USA Win The 2019 Walker Cup 15.5-10.5

8th September 2019

RESULT: GB&I 10.5 – USA 15

A strong final day performance propelled USA to a comfortable 15.5 – 10.5 victory at Royal Liverpool G.C. in the 47th Walker Cup match.

The Americans won 10.5 out of the 14 points available on Day 2.

Throughout the first three sessions the match had been very competitive and finely balanced. It was therefore a disappointment that GB&I fell away badly coming down the home stretch and with it any chance of a grandstand finish for the large crowds was lost.

The USA Team Celebrate Their Win (Photo: GolfBible)

GB&I came into Day 2 with a promising two point advantage but after the USA had reduced that to 1-point at lunch by winning the second foursomes series 2.5 – 1.5 a rare away win seemed increasingly likely. It could have been even better for the USA with Scottish duo Euan Walker and Sandy Scott doing well to secure a half in their match.

With all 10 members of each team exposed in the final singles the additional strength in depth possessed by the USA was always likely to prove match defining.

As in Los Angeles two years ago USA won the Day 2 singles 8-2 to retain the trophy and bolster their already one sided Walker Cup record to P47 W37 L9 H1.

No USA team had won away since 2007 when the likes of Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Kyle Stanley prevailed at Royal County Down G.C. Before that USA’s previous away win was at Portmarnock in 1991 so every credit must be afforded to this class of 2019 for their achievement at Hoylake.

It was also the first time that a USA side had trailed after Day 1 and gone on to win, home or away, since 1963 at Turnberry.

After strong winds had buffeted the northwest coast of England in the build up to the match making practice more often a hindrance than a benefit the weekend turned out beautifully. Whilst GB&I lost any perceived advantage from the weather the sunny days and modest breeze added to the spectacle with around 11,000 supporters coming out to follow the match over the two days.

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Day 2 Foursomes – play started at 8.00am.

Conditions were again ideal. The sun was shining and the breeze modest at it’s peak.

GB&I captain Craig Watson sent out the same foursomes pairings in the same order as he had done on Day 1.

Captain Nathanial Crosby introduced Cole Hammer and Steven Fisk to the USA line up at the expense of John Pak and Isaiah Salinda, one of his two winning pairings on Day 1.

The pairing of Alex Fitzpatrick and Conor Purcell made a strong start to the opening game; birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes giving them a 2Up advantage. Sadly having got themselves to 1Up with 5 to play they lost their way conceding three of the next four holes to effectively hand the match to the American’s.

I had great hopes for the Scottish pairing of Euan Walker and Sandy Scott so it was a disappointment to see them only collect a half point from their two foursomes games. Whilst their solid back nine and finish deserves credit, where they were 2 Down with four holes to play, they were nevertheless a little fortunate to be in a position to secure a half after their bogey ridden start.

Harry Hall and Conor Gough were drawn against Stewart Hagestad and Akshay Bhatia for the second time in foursomes. Having got the better of them yesterday the GB&I pair unfortunately gave the early initiative away and were never able to recover it despite scoring relatively well.

For the second day running the Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb pairing played well. However, on Day 2 they were rewarded. They ran out easy 5&3 winners against Cole Hammer and Steven Fisk with an under par score.

Not Selected
Caolan Rafferty & James Sugrue (GB&I)
John Pak & Isaiah Salinda (USA)

Day 2 Foursomes Score: GB&I 1.5 – USA 2.5

By winning the session 2.5-1.5 USA had reduced GB&I’s lead to just one 1-point at lunch on the final day.

The USA had talked up their foursomes preparation before the match with long time USA team manager Robbie Zalzneck attributed the credit with focussing minds in this regard. Zalzneck, attending his ninth Walker Cup, was said to be fed up with seeing his team frequently handing GB&I a daily head start in the morning foursomes. Captain Crosby worked hard on pairings, which he retained throughout, and strategy and his team notably ended up 4.5-3.5 winners in the foursomes segment of the match.

______________________________________________

Day 2 Singles – play started at 1.15pm.

Day 2 saw a new set of games drawn save for Caolan Rafferty and Alex Smalley who played each other for a second time.

USA made their intentions clear from the start in most of the Day 2 singles matches, winning the first hole in six of the games.

Only Sandy Scott and Tom Sloman managed to secure winning points for GB&I as ultimately USA were allowed to run out convincing winners.

Isaiah Salinda beat Alex Fitzpatrick by 2 Holes in the opening match after he wore down his English opponent who had led on numerous occasions in the middle of their match.

