42. Jack Davidson Reigns In Spain

6th March 2017

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

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

Jack Davidson (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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40. Notes From A Big Island – Australia

7th February 2017

Now that our players have returned from Australia I wanted to reflect on what we had learnt in the context of the 2017 Walker Cup.

For those that don’t know a number of our leading English, Scottish and Welsh players have competed in the following elite tournaments and championships over the last four weeks: –

The Australian Master of the Amateurs (4-7 Jan)
The Australian Amateur Championship (17-22 Jan)
The Avondale Amateur (24-27 Jan)
The New South Wales Medal and Amateur Championship (30 Jan-3 Feb)

Nothing is certain in life but the selection of both Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) for the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup Team is increasingly looking so.

This is a big statement to make this early in the season but one that I believe is entirely justified. They both enjoy strong amateur rankings and most importantly have again demonstrated in Australia that they are unquestionably two of our leading match play exponents. Both of course were finalists in the 2016 Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl.

Scott Gregory (Photo: @ScottGregory5)

Corhampton’s Scott GREGORY saved his best golf for the last event – the New South Wales (NSW) Amateur. He qualified tied 9th in the 36-hole stroke play Medal before negotiating five rounds of match play to win the Championship, beating Marco PENGE (ENG) by 1-hole in the Final. Scott also played well in the Australian Amateur a few weeks before. He qualified tied 12th before losing his Round 3 match to medalist Kevin Yuan (AUS).

Robert MACINTYRE was on a shorter trip competing in the Australian Master of the Amateurs (AMOTA) and the Australian Amateur only. He withdrew from the AMOTA after Round 1 due to illness but fortunately recovered fully to make a great run at the Australian Amateur. Having qualified tied 20th he progressed serenely through to the semi-finals where Min Woo Lee, Australian’s reigning US Junior Amateur champion, just had too much for him on the day in a 3&1 defeat.

The other player who had a big tour was Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG). Jack has now stepped away from the England Golf coaching set up and presumably travelled out to Australia under his own steam. He didn’t play in the AMOTA but did very well in the three other events. He firstly snook into the Australian Amateur match play stage via a play off and got through to Round 3 before losing to Robbie Morrison (AUS). He was then 2nd in The Avondale Amateur with an impressive 72-hole score of -10. He finished the trip with a strong qualification in the NSW Medal (-3, tied 9th) and then progressed to the Quarter Finals where he lost by 1 hole to South Korea’s Dongmin Kim. He started the year in 270th place in the SPWAR. Today he is 85th and the 8th highest ranked GB&I player in this list. Whilst he wasn’t there a few weeks ago I am sure he must now have played his way into the selector’s minds with his string of results Down Under.

I am convinced that Marco PENGE (ENG) will have a successful Pro career simply because of his inconsistent play and positive mental attitude. When he is ‘on’ he is very good but when he is ‘off’ he can appear very average. The good thing is this appears to me to be exactly what is required in the pro game. When it’s your week you have to cash in big time and when it’s not you have to laugh it off and move on – Marco seems to do both. Penge was off the pace for much of the Tour, shooting big numbers and missing cuts. I am sure some observers were wondering what he was even doing out there. Then, almost out of nowhere he arrives at the NSW Amateur and plays beautifully. He qualified tied 3rd on -6 before battling his way through the match play stage and ultimately losing the close Final with Gregory.  So he arrives back in the UK ranked 75th in the SPWAR, up about 60 places, and 7th in the GB&I ranking – job done. I hope he can find some more consistency back in Europe as this will help to secure the selector’s trust and perhaps cement a team spot. If not then establishing which Marco is going to turn up in Los Angeles will be difficult for them and make his inclusion something of a gamble.

Before finishing off this article I wanted to mention Evan GRIFFITH (WAL). He once again found Australia to his liking. Having reached the semi-finals of the Australian Amateur last year he once again played very well; this year reaching the quarter-finals. Let’s hope that in 2017 he can follow up this latest performance down under with a few Top 10’s back in Europe.

Other GB&I Walker Cup squad players to compete in Australia included David BOOTE (WAL), Owen EDWARDS (WAL), Bradley MOORE (ENG) and Alfie PLANT (ENG). All had their moments without necessarily playing at their very best.

Irrespective of whether their Walker Cup selection is now as certain as I suggest I am sure we can all agree to congratulate Scott and Robert for maintaining their form and competitiveness through our early winter and for delivering some good results in Australia.

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

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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39. GB&I Walker Cup Squad Announced

23rd January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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29. Scott Gregory Targeting The Walker Cup

18th October 2016

The Amateur Champion, Scott Gregory, gave an interview to Sky Sports News at the British Masters last week.

