73. Connor Syme Shines At The U.S. Amateur Championship

18th August 2017

The 117th U.S. Amateur Championship started last Monday at Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.

Within the field of 312 players from 29 different countries were nine players from Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I).Here is a list of how they have got on in order of success: –

1. Connor SYME 21 (SCO)
SP – 72 BA / 70 RV (+2) Tied 35th
MP – Lost Quarter Finals 2&1 to Doug Ghim (USA)

2. Robert MACINTYRE 21 (SCO)
SP – 68 BA / 74 RV (+2) Tied 35th
MP – Lost Round of 32 3&1 to Dawson Armstrong (USA)

3. Jack SINGH BRAR 20 (ENG)
SP – 69 RV / 69 BA (-2) Tied 8th
MP – Lost Round of 64 3&1 to Joey Vrzich (USA)

4. Harry ELLIS 21 (ENG) – 2017 Amateur Champion
SP – 73 BA / 71 RV (+4) Tied 57th
Missed out in 13-for-8 play-off for a final MP spot
MP- Did Not Qualify

5. Scott GREGORY 22 (ENG)
SP – 70 BA / 75 RV (+5) Tied 66th
MP – Did Not Qualify

6. David BOOTE 22 (WAL)
SP – 76 RV / 70 BA (+6) Tied 81st
MP – Did Not Qualify

7. Alfie PLANT 25 (ENG)
SP – 74 RV / 76 BA (+10) Tied 130th
MP – Did Not Qualify

8. Stuart GREHAN 24 (IRE)
SP – 75 BA / 76 RV (+11) Tied 156th
MP – Did Not Qualify

9. Daniel SUTTON 21 (ENG)
SP – 79 RV / 76 BA (+15) Tied 206th
MP – Did Not Qualify

Riviera Country Club (Photo: California GOLF)

From a Walker Cup perspective the U.S. Amateur Championship for me was about whether David BOOTE, Scott GREGORY or Stuart GREHAN could deliver a performance that could underpin their potential selection for the GB&I team. Boote and Gregory may both still make the final R&A team but given the competition for places I believe the decision will be finely balanced.

Good luck to Connor SYME (USA) in his Quarter Final match today against Doug GHIM (USA). What a psychological boost it would be for our Walker Cup Team if he could get to the Semi-Finals or dare I dream even further.

To view the full Stroke Play Qualifying and Match Play Stage please click here – U.S. Amateur Championship Live Scoring

For more information on the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship please click here to read my – GolfBible Preview and Daily Reports

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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68. Irish Walker Cup Hopes Remain On A Knife Edge

31st July 2017

At Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s in 2015 Ireland contributed five players to the winning Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.

With six players in the 21 man Squad at the end of April 2017 the Irish could have confidently hoped for two or three representatives in this year’s team. Fast forward to August, the month of selection, and they are surprisingly trending towards one or perhaps even none.

Last week was a big one for Irish amateur golf. An opportunity for their leading players to really step forward. This was because the South of Ireland Amateur Championship was played at Lahinch Golf Club.

Already a prestigious event in itself The South again took on greater importance in this Walker Cup year. This is because the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship starts on 22nd August, a day after the 2017 GB&I Walker Cup Team is expected to be announced. Therefore unlike their English, Scottish and Welsh peers, who play their national championships this week, the Irish don’t have their most prestigious (closed) amateur competition in the qualifying timeframe. The South effectively becomes it in a Walker Cup year.So let’s have a look at how Ireland’s leading players got on last week.

In something of a surprise James SUGRUE beat Conor O’ROURKE 3&2 in the South of Ireland Amateur Championship Final on Sunday.

With SUGRUE, having done little else of note this year, well out of the Walker Cup picture O’ROURKE was therefore the main Irish winner at Lahinch as far as potential selection goes.

O’ROURKE has had a good season, finishing tied 13th in the Irish Amateur Open, the Brabazon Trophy and the European Amateur before last weekend’s 2nd place. A solid follow up to his breakthrough St. Andrews Links Trophy win in 2016.