John Pak, surprisingly left out of the morning foursomes given his play on Day 1, got the ball rolling for the USA. He beat Scotland’s Euan Walker 2&1 to secure a 100% winning match record – P3 W3. In his final amateur appearance Walker started poorly before fighting back well. However, Pak was equal to the challenge.

Sandy Scott highlighted his growing status by beating the previously unbeaten Brandon Wu 4&3. “I played very well today,” Scott said after his match, “I started well and made a few birdies and just had a rough patch in the middle but managed to hold on for the win.”

Having won his two foursomes Alex Smalley added a singles win to his Walker Cup resume on the final afternoon. Whilst Rafferty produced five birdies to keep the match competitive he was always going to struggle with eight bogeys also featuring on his scorecard.

Stewart Hagestad enjoyed a surprisingly easy 5&3 win against Harry Hall who struggled to apply any pressure to the tall Californian mid-amateur.

Andy Ogletree produced his best display of a largely disappointing competition to overcome the always combative Conor Gough who gave the U.S. Amateur champion plenty to think about. Two late birdies saw off Gough, 17 last Thursday, who clearly enjoyed playing in front of the large crowds.

John Augenstein hit the first tee shot of the match at 8.30am on Saturday and secured the trophy with his winning putt on the 15th green as he beat Thomas Plumb 4&3. “It really doesn’t matter who clinches it,” said Augenstein when interviewed afterwards, “The fact is that we’re a team and we won the Walker Cup for each other and for the United States and whoever else that we’re representing. It was really cool, and it was a special moment, but I did not know exactly that I had clinched it.”

Akshay Bhatia won his second point in three starts on Sunday against Amateur champion James Sugrue. With both players having been rested in the morning they were clearly ready to play come their 2.25pm tee time. Bhatia quickly moved in to a 4 Up lead after five holes and despite pockets of resistance from the Mallow man saw the game out with relative ease.

Cole Hammer, who looked anything but the best amateur in the world for most of the weekend, finally came good in his Sunday singles although Ireland’s Conor Purcell was far from his best in this 6&5 defeat.

Tom Sloman secured his second win of the day taking out Steven Fisk by 2 Holes. Whilst the trophy had long been won it is fair to say these two players were still giving it everything. The affable Sloman had become frustrated with the slow play of Fisk and his approach to concessions whilst Fisk was in no mood to leave Hoylake with three losses to his name. Fisk said afterwards “It’s hard to beat someone who holes everything and gets all the lucky bounces.” Having watched every shot of this game I certainly couldn’t argue with the former where the Somerset man holed putt after putt in a very impressive 8 birdie performance.

Walker Cup 2019 Score Reports (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Day 2 Singles Score: GB&I 2 – USA 8

Match Result: GB&I 10.5 – USA 15.5

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John Pak was the only player to emerge from the competition unbeaten, winning all three of his matches. 

This was clearly a team effort from the USA with nine of their ten players contributing a point.  Steven Fisk was the exception but he was unfortunate to be paired with an inspired Tom Sloman twice on Sunday.

Sandy Scott, with two wins and a half from his four matches, was the best point scorer for GB&I. Alex Fitzpatrick, Conor Gough and Tom Sloman can also be pleased with their contributions. Amateur champion James Sugrue, who played just the two singles was the only home player to leave Merseyside empty handed.

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“I let them just go play. They are very talented guys who believe in themselves. Their talent came to the surface. I could not be more excited for them and me – I’ve not won anything in about 38 years !” said a jubilant U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby. “These guys are inseparable and they’ve got a great memory now. This Walker Cup experience is going to be a memory, and a winning memory at that.”

Crosby stated early in the week that all of his players would play at least three games in the four session match. At every opportunity he reminded us that he had been benched twice at Royal Liverpool in 1983 by his then captain, Jay Sigel, and it was clear he didn’t want to leave any of his players feeling disappointed as he did back then despite being on a winning team.

“Obviously the boys are disappointed. It didn’t go quite to plan but they can be proud of their achievements to get in the team first of all and of their performance this weekend,” GB&I captain Craig Watson said. “I’m proud of all of them.”

“It was a tough course the way it was set up.” Watson explained (presumably forgetting that he was partially responsible for it – and if he wasn’t he should have been). “If you were ahead, early pars were enough to stay ahead because birdies were going to be few and far between, and the American boys did that very well. It’s been a fantastic week. The lads will probably learn a lot from this disappointment today.”

