66. Alfie Plant Wins The Silver Medal At The Open

24th July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the – 2017 Open Championship Results

In other news…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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60. Scott Harvey Wins The George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational

29th June 2017

Last weekend Scott HARVEY won the George C. Thomas Jr. Invitational Tournament (GCT).

I don’t overly concern myself with the US Walker Cup team but as you know the mid-amateur situation intrigues me.

The GCT is a 54 hole mid-amateur and senior amateur event that was first held in the United States in 2012.

What makes it particularly interesting is the fact that it is staged annually on the North Course at the Los Angeles Country Club, the host venue of the 2017 Walker Cup.

The GCT mid-amateur prize was won by Mike MCCOY in 2013 and 2014. Mike played in the 2015 Walker Cup at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Scott HARVEY won in 2016.

Scott Harvey (Photo: USGA)

This year Scott HARVEY retained his title after a 3 hole play-off with Nathan SMITH and Patrick CHRISTOVICH. Harvey birdied 2 of the extra holes.

In regulation play Harvey shot rounds of 78, 67 and 70 for a 215 (+4) total.

In a report by John Steinbreder in Global Golf Post (USA) Harvey said “I am extremely honoured to be champion again. The Thomas is an incredible tournament filled with great golfers and played on a course I absolute love. Obviously, I hope this boosts my chances to player again in September in the Walker Cup.”

Well it certainly won’t have done any harm as John “Spider” Miller was in attendance and saw the win for himself.  Miller said to Steinbreder “I wanted to take another look at the mid-ams as well as the course. I also felt it was important to support the tournament and the Club.”  

In summary it’s looking increasing like the USGA will have every reason to select both Harvey and Stewart HAGESTAD for the forthcoming Walker cup match.

View the – George C. Thomas Invitational Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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56. Hagestad And Harvey Both Qualify For The US Open

6th June 2017

The Mid-Amateur sub-plot which is running beneath the 2017 US Walker Cup team selection story took another interesting turn yesterday.

To their credit the two leading US mid-amateurs Stewart HAGESTAD (26) and Scott HARVEY (39) both successfully negotiated Sectional Qualifying to book their tee times at next week’s US Open Championship at Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin.

Stewart Hagestad (Photo: USGA)

Hagestad shot rounds of 67 and 68 at Newport Beach CC and Big Canyon CC (his home club) in California to finish third on -8. The 2017 US Open will be his second Major appearance following on from his low amateur result at this year’s Masters Tournament in April. Interestingly five of the six available spots at this site were picked up by amateurs. Click here to view the – US Open Sectional Qualifying California Results

Harvey, competing at Canoe Brook CC, shot rounds of 63 and 71 on the North and South courses respectively. His -8 total helped him to a tied second place finish and secured one of the five qualifying spots available at the New Jersey site. Click here to view the – US Open Sectional Qualifying New Jersey Results

Scott Harvey (Photo: USGA)

Families, careers, finance and the improvement in the standard of college amateurs has seen the number of competitive mid-amateurs decline in recent years. Therefore yesterday’s performances provided a shot in the arm for the whole US mid-amateur cadre.

It will also give the USGA something to think about with the case for picking both Hagestad and Harvey in their 2017 Walker Cup team seemingly strengthening by the week.

Harvey in particular needed this result given the increased pressure he was under following the USGA’s announcement in April that they were now only committing themselves to one mid-amateur selection from 2017 onwards (see below). Hagestad, the reigning US Mid-Amateur champion and Masters Silver Cup winner, already being seen as a lock for a team spot.

Good luck to them both at Erin Hills and fingers crossed they can make the cut and play all four days.

For further background information on the US mid-amateur Walker Cup story take a look at: –

2017 – USA Team

48. USGA Softens Mid-Amateur Selection Policy  (18/04/17)

46. Stewart Hagestad Wins The Masters Silver Cup  (10/04/17)

24. Stewart Hagestad Wins The 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship  (15/09/16)

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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46. Stewart Hagestad Wins The Masters Silver Cup

10th April 2017

Stewart HAGESTAD yesterday secured the low amateur Silver Cup at The Masters.

Stewart Hagestad receives the Silver Cup (Photo: Chris Trotman / ANGC)

The man from Newport Beach, California shot consistent rounds of 74, 73, 74 and 73 to record an impressive +6 total and a tied 36th finish. He played the par 5’s well in all four rounds recording no bogeys and a -8 aggregate score for the whole tournament.

Afterwards he said: “I played within myself. I made very committed golf swings and I didn’t make a double all week and I think that was crucial. You know bogeys won’t kill you but doubles will and I stuck to my game plan and I played well this week.”

Australian Curtis LUCK, the US Amateur champion who was the only other amateur to make the cut, finished on +9 in tied 46th place.

Masters Scorecards (Photo: @GolfBible / The Masters website)

Hagestad earned his invitation to The Masters by winning the 2016 US Mid-Amateur title at Stonewall in Pennsylvania. Four down with five to play he birdied three of the final four holes in regulation before birdieing the first extra hole to pip 2014 champion, and 2015 US Walker Cup player, Scott HARVEY.

Stewart Hagestad holes the winning putt at the 2016 US Mid-Amateur (Photo: USGA)

The Masters first awarded an invite to the reigning US Mid-Amateur champion in 1989. While other mid-amateurs have made the cut in the past, Jay Sigel and Jim Holtgrieve to name but two, Hagestad became the first in 29 attempts to do so under this exemption category.

On the basis the USGA retains their Mid-Amateur selection policy, which seems likely, Hagestad was in my opinion already assured of a place in the 2017 USA Team. [As I think Scott Harvey is if they go with the current two spots.] This was because of his 2016 US Mid-Amateur victory and the fact that the 2017 Championship takes place after the Walker Cup this year. His performance at Augusta National just confirms his spot and perhaps more importantly the fact he is fully deserving of it.

