69. Jack Davidson Reignites His Walker Cup Hopes With Welsh Amateur Win

5th August 2017

Jack DAVIDSON won the 2017 Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship yesterday at Aberdovey Golf Club.

The win pushes him firmly back into the Walker Cup picture after he had drifted out a little in recent months, primarily due to the good form of other players.

Jack didn’t make a great start to this event. He was +4 after 5 holes of the Stroke Play Qualifier. However, he recovered well and after rounds of 71 and 69 he finished tied 4th, out of a field of 75 players, on -2. Evan GRIFFITH achieved medalist honours with impressive rounds of 68 and 64 (-10).

The Newport man went on to win five Match Play games to secure the title: –
Round 1 (18) Theo BAKER – 6&5
Round 2 (18) Zach GALLIFORD – 3&2
Quarter Final (18) Shaun HARPIN – 3&2
Semi-Final (18) Evan GRIFFITH – 2 holes
Final (36) Tim HARRY – 8&7

For more information on this week’s Welsh Men’s Amateur Championship please click these links: Stroke Play Qualifying Results and Match Play Results

Jack Davidson (Photo: Jonathan Davidson)

In picking up his home Championship Jack became the first Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) player to win three elite amateur titles in 2017.

Back in March Jack won the Spanish International Amateur Championship and the European Nations Individual (Wales also came first in the Team competition). The first of these also involved a Match Play second stage like the Welsh Amateur.

It was good to see Jack reassert his match play credentials after a disappointing European Amateur Team Championship in Austria. Having qualified well in tied 12th he lost all three of his single games as Wales collapsed to a 16th (last) place finish.

It is easy to be dismissive of the Welsh Amateur title, in terms of the field size and depth, but I thought this win spoke volumes for Jack and his Walker Cup credentials. My view is a win is a win and as such should not be demeaned in any way. It also shows a bit of character to win when you are the favourite to do so as Jack probably was in Aberdovey.

David BOOTE, Wales’ highest ranked player, missed the Championship to play in the Western Amateur at Skokie CC in Illinois. He made the 36 hole Stroke Play Qualifier cut but missed the 72 hole ‘Sweet 16’ Match Play cut after rounds of 68, 73, 75 and 74. He finished tied 52nd in the Stroke Play standings.

For more information on the Western Amateur Championship please click these links: Stroke Play Qualifying Results and Match Play Results.

Jack Davidson wasn’t in my last Walker Cup team (see News Update 65) but I am now starting to think how can I not include someone who has won three times in 2017 ? When I do my imaginary gee-up speech before play begins in Los Angeles it would be nice to say “hey guys we’ve got the Spanish Amateur, the European Nations Individual and the Welsh Amateur champion on our side”.

The problem is someone else is going to have to come out to make way for him – who ?

The updated Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) has Jack up 8 places to 61st following his Welsh Amateur win. He is 12th in the GB&I only list on the back of a strong 2017.

Jack Davidson’s Performance Record (Source: SPWAR)

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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68. Irish Walker Cup Hopes Remain On A Knife Edge

31st July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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64. Scott Gregory: The Walker Cup Conundrum

7th July 2017

At the end of my News Article ‘61. Alfie Plant Wins The European Amateur’ dated 2nd July 2017 I floated a potential Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup Team based solely on 2017 performances to date.

I named 10 players but mentioned 13 in total who had all enjoyed strong golfing year’s. Scott GREGORY (ENG) was not one of them.

Yesterday I received the following Comment to this Article and my team selection from Mike Gregory, Scott’s Dad: –

“You leave out Scott Gregory who was Amateur Champion last year and NSW Amateur Champion this year, plus experience of playing in 3 Majors plus Memorial. Also currently 6 in the world. Would you really leave him out?”

My answer is ‘Yes’ Mr. Gregory I would – at least at the moment.

Let me explain in detail because Scott Gregory has the potential to be one of the GB&I selectors’ biggest dilemma’s.