In broad terms Ireland’s other leading candidates all did well in the Stroke Play Qualifying but lost early in the Match Play. In the defence of all of the players the latter stage was played in frequently very challenging wet and windy conditions making this form of the game even more of a lottery than normal.

Here’s a quick summary of how the other key Irish players got on at The South: –

Rowan LESTER – SP -1 1st / MP QF
Colm CAMPBELL – SP +14 T38 / MP Rd 3
Stuart GREHAN – SP +10 T13 / MP Rd 2
Robin DAWSON – SP +3 2nd / MP Rd 1
Alex GLEESON – SP +6 T4 / MP Rd 1
John-Ross GALBRAITH – SP +12 T18 / MP Rd 1

My conclusion from the above set of results is that only O’ROURKE and to a lesser degree Rowan LESTER, furthered their Walker Cup cases at the Championship. Unfortunately for both of them they are probably too far back to make the team now. Yes a ‘W’ next to their name, or for that matter one of the others, would have been helpful but the likelihood is that even that would not have been enough for any of them.

In terms of the updated Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (as at 01/08/17), Conor O’ROURKE jumped 25 spots to 94th, Rowan LESTER 72 to 256th and James SUGRUE 1,040 places to 884th. O’ROURKE is now 4th in the Irish list behind Paul MCBRIDE (46th), Robin DAWSON (59th) and John-Ross GALBRAITH (60th).

Irish players will get further opportunities to shine at next week’s Mullingar Scratch Trophy and at the Men’s Home Internationals at Moortown GC between 16-18 August. However, as I have said before with the US Amateur scheduled against the Home’s the influence this event will have on our Walker Cup selection remains to be seen.

For more information on the South of Ireland Amateur Championship please click these links – SP Results and MP Results

The obvious name missing from the above list is of course Paul MCBRIDE, the man I still think has a very good chance to make the GB&I Team for the match at  Los Angeles CC.

MCBRIDE missed The South of Ireland to take up an amateur invitation to play on the European Tour at the Porsche European Open near Hamburg. In a strong field Paul shot rounds of 70, 72, 72 and 72 for a 286 (-2) total and a tied 47th finish. Making the cut as an amateur at any European Tour event is no mean achievement so I view this as a positive performance which should hopefully stand him in good stead for the final run in.

Interestingly Sean CROCKER, who is on the fringes of the US Team selection, shot 284 (-4) and finished tied 33rd after rounds of 69, 70, 71 and 74 in Germany.

Please click here for more information on the Porsche European Open – Results

Irish hopes now lie solely with Paul MCBRIDE in my view and in what is increasingly becoming a close call for the final spaces he will still need to finish the Walker Cup season strongly if he is to secure a much coveted place on the GB&I Team.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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63. GB&I Amateur Golf Rankings – 30th June 2017

7th July 2017

The table below summarises the ranking positions of the Top 30 GB&I amateur golfers as at the end of June 2017.

The Golf Bible Combined Amateur Ranking (GBCAR), shown in the blue columns on the right, uses the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WGAR – yellow) and the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR – green) to produce a composite ranking based on the average of the two main rankings.

As I have stated before my preference is for the SPWAR, which I consider to be far more accurate and therefore useful for team selections.

The table below looks at the Top 30 GB&I players currently listed in the SPWAR and reviews their ranking movement in the year to date.

This latest rankings analysis only confirms how fluid the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup selection picture remains when viewed in these purely objective terms.

Five players have fallen out of the SPWAR’s Top 10 since my last update at the end of March 2017. These being Sam HORSFIELD (ENG), who has turned Pro, Jack DAVIDSON (WAL), Robin DAWSON (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Stuart GREHAN (IRE).

Back in early April I thought Davidson, after his two superb wins in Spain, and Gregory, after his win in Australia, were near certainties for the GB&I team. However, other players have taken their opportunities and with the momentum elsewhere both now appear to me to need a result or notable performance(s) urgently to regain their places.

