111. My 2019 GB&I Walker Cup Team

18th August 2019

Here are the ten players I would select for the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) 2019 Walker Cup team.

This is not a prediction of who will be selected. It would probably be different if it was. This is simply the team I’d go for based on my observations and selection criteria.

I am conscious I have a) not attended any of the three practice sessions at Hoylake to see who has taken to the course and b) am not overly familiar with the players so don’t know too much about their personalities and potential impact in the team room. I am sure these are both factors that will influence the formal selection.

The GB&I team is expected to be announced on Monday 19th August by The R&A.

I have included three Appendices below which show my selection criteria, the performance records over the last 12 months of all of the players mentioned and finally the latest amateur rankings available to us. You may want to refer to these in reaching your own selection decisions.

Here is my GB&I team in the order I have selected them, along with five honourable mentions, as our friends in the U.S.A. like to say, to describe those who have just missed out: –

SPWAR as at 18/08/19 / WAGR as at 14/08/19

1) Euan WALKER (23) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland
SPWAR #4 / WAGR #14
Euan won the African Amateur Championship early in the year and has enjoyed a very consistent season thereafter. His runner-up spots at the Amateur Championship and European Amateur have taken him to the top of the GB&I rankings and made him my No. 1 selection.

Euan Walker (Photo: European Golf Association)

2) Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland
SPWAR #13 / WAGR #23
Caolan has risen out of the pack in 2019 with a number of excellent results. The West of Ireland was his only win but look at the number of top 10s. He has a good links pedigree and has performed well in various match play events too.

Caolan Rafferty (Photo: Maynooth University) 

3) Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England
SPWAR #27 / WAGR #35
The European Nations win at Sotogrande was the highlight of Tom’s season. He has a sound match play record and a well established foursomes partnership with Tom Plumb (see below). Current form looks good too with a strong qualification at last week’s U.S. Amateur.

Tom Sloman (Photo: England Golf / Leaderboard Photography)

4) Ben JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England
SPWAR #19 / WAGR #39
Ben secured his place with excellent results at The Amateur and European Amateur Championships. He is a competitive player with a good match play record. He has also won at Royal Liverpool before so should have positive memories of the host course.

Ben Jones (Photo: European Golf Association)

5) Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland
SPWAR #19 / WAGR #51
Sandy took his positive finish to his U.S. college season with Texas Tech. into the summer events back in Europe. He played well in the Arnold Palmer Cup, The Amateur and the European Amateur Team Championships. An experienced international I assume he will pair up with compatriot Euan Walker in the foursomes.

Sandy Scott (Photo: texastech.com)

6) Tom PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England
SPWAR #38 / WAGR #138
Tom won the Cape Province Open in South Africa and has enjoyed a very consistent season. He has played well in all of this summer’s links-based events too. An experienced match player his selection is supported by his long standing foursomes partnership with close friend Tom Sloman.

Tom Plumb (Photo: Pieter Els)

7) Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England
SPWAR #26 / WAGR #76
Harry graduated from UNLV this year and is one of our most experienced players. He impressed in the events he came back to play in this summer with a number of high finishes. I think he deserves his amateur swan song at Hoylake although his late withdrawal from the English Amateur may come back to haunt him if his selection is tighter than I perceive.

Harry Hall (Photo: Las Vegas Review Journal)

8) James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland
SPWAR #59 / WAGR #62
The Amateur champion enjoyed the best week of his golfing life just when it mattered most as far as 2019 Walker Cup selection is concerned. Anyone who wins The Amateur has earned their place and James brings a good links record and a solid match play record over a long period to the team.

James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes / Getty Images)

9) Jake BURNAGE (23) – Saunton, England
SPWAR #28 / WAGR #47
Jake’s win at the St. Andrews Links Trophy confirmed his credentials as one of GB&I’s best links players. Question marks over his match play record appear to have been partially answered with a recent run to the semi-finals of the English Amateur. He has been a little inconsistent this year but on his day is as good as anyone we can select. However, his non-selection for the 6-man England team at the European Team Championships suggests that one of The R&A selectors may not share my enthusiasm for him.

Jake Burnage (Photo: Burnage Family)

10) Ronan MULLARNEY (23) – Galway, Ireland
SPWAR #57 / WAGR #67
The more I have looked at Ronan’s record this summer, particularly in the major links events, the more I think he has every right to be included. He has an excellent match play record and won the Irish Close at Ballybunion just a few weeks ago so has form.

Ronan Mullarney (Photo: Pat Cashman Photography)

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The following players were close to being included in my team: –

11) Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland
SPWAR #21 / WAGR #16
I thought Conor was an absolute lock for the team when he won the Australian Amateur early in the season. Whilst there have been some good results, notably at the West of Ireland, the Irish Amateur Open and the European Amateur Team, the missed cuts at Lytham, the St. Andrews Links and the Amateur (played at his home club but admittedly whilst he was injured), concern me. Sadly there was no suggestion of an upturn in form at the U.S. Amateur this week either.

12) Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England
SPWAR #240 / WAGR #2
Conor chose to concentrate on his exams this year and has therefore played a very restricted schedule. The 2018 Boys’ Amateur champion reminded us of his undoubted potential and tenacious match play skills though with his win at the English Amateur earlier this month. Worthy of consideration but lack of recent links golf and competition against GB&I peers make it hard for me to include him this time. He is our highest ranked player in the WAGR which may politically make it hard for The R&A selectors to leave him out.

13) Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England
SPWAR #55 / WAGR #41
Once Alex gained a place in the Wake Forest team he quickly found his feet, producing some notable finishes in the U.S. in 2019. I thought he would impose himself on the selectors when he returned to the U.K. this summer but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. He showed no liking for links golf missing the cut at both the St. Andrews Links and the Amateur Championship. If the match was in the U.S. one might give him the benefit of the doubt after his U.S. Amateur performances in 2018 and 2019 but unfortunately this year it isn’t.

14) Ben SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England
SPWAR #113 / WAGR #8
Another excellent prospect whose win at the Brabazon Trophy was one of the highlights of the amateur year. Limited experience of men’s golf, match play and links courses stops me from throwing him in now. His time will come.

15) Josh MCMAHON (ENG) – Wallasey, England
SPWAR #125 / WAGR #149
Josh’s win at the Lytham Trophy in early May brought him in to the Walker Cup picture. Whilst it would have been nice to have local representation at Hoylake he simply hasn’t done as much over the season as the others listed above to warrant selection.

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Appendix 1

I have selected players who have demonstrated as many of the following characteristics to me as possible: –

1) Current form.
2) Championship wins in the last 12 months.
3) Links experience / results.
4) Match play experience / results.
5) Potential foursomes pairings.

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Appendix 2

Here is a summary of the results of all of the players I have considered for selection above as tabulated by both the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) and the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR):-

1) Euan WALKER (23) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland

2) Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland

3) Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England

4) Ben JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England

5) Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland

6) Tom PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England

7) Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England

8) James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland

9) Jake BURNAGE (23) – Saunton, England

10) Ronan MULLARNEY (23) – Galway, Ireland

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11) Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland

12) Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England

13) Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England

14) Ben SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England

15) Josh MCMAHON (ENG) – Wallasey, England

Appendix 3

Here are the latest amateur rankings that are available to us: –

Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (as at 18/08/19)

Click here to view the – Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking

World Amateur Golf Ranking (as at 14/08/19)

#2 Conor GOUGH (ENG)
#8 Ben SCHMIDT (ENG)
#14 Euan WALKER (SCO)
#16 Conor PURCELL (IRL)
#23 Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL)
#30 Joseph PAGDIN (ENG)
#35 Tom SLOMAN (ENG)
#39 Ben JONES (ENG)
#41 Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG)
#47 Jake BURNAGE (ENG)
#51 Sandy SCOTT (SCO)
#62 James SUGRUE (IRL)
#67 Ronan MULLARNEY (IRL)
#73 Alex GLEESON (IRL)
#76 Harry HALL (ENG)
#85 Robin WILLIAMS (ENG)
#87 Mark POWER (IRL)
#88 David HAGUE (ENG)
#90 Bailey GILL (ENG)
#94 Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG)
#98 Jamie LI (ENG)
#107 Joe LONG (ENG)
#110 Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG)
#132 Billy MCKENZIE (ENG)
#136 Jake BOLTON (ENG)
#138 Tom PLUMB (ENG)

Click here to view the – World Amateur Golf Ranking

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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110. Gough And Schmidt Make Their GB&I Walker Cup Cases

5th August 2019

School’s out for summer and it’s two English school boys that have been making most of the noise since my last report.

But have either of them done enough to make the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team…..

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Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) won the English Boys’ U18 Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship for the Carris Trophy at Moor Park G.C. on 26th July.

Ben Schmidt (Photo: Schmidt Family)

Having won the Brabazon Trophy earlier this summer he became just the fourth player to win both the boys’ and men’s English Open Amateur Stroke Play titles in the same year. A remarkable achievement.

Ben’s rise to No. 7 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), which makes him GB&I’s highest ranked player, has had a number of observers understandably calling for his inclusion in our 2019 Walker Cup team.

I am still to be convinced.

I agree with his supporters that Ben has enjoyed a great season and is clearly one of Europe’s best U18 prospects. I am just not sure he is ready for the 2019 Walker Cup match or that his inclusion would necessarily be good for his development.

He justifiably should be under consideration by the selectors but I have a question mark over his lack of experience of both men’s amateur golf and elite match play games.

I also think he may have hampered his chances with his playing schedule over the critical final weeks. Indeed I wonder if his high WAGR will actually end up being his undoing.

Ben’s top 50 WAGR ranking on 26th June gained him an exemption in to the U.S. Amateur Championship which he is taking up. Play starts at Pinehurst in North Carolina on Monday 12th August.

