MCDOUGALL (3&2) before his memorable victory over LUMSDEN.
Sam led 5 Up after nine, helped by Ryan bogeying five of the opening holes. A relaxed Locke then birdied 5 of the holes on the morning back nine to take full control of the Final and a 10 Up lead into lunch. He then saw the match out comfortably in the afternoon.
After the Final Sam said in an interview with Scottish Golf “It’s nice to get a big win under my belt and hopefully I can kick on from here and enjoy more success. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and practice hard.”
Sam will now be allocated one of the two remaining places in the Scottish Men’s Home Internationals Team for the competition at Moortown Golf Club in two weeks time.
Whilst it is too late for Sam to make his way into the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup selection picture I look forward to following his progress in the coming years, starting in Leeds very shortly.
Sam Locke with his father Andrew Locke (Photo: Andrew Locke)
So getting back down to Walker Cup business let’s look at how the leading Scottish players, those that are closer to the selection discussion than Sam, got on. Here is a quick summary:-
Craig HOWIE – SP 73 72 (+3) T29 / MP Rd 3 to Sandy Scott 1 hole Sandy SCOTT – SP 66 68 (-8) T1 / MP QF to Sam Locke 3&2 Ryan LUMSDEN – SP 75 64 (-3) T3 / MP Runner Up Jamie STEWART – SP 82 71 (+11) T112 / MP DNQ Calum FYFE – SP 67 67 (-8) T1 / MP Rd 4 to Chris Maclean 1 hole Chris MACLEAN – SP 68 74 (Ev) T14 / MP SF to Ryan Lumsden Craig ROSS – SP 72 70 (Ev) T14 / MP Rd 4 to Ryan Lumsden 20th hole Rory FRANSSEN – SP 71 69 (-2) T5 / MP Rd 2 to Darren Howie 3&2 Euan MCINTOSH – SP 69 76 (+3) T29 / MP Rd 2 to NHM Beattie 4&3
Craig HOWIE was the leading Scottish Walker Cup candidate (of those competing) going in to the event and it’s fair to say he could have done with a stronger performance to cement his position in our 10 man team given the increasing competition for places.
Sandy SCOTT has enjoyed a good summer back home from Texas Tech. but needed to win at Prestwick in my opinion to have any chance of forcing himself into the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup selection picture. His time will come.
Ryan LUMSDEN, whilst disappointing in the Final, should be pleased with his overall performance. He continues to impress and like SCOTT should prove to be a strong GB&I Walker Cup candidate in 2019.
Scotland’s three leading players chose not to play in their national Amateur Championship.
Liam JOHNSTON and Connor SYME joined Wales’ David BOOTE in playing in the Western Amateur at Skokie CC in Illinois. After the United States Amateur and the Amateur Championship the Western Amateur nowadays has the third strongest field in amateur golf. Therefore securing a positive result here is not easy.
Liam JOHNSTON did so, enhancing his standing by shooting rounds of 72, 66, 68 and 71 at the Western for a -7 total. Unfortunately his tied 18th finish meant he missed out on a ‘Sweet 16’ Match Play place by 1 shot.
Connor SYME started well with a 68 but a disappointing 75 in Round 2 saw him miss the 36 hole cut in the 72 hole Stroke Play Qualifying stage.
Robert MACINTYRE took advantage of a Scottish Golf / Bounce Golf invite to compete on the European Challenge Tour in the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.
The event was reduced to 54 holes today after heavy rain which was disappointing for Robert as his final -5, tied 53rd, finish didn’t really reflect how well he played. His 8, 6, 5 scores (+6) on the 12th, 13th and 14th holes of his third round ruined what looked like being a top 20 finish at worse. He was also -3 after 10 holes of his final round this morning when play was abandoned.
Nevertheless making the cut on the Challenge Tour is no mean feat for an amateur so in my eyes this is another encouraging week for the man from Oban on the west coast of Scotland.
England’s Alfie PLANT yesterday won the European Mens Amateur Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club.