In Quarter 2 Harry ELLIS (ENG), Liam JOHNSTON (SCO), Matthew JORDAN (ENG), Alfie PLANT (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) have all stepped up in to the SPWAR Top 10 following consistent performances and prestigious wins.

One of the things I am looking forward to in August is comparing our selected team to the two ranking lists.

Whilst I understand that foursomes pairings and team dynamics must also come in to the selectors’ thinking the ranking lists, and in particular, the SPWAR surely won’t be far from the table.

Talking of foursomes pairings I am not sure there is anything in 2017 as strong and proven as the Ashley Chesters and Jimmy Mullen one that undoubtedly helped the latter gain selection in 2015 over more highly ranked players at the time.

For more information on the Amateur Golf Rankings please click here – Golf Bible’s Rankings Page.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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61. Alfie Plant Wins The European Amateur

2nd July 2017

England’s Alfie PLANT yesterday won the European Mens Amateur Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club.

This was no ordinary victory either. The quality of the event and venue, the nature of the win and it’s timing even surpassed Plant’s win at the Lytham Trophy last year.

The European Amateur had an exceptionally strong field, expected to be the fifth best in amateur golf this year.

Plant, who is 25 next Thursday, shot rounds of 72, 66, 67 and 68 for an impressive 273 (-15) total. His birdie on his 72nd hole will live long in the memory as he forced his way into a play off with Italian pair Luca CIANCHETTI, the defending champion, and Lorenzo SCALISE, both of whom bogeyed the 18th in an exciting finale in Surrey.

Plant and Scalise (both Even) saw off Cianchetti (+1) in the initial three hole aggregate play-off before the Englishman birdied the 2nd sudden death play-off hole to secure the most prestigious win of his career. Plant did not miss a shot in the play-off and can now look forward to competing in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in a few weeks time.

Alfie Plant (Photo: GolfBible)

Plant’s win, like Harry ELLIS’ last week at The Amateur Championship, has just thrown another grenade into the GB&I Walker Cup team selection box. Neither player was probably in the Walker Team prior to their wins. Whilst Ellis is assured of his place, because of the ‘selection rule’ concerning The Amateur, Plant’s position is not quite as clear cut. Having said that it would be a surprise to most commentators if he was to now miss out, certainly to those who witnessed yesterday’s action.

Plant has the added selection value of appearing to be a really nice lad, often with a smile on his face, who would be an experienced and welcome member of any amateur golf team. There was perhaps evidence of this when England Golf selected Alfie last week for their 6-man European Team Championship team. What seemed a debatable choice at the start of this week of course now looks like an inspired one. His entourage – he is probably the best supported amateur golfer in the world – would certainly add something to the atmosphere in Los Angeles too !

In the context of the 2017 Walker Cup a number of our leading players took the opportunity to reassert their cases with good performances. These included: –

Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – 68 70 70 66 (-14) T4
Matthew JORDAN (ENG) – 68 68 73 66 (-13) 6th
John-Ross GALBRAITH (IRE) – 75 70 66 65 (-12) T7
Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) – 72 72 66 66 (-12) T7
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) – 69 71 67 70 (-11) T10
Daniel BROWN (ENG) – 68, 73, 66 71 (-10) T13
Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) – 70 69 72 67 (-10) T13
Conor O’ROURKE (IRE) – 67 70 70 71 (-10) T13
Connor SYME (SCO) – 72 71 67 69 (-9) T17
Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) – 68 69 71 71 (-9) T17

Other notable scores by players who are in the Walker Cup squad / mix and made the 54 hole cut included: –

Owen EDWARDS (WAL) – 71 74 67 69 (-7) T26
David BOOTE (WAL) – 69 73 70 69 (-7) T26
Scott GREGORY (ENG) – 71 74 66 71 (-6) T32
Colm CAMPBELL (IRE) – 70 72 69 71 (-6) T32
Craig HOWIE (SCO) – 69 70 71 72 (-6) T32
Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – 70 72 71 70 (-5) T39
Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) – 71 72 71 71 (-3) T47
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) – 69 72 72 72 (-3) T47
Robin DAWSON (IRE) – 68 73 72 72 (-3) T47
Harry ELLIS (ENG) – 71 70 72 73 (-2) T52

Just for those who have read this far….