The U.S. Amateur clashes with The R&A’s Boys’ Amateur Championship which is being played at Saunton. Ben would clearly have been one of the favourites for this title.

Ahead of this, for whatever reason, he chose not to enter last week’s English Men’s Amateur (30th July – 4th August) or take up his place in England’s team at The R&A Boys’ Home Internationals which start tomorrow in South Wales and finishes on Thursday 8th August.

Good performances at one or even both of these events – along with the Boys’ Amateur instead of the U.S. Amateur – could have easily pushed him over the line.

As it is all of his eggs are now in the U.S. Amateur Championship basket. Only time will tell if this strategy proves to be a successful one. If he makes the match play stage and can win a few games he will deserve his place in our team.

If Ben is selected he will probably become the first player to receive the honour without ever having played in any R&A Championship or selected GB&I team beforehand. His rise has been that meteoric.

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In many ways Conor GOUGH was last year’s Ben SCHMIDT. A string of wins albeit exclusively at the boys’ level. The main one of course being the prestigious Boys’ Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush.

Conor was selected for the original GB&I Walker Cup squad but due to focussing on his exams played none of the major amateur events during May and June. As a result it was no surprise to see him left out of the reduced 16-man squad a few weeks ago.

Like Schmidt Conor also received a WAGR generated exemption into the U.S. Amateur Championship on 26th June. However, and I accept their circumstances were different, Conor chose to play the English Men’s Amateur and will be participating in the Boys’ Home Internationals before travelling to the United States.

In a stunning performance Gough won the English Men’s Amateur beating Callum Farr 3&2 in the Final at Hankley Common. On the way to the final he beat Jamie Li, Joshua McMahon, Curtis Knipes and Jake Burnage, once again highlighting his match play pedigree.

Conor Gough (Photo: Leaderboard Photography) 

This win inevitably brings Conor back to the table for GB&I Walker Cup selection.

Another major match play victory by the Englishman within two weeks of the 2019 selection date is hugely persuasive.

However, as you will see below I am not yet ready to add him into my team. As Aristotle said ‘one swallow does not a summer make’ and I need to see more.  However, if he does well this week at Ashburnham and shows up at the U.S. Amateur Championship he could very easily force his way in to the final line up.

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Conor Gough was clearly the star of the show at the English Men’s Amateur but in the context of the Walker Cup perhaps the real winner was fellow Englishman Jake BURNAGE.

Eight of the ten English members of the 16-man Walker Cup squad competed in what was, at least for me, an unofficial Walker Cup eliminator. It is after all a large group of English players that are in effect competing for the five remaining places.

Burnage ended up being the leading player out of the eight. Playing under some pressure he reached the Semi-Finals, winning four match play games, having also qualified well in 9th on 138 (-3). It was just the result the Devonian needed having already placed the St. Andrews Links Trophy on his C.V. in June.

The other squad players, some of whom really needed to move the dial to make the team, to differing degrees simply didn’t get it done – Tom SLOMAN (SP 37th / MP Rd4), Joshua MCMAHON (SP 45th / MP Rd4) Alex FITZPATRICK (SP 5th / MP Rd3), Matty LAMB (SP 24th / MP Rd3), Tom PLUMB (SP 7th / MP Rd2), Bailey GILL (SP 69th / MP Rd2) and David LANGLEY (SP MC).

Of the two missing players Harry HALL withdrew a week before to return to Las Vegas and I believe will not be playing again before the team is selected. Ben JONES chose to play in the Western Amateur Championship and will stay in the States before playing in the U.S. Amateur.

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Archie DAVIES, an original GB&I Walker Cup squad member, won the Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) last week at Tenby G.C.

Unfortunately in the context of this year’s Walker Cup selection this win is unlikely to bring Archie back into the discussion. He is another good young player who has every chance of making future teams though.


Runner Up Connor Jones (l) and Champion Archie Davies (r) Photo: Steve Jones)

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The Scottish Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) was also played last week and the Irish Men’s Amateur Championship (Close) started yesterday at Ballybunion.

Unfortunately none of the remaining Scottish or Irish Walker Cup panelists – Sandy SCOTT,  Euan WALKER, Mark POWER, Conor PURCELL, Caolan RAFFERTY and James SUGRUE – entered so it is hard to see how these Championships will impact the Walker Cup selection.

George BURNS beat Lewis IRVINE in the final of the Scottish Amateur on their 19th hole at Crail Golfing Society.

With the exception of Power, the other three Irish lads are playing in the U.S. Amateur next week and therefore were unable to enter due to the clashing dates.

7th August Update
Ronan MULLARNEY, who also won the stroke play qualifying by 6-shots, beat Rob BRAZILL in the final of the Irish Amateur by 1 hole at Ballybunion G.C.

___________________________________________

The previous week also saw the playing of the South of Ireland Amateur Championship at Lahinch G.C. (on the 24th-28th July).

Five Irish Walker Cup panelists, four of whom attended the practice session at Hoylake which clashed with the Stroke Play Qualifying, were given byes into the Match Play competition.

Unfortunately all of them struggled to make much of an impression. John MURPHY reached the Quarter Finals but James SUGRUE, Mark POWER, Conor PURCELL and Caolan RAFFERTY all lost their Round 2 matches.

___________________________________________

Two weeks today, the day after the U.S. Amateur Championship has concluded, I believe the GB&I Walker Cup squad will be announced.

Here are my current thoughts on the team and likely foursomes pairings as at 5th August: –

Euan WALKER (24) – Scotland
Sandy SCOTT (20) – Scotland

Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Ireland
Conor PURCELL (21) – Ireland
James SUGRUE (22) – Ireland [Amateur Champion – Automatic Selection]

Tom SLOMAN (22) – England
Thomas PLUMB (20) – England

Harry HALL (21) – England
Ben JONES (19) – England
Jake BURNAGE (24) – England

In summary I am sticking with the ten players I selected on 14th July in my article ‘107. Learnings From The European Team Championships’.

SCHMIDT and GOUGH in particular are knocking on the door after their recent wins but I am struggling to see who I would take out to accommodate them at the moment.

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It is of course never over till it’s over……

A handful of major events are still available to the players to impress the selectors over the next two weeks. Here is a list off the four I will be focussing on:-

Boys’ Home Internationals (6-8 August)
Conor GOUGH, Joe PAGDIN

Boys’ Amateur Championship (13-18 August)
Joe PAGDIN

U.S. Amateur Championship (12-18 August)
Alex FITZPATRICK, Conor GOUGH, Ben JONES, Conor PURCELL, Caolan RAFFERTY, Ben SCHMIDT, Sandy SCOTT, Tom SLOMAN, James SUGRUE, Euan WALKER.

Welsh Amateur Open Stroke Play Championship (16-18 August)
Bailey GILL, Matty LAMB, David LANGLEY, Josh MCMAHON

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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109. USA Selects First 3 Players For 2019 Walker Cup Team

24th July 2019

Cole HAMMER (aged 19), Akshay BHATIA (17) and Stewart HAGESTAD (28) have today earned berths on the 2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup team.

In July 2018 the USGA announced that with regard to the 2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup team three players would be selected earlier than normal based on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR).

On 2nd July 2019 the USGA tweeted that they would be using the WAGR update as at today for this purpose.

The WAGR has ranked Cole Hammer 1st, Akshay Bhatia 4th and Stewart Hagestad 5th today and they are the three leading U.S. players on the list.

My views on the accuracy of the WAGR are well known and as such I am not convinced that this was a sensible idea by the USGA. Yes, by all means announce some players early but don’t use the WAGR (alone) to determine who they are would have been my advice.

All three players attended the December 2018 USGA practice session in Florida so were clearly in the mix already.

As an advocate of the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) my immediate response to these selections is to view where these players sit in this alternative and better ranking, particularly in the U.S. players-only list. Here is the answer (as at 12 noon on 24th July): –

Cole Hammer #2 (1st in the U.S.A.)
Akshay Bhatia #67 (37th in the U.S.A.)
Stewart Hagestad #33 (16th in the U.S.A.)

Whilst I would certainly not suggest that either Bhatia or Hagestad are weak players I imagine many of their peers, certainly those ranked well above them in the SPWAR, are questioning what is going on however transparent the policy may have been.

Stewart Hagestad is of course a mid-amateur and therefore his early inclusion fulfils the USGA’s commitment to include one player aged over 25 on the U.S.A. team.

The seven remaining players will be selected by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee on or shortly after 18th August 2019, the day the U.S. Amateur Championship finishes.

The Committee will gain additional selections if one of the above three players wins the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship or wins the 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner (Men’s WAGR No. 1). Should another U.S. player secure either of these honours they will be automatically selected to the team.

The 47th Walker Cup match will take place at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 7th-8th September 2019.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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108. GB&I Squad Reduced To 16 For Latest Practice Session

23rd July 2019

The R&A today formally announced a revised GB&I squad of 16 players for September’s Walker Cup match against USA.

The players selected are:-
Jake BURNAGE, Saunton, 23
Alex FITZPATRICK, Hallamshire, 20
Bailey GILL, Lindrick, 21
Harry HALL, West Cornwall, 21
Benjamin JONES, Northamptonshire County, 19
Matty LAMB, Hexham, 21
David LANGLEY, Castle Royle, 25
Joshua MCMAHON, Wallasey, 23
Thomas PLUMB, Yeovil, 20
Mark POWER, Kilkenny, 18
Conor PURCELL, Portmarnock, 21
Caolan RAFFERTY, Dundalk, 26
Sandy SCOTT, Nairn, 20
Tom SLOMAN, Taunton & Pickeridge, 22
James SUGRUE, Mallow, 22
Euan WALKER, Kilmarnock (Barassie), 24

The players were invited to attend a practice session taking place today and tomorrow on Monday 15th July following a selection meeting immediately following the European Men’s and Boys’ Team Championships.