In his third professional start after The Open Championship and The Bridgestone Challenge he confirmed that he was not looking to rush into the pro ranks after next year’s Major exemptions.

His Amateur Championship win at Royal Porthcawl will of course afford him invites to the 2017 Masters in April and US Open in June.

Scott Gregory (Photo: Andrew Griffin)

Talking about his future plans the 21 year old from Corhampton GC in Hampshire said: “I don’t feel I’m ready yet. For me to turn pro, I want to do it when I’m ready to compete. Obviously playing events like the British Masters gives me an idea. I’m just learning and getting better each day.”

Scott shot rounds of 74 and 69 at The Grove to finish tied 74th on +1. He missed the cut at his first European Tour event by 1-shot.

It was pleasing to hear him go on and say: “One of the events I’d love to play in is the Walker Cup, so I’m hoping to wait it out and play a nice season next year. It’s going to be a big year. I understand that I have to work hard and keep getting better. My objective now is just to keep winning as much as I can while I’m still an amateur and make the move professionally when I feel like it’s the right time.”

Given the recent number of players who have turned pro this will no doubt be music to the ears of Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team captain Craig Watson. Watson will have pencilled in Scott after his St. Andrews Trophy contribution for GB&I and more recent role for silver medal winning England at the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico.

Of course one strong performance in a US Major could change these plans but at least Scott is talking positively about hanging on until September 2017 at the moment.

[The quotes used above were first reported in an R&A article published on Global Golf Post on 17/10/16]

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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26. The 2016 World Amateur Team Championship

25th September 2016

The AUSTRALIA team, consisting of Cameron DAVIS, Harrison ENDYCOTT and Curtis LUCK, won the 2016 World Amateur Team Championship in Mexico. Their 72-hole score of 534 (-38) equalled the best ever team score and helped them to a massive 19-shot win.

ENGLAND (-19) collected the silver medal with AUSTRIA and IRELAND (-18) sharing bronze. It is the first time that both ENGLAND and IRELAND have medalled since the home nations started competing individually rather than under the Great Britain & Ireland banner.

England – Nigel Edwards, Kevin Tucker, Scott Gregory, Jamie Bower, Alfie Plant, and Graham Walker  Celebrate their Silver Medals (Photo: Darren Plant). 

SCOTLAND (-11) finished a disappointing 11th given their strong team and great start to the event – they led after Round 1 on -10. WALES (-8), on the other hand, will be pleased with their encouraging T16 result.

Team Results
1. AUSTRALIA -38
2. ENGLAND -19
T3. IRELAND -18
11. SCOTLAND -11
T16. WALES -8

T6. USA -15

The full 2016 WATC Eisenhower Trophy team results can be accessed here: –
Eisenhower Trophy Team Results

AUSTRALIA’s Cameron DAVIS (269 / -17) recorded the Championship’s lowest individual score. His compatriot Curtis LUCK (271 / -15) finished second, helped in no small part by a 63 (-9) in Friday’s third round.

Looking ahead to the 2017 Walker Cup it is of course interesting to reflect on which of the 12 GB&I players performed in this elite company.

Individual Results
T3. Alfie PLANT (ENG) -12
9. David BOOTE (WAL) -9
T11. Jack HUME (IRE) -7
T20. Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) -5
T27. Robert MCINTYRE (SCO) -3
T38. Connor SYME (SCO) Ev
T38. Grant FORREST (SCO) Ev
T38. Scott GREGORY (ENG) Ev
T48. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) +2
T53. Jamie BOWER (ENG) +3
T71. Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +5
T100. Joshua DAVIES (WAL) +11

The 2016 WATC Eisenhower Trophy individual results can be accessed here: –
Eisenhower Trophy Individual Results

Clearly Alfie PLANT (-12), David BOOTE (-9), Jack HUME (-7) – reportedly now turning pro – Paul MCBRIDE (-5) and Robert MCINTYRE all played very well, finishing under par in the Top 30 Individual standings.

Ireland – Paul McBride, Neil Manchip, Tony Goode, Stuart Grehan and Jack Hume – Bronze Medalists (Photo: GUI Website).

Alfie PLANT – who holed a 9-foot birdie putt on the last green to secure second place for England – and David BOOTE both increasingly look probables for the 2017 Walker Cup team. Both seem to be playing consistently well at the moment with their potential selections having the aded benefit of bringing some experience and maturity to the team room.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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20. The 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship

21st August 2016

Curtis LUCK (AUS) won the 2016 U.S. Amateur champion, beating Brad DALKE (USA) 6&4 in today’s 36-hole Championship match at Oakland Hills CC, in Detroit.