The first thing to say is I do have some empathy with Mike’s view. Scott is clearly a very good player and his 2016 Amateur Championship victory was an outstanding achievement, one I would certainly rate more highly than playing in any Walker Cup. He has also represented both GB&I and England in recent years and has always done well. There is no question he has a strong match play pedigree and would be an experienced and competitive member of our Walker Cup team if called upon.

My position is not in any way meant as a criticism of Scott but simply a reflection of the fact I currently believe there are 10 more deserving players based on 2017 form and results. If the Walker Cup had been last year he would have strolled selection. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t.

Scott Gregory (Photo: Andrew Griffin)

Scott’s problem in my eyes is his 2016 Amateur win has proven to be something of a poisoned chalice when it comes to the 2017 amateur golf season and in turn the Walker Cup selection debate.

Here is a list of Scott’s events and results this year: –

03-07/1/17   Australian Master of the Amateurs – 81 75 76 75 T59
17-18/1/17   Australian Amateur SP Qualifying – 69 75 +2 T12
19-22/1/17   Australian Amateur MP – Lost to Kevin Yuan (AUS) in Rd 3
24-27/1/17   Avondale Amateur Medal – 70 69 73 71 -1 21st
30-31/1/17   New South Wales Amateur SP Qualifying – 69 69 -6 T3
01-03/2/17   New South Wales MP – 5 rounds Champion
28/3/17   Georgia Cup – beat Curtis Luck 19th hole Won
06-09/4/17   The Masters (Pro) – 82 75 MC
29-30/4/17   England v. Spain – Foursomes W1 L1 / Singles W1 L1
04-07/5/17   Lytham Trophy – 80 72 MC
10-14/5/17   Irish Amateur Open – 75 75 73 72 T26
29-04/6/17   The Memorial Tournament (Pro) – 76 72 MC
15-18/6/17   The US Open Championship (Pro) – 75 73 MC
28-01/7/17   European Amateur Championship – 71 74 66 71 T32
04/7/17  The Open Final Qualifying (Royal Cinque Ports) – 71 71 T7 DNQ

I am sure Scott will have benefitted from playing in two Major’s, as well as in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, but he has missed the cut in all of them. If he had a made a cut in one of these, like a number of the potential US Walker Cup players did, then I would be pleased to view these collective performances more positively.

Scott did win the New South Wales Medal (NSW) in early February. Any overseas win is impressive and this one had a match play element too. However, the NSW Medal sits outside the Top 50 amateur golf events in the world and as such the field wasn’t of the very highest quality.

Save for Scott’s match play win over 2016 US Amateur champion Curtis Luck in the 18 hole Georgia Cup match there hasn’t really been much more to build a case for selection around in 2017.

Sadly I think Scott’s World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) of 6th tells us more about the inadequacies of that ranking system than Scott’s current standing in the amateur game. How can I take the WAGR seriously when at the same time it has Matthew Jordan 74th, Liam Johnston 92nd and Jack Singh Brar 95th after the seasons they have had ? I don’t take any pleasure in saying this but frankly any Walker Cup selector that looks at the WAGR for guidance as to our team should not be in their position.

The Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) is the only ranking worth considering for the selection task because, as I have said many times before, it ages points over time and therefore accurately reflects current form. Scott is today ranked 87th in the SPWAR, the 17th highest GB&I player, which may be a little harsh but better reflects his weighted results in amateur and pro golf over the last two years.

For more information on this area please take a look at my News Article ’63. GB&I Amateur Golf Rankings – 30th June 2017′ or for more detail the Rankings page on my sister website www.golfbible.co.uk.

The good news for Scott is there is still some golf to be played before the Team has to be finalised and there is also the matter of foursomes partnerships that need to be factored in to the final analysis.

Scott will have the opportunity to strengthen his case in the forthcoming European Amateur Team Championships, the English Men’s Amateur (Closed) and the US Amateur.