Signed 2019 Walker Cup Flag (Photo: GolfBible)

It is of course easy to be critical after the event. A winning captain and team inevitably receive all the plaudits whilst losing ones are always open to attack.

At the end of the day GB&I lost because they were out played in the final singles series. The USA team collectively played the better shots and holed more putts than their opponents.

That’s not to say that there aren’t lessons to be learned for The R&A selectors from this loss. Did we pick the right team – players on form with good links records ?, were our foursomes partnerships right ?, was our preparation right – we had three on site training sessions and a week of pre-match practice ?, why was our scoring generally poor ? and could / should we have set the course up differently ? are all questions that spring to mind.

Craig Watson also needs to review his own performance. This was his third match in charge of GB&I and he is yet to win one. He had previously drawn the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy match, played at Prince’s G.C., 12.5-12.5 against Continent of Europe and then suffered a record 15.5-9.5 loss in Finland in the same event in 2018.

Watson is expected to retain the GB&I captain’s role for the Seminole match in May 2021. Just like Spider Miller had to after USA’s 2015 loss at Royal Lytham he needs to reflect on what went well and what didn’t this week. Spider learned a few lessons and we saw a very different U.S. captain two years later in Los Angeles.

The difference in personality with his opposite number was stark this weekend. Watson seemed a quiet man, happier in the shadows than out front, whilst Crosby struck the bystander as a more inspirational character; somebody you would want to spend time with and play for.

Watson will in all likelihood come up against Nathaniel Crosby again but this time at the American’s home Club – that will be a much tougher assignment. I’m not looking for high fives or poetry in his speeches from the GB&I captain but perhaps a little more overt enthusiasm and leadership would help.

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From the USA team Akshay Bhatia, Steven Fisk, Isaiah Salinda, Alex Smalley and Brandon Wu are all turning Pro in the coming days.

Euan Walker and Tom Sloman are expected to do likewise before playing in the 2019 European Tour Qualifying School in the coming weeks. Other GB&I players are keeping their options open why they determine their own playing exemptions for 2020.

ME.

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

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GB&I Lead 7-5 After Day 1 Of The 2019 Walker Cup

7th September 2019

DAY 1 SCORE: GB&I 7 – USA 5

The opening day of the 47th Walker Cup match proved to be a positive one for the GB&I team who left Royal Liverpool G.C. pleased with their start but conscious that they had left points on the table which they may live to regret tomorrow.

Day 1 Foursomes (GB&I players first) – play started at 8.30am.

The Day 1 matches were played in near perfect conditions. The sun shone for most of the day with a gentle north westerly breeze barely affecting ball flights.

Alex Fitzpatrick and Conor Purcell delivered for GB&I in Game 1. Some outstanding putting and chipping from Purcell in particular led to a notable victory over the two recent U.S. Amateur Championship finalists.

In Game 2 John Pak and Isaiah Salinda made few mistakes in their win against the strong Scottish pairing of Sandy Scott and Euan Walker who let this game get away from them around the turn.

Without playing particularly well Harry Hall and Conor Gough were able to come through for GB&I in their match against Stewart Hagestad and Akshay Bhatia who started and finished the game poorly.

Brandon Wu and Alex Smalley played very well to overcome English pair Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb in Game 4. The English pairing did little wrong but just came up against an inspired USA foursomes performance.

Not Selected
Caolan Rafferty & James Sugrue (GB&I)
Cole Hammer & Steven Fisk (USA)

Day 1 Foursomes Score: GB&I 2 – USA 2

______________________________________________

Day 1 Singles – play started at 1.45pm.

Alex Fitzpatrick had a notable victory against WAGR ranked world No. 1 Cole Hammer in a game of mixed quality. Hammer, who was not included in the morning foursomes, has struggled a little this summer and is clearly not at the same level as he was in 2018 when he was all conquering.

Euan Walker led Steven Fisk from the 2nd hole of their game and saw the match out but not without some nervous moments on the back nine. Again the above scorecard suggests that both players struggled on the links despite the near perfect conditions.

U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and in form Sandy Scott played a higher quality match in game 3. The tough start to the back nine along the coastline nearly derailed the Scotsman but he battled hard down the stretch to secure his first point.

In a game of few birdies John Augenstein took some revenge for his morning foursomes loss against Conor Purcell who was unable to repeat his earlier heroics on and around the greens.