Whilst Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) are not celebrating a U.S. Amateur win this year the 2016 Championship proved to be a reasonably successful one for us.

I certainly can’t recall six of our players making the Top 64 cut in the stroke play qualifying before and therefore progressing to the match play stage. It was also good to see at least one of the six coming from each of the four home nations.

In exactly 12 month’s time the R&A will announce their 2017 Walker Cup team. So lets look at who put an early marker down at this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship and showed they have the ability to compete at the highest level.

11 GB&I players qualified for the 116th U.S. Amateur Championship: –

David BOOTE 22 (WAL)              – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Jamie BOWER 23 (ENG)              – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Ewen FERGUSON 20 (SCO)        – 2015 Walker Cup, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Grant FORREST 23 (SCO)           – 2015 Walker Cup, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Scott GREGORY 21 (ENG)          – 2016 Amateur Champion
Sam HORSFIELD 19 (ENG)        – 2016 US Open, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Jack HUME 22 (IRE)                     – 2015 Walker Cup, Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Robert MACINTYRE 20 (SCO)   – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Bradley MOORE 18 (ENG)         – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16
Jack SINGH BRAR 19 (ENG)      – Qualifier at Ada, Michigan (05/07/16)
Connor SYME 21 (SCO)              – Top 50 WAGR 29/6/16

Stroke Play Qualifying Stage – 15th-16th August

The U.S. Amateur starts with a 36-hole stroke play qualifying event to identify the 64 players who will contest the match play stage that will ultimately determine the champion.

Alex SMALLEY (USA) earned medalist honours with a 133 (-7) total after two impressive rounds at Oakland Hills; a 65 on the North Course, followed on Day 2 by a 68 on the tougher South Course.

56 players automatically qualified on +1 with 23 others on +2 having to endure a sudden death play-off for the remaining 8 spots.

18th hole, South Course, Oakland Hills CC (Photo: Oakland Hills CC) 

Here are the GB&I stroke play qualifying scores: –

T6     Scott GREGORY 21 (ENG)           -3     69 NC, 68 SC
T11   Sam HORSFIELD 19 (ENG)        -2      66 NC, 72 SC
T30   Connor SYME 21 (SCO)              Ev     70 SC, 70 NC
T41   Jack HUME 22 (IRE)                    +1     72 SC, 69 NC

T57   David BOOTE 22 (WAL)             +2     70 SC, 72 NC
T57   Bradley MOORE 18 (ENG)         +2     71 NC, 71 SC

Scott GREGORY was our leading stroke play qualifier finishing a very creditable tied 6th. He recorded just three bogeys over his 36 holes which must have been amongst the lowest in the whole field.

Sam HORSFIELD set himself up for qualification with a five birdie 66 (-4) on the North Course. A satisfactory 72 (+2) on the South on Day 2 saw him qualify as the 17th seed.

Connor SYME qualified with two symmetrical par rounds. On Day 1 he had one birdie and one bogey on each side of the South and on Day 2 he had three bogies on the front nine before recovering his qualification with three birdies on the back.

Jack HUME left himself some work to do on Day 2 after a 72 over the South on Day 1. The fact he was able to shoot a 69 on the North when he needed it bode well for his chances later in the week.

David BOOTE and Bradley MOORE both showed strong resolve to battle their way to +2 and a shot at the 23-into-8 match play play-off. Within a few minutes of each other on the morning of Day 3 they both holed long birdie putts on the second play-off hole (11th on the North Course) to progress.

So in summary Sam HORSFIELD, Scott GREGORY, Connor SYME, Bradley MOORE and Jack HUME all qualified for the match play stage and therefore in my view could all leave Oakland Hills with their heads held high. When one considers the quality of the field at the U.S. Amateur and looks at our historic record in achieving this feat you have to say this is the right hurdle for defining a good GB&I Championship performance.

By the same definition those GB&I players who missed the match play cut have to accept that they fell short: –

T80    Jack SINGH BRAR 19 (ENG)      +3    71 SC, 72 NC
T80    Ewen FERGUSON 20 (SCO)       +3    72 NC, 71 SC
T99    Robert MACINTYRE 20 (SCO)  +4    68 NC, 76 SC
T185  Grant FORREST 23 (SCO)          +9    73 NC, 75 SC
T243  Jamie BOWER 23 (ENG)            +11   74 SC, 77 NC

Jack SINGH BRAR looked nicely on track when he posted a 71 (+1) on the South Course and followed it with a 34 (-1) over his first nine holes on the North on Day 2. Unfortunately three bogeys over his last 5 holes saw him drift from comfortable qualification (+1) to a missed cut position (+3).