In terms of foursome partners he has played with Josh HILLEARD (England v. France), Stuart GREHAN (GB&I, St. Andrews Trophy) and Jack SINGH BRAR (Spain v. England) in recent times. Fellow Hampshire players Singh Brar and Harry ELLIS would appear to offer obvious Walker Cup options. However, alternatively the selectors also have the option of pairing Jack and Harry together.

I have nothing against Scott and I wish him all the best in the coming weeks.

Finally, as I mentioned to another correspondent a few days ago the ultimate response to such debates is who would you take out of the current ten to accommodate another player and why ? Not a question I would want Mr. Gregory to answer with regard to Scott but one I am sure the R&A’s Selection Committee will have to ponder in a few cases in the weeks ahead.

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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

29th June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Harvey (Photo: USGA)

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

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

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

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

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

View the – George C. Thomas Invitational Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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59. Harry Ellis Wins The Amateur Championship

25th June 2017

England’s Harry ELLIS yesterday won the Amateur Championship on the 38th hole at Royal St. George’s G.C.

Ellis, who was 4 down with 5 holes to play, showed remarkable courage and nerve to overcome Australian Dylan Perry’s apparently unassailable lead.

In doing so the 21 year old from Southampton also guaranteed himself a spot in Great Britain & Ireland’s 2017 Walker Cup team. The selectors have been clear in recent years that a home winner of the Amateur Championship, in a Walker Cup year, would rightly have to be included in our team.

 Harry Ellis (Photo: @RandA)

Harry will also receive exemptions into the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale GC. and the 2018 U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills GC., as well as an invitation to the 2018 Masters at Augusta National GC. In addition there will also be other European Tour and PGA Tour invitations available to him if he wishes to pursue them.

In what is becoming a recurring theme this year Harry is another player performing well and winning who was not included in the initial 19-man Walker Cup squad. However, to be fair to the R&A selectors I don’t think many people would have included him back in January 2017.

This is Ellis’ second major amateur victory. In 2012, aged just 16, he became the youngest player to win the English Amateur Championship. This led to both Boys and Men’s representative honours for England in 2012 and 2013.

He moved to Florida State University in January 2014, his start date deferred due to the tragic death of his mum Tracy in 2013 from cancer aged just 50.

Understandably he found his Freshman year difficult and his golf suffered. With Florida State having a strong line up Ellis decided to take a red jacket Sophomore year, playing no competitive College golf. In 2015/16 he returned to the golf squad but found it hard to get any game time. In his four tournaments he had an average score of 75.58. His patience and hard work were finally rewarded in 2016/17, his Junior season, where he was required to play a leading role for the Seminoles. He played 39 rounds, the joint highest in the Florida state line up, and delivered a 71.62 stroke average (the second best) which strongly contributed to the team reaching the NCAA Division 1 National Championships. He finished the season ranked 53rd in the Golfstat US College rankings and as a result was selected for Europe’s Arnold Palmer Cup team.

Despite his strong season in the United States it still appeared at the start of last week that Harry would come up short in the Walker Cup selection debate.

You may recall I wrote an article suggesting this – ‘54. Will Any Of Our US College Players Make The Walker Cup Team ?’. There appeared little reason to change this view after Europe’s comprehensive defeat to the U.S.A. in the Arnold Palmer Cup a couple of weeks ago where Harry had one foursomes win (with Harry Hall) to show for his four matches.

He needed to deliver a knock out blow in the coming weeks to force his way in to the Walker Cup picture. It’s one thing needing it, it’s another delivering it.

How quickly things can change. Despite only flying back into the country 10 days ago and without the links practice that many of his fellow GB&I players will have enjoyed over the last 6 weeks he managed to deliver that knockout blow in some style. Harry Ellis – 2017 Amateur Champion.