If I had to pick the Walker Cup team today, and let’s not forget there are now no major amateur events left, save for the short field European Men’s Amateur Team Championship, where everyone will be able to play against each other, I would go for (in order) 1. Jordan, 2. Singh Brar, 3. Syme, 4. Johnston, 5. MacIntyre, 6. Boote, 7. Howie, 8. Ellis, 9. Plant and 10. McBride. For this last spot I did have to toss a coin to exclude Davidson, Dawson and Galbraith who are all still pushing hard for a spot.

For the full story on the European Amateur Championship, including Results link, take a look at my GolfBible report – The European Amateur Championship – Preview, Reports & Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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57. USA Win The 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup Match

13th June 2017

USA beat Europe 19.5 – 10.5 to win the Arnold Palmer Cup (APC) at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

Team USA (Photo: @GolfChannel)

The APC is a team golf competition played annually between American and European college golfers. USA now lead the all-time match series W11 – L9 – H1.

The 2017 match was clearly lost by Europe on Day 2 when USA managed to win the Singles 9.5 – 0.5. The Day 1 Foursomes / Fourballs and Day 3 Singles were both halved 5.0 – 5.0

In a Walker Cup year the APC represents an interesting ‘warm up’ for the main event.

Whilst I believe the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) team will be very different to Europe’s in September the USA team should prove to be fairly representative. I expect at least six of the USA’s APC team to be in their Walker Cup team.

The European APC team contained 6 GB&I players – Harry ELLIS (ENG), Rory FRANSSEN (SCO), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Harry HALL (ENG), Richard MANSELL (ENG) and David WICKS (ENG).

We learnt two things from the match: –

1) I wrote last week in News Article 54. that I could see a scenario where none of our US College players would make the GB&I Walker Cup team. This match didn’t really help their cases with none of the six players listed above making a material impression that would have resonated back home with the selectors.

2) Stating the obvious USA will be formidable opponents in Los Angeles, playing at home on a parkland course. Their Walker cup team, even allowing for the inclusion of one or two mid-amateurs, should also be stronger than their Arnold Palmer Cup one. For example Braden Thornberry, the NCAA Division I Champion, didn’t play; he was busy finishing tied 4th at the Fed Ex St Jude Classic on the PGA Tour.

Here is the full individual performance analysis that I produced for the 2017 APC match: –

As can be seen from the above table Richard MANSELL did the best out of the GB&I group, halving a fourball on Day 1 and winning his second Singles game.

For those wanting the full hole-by-hole detail:-

Click here to view the – Day 1 AM Foursomes Results

Click here to view the – Day 1 PM Fourballs Results

Click here to view the – Day 2 Singles Results

Click here to view the – Day 3 Singles Results

Click here to see more detailed information on the APC – The Arnold Palmer Cup – 2017 Preview, Reports & Results

ME.

Copyright © 2014 – 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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53. JSB Secures His Walker Cup Place At The Brabazon Trophy

30th May 2016

Kyle MCCLATCHIE (-10) won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship last weekend at Woodhall Spa becoming the fifth South African to lift the famous Brabazon Trophy.

That’s not to say this wasn’t a good event for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) players in the field, including many of the Walker Cup squad members.

The main plaudits this week go to Jamie STEWART (SCO), Jake BURNAGE (ENG) and Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) who all finished on -9 to tie for second place. Interestingly none of the three are in the current Walker Cup squad.