Ewen FERGUSON started nervously bogeying and double bogeying his first two holes on the North Course. Three late birdies on Day 1 helped him recover to a 72 (+2) but with the South to come the odds were always going to be stacked against him. He managed a 71 on Day 2 to his credit but it in reality it was too little too late for the Scotsman. Not helped by injuries this is proving to be a season to forget for the 2015 Walker cup man.

I had high hopes for Robert MACINTYRE heading into the week. He backed them up for me with a 68 (-2) on the North Course to start the week off. Unfortunately five bogeys and two double bogeys on his way to a 76 (+6) on the South saw him tumble down the leaderboard.

Grant FORREST and Jamie BOWER, who were both a long way off the pace, will both be disappointed with their performances this week.

Match Play Stage – 17th-21st August

Here’s is a summary of all of the GB&I match play results: –

Quarter Finals – Friday 19th August 2016
David Boote 62 (WAL) LOST 3&2 v. Brad Dalke 38 (USA)

Round of 16 – Thursday 18th August 2016
Dylan Meyer 33 (USA) WON 19th hole v. Sam Horsfield 17 (ENG)
David Boote 62 (WAL) WON 2&1 v. Collin Morikawa 14 (USA)

Round of 32 – Thursday 18th August 2016
Doc Redman 49 (USA) LOST 5&4 v. Sam Horsfield 17 (ENG)
Scott Gregory 9 (ENG) LOST 19th Hole v. Nick Carlson 41 (USA)
David Boote 62 (WAL) WON 3&1 v. Ben Schlottman 35 (USA)

Round of 64 – Wednesday 17th August 2016
Connor Syme 32 (SCO) LOST 2 Up v. Dylan Meyer 33 (USA)
Sam Horsfield 17 (ENG) WON 3&1 v. Hugo Bernard 48 (CAN)
Scott Gregory 9 (ENG) WON 7&5 v. Raymond Knoll 56 (USA)
Dawson Armstrong 2 (USA) WON 1 Up v. Bradley Moore 63 (ENG)
Bryson Nimmer 23 (U SA) WON 1 Up v. Jack Hume 42 (IRE)
Gavin Hall 3 (USA) LOST 3&2 v. David Boote 62 (WAL)

David BOOTE (WAL) was the most successful GB&I player at the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship reaching the quarter-finals of the match play stage.

David Boote made few mistakes in the match play stage and his consistent play enabled him to see off Gavin Hall, Ben Schlottman and most impressively Collin Morikawa. He saved his best till last too, playing very well against Brad Dalke, where despite giving nothing away he ended up losing his quarter final match to an inspired opponent on the day. Boote has been playing consistently to a high level this summer and is now right at the top of the GB&I amateur game. If he chooses to remain amateur and can maintain this form he will surely secure a place in next year’s Walker Cup team.

Sam HORSFIELD beat Hugo Bernard, winner of the Canadian Amateur title last weekend, 3&1 in the Round of 64. He then played his very best golf to beat Doc Redman, shooting 29 on the front nine before finishing the match 7-under par on the 14th. Dylan Meyer, who just a few week’s ago beat Sam in the final of the Western Amateur, was next up. In a tight match Horsfield missed a short 3 footer for par on their 19th hole to allow Meyer to get the better of him again. It says everything about Horsfield, who this week moved to No. 1 in the SPWAR rankings, that the fact he didn’t reach at least the semi-finals this week has to be viewed as both a disappointment and a surprise.

Scott GREGORY had an easy first match with Raymond Knoll bogeying 7 of the 13 holes they completed. Scott played well in his final match – he was 3-under for the 19 holes contested, with just one bogey – but simply came up against an in form Nick Carlson; the local Michigan man playing well above himself all week. Carlson of course went on to reach the semi-finals before losing to Australian Curtis Luck yesterday.

Connor SYME lost to Dylan Meyer, the recent Western Amateur champion and nemesis of Sam Horsfield in Round 1. Syme gave the in form American a good game and will have been disappointed to lose 2 Up, particularly as he lost the last two holes to par.

The tough finish on Oakland Hills South Course proved too much for both Bradley MOORE and Jack HUME in their Round of 64 matches. Moore did well to fight back to All Square against the No. 2 qualifier Dawson Armstrong having been 2 Down with 6 holes to play. However, having birdied the 13th and 16th, he bogied the last two holes to let Armstrong progress. Hume was 1 Up with 3 to play before he bogeyed 16 and 17 to give his opponent, Bryson Nimmer a 1 Up lead which he saw out on the final hole.