The Squad Practicing Today At Hoylake (Photo: Royal Liverpool G.C.)

There are 10 players from England, 4 from Ireland, 2 from Scotland and 0 from Wales.

This new squad includes three players not included in the initial panel of 26 selected in April; namely Matty LAMB, David LANGLEY and Joshua MCMAHON.

GB&I captain Craig Watson said “We have monitored results of the players originally selected since we last got together as a squad, while also keeping an eye on the performances of other players not included. We have brought in three new players who have had encouraging results in recent events and we look forward to working with them and the other players when we meet up at Royal Liverpool this week.”

The following 13 players have in effect been dropped from the squad –
Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland
Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales
Archie DAVIES – Wales
Conor GOUGH – England
David HAGUE – England
Jake HAPGOOD – Wales
Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland
Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland
John MURPHY – Ireland
Joseph PAGDIN – England
Jamie STEWART – Scotland
Tom THURLOWAY – England
Robin WILLIAMS – England

It is hard to argue with this new squad selection particularly as it was made before Joe PAGDIN‘s run to the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship semi-finals last week.

No one can be written off yet but the probability is the final 10-man GB&I team will come from these newly selected 16 players.

When I picked my latest squad on 14th July (107. Learnings From The European Team Championships ) I also reduced it to 16 players and included all of the above players except for Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick. I chose Ben HUTCHINSON and Ben SCHMIDT instead, although I did acknowledge Schmidt had entered the Carris Trophy at Moor Park and therefore would probably be replaced by Fitzpatrick.

The only sour note is the timing of this latest practice session even accepting the packed amateur golf calendar at this time of year. The South of Ireland Amateur Championship has had to issue byes to the match play stage for the Irish players who are competing at Lahinch this week and the Walton Heath Trophy has had to accept the late withdrawals of Messrs. Langley, Plumb and Sloman from its field.

I think we have the makings of a very competitive Walker Cup team and am increasingly looking forward to this being tested in 6 weeks time.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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105. James Sugrue Wins The Amateur Championship

27th June 2019

James SUGRUE (22) won the 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock G.C. last Saturday, becoming the 8th Irish winner in the process.

He beat Scotland’s Euan WALKER (23) by 2 Holes in a Final which went the full 36 holes.

Sugrue (22) made a dream start leading by 5Up after the opening nine holes. Walker then settled into the match and set about whittling down the lead he had partially gifted his opponent. He had reduced the deficit to 3Down by lunch and finally achieved parity on the 34th hole of the match. Inexplicably he then played two poor holes allowing the steadier Irishman to collect the Championship trophy in front of a large group of delighted home supporters.

Speaking to The R&A afterwards Sugrue said “It is hard to believe really. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Just to think about this win is unbelievable. Everything that comes with the win and all the crowds that were out there, it’s incredible.”

On his run to the final James also beat Harry Hall (2 Holes), Christopher Palsson (1 Hole), Sergio Parriego Cornejo (5&3), Koen Kouwenaar (19th) and David Micheluzzi (3&1).

James Sugrue (Photo: The R&A / Sam Barnes /  Getty Images)

The big hitting Corkman who plays his golf at Mallow now becomes exempt for The Open Championship, U.S. Amateur, The Masters and U.S. Open over the next 12 months.

He is now also assured of a place in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team which will face USA at Royal Liverpool G.C. in September.

This win lifted him to 43rd in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and 68th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.

Sugrue was already a member of the 2019 GB&I Walker Cup initial squad and was enjoying a steady season posting a number of top 20 finishes. His previous biggest win was the 2017 South of Ireland Amateur played at Lahinch G.C. James should be a good addition to the team as he is strong links player and has a good match play record.

In addition to the finalists, Sugrue and Walker, a number of other players did well at Portmarnock.

Tom PLUMB ENG (-4) was medalist in The Amateur’s Stroke Play Qualifying competition. Sandy SCOTT SCO (-3) finished 3rd, Harry HALL ENG (-2) tied 4th, Caolan RAFFERTY IRE, David LANGLEY ENG and Jake BOLTON ENG (all -1) T6 and Eanna GRIFFIN IRE and Joe PAGDIN ENG (both Ev) tied 11th.

In the Match Play stage Ben JONES ENG reached the Semi-Finals, Sandy SCOTT SCO and Ronan MULLARNEY IRE the Quarter Finals and Matty LAMB ENG and Bailey GILL ENG the Last 16.

To read more about this Championship please read my Golf Bible article – The Amateur Championship – 2019 Preview, Reports & Results

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Recent Brabazon Trophy winner Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) continued his good form by picking up the Boys’ Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters title at Nizels G.&C.C.

Ben posted rounds of 66, 71, 71 and 70 for a 278 (-10) total and a 5-shot victory over fellow English prospect Max HOPKINS.

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Regional Qualifying for the 148th Open Championship took place on Monday 24th June at 13 venues across GB&I.

9 of the 13 competitions were won by amateur players with a total of 50 amateurs progressing to Final Qualifying on the day. More earned Reserve status and will follow as the four fields are finalised in the coming days.

Here are a list of some of the more notable qualifiers in the context of the Walker Cup: –

Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) – 1st 68 -3 at Alwoodley
Ben HUTCHINSON (ENG) – T3 70 -1 at Alwoodley
Kieran CANTLEY (SCO) – 1st 65 -7 at Berwick-upon-Tweed
Angus FLANAGAN (ENG) – T1 65 -7 at Burhill
Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) – 4th 67 -5 at Burhill
Tom MCKIBBIN (IRE) – T4 68 -4 at County Louth
Tiarnan MCLARNON (IRE) – T4 68 -4 at County Louth
Tom PLUMB (ENG) – T8 70 -2 at Frilford Heath
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) – 1st 65 -7 at Minchinhampton

Other amateurs have exemptions into Final Qualifying so I anticipate there being well over 60 players to follow next Tuesday.

There is more information on the amateurs at Regional and Final Qualifying on my Golf Bible website.

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The GB&I selectors will shortly be finalising their reduced Walker Cup squad for the next training gathering at Royal Liverpool G.C.

Here is my assessment of how the original 26 and other players who have emerged over the last two months will fare when the announcement is presumably made next week. In my defence I don’t have the results of the European Amateur Championship which finishes on Saturday to help me.

I have listed the players as I see their current form and my selection order: –

Current Team (if picked today)
Euan WALKER – Scotland
Caolan RAFFERTY – Ireland
Harry HALL – England
James SUGRUE – Ireland
Sandy SCOTT – Scotland
Conor PURCELL – Ireland
Thomas PLUMB – England
Ben JONES – England
Jake BURNAGE – England
Tom SLOMAN – England

July Squad Member
Bailey GILL – England
Ben HUTCHINSON – England NEW
Matty LAMB – England NEW
Ben SCHMIDT – England NEW
David LANGLEY – England NEW
Ronan MULLARNEY – Ireland NEW
Alex FITZPATRICK – England

Dropped From Squad
Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland
Robin WILLIAMS – England
David HAGUE – England
Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland
Joseph PAGDIN – England
John MURPHY – Ireland
Mark POWER – Ireland
Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland
Jamie STEWART – Scotland
Jake HAPGOOD – Wales
Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales
Tom THURLOWAY – England
Conor GOUGH – England
Archie DAVIES – Wales

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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102. Ben Schmidt Wins The Brabazon Trophy

5th June 2019

Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) won the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship, played for the Brabazon Trophy, last weekend at Alwoodley G.C.

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The Schmidt Family (© Yorkshire Golf / Jonathan Plaxton)

The 16 year old from Rotherham G.C. played some great golf to post four under par rounds of 69, 64, 69 and 69 for a 271 (-13) winning total.

Having taken the lead after Round 2 he impressively showed the composure to hold off far more experienced players over the weekend and ultimately deliver a 5 shot victory. He became the youngest ever winner of this prestigious title, overtaking Sandy Lyle who was 17 when he won it in 1977.

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Ben Schmidt’s Scorecard (© England Golf / GolfBox)

Harry HALL (ENG) will have been disappointed with his final round but a course record 63 on Saturday and a 2nd place finish, having only returned from college in the United States a few days earlier, represented an excellent week’s work for the Cornishman.

Euan WALKER (SCO) finished 3rd, David LANGLEY (ENG) tied 5th, Ben JONES tied 7th, Tom SLOMAN (ENG) & Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) both tied 10th, Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL), Conor PURCELL (IRE) & Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) all tied 13th and Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Robin WILLIAMS (ENG) & James SUGRUE (IRE) all tied 18th at Alwoodley. All of them further advanced their Walker Cup chances with top 20 finishes as we move into the key selection month of June.

So what about Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) for the Walker Cup – after all he’s just won a ‘Major’ and in the process moved to the top of the England Golf Men’s Order of Merit ?

Ben rose 337 places in the SPWAR on Sunday to 109th (he’s 106th now after a few leading players subsequently turned Pro) and 1,416 places to 142nd in today’s WAGR release.

A victory in the Brabazon Trophy and such high rankings would normally put a player well in the picture for Walker Cup selection.

However, with important school exams on the immediate horizon and given his previously low WAGR ranking Ben is now going to be sitting out both this week’s St. Andrews Links Trophy and the following week’s Amateur Championship. He is also not playing in the European Amateur Championship which starts on 26th June.

Like James NEWTON (ENG), winner of the Irish Amateur Open a few weeks ago, this in my opinion is likely to greatly reduce his chances of gaining selection for the forthcoming Walker Cup match.

It will be interesting to see if England Golf select him for their Men’s European Team Championship team later this month or whether he will stay with the Boys Team. The former would give him another opportunity to impress.

Time is of course on Ben’s side but in my view circumstances look like conspiring against him with regard to the 2019 match.