Jamie STEWART had a superb weekend shooting the two lowest scores in rounds 3 and 4; a 67 (-6) and a 68 (-5) respectively. Coming quickly on the heels of his tied 7th place at the Lytham Trophy, as well as a number of other good finishes this year, he is increasingly looking like a potential dark horse for the Walker Cup. A couple more top 10s and the selectors will certainly have to look more closely at his credentials.

Jake BURNAGE fits a similar mould to Stewart. He continued his rich vein of form at Woodhall. Having finished 3rd at the Lytham Trophy he put together a very consistent 71, 70, 70 and 72 at Woodhall Spa. I was particularly impressed with his three birdies in a row finish on the final day.

Barring a complete collapse in form over the coming weeks Lytham Trophy winner Jack SINGH BRAR‘s tied second place at the Brabazon with scores of 67 70 74 72 must surely have secured his spot in the GB&I Team. It certainly has in mine.


Jack Singh Brar (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)

Another non-Squad member Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has also started to show up well. He has now finished in the Top 10 at the Lytham Trophy (T7), Irish Amateur Open (T4) and the Brabazon Trophy (5th) in the last month. Coming from a little further back than some of his peers he still has work to do if he is to make our Walker Cup team but few others are demonstrating his consistency and 2017 form.

Dan BROWN (ENG) finished in 6th place, the best from the Walker Cup squad players, to get back on track after a relatively quiet spell.

David BOOTE (WAL) finished 7th and Connor SYME (SCO) tied 8th. As I  have stated previously Syme is a certain Walker Cup pick for me and Boote, if not yet quite at that level, is a very strong probable.

In an aside David Boote nearly made himself a Walker Cup certainty on Monday when he just missed out on a spot in the 2017 US Open Championship at Erin Hills. Whilst the Sectional Qualifier at Walton Heath, his home club, played to his strengths his new course record 62 (-10) on the New Course was hugely impressive. A slightly disappointing 73 on the Old Course in the afternoon saw him ultimately miss out in a -9 ‘7 for 4’ play-off unfortunately. US Open SQ Results

16 of the 21 GB&I Walker Cup Squad players competed at the Brabazon Trophy. Here are their scores and finishing positions: –

Dan BROWN                 72 – 68 – 75 – 72      -5      6th
David BOOTE               74 – 69 – 72 – 73      -4      7th
Connor SYME               78 – 70 – 70 – 71      -3      T8
Conor O’ROURKE        71 – 72 – 72 – 75      -2      T13
Craig ROSS                    70 – 67 – 79 – 76       E      T20
Alex GLEESON             76 – 71 – 75 – 72     +2      T25
Robert MACINTYRE   68 – 70 – 83 – 73     +2      T25
Craig HOWIE                74 – 74 – 71 – 75     +2      T25
Jack DAVIDSON           72 – 70 – 75 – 78      +3     T35
Alfie PLANT                  71 – 70 – 81 – 74     +4     T37
James WALKER            71 – 79 – 75 – 80    +13    T59

Robin DAWSON           68 – 83                               MC
Marco PENGE               79 – 73                               MC
Owen EDWARDS         74 – 78                                MC
Colm CAMPBELL         73 – 79                               MC
Bradley MOORE                                                      WD (+9 after 10 holes)

Sandy SCOTT (SCO) had entered but withdrew before play commenced having only just returned from Texas Tech in the US.

Barry HUME (SCO), Stuart GREHAN (IRE), Scott GREGORY (ENG) and Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) were the other four squad players that didn’t compete last weekend. Gregory of course has an interesting few weeks ahead of him with invitations to The Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour followed by the US Open Championship to enjoy.

Given his limited 2017 schedule I can only assume Barry Hume is working and therefore unable to compete as often as he would like.

Click this link to view the – Brabazon Trophy Final Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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45. GB&I Amateur Golf Rankings – 31st March 2017

7th April 2017

The table below summarises the ranking positions of the Top 30 GB&I amateur golfers as at the end of March 2017.