You don’t get anywhere near the first tee of the U.S. Amateur without being a very accomplished golfer. So in terms of a stepping stone to 2017 Walker Cup selection it is often a case of looking at who did not perform and understanding why rather than those that did. The six players who made it to the match play stage clearly did very well and confirmed their standing as 2017 Walker Cup ‘probables’. Those that did not will know they need to learn from the experience and work on both their games and consistency to demonstrate they are more than ‘possibles’.

Click here to access all of the 2016 U.S. Amateur Championship Results 

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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17. GB&I Retain The St. Andrews Trophy

23rd July 2016

Great Britain & Ireland retained the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy earlier this week in an exciting match against the Continent of Europe.

The 31st contest in the series was halved 12.5-12.5 at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent but as the holders GB&I were able to keep the Trophy on home soil. It was the first time the match had been halved, GB&I winning 25 times and Europe just five times previously.

GB&I St Andrews Trophy 2016 Photo 2

Great Britain & Ireland (Photo: Darren Plant)

David BOOTE (WAL) proved to be the hero of the day bravely parring the 18th hole to secure a 1Up win in the final singles game of Day 2 against Spain’s Ivan CANTERO GUTIERREZ (ESP). 

GB&I had got off to the worse possible start losing the Day 1 foursomes 0-4. A recovery of sorts looked possible for the home team in the afternoon singles but some late reverses saw Europe rescue a 4-4 series result.

Going into Day 2 behind 4-8 few predicted GB&I could recover the situation. However, a 3.5-1.5 result in the Day 2 foursomes gave the team every reason to believe prior to the 9 singles commencing.  The singles were again a rollercoaster affair but GB&I managed to sneak them 5-4 to secure a dramatic half.

Whilst it does not take into account the quality of each player’s opposition it is still interesting to review the high level individual player contributions: –

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 06.40.38

From a GB&I perspective Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Stuart GREHAN (IRE) were our star men this week securing two singles wins and one foursome success.

Connor SYME (SCO), Jack HUME (IRE), David BOOTE (WAL) and Alfie PLANT (ENG) also played important point scoring roles during the competition.

Jamie BOWER (ENG), Grant FORREST (SCO) and Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) will be disappointed with their contributions.

GB&I and new captain Craig WATSON will no doubt be delighted to retain the St. Andrews Trophy. The Team showed real determination and fight to turn around a horrific start.

However, the reality is this was a disappointing performance and result.

Save for the inclusion of Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) and possibly Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) GB&I were able to put out their strongest team. Europe were sadly not in the same position. Adrian MERONK (POL) and Antoine ROZNER (FRA) would certainly have been included if not for the fixture clash with the European Challenge Tour event in France. Ugo COUSSAUD (FRA) and Gregoire SCHOEB (FRA), also playing in France, would probably have been considered too.

Europe have only won five St. Andrews Trophy matches out of 30, with just one of these victories coming away from the Continent. GB&I clearly have an advantage when playing such matches on links courses which they have far more experience of.

So, harsh as it may seem, I for one am not going to get too excited about a halved home match against a weakened Continent of Europe team. Much improvement will be needed if GB&I are going to give a hurt USA team a match on a parkland course in sunny Los Angeles at the 2017 Walker Cup.

For my full St. Andrews Trophy preview and daily match reports please visit my sister website www.golfbible.co.uk – St. Andrews Trophy – 2016 Preview and Results

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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14. The 2016 St. Andrews Trophy Team – My Selection

7th July 2016

Here’s my stab at the 2016 Great Britain & Ireland St. Andrews Trophy Team.

The St. Andrews Trophy has been played biennially between GB&I and Europe since 1956.

GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came recently in 2010 and 2012. GB&I won the 2014 match, played in Barsebäck, Sweden, 14-10.

I anticipate this year’s match being a very close encounter.

With the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship coming to a conclusion at Golf de Chantilly in France on Saturday I expect the GB&I Team to be named by The R&A and Captain Craig Watson early next week.

These are the questions I’ve asked myself before selecting my Team: –

How many players do I need, where are we playing and what’s the format ?

The match is to be contested by a team of 9 GB&I players.

It is to be played on the links of Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July.

On Day 1 4 foursomes and 8 singles will be played. On Day 2 there are again 4 foursomes but in a change to the recent format all 9 players will then compete in singles this year. I know from past experience that there is always a tendency to prefer pairs from the same country so need to consider that.

Who’s in the frame ? 