For more information on this event, including a link to the full Results, please take a look at my Golf Bible article: Brabazon Trophy – 2019 Preview, Reports & Results 

_________________________________________

With around 75 days to go until the GB&I Walker Cup team is selected how’s our team shaping up ?

Conor PURCELL (IRE), Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE), Tom SLOMAN (ENG) and Euan WALKER (SCO) look certainties today. All have 2019 wins to their names and consistent form to support their selections already.

Harry HALL‘s (ENG) result at the Brabazon Trophy was just what was required from him. His experience could be invaluable to the team too. He’s now a probable for me.

Ben JONES (ENG) is playing well and building up a consistent body of 2019 results. His sound match play record and win in the Duke of York Champions event at Royal Liverpool a few years ago also bode well for him.

Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) has played well for Wake Forest University since the turn of the year and if he can show up well against his GB&I peers – he hasn’t directly played against too many of them over the last year – in the big events coming up he will in my opinion be a strong candidate for selection.

The remaining three places are still open for me. I could currently make a case for Bailey GILL (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Josh MCMAHON (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG), Ben SCHMIDT (ENG) and Sandy SCOTT (SCO).

In a year of surprise winners the results of the St. Andrews Links Trophy and Amateur Championship, and to a lesser degree the European Amateur, may not help but they will certainly provide us with more clarity. Will the above players confirm their status as Walker Cup favourites or will new players have come to the fore by the team we reach the end of June ?

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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96. Tickets Go On Sale For Royal Liverpool 2019

3rd December 2018

Tickets have today gone on sale for the 47th Walker Cup match which will be played at Royal Liverpool G.C. on the weekend of 7th – 8th September 2019.

Day tickets will cost £25.00 for adults and £15.00 for youths (16-24).

A weekend pass will cost £40.00 for adults and £20.00 for youths.

Under 16’s will be granted free access on both days as long as they are accompanied by a youth or adult.

It appears that entry will be free on the practice days and for the opening ceremony on the Friday afternoon.

Click here to buy – Walker Cup 2019 Tickets

_________________________________________

With 278 days to go until the match starts Great Britain and Ireland’s (GB&I) selection options were further reduced last week with the news that both Mitch WAITE (ENG) and Nick POPPLETON (ENG) had decided to turn professional.

Both Waite and Poppleton played for GB&I in the St. Andrews Trophy match against Europe last July. At the time of the announcement Waite was also GB&I’s highest rated player in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking.

Of the nine man team and two reserves selected for the St. Andrews Trophy just four remain amateur heading into 2019; David HAGUE (ENG), John MURPHY (IRE), Conor PURCELL (IRE) and Euan WALKER (SCO).

ME.

Copyright © 2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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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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92. Matthew Jordan Turns Pro

10th September 2018

Matthew JORDAN today confirmed he was turning Professional and had signed with management company Sportcircle.

Matthew is the last member of the 2017 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team to transfer over to the paid ranks. The announcement came exactly one year after the conclusion of the match in Los Angeles.

Matthew Jordan At The KLM Open Today (Photo: Jeremy Morgan)

Uniquely he was selected for Bonallack Trophy (Europe), Walker Cup (GB&I), St. Andrews Trophy (GB&I), Eisenhower Trophy (England) and Home Internationals (England) men’s teams in recent years.

The individual highlights for the 22 year old from Royal Liverpool G.C. were his St. Andrews Links Trophy (2017) and Lytham Trophy (2018) wins.

Fittingly his final round as an amateur was a low one; a bogey free 65 (-8) last Saturday on Carton House’s O’Meara Course in the World Amateur Team Championship event.

He was ranked 16th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and 5th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking today reflecting his stellar amateur career.

He will make his debut at this week’s KLM Open on the European Tour. He also has further entries lined up at the Portugal Masters (20-23 September) and Dunhill Links (4-7 October) in the next few weeks.

Following hot on the heels of Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) over the weekend, the impending departure of Robin DAWSON (IRE) next week and the start tomorrow of the 2018 European Tour Qualifying School series it will be interesting to see who is left in a few month’s time to contest a place in our 2019 Walker Cup team.

Good luck to Matthew. Fingers crossed for a fast start this week in The Netherlands.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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90. GB&I Lose The 2018 St. Andrews Trophy Match

27th July 2018

The 32nd St. Andrews Trophy match was played on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th July at Linna Golf in Finland.

Like the Walker Cup the St. Andrews Trophy is played over two days and consists of match play foursomes and singles matches.

The Continent of Europe beat Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) 15.5 – 9.5 today.

GB&I entered the final day leading 7 – 5 but ended up being comprehensively outplayed by an inspired European team who won the Day 2 games 10.5 – 2.5 to run away with the match.

This was just the sixth time Europe had won the St. Andrews Trophy and their 6 point margin of victory was their best ever.

For more detail on the match please take a look at my preview and report on GolfBible – The St. Andrews Trophy Match – 2018 Preview, Reports & Results

The Continent of Europe (Photo: European Golf Association)

The R&A Selection Committee, including Non-Playing Captain Craig WATSON, announced GB&I’s nine man team for the match on 16th July. This was exactly the same team that I would have picked.

Todd CLEMENTS (21) – England
Robin DAWSON (22) – Ireland
David HAGUE (21) – England
Matthew JORDAN (22) – England
John MURPHY (20) – Ireland
Gian-Marco PETROZZI (21) – England
Nick POPPLETON (24) – England
Conor PURCELL (21) – Ireland
Mitch WAITE (23) – England

Following last September’s record breaking 19 – 7 defeat by the United States in the Walker Cup this heavy loss was another sobering experience for GB&I’s leading players.

The fact the European team was also weaker than may have been expected due to a number of their leading players competing at this week’s Porsche European Open on the European Tour or preferring to play in amateur events in the Unites States arguably makes the result even harder to take.

In The R&A’s match report GB&I Captain Craig WATSON said: “The team is obviously very disappointed but if you look at the scoring by the Continent of Europe you can see we were up against a very high standard of golf. This is the level that the players need to aspire to and achieve and when they look back on the performance there will be many learning points to take away. If you are to win a match like this you obviously need to make your fair share of putts when it matters. We just couldn’t match the Continent of Europe today. I don’t think we were complacent.”

In conclusion it would appear that the best GB&I team we could put out were simply outplayed by the Europeans, albeit only on the final day.

It should be noted that Matthew JORDAN (ENG) certainly left Finland with his reputation intact after winning three of his four matches.

The 2019 Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool G.C. is now just over 400 days away and the GB&I group clearly need to see some improvement between now and then if that match is to be competitive.

It will be interesting to see how many of the nine players who played this week are still amateur in a year’s time and, if they are, whether they have maintained their form sufficiently to be selected for our Walker Cup team.

Earlier this week The R&A announced that the 2020 St. Andrews Trophy match will be played at Royal Porthcawl G.C. in South Wales on 23-24 July.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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89. USGA Introduce New Team Selection Guidelines

5th July 2018

The USGA have today announced the introduction of automatic selections to their international team selection process.

These new guidelines will be used for the first time for the men’s and women’s USA teams that will compete in this September’s World Amateur Team Championships in Ireland.

They will then be adopted for the 2019 Walker Cup Match and 2020 Curtis Cup Match.The selection of the 10-man 2019 USA Walker Cup team will now take place in two segments in the preceding August: –

1. a) The top 3 ranked USA players in the WAGR (as of early August and before the U.S. Amateur)*.

2. a) The 2019 U.S. Amateur champion*;

2. b) The 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner (Men’s WAGRTM No. 1 / announced immediately after the U.S. Amateur Championship)*; and

2. c) The remaining selections, which will include at least one mid-amateur (25 years and older) player, will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee (ITSC).

*subject to the respective players being U.S. citizens and / or remaining amateur these individuals will now be automatically selected.

The USGA’s ITSC will continue to place primary emphasis on playing accomplishments, rankings and awards over the past two years, with particular focus on results in USGA competitions. It will also continue to adhere to an overarching guideline that a player named to any of its teams must have an unquestioned ability to appropriately represent the USA and USGA with character, sportsmanship and integrity.

The ITSC consists of 10 members, including representatives of the USGA Championship Committee, Executive Committee and international competition staff members. It is currently chaired by Martha Lang, who has competed in more than 60 USGA championships and is a former Curtis Cup player (1992) and captain (1996).

The Walker Cup captain will not have a formal vote on who makes the team but will provide “significant input” behind the scenes.

John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships & Governance, said: “Adding these elements of transparency to our selections helps players understand the process and aspire to earn coveted spots on these top teams.”

The USA Team will defend the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, 7-8th September 2019.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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85. Dr. Frank Deighton Has Died Aged 90

5th March 2018

Dr. Frank W.G. Deighton died on 23rd February 2018 at the Clarence Court Care Home in Glasgow.

Having reached the age of 90 he had been one of the oldest living former Walker Cup players.

He was first selected for the match at Birkdale GC in 1951 when he was 23. However, Raymond Oppenheimer, GB&I’s first true non-playing captain, chose not to play him as the team lost 6-3. In Oppenheimer’s defense all Deighton had done nationally by this time was make his debut for Scotland in 1950 in the Home internationals at Royal St. David’s GC. He went on to represent Scotland throughout the 1950’s.

Dr. Frank Deighton (Photo: 1951 Walker Cup Programme)

1956 proved to be his best playing year and the prelude to his second and final Walker Cup selection, this time in 1957 at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis.

In 1956 Dr. Deighton had won the Scottish Amateur Championship at Old Troon beating A. MacGregor 8&7 in the final. He also reached the quarter finals of the Amateur Championship where he lost 6&5 over 36 holes to the eventual winner John Beharrell.