John Pak won the final two holes against James Sugrue, who had been struggling with a sore back, to steal a point that had looked like being GB&I’s for much of the afternoon. His superb approach and birdie putt on the last certainly got him and the American supporters excited. Pak’s win was certainly a late confidence builder for the U.S. party. A 7-5 overnight deficit certainly felt a lot better than the 8-4 one they appeared to be on course for.

Conor Gough secured his second win of the day with a consistent front nine and thankfully a solid par finish on the 18th after it looked like he was perhaps going to gift a half to Isaiah Salinda.

Caolan Rafferty will be pleased to pick up a win in his opening contribution. Alex Smalley didn’t appear to push him too hard and rarely looked comfortable on the greens this afternoon.

Walker Cup 2019 Score Reports (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Tom Sloman who ended Day 1 with two losses but who arguably played better than anyone else on the GB&I team. Wu was unbeatable, completely in control of himself and his game, this afternoon. His scoring, even allowing was a conceded birdie on 12, was simply exceptional.

Not Selected
Harry Hall & Tom Plumb (GB&I)
Akshay Bhatia & Stewart Hagestad (USA)

Day 1 Singles Score: GB&I 5 – USA 3

Day 1 Final Score: GB&I 7 – USA 5

GB&I Captain Craig Watson said “It was a pretty good day. It could have been better, but we all knew the Americans were going to come back at us. I think the fact the Americans came in so close at the end could work in our advantage because we’ll be a bit more ready for the fight tomorrow. Everybody is well and looking forward to it.”

USA Captain Nathanial Crosby said: “I think we were a little slow in getting started this morning. But we fought hard to get back to all square going in to lunch. This afternoon I could not believe the amount of putts GB&I made in the first 45 minutes. I think John Pak winning his match maybe a turning point. We were pretty lucky to be 5-3 down when it looked like we could be 6-2 or even 7-1 down.”

ME.

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

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113. The R&A Announces The GB&I Team For Hoylake

19th August 2019

The R&A announced their 10 man team for the 47th Walker Cup match on Monday 19th August.

The following players were selected: –

Alex FITZPATRICK (20) – Hallamshire, England
Conor GOUGH (16) – Stoke Park, England
Harry HALL (21) – West Cornwall, England
Thomas PLUMB (20) – Yeovil, England
Conor PURCELL (21) – Portmarnock, Ireland
Caolan RAFFERTY (26) – Dundalk, Ireland
Sandy SCOTT (20) – Nairn, Scotland
Tom SLOMAN (22) – Taunton & Pickeridge, England
James SUGRUE (22) – Mallow, Ireland
Euan WALKER (24) – Kilmarnock (Barassie), Scotland

There are five English, 3 Irish and 2 Scottish players in the team.

Reserves
Benjamin SCHMIDT (16) – Rotherham, England
Benjamin JONES (19) – Northamptonshire County, England

GB&I captain Craig Watson said: “It has been a very difficult decision to select ten players for Great Britain and Ireland from a strong squad but we have been very impressed with the results of those we have picked and we believe they will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against a strong American team.

“The Walker Cup is a fantastic opportunity for these amateur golfers to demonstrate their talents on the big stage and it will be an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We are looking forward to the match at Hoylake and I’m sure the players will give it their very best to win.”

ME.

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112. USA Announce Their Final 7 Team Members

18th August 2019

The U.S.G.A.’s International Team Selection Committee announced the remaining members of their 2019 Walker Cup team shortly after the conclusion of play at the U.S. Amateur Championship on Sunday 18th August 2019.The following players were added to the U.S.A roster for the match at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 7-8 September 2019: –

John AUGENSTEIN (21) – U.S. Amateur runner-up
Steven FISK (22)
Andy OGLETREE (21) – U.S. Amateur champion
John PAK (20)
Isaiah SALINDA (22)
Alex SMALLEY (22)
Brandon WU (22)

They join: –

Cole HAMMER (19)
Akshay BHATIA (17)
Stewart HAGESTAD (28)

who were all selected on Wednesday 24th July 2019 based on their World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). They were the three highest ranked U.S.A. players on that date.

Chandler PHILLIPS (22) and Ricky CASTILLO (18) are the first and second alternates respectively.

2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup Team (photo: Fox Sports / USGA TV Graphic) 

ME.

Copyright © 2014-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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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 #43 / 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 #29 / 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 #22 / 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 #242 / 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 #54 / 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 #114 / 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 #126 / 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.

______________________________________________

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 GB&I 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…..

____________________________________________

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.

____________________________________________

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.

___________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________

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.

IMG_0881

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 

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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

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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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