An 18-man St. Andrews Trophy Squad was announced on 24th March 2016.

This included David BOOTE (WAL), Jamie BOWER (ENG), Owen EDWARDS (WAL), Ewen FERGUSON (SCO), Grant FORREST (SCO), John Ross GALBRAITH (IRE), Alex GLEESON (IRE), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG), Jack HUME (IRE), Jack MCDONALD (SCO), Robert MACINTYRE (SCO), Greg MARCHBANK (SCO), Bradley MOORE (ENG), Marco PENGE (ENG), Craig ROSS (SCO), Connor SYME (SCO) and Ashton TURNER (ENG).

There were 7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales in the initial squad.

We can of course remove Jack McDonald from the above group as he turned pro on 31st March.

Who has performed well this year ?

Here is my 29th June 2016 Rankings Assessment which clearly shows who our leading players have been in the year to date, at least according to the two main Amateur Rankings.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 21.06.37

It seems unlikely to me that anyone outside my Combined Top 20 listed above will be selected. Unless of course The R&A go for a completely Scottish team – which given current form is not as outlandish a statement as it may at first seem.

Who’s showing form at this week’s European Men’s Amateur Championship ?

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 18.40.34

EMATC GB&I Stroke Play Scores

The above table clearly shows who performed well in the stroke play qualifying and how today’s first round match play has gone for our leading players.

In Division 2 David BOOTE was the medalist in the stroke play qualifying with a -9 36-hole total in Luxembourg.

Notable Omissions ?

At the end of June our highest ranked player was Sam HORSFIELD (ENG). I understand that Craig Watson watched and met with him at the Arnold Palmer Cup a few weeks ago at Formby but I don’t envisage him being considered or dare I say making himself available for this event. I am sure Sam will be committed to the series of major amateur events that are played in the United States during July and August.

Ewen FERGUSON (SCO) has been struggling with a wrist injury in recent weeks, withdrawing from three events in succession. I have therefore chosen to exclude him from my thoughts on fitness grounds. This is a shame for Ewen as he has started to show some good form lately with a 3rd place in the St Andrews Links Trophy and a good run at The Amateur.

So excluding Sam and Ewen here’s my team of 9, in order of selection: –

1. Grant FORREST (SCO) – since winning the Battle Trophy in Scotland he has strung to together a series of top quality results. Playing well in France and now back to his very best.

2. Jack HUME (IRE) – the South African SP and European Nations Individual 2016 champion was solid in the 2015 Walker Cup and outstanding in the Bonallack Trophy earlier this year.

3. Connor SYME (SCO) – the 2016 Australian Amateur champion has enjoyed an excellent season and is now undoubtedly one of GB&I’s top amateur players.

4. Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – has peaked perfectly for this selection. Finalist in The Amateur and has taken that form into his last two events on the Challenge Tour and this week in France.

5. Scott GREGORY (ENG) – having just won The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl he obviously must play. He’s delivered winning results for England in two international matches this year also.

6. Alfie PLANT (ENG) – a fantastic winner of the Lytham Trophy who has enjoyed good finishes at the French International Amateur (T11) and Brabazon Trophy (T7) since. A Kent-lad too which should help with local support.

7. Jamie BOWER (ENG) – he’s won three events this year including the prestigious Brabazon Trophy in Kent, albeit on an inland course. Jamie also got to the last 16 of the Amateur so has certainly backed up his early season wins in South Africa.

It starts to get a bit trickier from here on in, particularly around foursomes pairings, but I’ve given the benefit of the doubt to: –

8. Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – a strong performance this week for Ireland on the back of a positive contribution at the Arnold Palmer Cup. Stuart seems to be on an upward curve to me.

9. David BOOTE (WAL) – David has enjoyed a good season for Stanford in the US and delivered winning results at the Bonallack Trophy (where he played with Jack Hume) and Arnold Palmer Cup this year. He has also made a good start in Luxembourg this week for Wales at the Division 2 European Men’s Team Championship.

Having put my head above the parapet I have to say it would be hard for me to argue if any of Craig HOWIE (SCO – partnering Connor Syme at the Euros this week), Conor O’ROURKE (Naas GC, IRE – as is Jack Hume), Sandy SCOTT (SCO), Craig ROSS (SCO) or Bradley MOORE (ENG – a possible partner for Alfie Plant) were selected by The R&A based on 2016 performances and potential foursome pairings.

Let me know what you think by commenting below or on Twitter ?

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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12. The 2016 Amateur Championship And Brabazon Trophy

4th July 2016

Englishmen Scott Gregory and Jamie Bower have raised their profiles considerably having picked up The Amateur Championship and Brabazon Trophy titles in recent weeks.