In previewing the 1957 match for Sports Illustrated Bernard Darwin described Deighton as “formerly a moody player who did not seem to have sufficient belief in himself” but went on to say “at his best he can be very good.” Interestingly Darwin put Deighton’s upturn in fortunes down to a pep talk from Oppenheimer and a 6&5 singles win against Max Faulkner in the Amateurs v. Professionals match the previous summer.

Deighton played in both series in 1957, losing both his games. Paired with Joe Carr they lost their foursomes match 2&1 against Rex Baxter and Billy Joe Patton. The following day he lost his singles match to Bill Hyndman 7&6. GB&I lost the match 8-3.

His last major win came in 1959 when he won his second Scottish Amateur title. He beat R.M.K. Murray at St. Andrews 6&5.

In total he played in 10 Amateur Championships between 1950-63 and won 20 of his 30 matches during this period.

In 1965 a medical contact arranged for him to design Sconsor GC’s new 9 hole course. The club was renamed the Isle of Skye GC in 1987. In 1988 a new clubhouse was built and Dr. Deighton, as a sign of further gratitude, was invited back to the Isle to open it.

Deighton was born in Glasgow on 21st May 1927 and spent most of his life in the City. He trained with the Royal Army Medical Corps before becoming a General Practitioner. He married Marna and they had two daughters, Nicky and Ruth.

His home club was Hilton Park, where he became an honorary member. He also enjoyed memberships at Glasgow GC and Western Gailes GC. He was a long time member of The Royal & Ancient GC of St. Andrews and after amassing 60 years in 2013 was afforded the rare status of Life Member.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2018 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

Sources:
1. Colin Farquharson, Scottish Golf View (26/02/18) – reproduced The Herald death notice and provided family information.
2. Colin Callander, Global Golf Post (05/03/18) – R&A membership information.

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83. Nathaniel Crosby Will Captain The U.S.A. Team In 2019

13th December 2017

The U.S.G.A. today announced that 56 year old Nathaniel CROSBY had been selected to captain the U.S.A. team at the 2019 Walker Cup match.

Stuart Francis, U.S.G.A. Championship Committee chairman, said “Nathaniel Crosby has proven experience as an amateur player at the highest levels in both individual and team competition, and this will lend itself well to providing leadership for the USA Walker Cup team in 2019”. He has the key attributes of “sportsmanship, patriotism and a competitive spirit, that will assist him as captain.”

Crosby played in the 1983 Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool GC. His appointment therefore has a nice symmetry with the 2019 contest also being staged at the historic links in Hoylake, England.

Nowadays he plays much of his golf at Seminole G.C. where the Walker Cup is being staged in 2021. Whilst there are other candidates with links to this exclusive Florida Club it does seem likely that his appointment will be for the now standard two match term.

In the USGA announcement Crosby said: “I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain. It will again be a privilege to be a part of the Walker Cup competition. Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities.”

Former U.S. captains Jim Holtgrieve, Bob Lewis Jr and Jay Sigel were all teammates of Crosby’s in 1983.

Nathaniel Crosby (Photo: USGA / Simon Dale)

Nathaniel Crosby – Golf Biography

Nathaniel (‘Nate’) Crosby was introduced to golf by his famous father, Bing. Bing was often described as a golfer that liked to sing given his obsession with the game.

He started playing golf when he was 4, taking lessons from Maurice Ver Brugge at the family’s home club, Burlinghame C.C., near San Francisco, and went on to become a very accomplished golfer.

His biggest achievement was his victory, aged 19, in the 1981 US Amateur Championship at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Playing number 3 for the University of Miami during the year and having showed little form beforehand his win was something of a surprise. He did however have the benefit of sleeping in his own bed at his parent’s house during the event. Huge crowds, drawn by the Crosby name, saw Nathaniel beat Brian Lindley on the 37th hole of the final. He staged a great comeback having been both 4 Down with 10 holes to play and 2 Down with 3 to play.

Sadly his father was unable to witness his achievement. Bing had died four years earlier on 14th October 1977, collapsing from a heart attack after playing 18 holes at La Moraleja G.C. near Madrid. His last words being “That was a great game of golf, fellas.” However, Nathaniel later revealed he wore Bing’s 1941 US Amateur competitor badge around his neck all week rubbing it occasionally when seeking inspiration or calmness. “It was a something to relax me. It was a way of keeping positive thoughts in my mind. I knew he was up there and he was on my side.”

In 1982 Nathaniel achieved low amateur honours at the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach, finishing 59th, won the prestigious Porter Cup and helped the USA win that year’s World Amateur Team Championship title in Switzerland.

The USA won the 1983 Walker Cup match 13.5 – 10.5 at Royal Liverpool. Captained by Jay Sigel (who also played himself), Crosby lost his Day 1 Singles 6&4 to Phil Parkin before he and William Hoffer beat George Macgregor and Philip Walton by 2 holes in their Day 2 Foursomes game. He sat out both the Day 1 Foursomes and Day 2 Singles.

Crosby graduated from the University of Miami in 1984 with a degree in politics and public administration. He then turned professional, playing briefly in the U.S. before trying his hand on the European Tour. With little success he ‘retired’ after three years, moving into the business world in 1988.

He regained his amateur status in 1994. This was initially so that he could play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a tournament that had grown out of his father’s Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur (also known as the Crosby Clambake). After Bing’s death in 1977, the tournament was hosted by the Crosby family for eight years, before the association was finally ended in 1985. Nathaniel had also planned to compete in Senior amateur events but this doesn’t appear to have come to anything in recent years.

Nathaniel Crosby – Personal Biography

Nathaniel Patrick Crosby was born on 29th October 1961 in Hillsborough, California but now lives in Jupiter, Florida.

He is the seventh child of Bing Crosby and the youngest of his three children with his second wife, the entertainer Kathryn Grant. Grant was 31 years Bing’s junior when they married.

His four half brothers are now all dead. He has an elder brother Harry and a sister Mary. Mary famously played Kristin Shepard, the mistress responsible for shooting J.R. Ewing in the hit television series ‘Dallas’. Nathaniel also performed on stage and screen many times with various family members when he was a child.

Nathaniel has four children of his own, all from his first marriage – Nathaniel Jr (27), Brendan (25), Bridget (23) and Claire (21). He is now remarried to another divorcee, Sheila (Biggs), who has two children of her own – Turner (26) and Courtney (24).

When his playing career came to an end he moved into the golf equipment business working firstly for Toney Penna (a touring pro. who had been Nathaniel’s teacher), then The Nicklaus Equipment Company and finally Orlimar Golf. He is currently chairman of AppleTree Golf Society, a membership programme that is tied to around 30 premier golf clubs in vacation and second-home destinations.

In 2016 he released a book, written with the assistance of golf journalist John Strege, entitled ’18 Holes With Bing: Golf, Life and Lessons From Dad’, where he talked about his relationship with his father through their shared love of golf.

Additional information

In June 2008 Michael Bamberger wrote an interesting profile of Nathaniel Crosby for Golf.com. Read it here – http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/why-nathaniel-crosby-holds-special-place-game

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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82. Everybody’s Changing And I Don’t Feel The Same

11th October 2017

So little time,
Try to understand that I’m,
Trying to make a move just to stay in the game,
I try to stay awake and remember my name,
But everybody’s changing and I don’t feel the same.

– “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane (2004)

It’s been all change in the Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) amateur game since the 46th Walker Cup match finished a month ago.

Of course each Walker Cup seems to mark the end of a mini-era with both those players selected and those overlooked looking to move on with their golfing careers.

However, the number of players turning professional in recent weeks feels much higher than normal with elite amateur golf in GB&I decimated.

We have already lost 7 of the 10 members of our Walker Cup team to the professional ranks: –

David BOOTE (WAL)
Jack DAVIDSON (WAL)
Scott GREGORY (ENG)
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO)
Alfie PLANT (ENG)
Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG)
Connor SYME (SCO)

Of the remaining three players Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) and Harry ELLIS (ENG) have entered their Senior years at Wake Forest and Florida State respectively, whilst Matthew JORDAN (ENG) has resisted the temptation to jump to date. Could he have his sights set on a home Walker Cup appearance at Royal Liverpool in 2019 ? Wishful thinking on my part perhaps.

However, it is the number of other Internationals that have turned professional that makes the last few weeks so exceptional. Here’s a selection of names for you: –

Dan BROWN (ENG)
Joshua DAVIES (WAL)
Owen EDWARDS (WAL)
Colin FAIRWEATHER (IRE)
Tom GANDY (ENG)
Stuart GREHAN (IRE)
Evan GRIFFITH (WAL)
Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) 
Bradley MOORE (ENG)
Conor O’ROURKE (IRE)
Marco PENGE (ENG)                 
Craig ROSS (SCO)
Will WHITEOAK (ENG)
Jack YULE (ENG)

The exodus may not be over either.

Amateurs JR GALBRAITH (IRE)*, Josh HILLEARD (ENG) and Craig HOWIE (SCO) have all progressed to the Second Qualifying Stage of the European Tour’s Q-School series. Chris MACLEAN (SCO) is also this week out in Germany testing his game in the ProGolf Tour Q-School.

Whilst it’s sad to see all of these players move out of the amateur game I of course wish them all the best with their future careers. It will be interesting to see which ones survive and prosper in the coming years. Whatever happens I hope they can at least enjoy some of the journey.

Certainly playing in The Walker Cup is no guarantee of success in the professional golfing world. To date Paul DUNNE (who turned Pro in September 2015), Jordan SMITH (October 2014), Matthew FITZPATRICK (June 2014) and to a lesser degree Ashley CHESTERS (September 2015) and Callum SHINKWIN (September 2013) are the only players from the 2013 and 2015 Walker Cups to have made a notable transition. There is still time for some of the others to come through. A lot of very good elite amateurs have fallen by the way side, either unable to make the step up in play and / or get to grips with the demanding life of a touring pro.