The Golf Bible Combined Amateur Ranking (GBCAR), shown in the blue columns on the right, uses the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WGAR – yellow) and the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR – green) to produce a composite ranking based on the average of the two main rankings.

As I have stated before my preference is for the SPWAR, which I consider to be far more accurate and therefore useful for team selections.

The table below looks at the Top 30 GB&I players listed in the SPWAR and reviews their ranking trend for the last 12 months.

I have expressed the opinion in previous articles that Connor SYME, Robert MACINTYRE and Scott GREGORY are already as good as selected for the GB&I Team for me.

In Quarter 1 Robin DAWSON, Liam JOHNSTON and Jack DAVIDSON have stepped forward most impressively.

Other players trending well in the SPWAR Top 20 include Craig HOWIE, Stuart GREHAN, Marco PENGEAlex GLEESON, Jack SINGH BRAR, Daniel BROWN and David WICKS.

Whilst many factors go into selecting the 10 man GB&I Walker Cup team there is no question that the two world ranking lists provide an important foundation for the future discussions that will take place around the Committee table.

For more information on the Amateur Golf Rankings please click here – Golf Bible’s Rankings Page.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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44. Jack Davidson Wins The Individual European Nations Cup

2nd April 2017

WALES, represented by David BOOTE, Jack DAVIDSON, Joshua DAVIES and Owen EDWARDS, yesterday won the European Nations Cup in Spain.

The recently renovated RGC Sotogrande course, presented with super fast greens, proved to be a very stern test for all of the teams competing due to the windy conditions.

This was a great win for Wales. Their total of +13 was 11 shots better than second placed IRELAND (+24) and 21 shots better than fourth placed SCOTLAND (+34). ENGLAND (+61), never really got to grips with the conditions, and finished a disappointing 12th.

Wales – l-r Josh Davies, David Boote, Jack Davidson and Owen Edwards (Photo: GUW)

In the context of the Walker Cup it was Jack DAVIDSON who once again stole the headlines. Rounds of 70, 70, 70 and 73 (-5) gave him the Individual European Nations Cup title by 4-shots.

Whilst the overall field – consisting of 16 four man teams – wasn’t as a strong as the Spanish International Amateur Championship, which he won up the coast at El Saler last month, in many ways this was the more impressive win. No longer under the radar he certainly arrived at Sotogrande with more expectation on his shoulders. He then proceeded to complete a near wire-to-wire win holding off a select international field with a total of 20 birdies and 2 eagles.

The Newport man has certainly given himself a magnificent platform to build on with regard to his potential 2017 Walker Cup selection. For me he now has a spot on our Team and it’s his to lose.

Whilst there are nine or ten major amateur events still to be played over the next 4 months Jack has moved into the Top 10 in the Great British and Irish (GB&I) rankings, there is now less than 150 days until the team is announced and I ask myself how many of the candidates will have two major (overseas) wins to their name come the middle of August. I see no reason why he shouldn’t continue playing well and go from strength to strength. Of course, in many ways the pressure is also now off him.

Ireland’s Robin DAWSON (-1) finished second and was the only other player to complete the 72-holes under par. This was his third runner-up finish of the season.  Robin is clearly in form and building a persuasive 2017 playing record for his own inclusion in the GB&I Walker Cup team.

The fact that the Czech Republic’s Nicolas SCHELLONG (+6) was third shows the degree of separation that Davidson and Dawson achieved this week.

Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE and Connor SYME (both +11) both battled hard to achieve a tied 7th finish. I have already said in previous articles that both of these players, along with Scott GREGORY (over in Augusta, ahead of The Masters) are certainties in my GB&I Team, so their continued solid play was good to see.

Davidson’s teammates Owen EDWARDS and David BOOTE (both +12) finished tied 10th. No one would be surprised to see Edwards continue in this vein given his closeness to Jack – he won’t want him having all the glory for long ! I am also pulling for Boote who has been one of GB&I’s leading players for a few years. Having graduated last year from Stanford his knowledge of the U.S. opposition, California and the Los Angeles Country Club course, which I imagine he has played, would probably be useful for the Team.