This was no ordinary victory either. The quality of the event and venue, the nature of the win and it’s timing even surpassed Plant’s win at the Lytham Trophy last year.
The European Amateur had an exceptionally strong field, expected to be the fifth best in amateur golf this year.
Plant, who is 25 next Thursday, shot rounds of 72, 66, 67 and 68 for an impressive 273 (-15) total. His birdie on his 72nd hole will live long in the memory as he forced his way into a play off with Italian pair Luca CIANCHETTI, the defending champion, and Lorenzo SCALISE, both of whom bogeyed the 18th in an exciting finale in Surrey.
Plant and Scalise (both Even) saw off Cianchetti (+1) in the initial three hole aggregate play-off before the Englishman birdied the 2nd sudden death play-off hole to secure the most prestigious win of his career. Plant did not miss a shot in the play-off and can now look forward to competing in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in a few weeks time.
Alfie Plant (Photo: GolfBible)
Plant’s win, like Harry ELLIS’ last week at The Amateur Championship, has just thrown another grenade into the GB&I Walker Cup team selection box. Neither player was probably in the Walker Team prior to their wins. Whilst Ellis is assured of his place, because of the ‘selection rule’ concerning The Amateur, Plant’s position is not quite as clear cut. Having said that it would be a surprise to most commentators if he was to now miss out, certainly to those who witnessed yesterday’s action.
Plant has the added selection value of appearing to be a really nice lad, often with a smile on his face, who would be an experienced and welcome member of any amateur golf team. There was perhaps evidence of this when England Golf selected Alfie last week for their 6-man European Team Championship team. What seemed a debatable choice at the start of this week of course now looks like an inspired one. His entourage – he is probably the best supported amateur golfer in the world – would certainly add something to the atmosphere in Los Angeles too !
In the context of the 2017 Walker Cup a number of our leading players took the opportunity to reassert their cases with good performances. These included: –
If I had to pick the Walker Cup team today, and let’s not forget there are now no major amateur events left, save for the short field European Men’s Amateur Team Championship, where everyone will be able to play against each other, I would go for (in order) 1. Jordan, 2. Singh Brar, 3. Syme, 4. Johnston, 5. MacIntyre, 6. Boote, 7. Howie, 8. Ellis, 9. Plant and 10. McBride. For this last spot I did have to toss a coin to exclude Davidson, Dawson and Galbraith who are all still pushing hard for a spot.
Jack SINGH BRAR today won the prestigious Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. His rounds of 68, 73, 72 and 75 for a +8 total earned him a memorable wire-to-wire victory.
On the back of a good set of results in Australia and his recent Hampshire Salver win Jack is now clearly very well placed to secure a spot within the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.
There are now only 125 days until the match starts and around 110 until the Teams are selected.
Jack is currently not in the GB&I Walker Cup squad. He also chose to step away from the formal England Golf coaching set up at the start of this season. However, following his big win on the Fylde Coast he has risen to 48th in the SPWAR and is now the fifth highest GB&I player (fourth if Sam Horsfield, who is expected to turn Pro in early June, is excluded). Sometimes it pays to trust yourself and ‘plough your own furrow’ in this life.
Jack Singh Brar With His Father Ami (Photo: @AMcGlue)
Two other English players finished 2nd and 3rd at Lytham.
The Walker Cup claims of Charlie STRICKLAND (+10), who only turns 18 later this month, will have grown a little bit louder this weekend too. Charlie won both the Duncan Putter and U18 Peter McEvoy Trophy in April but his 2nd place at Lytham is a step up on both. A man who’s confidence is growing and now has it all to play for.
Jake BURNAGE (+11) also followed up his Hampshire Hog win at North Hants GC a few weeks ago with a creditable third place here.
This was the first major amateur men’s competition of the 2017 GB&I season. As such most of our likely Walker Cup candidates were on display. Out of the current 21-man GB&I Squad only Paul MCBRIDE and SandySCOTT, both still competing for their US Colleges, and Barry HUME, who chose not to enter, were not present in Lancashire.