Scotland’s Connor SYME leads the way for the 2017 crop at the moment with a tied 12th finish at the Portuguese Masters on debut and a tied 15th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last weekend. Earnings of €79,435 from two events has to be viewed as a dream start to his professional career.

One thing’s for sure, as day follows night, the next generation of young amateur golfers will soon appear. It will be interesting to see which players take the opportunity to step forward and fill the current void in 2018.

* In November 2017 JR GALBRAITH (IRE) also turned professional.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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81. Walker Cup Day 2 – USA Beats GB&I 19 – 7

10th September 2017 

The United States of America (USA) won the 46th Walker Cup match at Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) beating Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) 19 – 7.

The wining score of 19 points matched the most ever in Walker Cup history. USA had previously reached that total in 1993 when they won 19 – 5 at a rain affected Interlachen Country Club in Minnesota.

Here is the Individual Player Contributions chart from the match: –

Doug GHIM, Maverick MCNEALY and Collin MORIKAWA each went 4 – 0, the first time three players had accomplished this for one team in the same Walker Cup match. The previous record being two perfect 4 game records – USA in 1977 (John Fought and Lindy Miller), 1997 (John Harris and Brad Elder) and 2009 (Peter Uihlein and Rickie Fowler) and GB&I in 1999 (Luke Donald and Paul Casey).

Doug GHIM had also gone 4 – 0 in the Arnold Palmer Cup match earlier this summer. A memorable and unique double for him.

USA Celebrate Their Win At Los Angeles CC (Photo: GolfBible)

GB&I’s very slim hopes of staging a comeback on Day 2 depended on a strong morning Foursomes performance. Unfortunately they lost the series 3 – 1 to fall even further behind 11 – 5.

Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR were GB&I’s only Foursomes winners. Gregory in particular played some great shots down the stretch, memorably holeing out from a bunker on 14 and delivering a long iron into the heart of the 18th green to close out the game 2Up.

The United States therefore went into the ten afternoon Singles matches needing just 2.5 points to win the Walker Cup.

Despite this Captain “Spider” MILLER took nothing for granted and later said he had challenged each player before the final series of matches started, telling them, “You have to win your match. Each one of you must win your match. We must win all ten matches. I was as direct as I can be. We had a good lead but there was going to be no letting up. I expected each one of them to win.”

Braden THORNBERRY certainly responded well to the instruction, the 2017 NCAA Division I Individual champion, thumping Paul MCBRIDE, 6 and 5 in game number 5 to get the ball rolling for USA.

Shortly afterwards Stewart HAGESTAD, avenging his Saturday defeat to Singh Brar, won 2 and 1 on the 17th green before Norman XIONG, at 18 the youngest player on either team, secured the final 0.5 point required to reach the all important 13.5 mark.

The Americans ended up winning seven of the 10 singles matches on Sunday afternoon.

The Day 2 Results (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

Scott GREGORY and Robert MACINTYRE provided some resistance for GB&I, halving their games. Gregory refused to accept defeat fighting back from 2 down against Norman XIONG with two to play to earn his half, sinking 30 foot and 8 foot par putts on the final two holes to do so. Similarly MacIntyre again demonstrated his match play credentials with an unbeaten Singles performance for GB&I. He beat long-hitting Cameron CHAMP easily yesterday before halving with him today.

The star man for GB&I on Sunday was David BOOTE who battled superbly to win his match against the reigning US Amateur champion Doc REDMAN. Surprisingly Redman ended up being the only US player not to contribute a point from the three games he participated in. Boote birdied the short 15th to go 2Up but the match was far from over given the three c.500 yard par 4 finishing holes still to be played. On 16 David got up and down from just short of the green before watching Redman trump him with a tap-in birdie. On 17, having called a penalty on himself for standing on his ball in the rough, he managed to get up and down from about 150 yards to secure an unlikely half in bogey. Finally on 18 Redman saw his accurate long iron approach run past the flag to the back of the green leaving himself a near impossible downhill putt. When he three putted for 5 the Welshman simply took two from 5 feet to secure a memorable win.

David Boote Celebrates His Singles Win With His Family And Caddie (Photo: GolfBible)

To view the USGA highlight packages of the final day’s play please take a look at my ‘Past Results’ page.

As one would expect GB&I Acting Captain Andrew INGRAM accepted the loss in good spirit. He said: “The Americans were amazing. I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They have been superb all week and good luck to them. We just couldn’t get going, we couldn’t get anything moving forward. The big advantage here has been the length of the course, our guys aren’t used to courses this long. We have worked hard. I asked the team when I came for 100 percent and they gave me 100 percent. I can’t ask for anything more.”

Asked how he thought GB&I could improve their away performances Ingram suggested: “I know it costs money but any chance of us getting our Squad out to America to let them see what it’s like, come to the venue, and play some golf so they can get a feel of it (would be beneficial). I think it’s quite a shock to the system when they come and play a course like this. Our guys aren’t used to playing courses this long.”

“Spider” MILLER was understandably delighted for his team: “We had a choice to be the 2017 Walker Cup team or the winning 2017 Walker Cup team. There’s certain things in their careers as golfers they will remember and playing and winning the Walker Cup is one of those defining moments they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

As always the GB&I team lacked the strength in depth of their opponents and in this match USA were able to bring this to bear, generally outplaying the visitors for the most part. Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and accept the better team won – this was one of those occasions to my eyes.

____________________________________________

It was always going to be a big ask for GB&I to go to Los Angeles and be competitive let alone win. After all GB&I have only ever won twice in the USA and home teams have now won 11 of the last 13 matches.

I don’t believe a lengthy post-mortem is necessary but would add from what I saw myself – and in addition to the length point made by Andy Ingram – that the USA team also putted better on the quick and undulating greens and made better strategic decisions, particularly down the stretch.

Looking forward GB&I will next get the opportunity to regain the Walker Cup on 7th and 8th September 2019 when it will be staged at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in England.

Meanwhile GB&I players David BOOTE, Jack DAVIDSON, Scott GREGORY, Robert MACINTYRE, Alfie PLANT, Jack SINGH BRAR and Connor SYME are all expected to turn pro in the coming weeks. Good luck to all of them. Not the Amateur swan song they would have hoped for but nevertheless a trip and experience they will all remember for the rest of their lives.

ME.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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80. Walker Cup Day 1 – USA Leads GB&I 8 – 4

10th September 2017

USA lead GB&I 8 – 4 after Day 1 of the 2017 Walker Cup match being played at the superb Los Angeles CC.

The Day 1 Results (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

Day 1 Mornings Foursomes – USA 2 – 2 GB&I

I followed the match between Connor Syme / Paul McBride and Doc Redman / Will Zalatoris. The GB&I pair both played well once they had got over their initial nerves. The defining factors were the USA’s poor play on the par 3 holes (they bogeyed all three), McBride’s accurate approach play and most importantly Syme’s putting. The Scotsman holed 9 missable putts from within 10 feet which either halved or won holes. In the end they ran out comfortable winners.

Connor Syme and Paul McBride (Photo: GolfBible)

Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar beat Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Champ 3&2 to ensure the Day 1 Foursomes finished halved 2 – 2. In what was a tight match up until the turn the USA pair simply fell away on the back nine handing the game to GB&I with two bogeys and a double bogey on holes 14 – 16.

Scott Gregory and Jack Singh Brar ( Photo: GolfBible)

The other two matches represented humbling experiences for the GB&I pairs.

In Game 1 Collin Morikawa and Norman Xiong thrashed Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant 8&7. This was the biggest Foursomes win in 18 hole Walker Cup match history. The Americans birdied the first 4 holes winning them all and parred in to the 11th where hands were shaken. The GB&I pair were 5-over par at the conclusion. 18 year old Norman Xiong is starring in Los Angeles. He appears to have both the build and game to really make a name for himself in the future.

Maverick McNealy and Doug Ghim proved too strong for the Welsh pairing of David Boote and Jack Davidson in the final match of the series. USA birdied four of the first 6 holes to jump into a big lead which they defended comfortably with par golf. As GB&I sought to chase the game further errors allowed the USA to run out easy winners.

Day 1 Afternoon Singles – USA 6 – 2 GB&I

This session will probably prove to be the defining one of the 46th Walker Cup match. USA moved out in front and it is in all honesty hard to see how the GB&I team will be able to recover the position.

I was attracted to the match of Robert MacIntyre and Cameron Champ, having read that Bob didn’t have much family or friend support out here. Bob also has an excellent match play record so it was inevitable that he would give the big hitting American a good game. The fact he had been left out of the morning Foursomes was also likely to be a motivator for him. Whilst Champ was out of sorts, struggling for pars all the way round as well as with his short game, the Scotsman was simply outstanding. Gaining confidence as the match proceeded from his opponents difficulties Bob played a large number of great shots demonstrating an excellent all round game. By the time the match ended on the 14th green Champ was almost alone having lost his US gallery long before.

GB&I’s only other winner in the afternoon was Jack Singh Brar. He will take an unbeaten W2-L0-H0 record in to Day 2. Jack appears to have played very well looking at his hole scores. Five 3’s in his first 11 holes enabled him to take a 5Up lead on mid-amateur and LACC member Stewart Hagestad. Whilst he stumbled a little coming home he regrouped quickly to finish off a comfortable win.

Robert MacIntyre Enjoys His Singles Win (Photo: GolfBible)

Harry Ellis was 2Up in game 1 with with 5 holes to play. Unfortunately he bogeyed three of them – poor drives being largely to blame – and allowed Braden Thornberry, surprisingly left out of the morning Foursomes, to gain a flattering 2 holes win.