Gregory beat Robert MacIntyre (SCO) 2&1 in the 36-hole final of The Amateur Championship at Royal Porthcawl GC.

Scott Gregory Amateur Champion 2016

Scott Gregory (Photo: Getty Images / The R&A)

He shot 72 at Royal Porthcawl and 71 at Pyle & Kenfig in the Stroke Play Qualifying to finish tied 13th on +1. Seeded 13th he then proceeded to beat Andre Nel (RSA) by 2 holes, Pierre Mazier (FRA) by 1 hole, Harry Hall (ENG) 4&3, Javier Sainz (ESP) 5&4 and Adrian Meronk (POL) to reach the Final.

Paul McBride (IRE) and Ewen Ferguson (SCO) also both reached the Quarter Finals of The Amateur.

Click this link to review all of the Amateur Championship Match Play Results.

Jamie Bower Brabazon Trophy 2016

Jamie Bower (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)

Just a week later Jamie Bower won the Brabazon Trophy – the English Men’s Open Stroke Play Championship. His 12-under finish at the London Golf Club good enough to pip Cameron Davis (AUS) on the final green. Bower made a great start to the season winning twice in South Africa. Having reached the last 16 of The Amateur and now picked up this title he certainly seems to be back in the groove.

Ryan Lumsden -10 (SCO), Gian-Marco Petrozzi -9 (ENG) and Jamie Li -8 (ENG) finished third, fourth and fifth respectively. Alfie Plant -5 (ENG), winner of the Lytham Trophy, also came a creditable tied 7th. Sandy Scott -2 T12 (SCO), Conor O’Rourke -1 T16 (IRE) and Paul McBride -1 T16 (IRE) continue to feature regularly too.

Click this link to review all of the The Brabazon Trophy Results.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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9. England v. France – 14 /15 May 2016 – Preview & Results

15th May 2016

England defeated France 14-10 at Formby Golf Club in a hard fought contest played in near perfect conditions.

England v France May 2016

The English Team Celebrate Their Victory Over France (Photo: GolfBible)

The following table shows the Individual Contributions of all of the England team members.  Scott Gregory and Josh Hilleard enjoyed impressive W3 / H0 / L1 records and given their two Singles performances were joined by Bradley Moore and Alfie Plant as England’s star men this weekend.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 22.31.27

In what was an impressive performance against a reasonable French side it was pleasing to see each member of the team contribute at least a point to the win.

Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret stood out for the French and certainly can take no blame for their team’s defeat.

ME.

8th May 2016

Any Home Nation team match needs to be studied carefully. Selection, pairings and performance all provide useful information.

Every year England play Spain or France in biennial international amateur team matches.

Last year England beat Spain 19-11 at Burnham & Berrow G.C. in Somerset. This victory, for the first time contested as a mixed match, extended their winning record against Spain to 14-2. Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen, who went on to play in the 2015 Walker Cup, starred for England winning all four of their matches.

This year it’s the turn of France who England will take on at Formby G.C., Lancashire, on 14th-15th May. The match against France dates back to 1934 with England leading the series 28-5.

Four foursomes and eight singles will be contested on each day.

The French team will consist of Edgar Catherine, Ugo Coussaud, Andoni Etchenique, Jeong Weon Ko, Adrien Pendaries, Pierre Pineau, Grégoire Schoeb and Victor Veyret.

On 3rd May England confirmed their 8-man team:-

Jamie Bower (23) – Meltham G.C., Yorkshire
Jamie has risen up the world rankings in 2016 after a successful early season tour of South Africa where he won both the Gauteng North Amateur and the Southern Cape Open. He was also third in the African Open.

Scott Gregory (21) – Corhampton G.C., Hampshire
Scott was runner-up in the 2016 Spanish Amateur and helped England win the Costa Ballena Quadrangular tournament earlier this season.

Josh Hilleard (21) – Farrington Park G.C, Somerset
Josh is in great form having already won the West of England Championship, the Berkhamsted Trophy, the Faldo Series Wales Championship and the Hampshire Salver in 2016. He was also in England’s winning team at the Costa Ballena Quadrangular Tournament. He was also awarded the Southern Golf Association’s Amateur of the Month Award for April 2016 just prior to the match.

Paul Kinnear (22) – Formby G.C., Lancashire
Paul represented England on their tour of South Africa earlier this season and will hopefully bring some home course knowledge to the Team.

Bradley Moore (18) – Kedleston Park G.C., Derbyshire
Bradley was joint runner-up in the Lytham Trophy earlier this month and helped Europe beat Asia Pacific in the 2016 Bonallack Trophy.

