95. 2019 Walker Cup Practice Squads Revealed

19th November 2018

The USGA’s International Team and The R&A Men’s Selection Committees have invited various players to attend 2019 Walker Cup practice sessions in December.

The U.S. gathering is scheduled to take place between December 14th– 18th  at Seminole G.C. in Florida.

16 players will be in attendance (current SPWAR / WAGR): –

John AUGENSTEIN – Owensboro, Kentucky (6 / 27)
Akshay BHATIA – Wake Forest, North Carolina (104 / 29)
Will GORDON – Davidson, North Carolina (9 / 37)
Stewart HAGESTAD – Newport Beach, California (80 / 15)
Cole HAMMER – Houston, Texas (15 / 11)
Brandon MANCHENO – Jacksonville, Florida (39 / 50)
Bryson NIMMER – Bluffton, South Carolina (11 / 38)
Kevin O’CONNELL – Cary, North Carolina (270 / 21)
Matt PARZIALE – Brockton, Massachusetts (130 / 155)
Chandler PHILLIPS – Huntsville, Texas (22 / 12)
Trent PHILLIPS – Inman, South Carolina (105 / 37) *
Isaiah SALINDA – South San Francisco, California (13 / 32)
Alex SMALLEY – Wake Forest, North Carolina (16 / 24)
Tyler STRAFACI – Davie, Florida (21/ 75)
Matthew WOLFF – Agoura Hills, California (14 / 5)
Brandon WU – Scarsdale, New York (19 / 47)

* Davis RILEY – Hattiesburg, Mississippi (10 / 8) withdrew on 25th November having decided to forego his final semester of eligibility at Alabama University and turn professional. He was replaced by Trent PHILLIPS.

Stewart Hagestad is the only member of the 2017 USA Team who will attend the practice session and one of three mid-amateurs invited; the others being Matt Parziale and Kevin O’Connell.

The absence of Collin Morkikawa (2 / 2), Braden Thornberry (3 / 3) and Justin Suh (4 / 1) suggests all three have made their intentions to turn Pro at the end of the current U.S. College season known to the USGA.

Zachary Bauchou (12 / 18) and Philip Knowles (20 / 69) are two of the more noteworthy U.S. players missing from the list.

John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships said: “This practice session presents an excellent opportunity for the players, the captain (Nathaniel Crosby) and the USGA to become familiar with each other as we begin the process of team selection. While these 16 talented individuals represent the first pool of potential team members, we expect many others will be considered as the selection process moves toward its conclusion next August.”

Looking back at recent Walker Cup practice sessions six of the 16 players named in 2017 made the final 10-man USA Team whilst nine of the 16 did so in both 2013 and 2015.

The final 2019 USA Walker Cup team will potentially include five automatic selections drawn from: –

– the top 3 USA players in the WAGR (as of early August).

– the 2019 U.S. Amateur champion (if eligible);

– the Mark H. McCormack Award winner (WAGR world No.1 immediately after U.S. Amateur – if eligible);

The remaining five to seven U.S. players will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee after the U.S. Amateur concludes.

The R&A, who chose not to make a formal announcement, have also recently invited a group of players to a practice session to be held at the 2019 venue Royal Liverpool G.C. on 18-19 December 2018 *.

Unfortunately the dates clash with the South Beach International Amateur which a number of Great British and Irish players have already committed to. Amongst those planning to be in South Florida and high in the rankings are Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Conor GOUGH (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Ben JONES (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG) and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG). I assume all of them will be sending their apologies.

*Subsequently photos were released by The R&A reporting that 10 players attended the two day session. These were: –

Bailey GILL (ENG)
Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
Jake HAPGOOD (WAL)
Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
Conor PURCELL (IRE)
Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE)
Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
Jamie STEWART (SCO)
Tom THURLOWAY (ENG)
Euan WALKER (SCO)

The 47th Match will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England on September 7th– 8th 2019.

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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94. Kevin O’Connell Wins the 2018 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship

28th September 2018

Kevin O’CONNELL (30) has won the 38th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Charlotte Country Club.

He beat Brett BONER (44) 4&3 in yesterday’s 36 hole final. The day before Boner had beaten 2016 champion and 2017 Walker Cup player Stewart HAGESTAD 1Up in the semi-finals, holing a lengthy birdie putt on the 18th.

Kevin O’Connell with the Robert T. Jones Jr Memorial Trophy (© USGA / Chris Keane)

The victory must make Kevin the early favourite for the mid-amateur berth in the 2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup team.

The 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship takes place a few weeks after the next Walker Cup match so there are few remaining ‘move the dial’ events for the over 25’s before the selection is made.

Meanwhile, assuming he stays amateur, Kevin will have plenty of opportunities to shine next year. His win has secured him exemptions into the 2019 Masters Tournament at Augusta National, the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and the next two U.S. Amateur Championships (at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club in 2019 and Bandon Dunes Resort in 2020).

Kevin O’Connell, who hails from Cary, North Carolina, studied at and played golf for the University of North Carolina before turning pro and trying three times to qualify for the PGA Tour. After his third failed attempt he applied and regained his amateur status in 2015.

“To be the champion right now is probably what I am most proud of and focused on. Just simply being a champion. All the stuff that comes along with it, I think that will hit me a little big later on.” said O’Connell, probably not even thinking about the Walker Cup, after hoisting the Robert T. Jones Jr Memorial Trophy.

Click here to view the – 2018 US Mid-Amateur Championship Results

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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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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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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