Connor Syme started well, leading Norman Xiong by 3Up after 6 holes. However, once Xiong settled he quickly came back and helped by three birdies won out impressively 2&1 against one of GB&I’s strongest players.

McBride appears to have played well but was simply unlucky to draw Collin Morikawa. The Californian was 3-under for the 16 holes played before winning 3&1. Against many of the other US players Paul may well have secured a win given his overall play.

Matthew Jordan also seems to have played well in his first match at this Walker Cup, coming out on the wrong side of a tight match. Will Zalatoris played the tough finishing holes a little better to eventually win by 2 holes on the 18th.

David Boote got off to a poor start bogeying three of the opening 4 holes and going 3 Down. Once he settled the Welshman played well, showing a great deal of fight. Doug Ghim certainly knew he had been in a game by the time he had seen out a 2&1 win on the 17th green.

In the final game Scott Gregory also played well. Leading 2Up after 11 holes he fell foul of the brutal finishing holes which to his credit Maverick McNeally negotiated very impressively. McNeally ended up winning 3&1 on the 17th green.

Day 2 – Morning Foursomes

At the end of play on Saturday the pairings / draws for Day 2 were announced.

GB&I go into Day 2 requiring an exceptional performance. A victory in the Sunday Foursomes series is essential if they are to stage a comeback and perhaps more likely add some respectability to the final score.

Unsurprisingly the GB&I pairing of Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant have been dropped with Matthew Jordan and Robert MacIntyre introduced in game 4.

The Day 2 Foursomes Draw (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

Day 2 – Afternoon Singles

Sunday sees 10 games and all 20 players out on the course contesting the Singles series.

The draw shows a number of repeat matches from Day 1 – Jack Singh Brar and Robert MacIntyre will again play Stewart Hagestad and Cameron Champ. Hopefully the results are the same on Day 2 !

Best of luck to GB&I. Let’s make USA work for every point today.

The Day 2 Singles Draw (Photo: USGA Walker Cup Website)

ME

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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79. 20 Quick Observations From The Official Practice Day

9th September 2017

I spent yesterday at the Los Angeles Country Club (LACC) looking at the course and watching all of the players practice.

This is some of what I heard, saw and experienced: –

1. The North Course is even better than I thought it would be – and I arrived with high expectations having read a lot about the recent Gil Hanse renovation.

2. The clue was in the location – Beverly Hills – but it is far more hilly and undulating than any of the photos I had seen suggested.

3. Holes 3 – 8 in particular are magnificent. The land in this most northerly part of the property is stunning with height changes, steep banking and barranca framing all of the holes.

4. The Par 3’s are all excellent. The 4th (230 yards) and 11th (289 yards) are very long but both severely downhill so hugely inviting when stood on the tee.

5. In passing Lionel Ritchie’s house (see photo below) beside the 4th green is one of the finest properties I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. As I was admiring it one of the LACC members volunteered that the owner, no names were obviously mentioned, also owned the two properties next door (to the left) in addition to the main house.

Lionel Ritchie’s Property Overlooking The 4th Green (Photo: GolfBible)

6. The course is very long, particularly the back nine which plays 3,875 yards. There are four Par 4’s which are 500+ yards, including the three closing holes.

7. The fairways are very wide on all of the holes so I expect players will be using driver off many of the tees.

8. The rough looks low, almost non existent, but it is thick and tangly. Balls can sit up in it but equally fall through and penalise players for inaccuracy.

9. The bunkering is exceptional. Superbly shaped, large and often deep. Most of the bunkers, particularly those greenside, have a very thick collar of rough around them. Players will be shouting for their misdirected shots to find the sand as balls that finish here will be almost ‘dead’.

10. The greens are generally very large and looked quick. Getting the speed early on will be critical as will being on the right side of some of the tougher hole locations. The two exceptions being the Par 4 6th and the front portion of the short 17th which are very narrow targets.

The 46th Walker Cup Programme (Photo: GolfBible)

11. Many of the larger greens have small promontories, surrounded by sand, which will enable the USGA to really tuck some flags away if they wish.

12. LACC looks like being a very good match play course with a number of sporty risk reward holes evident.

13. The GB&I players – who played in group’s of 5, (1) Ellis / Davidson / Boote / Syme / Singh Brar and (2) Gregory / McBride / MacIntyre / Plant / Jordan – seemed to have been given free reign during the final practice session.

14. GB&I Group 1 didn’t play the full 18. They played holes 1, 2 and 9 before playing the back nine and walking in early. They then practiced their putting and went to the range.

A Signed 46th Walker Cup Flag (Photo: GolfBible)

15. There didn’t seem to be any competitive play going on yesterday and there didn’t seem to be a huge amount of R&A Selector observation taking place. It was as if the Day 1 foursomes pairings / singles order had already been determined and Friday’s play was irrelevant in this regard.

16. I anticipate that some players are going to be exposed by the length and severity of the LACC test. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some very one sided matches.

17. Understandably there are very few GB&I supporters in Los Angeles outside of each player’s family and close friends. You have to be pretty committed to make a 5,400 mile journey for an amateur golf event. Therefore this is going to be an away match in the strictest sense with a large partisan home crowd.

18. Recent Walker Cup matches have tended to go to the home team and historically GB&I have always struggled over here. I certainly travelled more in hope than expectation and reluctantly have to accept it is hard to see anything other than a comfortable USA win. As is always the case a good start to quieten the home crowd and build a little momentum this morning will be imperative for GB&I. I obviously wish GB&I well and hope our players can do themselves justice when proceedings begin. It would be great to witness a big sporting upset live.

19. The Day 1 pairings were announced at the opening ceremony and as with the original team selection it is hard before a ball has been struck to overly question them. It’s now down to the players to deliver.

20. Finally, the LACC is a very special place and everyone on site is delighted they have the opportunity to showcase their club and course. All of the membership / volunteers I came into contact with were proactive, friendly and welcoming. With two courses and superb practice facilities it has the space to accommodate any match or tournament.

ME.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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78. Craig Watson Stands Down As GB&I Captain

30th August 2017

The R&A today announced that Craig WATSON had stood down as Great Britain & Ireland’s (GB&I) 2017 Walker Cup Captain “due to a serious illness in his immediate family”.

So close to the match this will obviously be a huge disappointment to the 1997 Amateur champion from East Renfrewshire GC. He appears from the outside to have worked diligently over the last 18 months to get to know the players and build a good rapport with all of them.

The 2017 Walker Cup match against the United States of America starts in 10 days time at the Los Angeles Country Club. The Team are scheduled to fly out later this week.

Andy INGRAM, Chairman of the R&A’s GB&I Men’s Selection Committee since 2014, has taken over as Acting Captain. The Welshman is a member of Royal Porthcawl GC.

This is now the third match running where GB&I’s Walker Cup preparations have been disrupted somewhat.

In 2015 they were thrown into a spin when Florida-based Sam HORSFIELD withdrew just a few weeks before the match started at Lytham. He was replaced by Ewen FERGUSON and the Team went on to secure a resounding win.

Similarly in 2013 Captain Nigel EDWARDS had to fly home from Long Island in the week prior to the match after his father fell seriously ill. In the end he was able to return to the National Golf Links Of America, relieving the then Chairman of Selectors Jonathan PLAXTON. The final result in this earlier match wasn’t so positive for us though.

Of course the most famous withdrawal of a GB&I captain came in the first match in 1922, also at the National Golf Links of America. The Times golf correspondent Bernard DARWIN stepping in to what was a playing role in those days when the appointed man Robert HARRIS fell ill.

Andy Ingram with Jamie Donaldson in January 2015 (Photo: Steve Pope / Sporting Wales)

Andy INGRAM will be the fourth Welshman to Captain our Walker Cup team following in the footsteps of Nigel EDWARDS (2011, 2013 and 2015 – W2 L1), Clive BROWN (1995 and 1997 – W1 L1) and Tony DUNCAN (1953 – W0 L1).

He will also be just the fifth Captain out of the 27 who have performed the role up to and including this year not to have played in the match. Brown and Duncan are also in this group.

Ingram, who is now 57, is a former Welsh Boy’s and Youth International.

He captained the Welsh Men’s Home Internationals team on five occasions, including their Raymond Trophy victory at Royal St. David’s GC in 2002. He then went on to become the Chairman of the Welsh Teams and Performance Committee between 2004-2014.

Ingram also captained the winning European Junior Ryder Cup Team in the USA in 2004 and also at Celtic Manor in 2006 where Europe retained the trophy.

I am sure Craig will pick up the GB&I Captaincy reins again in 2018 ahead of the St. Andrews Trophy match in Finland in July and then again in 2019 for the next Walker Cup match which will be played at Royal Liverpool GC.

Best wishes go out to the Watson family and hopefully a speedy recovery can be reported in due course.

ME.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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75. My 2017 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup Team

19th August 2017

Here is my Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team for the Walker Cup match to be played on 9th and 10th September against USA at the Los Angeles Country Club.

My selection has primarily been driven by a wish to pick players with consistent and winning records in 2017. However, I have also had to temper this with the fact this is an away match likely to be played in sunny, near perfect conditions.

In previous years stronger foursomes partnerships have been established in prior international matches. For various reasons I do not believe this is the case in 2017 and as such have largely ignored pairings, although I am confident that sound partnerships can be formed from the players I have selected.

Each player is listed below in the order I would select them with a summary of their notable performances in 2017 (courtesy of the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking): –

1. CONNOR SYME (Scotland)

2017 – US Amateur MP – Quarters
2017 – European Amateur Team A MP – W3/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T8
2017 – British Open Final Qualifying – Co-Medalist
2017 – European Amateur – T17
2017 – British Amateur – T67
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – 5th
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T8
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T7
2017 – Battle Trophy (SCO) – Champion
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T7
2017 – African Amateur – 2nd

Connor is an experienced player who has performed consistently well on the international stage for some time now. Not quite at his very best this year but he pleasingly seems to be finding some form as the match approaches. His performance this week at the U.S. Amateur clearly demonstrates his pedigree.