Irish pair Alex GLEESON and Stuart GREHAN (both +15) finished tied 16th. These results would have been much higher save for disappointing final days; Gleeson shooting 80 and Grehan 82 after both made poor starts on Sotogrande’s front nine. Both remain very much in the Walker Cup picture.

With Davidson and Dawson, neither of whom were selected for the initial GB&I Walker Cup squad but both presumably being added as I write, continuing to play well the GB&I selection story remains intriguing. What is clear is some of the ‘early favourites’ for inclusion need to find some form and results – and quickly. The Lytham Trophy early in May will be everyone’s next opportunity to shine.

Here are the full Men’s European Nations Cup results:-
Individual Results
Team Results

For more information on the European Nations Cup tournament please read my article – GolfBible ENC Preview

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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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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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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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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18. The 2016 European Amateur Championship

10th August 2016

The 30th European Amateur Championship, a 72-hole stroke play event, was contested between 3rd – 6th August on the 7,100 yards Sea Course at the Estonia Golf & Country Club.

Italy’s Luca CIANCHETTI beat Norway’s Viktor HOVLAND on the seventh play-off hole to win this prestigious competition. Luca wins a nice trophy but more importantly an invitation to compete in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

Luca Cianchetti Euro Mens Amateur 2016

Luca Cianchetti (Photo: Italian Golf Federation)

Once again from a Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) perspective Scotland’s Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) -13 and Connor SYME (SCO) -12 rose to the top, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) is now also starting to show up regularly; he finished an impressive T9 on -9.

In total 37 GB&I players started the European Men’s Amateur Championship. In addition to the above the following 15 players had a good week making the Top 60 54-hole cut in a strong field: –
T13 Andrew WILSON (ENG)-8
T13 Craig ROSS (SCO) -8
T17 Ben AMOR (ENG) -7
T17 Daniel BROWN (ENG) -7
T17 Grant FORREST (SCO) -7
T26 Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) -5
T26 Stuart GREHAN (IRE) -5
T26 Sandy SCOTT (SCO) -5
T35 Matthew JORDAN (ENG) -4
T35 George BLOOR (ENG) -4
T44 Alex GLEESON (IRE) -2
T50 Marco PENGE (ENG) -1
T50 James WALKER (ENG) -1
T54 Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) Ev
T54 Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +1

Click here to review the complete final results from Estonia – 2016 European Amateur Championship Live Scores

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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13. The 2016 Arnold Palmer Cup

5th July 2016

Europe convincingly beat USA 18.5-11.5 in the 2016 Arnold Palmer Cup (APC) played at Formby Golf Club on the weekend of 24th – 26th June.

The Arnold Palmer Cup is an annual team golf competition played between American college golfers and European college / university golfers. Played over three days it is made up of foursome (5), four ball (5) and singles matches (20).

Arnold Palmer Cup 2016 - Team Europe

The 2016 European Team (Photo: Arnold Palmer Cup)

This year the European Team included David Boote (WAL), Stuart Grehan (IRE) and Sam Horsfield (ENG) from Great Britain & Ireland.

I was informed that Walker Cup captain Craig Watson attended the match on the Friday.

It was of course the first time Horsfield (19) had played golf in GB&I having emigrated to Florida when he was four.  I watched all of Sam’s match against Rico Hoey in the Sunday Singles which he lost by 1 hole. His iron play was very good and save for a number of missed short putts he may very well of won.

Nevertheless, as the table below shows, it was Boote and Grehan who made the bigger impression on the APC result.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 21.50.25

The Golf Bible APC 2016 Individual Player Contribution Analysis

Boote, having graduated from Stanford the week before the APC match, may well have turned pro by the time the 2017 Walker Cup match comes round but I anticipate Grehan and Horsfield, perhaps the latter in his amateur swan song, both being in the selection shake-up.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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