I think it is fair to say that the 2017 Lytham Trophy was generally not a confidence boosting week for our leading players and Walker Cup hopes.
Owen EDWARDS (+15 / 9th) was the highest finisher from the 18 GB&I Walker Cup squad players competing.
Here are the Lytham Trophy scores of the Walker Cup squad players: –
Liam JOHNSTON had a superb tour. Demonstrating good consistency he finished tied 5th (-6) in the South African Stroke Play at Kingswood, 26th (-1) at the Cape Province Open, reached the quarter finals of the South African Amateur at Homewood before winning the African Amateur Stroke Play (-8) at the stunning Leopard Creek CC. As a result of these performances he deservedly moved from 135th in the SPWAR at the start of February to 35th. He is the 6th highest ranked GB&I player at the time of writing.
Liam Johnston (Photo: Scottish Golf)
The Irish party had a shorter itinerary playing in just the South African Stroke Play and the Cape Province Open (CPO). This didn’t stop Robin DAWSON from excelling, finishing 2nd in both of these events. He shot -9 in the former and -10 in the latter, clearly taking a liking to the courses at Kingswood GE and George GC. Robin started the tour in 182nd place in the SPWAR but today sits in an impressive 55th (he was 47th immediately after the CPO). He is 8th in the GB&I list which continues to be led by Sam HORSFIELD (ENG), who will be turning Pro before the Walker Cup.
In the light of Dawson’s heroics it is easy to overlook how well Alex GLEESON (IRE) also played in South Africa. He finished tied 11th (-2) in the South African Stroke Play and tied 4th (-9) in the Cape Province Open. He now sits 95th in the SPWAR (13th in the GB&I list) and looks good value for his inclusion in the Initial Walker Cup Squad.
Connor SYME (SCO) played in his first events of 2017 in South Africa. He firstly missed the cut by 1-shot at the Joburg Open on the European Tour but no doubt took heart from solid rounds of 71 and 69 (-3). He then played very well this week in the African Amateur, ultimately having to settle for 2nd place behind his compatriot Johnston on -7. I think we can safely say it is going to take a dramatic downturn in form over the next 6 months for Connor not to be a part of GB&I’s 2017 Walker Cup team.
In what was generally a disappointing trip for the official three man England team Dan BROWN (ENG), who was selected for the Initial Walker Cup Squad, shone brightest. He finished tied 3rd on -8 at the South African Stroke Play and tied 1st in the South African Amateur Qualifying. It took four play-off holes for home player Chris Woollam to wrestle the Proudfoot Trophy from him. Unfortunately Brown could progress no further than Round 2 in the match play stage.
Gloucestershire’s Joe LONG (ENG), who had made his own way out to South Africa, deserves a mention in despatches too. After a slow start he really found his feet in the last two events. At the South African Amateur he reached the match play quarter finals losing 1 Down to Andre Van Heerden Jr (RSA). Alongside star man Johnston this was the best performance by any GB&I player in the Championship. He then finished 14th (+2) in the African Amateur Stroke Play yesterday. However, that doesn’t tell the full story as Joe, having played the front nine in level par, was right in the mix on -6 with just 7 holes to go. Unfortunately he played them in +8 despite birdies on 14 and 18. I guess you don’t always get what you deserve in golf but hopefully he will learn from this experience and continue to feature back home this summer.
Scottish Golf always travel in numbers for the South African events helped by good sponsorship and in particular the support of billionaire businessman Johann Rupert. This gives their players the opportunity to lay down some early season markers. This year they have certainly taken their chances with Connor SYME, Liam JOHNSTON, Craig HOWIE and Craig ROSS all doing well and now strongly placed for a Walker Cup push. When you add Robert MACINTYRE, Sandy SCOTT, Calum FYFE, Ryan LUMSDEN, Jamie STEWART and Barry HUME to the mix it’s not difficult to see which country is likely to take the majority of places in our 2017 Walker Cup team.