2. MATTHEW JORDAN (England)

2017 – US Amateur Qualifying – 1st Alt
2017 – European Amateur Team A MP – W3/H0/L3
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T2
2017 – European Amateur – 6th
2017 – British Amateur – 64’s
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – Champion
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – 2nd
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – 5th
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T4
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T7
2017 – Hampshire Salver (ENG) – 8th
2017 – Quadrandular (ENG, ESP, ITA, GER) MP – W4/H1/L1

Matthew has probably enjoyed the best overall year of any GB&I amateur golfer. His superb run of results in the heart of our season, culminating in a win at the St Andrews Links Trophy, saw him move swiftly through the ranks and in to a fully deserved place on our team.

3. ALFIE PLANT (England)

2017 – British Open – T62
2017 – European Amateur Team A MP – W5/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T2
2017 – European Amateur – Champion
2017 – British Amateur – T78
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T34
2017 – Spanish International Amateur MP – 16’s
2017 – Spanish International Amateur Medal – T4
2017 – New South Wales Amateur (AUS) MP – 32’s
2017 – New South Wales Amateur Medal – T9
2017 – Australia Amateur MP – 32’s
2017 – Master of the Amateurs (AUS) – T14

A man for the big occasion Alfie was always going to find a way into our Walker Cup Team. Having said that for much of the year it looked unlikely for the 2016 Lytham Trophy winner. His memorable victory at the European Amateur changed his 2017 story completely and when he backed it up with a strong showing in the European Amateur Team and a silver medal winning performance at The Open he was assured of his place.

4. JACK SINGH BRAR (England)

2017 – US Amateur MP – 64’s
2017 – US Amateur Medal – T8
2017 – English Amateur Medal – T6
2017 – US Amateur Qualifying – Medalist
2017 – European Amateur – T7
2017 – British Amateur MP – 16’s
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – T18
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T2
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – Champion
2017 – Hampshire Salver (ENG) – Champion

2017 – Spanish International Amateur MP – 32’s
2017 – Spanish International Amateur Medal – T9
2017 – New South Wales Amateur (AUS) MP – Quarters
2017 – New South Wales Amateur Medal – T9
2017 – Avondale Amateur Medal (AUS) – 2nd
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – 16’s

Jack has enjoyed an excellent season with consistently good results throughout. He secured his spot relatively early with wins at the Hampshire Salver and Lytham Trophy, followed by a 2nd at the Brabazon. A couple of surprising match play losses in recent weeks are a slight concern but are more than offset by his international experience and continued improvement.

The Walker Cup 

5. JACK DAVIDSON (Wales)

2017 – Home Internationals (GB&I) – W4/H1/L1
2017 – Welsh Amateur (Closed) MP – Champion
2017 – Welsh Amateur Medal – T4
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T12
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – 9th
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T35
2017 – Welsh Open Amateur – 3rd
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T13
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – Champion
2017 – Spanish International Amateur MP – Champion
2017 – Portuguese International Amateur – T7
2017 – South American Amateur – 3rd

Jack is the only GB&I amateur to win three times this year – the Spanish International Amateur, European Nations and the Welsh Amateur – with two of these wins coming in match play events. When you add this to his other high finishes this season and impressive Home Internationals results this week he has become a strong pick for us.

6. HARRY ELLIS (England)

2017 – US Amateur Medal – T65
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W4/H0/L2
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T8
2017 – British Amateur MP – Champion
2017 – British Amateur Medal – 3rd
2017 – NCAA D1 Washington Regional (USA) – T5
2017 – USA Collegiate D1 Rank (all year, pre-Regionals) – 73

Harry’s superb comeback win in the Amateur Championship in June deservedly sealed his place in the team. It came on the back of a good US College season where he produced a number of impressive results for Florida State. He also delivered for England in the European Amateur Teams where his foursomes partnership with Alfie Plant was unbeaten.

7. PAUL MCBRIDE (Ireland)

2017 – Home Internationals (GB&I) – W4/H1/L0
2017 – European Open (European Tour) – T47
2017 – European Am Team Medal – T2
2017 – European Amateur – T13
2017 – British Amateur – Quarters
2017 – USA Collegiate D1 Rank (all year, pre-Regionals) – 53

I have been really impressed with Paul’s play this summer since he returned home from Wake Forest where he had also played well during the regular US College season. With his experience in the US and good current form, including an unbeaten Home Internationals this week, I expect him to play a leading role in Los Angeles.

8. SCOTT GREGORY (England)

2017 – US Amateur Medal – T70
2017 – English Amateur (Closed) MP – Quarters
2017 – English Amateur Medal – T10
2017 – Cobra Puma (PGA EuroPro Tour) – T4
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W3/H1/L1
2017 – European Amateur – T32
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T26
2017 – New South Wales Amateur (AUS) – Champion
2017 – New South Wales Amateur Medal – T3
2017 – Avondale Amateur Medal (AUS) – 21st
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – 16’s
2017 – Australian Amateur Medal – T12

Scott has played a mixed Pro / Am schedule this year, enjoying the fruits of his 2016 Amateur Championship win but making it hard for us to properly assess his standing. He has had a steady year on the amateur circuit, the highlight being an early season win in Australia, and has played relatively well in the last few weeks. His international experience and impressive match play record also underpin his selection. Finally, with fellow Hampshire men Singh Brar and Ellis already in my team his inclusion may bring useful foursomes flexibility too.

9. ROBERT MACINTYRE (Scotland)

2017 – US Amateur Medal and MP – 32’s
2017 – Vierumaki Finnish (Challenge Tour) – T53
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W3/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur – T4
2017 – British Amateur Medal and MP – 16’s
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T24
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T25
2017 – Match Play 9 (Challenge Tour) – T33
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T16
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T7
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – Semi’s

Robert has shown glimpses of what he is capable of in 2017 without delivering either the consistency or the win I would like to have seen. Again his international experience and strong match play record, including a good performance at this week’s US Amateur, mean he is well worth his place.

10. DAVID BOOTE (Wales)

2017 – US Amateur Medal – T85
2017 – Western Amateur (USA) – T52
2017 – European Amateur Team B Match – W2/H0/L1
2017 – European Amateur Team Medal – T16
2017 – British Open Final Qualifying (3 spots) – T4
2017 – European Amateur – T26
2017 – British Amateur – 64’s
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T4
2017 – US Open Sectionals (15 spots) – 18th
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – 7th
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T26
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T29
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T10
2017 – Portuguese International Amateur – T4
2017 – Australian Amateur MP – 32’s

I have wanted to select David from the start, albeit he has (or perhaps other players have) made it harder than I would have liked. A 2016 graduate of Stanford University he offers California / USA experience and has an excellent track record in international team competitions. His 2017 results offer good consistency in premier events, albeit there are few top 10s and no wins. A potential foursomes pairing with fellow Welshman Jack Davidson helps his selection. I hope his decision to play the Western Amateur rather than the South of England and Welsh Amateur doesn’t come back to haunt him when the selection that matters is made.

__________________________________________________

Appendix 1 – An Apology To My Reserves

Scotsmen LIAM JOHNSTON and CRAIG HOWIE have every right to expect to be selected for this year’s GB&I team. Indeed they still maybe !

Look at their 2017 playing records below and then compare them with those of Scott Gregory, Robert MacIntyre and David Boote. Johnston has won two big events this year – how can he not be in the team you may ask ?

If this match was taking place on a links course at home then I would probably have both of them in my team. Unfortunately for them it is not and that has influenced me.

However, our Captain, Craig Watson, is Scottish and I certainly would not question him if he pushed his fellow Selection Committee members for one or both of their inclusions.

The best I can offer is the opportunity to be my Reserves.

11. Liam JOHNSTON (Scotland)

2017 – Western Amateur (USA) – T18
2017 – European Amateur – T17
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – 7th
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – Champion
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T10
2017 – Lytham Trophy (ENG) – T13
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T24
2017 – African Amateur – Champion
2017 – South African Amateur – Quarters
2017 – Cape Province Open Am (RSA) – 26th
2017 – South African Stroke Amateur – T5

Liam started 2017 very well with a number of excellent performances in South Africa, including victory in the prestigious African Amateur. He has played well back home over the summer too culminating in a second win at the Scottish Open Amateur. His performance in the Western Amateur a few weeks ago was encouraging but a W0/H3/L3 performance at the Home Internationals was badly timed.

12. Craig HOWIE (Scotland)

2017 – Home Internationals (GB&I) – W2/D2/L2
2017 – Scottish Amateur (Closed) MP – 32’s
2017 – European Amateur Team A Match – W2/H0/L2
2017 – European Amateur – T32
2017 – British Amateur MP – 32’s
2017 – British Amateur Medal – T11
2017 – St Andrews Links Trophy (SCO) – T10
2017 – Scottish Open Amateur – T3
2017 – Brabazon Trophy (Eng Open Am) – T25
2017 – Irish Amateur Open – T7
2017 – Craigmillar Park Open Am (SCO) – Champion
2017 – European Nations (ESP) – T19
2017 – African Amateur – 5th
2017 – South African Amateur Medal – T11
2017 – Cape Province Open Am (RSA) – T9
2017 – South African Stroke Amateur – T7

Craig has enjoyed a consistently good year with nine top 11 finishes recorded. He perhaps needed to convert one of them into a big win to really push himself into the selection picture for this away match. His match play results seem reasonably robust also.

Appendix 2 – Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking – GB&I Only (as at 18/08/17)


Appendix 3 – World Amateur Golf Ranking – GB&I Only (as at 13/08/17 / released 16/08/17)


ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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