Alfie Plant (23) – Sundridge Park G.C., Kent
Alfie won the 2016 Lytham Trophy by 7-shots and toured South Africa with England earlier this year.

Ashton Turner (20) – Kenwick Park, Lincolnshire
Ashton helped Europe beat Asia Pacific in the Bonallack Trophy and toured Australia with England earlier this season.

James Walker (22) – The Oaks G.C., Yorkshire
James has been in good form this year winning the Selborne Salver and reaching the semi-finals of the Spanish Amateur championship, unluckily losing to eventual champion Romain Langasque on the 19th hole following a series of chip-ins from the Frenchman. He was 6th at the Lytham Trophy.

It’s difficult to argue with the above selection.

Marco Penge is the most obvious omission but as he celebrates his 18th birthday on 15th May he probably asked not to be considered.  Marco has also been ploughing his own furrow this year playing in both the PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley recently instead of more obvious GB&I  amateur events; the Lytham Trophy being his most obvious miss.

Jonathan Thomson has been recovering from a back injury for a few months. Daniel BrownAdam ChapmanRyan CornfieldJJ Grey, Sam HorsfieldAndrew Wilson and Jack Yule may also have been discussed by the selectors but are either finishing off the US College season or probably need a few more results to break in to the current 2016 England Men’s Team.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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6. R&A Announces 2016 St. Andrews Trophy Squad

25th March 2016

The R&A and new captain Craig Watson (SCO) yesterday announced an 18-man GB&I Squad for the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.

7 players from Scotland, 5 from England, 4 from Ireland and 2 from Wales have been selected. They are listed below in alphabetical order: –

David BOOTE (WAL)
Jamie BOWER (ENG)
Owen EDWARDS (WAL)
Ewen FERGUSON (SCO)
Grant FORREST (SCO)
John Ross GALBRAITH (IRE)
Alex GLEESON (IRE)
Stuart GREHAN (IRE)
Scott GREGORY (ENG)
Jack HUME (IRE)
Jack MCDONALD (SCO)
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO)
Greg MARCHBANK (SCO)
Bradley MOORE (ENG)
Marco PENGE (ENG)
Craig ROSS (SCO)
Connor SYME (SCO)
Ashton TURNER (ENG)

The current GB&I Scratch Players World Amateur Golf Ranking is shown below: –

SPWAR 240316

The current GB&I World Amateur Golf Ranking is also shown below: –

WAGR 240316

As one would expect the Squad largely reflects the current rankings.

The obvious omission is Sam HORSFIELD (ENG) who has made a strong start to his freshman year at Florida on the US College circuit and sits near the top of both rankings. It is unclear at the moment whether the R&A have ignored him after his late Walker Cup withdrawal last summer or Sam has simply made himself unavailable. It is interesting to note that he has made himself available for Europe’s Palmer Cup Team and the match taking place against the United States at Formby GC in June.

Jimmy ALLEN (ENG) who was well placed in the rankings turned pro ahead of the MENA Tour opener in Morocco this week and was therefore not considered.

From an analysis of the two rankings – and in particular looking at those players that either sit in the Top 18 or above others that have been selected – the following players may consider themselves unlucky (or additionally motivated for the next few months): Paul KINNEAR (ENG),  Jamie SAVAGE (SCO), Paul MCBRIDE (IRE), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Craig HOWIE (SCO) and James WALKER (ENG).

A speedy recovery is hoped for both Jonathan THOMSON (ENG) and Sean TOWNDROW (ENG) who have both been battling injury and health issues in recent months and whose exclusions are understandable.

The match, which will be contested by a team of 9, is to be played at Prince’s Golf Club in Kent, England on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July 2016. The St. Andrews Trophy has been played for since 1956. GB&I have won 25 times with Europe having just five wins to their name, albeit two of them came in 2010 and 2012.

Looking ahead to July’s match Craig Watson said: “We have a strong group of players to call upon again this year and there is a good mixture of experience and youth in the squad. We know we will be in for a tough match at Prince’s so we have to pick the best team we can and the players will be working hard throughout this season to impress the selectors”.

GB&I won the 2014 match at Barsebäck, Sweden by a 14 – 10 scoreline. Grant Forrest is the only member of that winning team to be included in the 2016 Squad.  His fellow Scottish Internationals Jamie Savage and Graeme Robertson are the only other members of the 2014 Team to remain amateur.

A long way to go until the 2017 Walker Cup but nevertheless it is worth recording the players that the R&A currently view as their strongest.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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