Hagestad is still young – he is actually 26 today. He’s single with no responsibilities and 100% focussed on his golf with work taking a back seat for the time being.

He was a strong junior player and was snapped up by the University of Southern California (USC) on a golf scholarship. However, he lost his motivation to play and rarely started in USC’s competitive college team.

After he graduated in 2013 Stewart moved to New York taking a job as a financial analyst for Oaktree Residential and Management, a real estate firm.  Following his win at Stonewall he agreed an extended period of leave with his employer so he could concentrate fully on his golf ahead of the Masters and his push for a Walker Cup spot.

He moved back to California in the Autumn and has been practicing hard at his home club, the Los Angeles Country Club, ever since. Yes that Los Angeles Country Club !

Hagestad is planning to play a strong amateur schedule this summer which may include a trip over to England for The Amateur Championship if he fails to qualify for the US Open.

Hagestad was planning to stay in California and enrol for an MBA course but after his success this weekend is unsurprisingly now considering his options for 2018. “Obviously I’ll have to think about a lot of things after this week but I have no plans to turn pro” he reflected in post round interviews.

GB&I have taken advantage of the USGA’s commitment to the mid-amateur cadre in recent matches.  No one can argue that points have been easier to secure for GB&I against the older US mid-amateurs in recent years. Hagestad, unfortunately from the GB&I standpoint, represents a departure from the norm and as such looks like being a different proposition altogether in 2017. Now 100% committed to his golf and producing high quality results in the most demanding of environments I don’t imagine there will be a queue of GB&I players wanting to take him on on his own home course come September.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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33. USA Selects 2017 Walker Cup Practice Squad

29th November 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cropped-img_6769.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two other squad selections stood out for me.

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

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

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

Patrick MARTIN – SPWAR 16 / WAGR 53

Sam BURNS – SPWAR 26 / WAGR 49

Corey PEREIRA – SPWAR 41  / WAGR 15

Noah GOODWIN – SPWAR 183 / WAGR 7

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

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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24. Stewart Hagestad Wins The 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship

15th September 2016

Stewart HAGESTAD (25) today beat Scott HARVEY (38) on the 37th hole of a thrilling 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

4 down with 5 holes to play the Californian amazingly birdied the 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th holes of the Tom Doak-designed Old Course at Stonewall GC in Pennsylvania. He then preceded to hole a 20 footer on the 9th, the first extra hole, to grab the title from a shell shocked Harvey.

Scott Harvey, who comes from North Carolina, had been the favourite going into the final, ranked 67th in the WAGR against Stewart Hagestad’s (perhaps understated) 1,873rd place. Harvey had achieved joint medalist honours with a 138 (-2) total in the 36-hole stroke play qualifying before nicely progressing, seeded number 3, through the five previous match play stages. He is of course also a former champion, having won the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 2014, as well as being a member of the 2015 U.S.A. Walker Cup Team.

The match followed the expected pattern until the final few holes when the golfing gods decided to smile down on Hagestad, a graduate of the University of Southern California who now resides in New York working in the commercial real estate sector.  There will surely have been few better putting performances at the end of any USGA Championship in it’s long history.

This year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur final was slightly unusual in that it used all 36-holes at the Stonewall facility. It is believed this is the first time this has ever happened in any major amateur championship final. The first 18 holes were played on the North Course before the afternoon session was contested on the Old Course. Prior to today the North had only been used for the stroke play qualifying with all of the match play games being played on the Old.

Stewart Hagestad Celebrates His U.S. Mid-Amateur Victory (Photo: USGA)

The win means Stewart will receive an invitation to the 2017 U.S. Masters, will be exempt into the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship (at Riviera CC) and will be exempt into sectional qualifying for the 2017 U.S. Open. But that’s not all….

Stewart Hagestad is almost certain to now be selected for the 2017 U.S.A. Walker Cup team, barring a complete loss of form next year.

In early 2013 the USGA announced that it planned to select at least two mid-amateurs for their Walker Cup team going forward. It delivered on this promise in both 2013 and 2015. At the time the USGA’s Tom O’Toole said: “Mid-amateurs, who are seasoned players, are likely to bring a unique perspective to a team and demonstrate, as well as appreciate, the characteristics of leadership and generosity of spirit that are central to the Walker Cup. It is the positive influence mid-amateurs will have on the Walker Cup experience and our strong commitment to amateur golf that causes us to reach this determination.”

Following the 2015 defeat at Royal Lytham the calls for this slightly controversial policy to be reviewed by the USGA have inevitably grown in volume. Whilst no decisions have been announced in this regard it is hard to believe they will exclude mid-amateurs entirely at the Los Angeles CC, which is why I am so confident Hegastad will now be included.

With next year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur not scheduled to take place until after the Walker Cup match, on 7-12 October at Capital City Club in Atlanta, this year’s Championship was always going to be something of a mid-amateur selection decider.

Few would also bet against Scott Harvey, a consistent performer for many years now, joining Stewart Hagestad if the USGA decide to carry on with their two mid-amateurs policy.

Scott Harvey In U.S. Amateur Action (Photo:USGA)

Scott Harvey is clearly one of if not the best U.S. mid-amateur, he brings Walker Cup experience and also has a recent win on the Los Angeles CC course which will be used for next year’s match. Earlier in 2016 he beat Hagestad in the final of the mid-amateur George C. Thomas Invitational which must surely put another tick in his box.

With the USGA expected to announce a 16-man Walker Cup squad in November 2016 for a pre-Christmas practice weekend at the Los Angeles CC the participation, or not, of Hagestad and / or Harvey should become much clearer sooner rather than later.

Well played Stewart and Scott – what a Final !

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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