As a quick Walker Cup aside we should of course note that one man’s success is another man’s failure. Ellis wasn’t in the now 21-man Squad and whilst nearby wasn’t a probable pick before his stunning Amateur Championship victory. Harry Ellis has therefore just cost some one else there place in the 2017 GB&I Team.

When you look at Harry’s recent story – from personal tragedy to the ups and downs of (College) golf – you can quickly see how mentally strong he must be. Few players in the world would have been able to battle to the very end yesterday – after 10 rounds in six days – and win. He is now fully deserving of his Walker Cup spot and the spoils of victory that will come his way.

Well done Harry.

Appendix – Other GB&I Amateur Championship Performances

Two other US college golfers did very well at The Amateur. Ireland’s Paul MCBRIDE (Wake Forest) reached the Quarter Finals whilst Ryan LUMSDEN (Northwestern) fell in Round 4. McBride now has a very good chance of making our 2017 Walker Cup team

Robert MACINTYRE and Jack SINGH BRAR also reached Round 4 further strengthening their Los Angeles 2017 claims.

Here’s a look at how all of the leading GB&I players got on: –

Match Play Stage

Final

Harry ELLIS (ENG) – Champion / Won 38th hole v. Dylan Perry AUS)

Quarter Finals

Paul MCBRIDE (IRE) – Lost 2 holes to Harry Ellis (ENG)

Round 4

Ryan LUMSDEN (SCO) – Lost 2 holes to Jarle Kaldestad Volden (NOR)
Robert MACINTYRE (SCO) – Lost 1 hole to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Jack SINGH BRAR (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Paul McBride (IRE)
Charlie STRICKLAND (ENG) – Lost 4&3 to Alejandro Tosti (ARG)

Round 3

George BAYLIS (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Robert MacIntyre (SCO)
Stuart GREHAN (IRE) – Lost 1 hole to Ryan Lumsden (SCO)
Craig HOWIE (SCO) – Lost 20th hole to Kristoffer Ventura (NOR)
David LANGLEY (ENG) – Lost 4&3 to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Daniel O’LOUGHLIN (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Zach Murray (AUS)
Caolan RAFFERTY* (IRE) – Lost 25th hole to Alejandro Tosti (ARG)
Tom SLOMAN (ENG) – Lost 1 hole to Matias Honkala (FIN)
Jordan SUNDBORG (ENG) – Lost 6&5 to Stefano Mazzoli (ITA)

Round 2

David BOOTE (WAL) – Lost 3&2 to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Ben CHAMBERLAIN (WAL) – Lost 2&1 to Hurly LONG (GER)
Robin DAWSON (IRE) – Lost 5&3 to Ryan Lumsden (SCO)
Sean FLANAGAN (IRE) – Lost 2&1 to Jack Singh Brar (ENG)
Evan GRIFFITH (WAL) – Lost 4&2 to Hayden Springer (USA)
Matthew JORDAN (ENG) – Lost 2&1 to Jordan Seiple (USA)
Chris MACLEAN (SCO) – Lost 1 hole to Tom Sloman (ENG)
Llewellyn MATTHEWS (WAL) – Lost 3&1 to Luca Cianchette (ITA)
Conor O’ROURKE (IRE) – Lost 3&2 to Min Woo Lee (AUS)
Gian-Marco PETROZZI (ENG) – Lost 3&1 to Alejandro Tosti (ARG)
Craig ROSS (SCO) – Lost 1 hole to Danile O’Loughlin (ENG)
Sandy SCOTT (SCO) – Lost 2&1 to Charlie Strickland (ENG)
Euan WALKER (SCO) – Lost 3&2 to Jordan Sundborg (ENG)

Round 1

JR GALBRAITH (IRE) – Lost 3&2 to Casper Simberg (FIN)
Tim HARRY (WAL) – Lost 19th hole to Kim Koivu (FIN)
Josh HILLEARD (ENG) – Lost 5&4 to George Baylis (ENG)
Conor PURCELL (IRE) – Lost 3&1 to Frerik Niléhn (SWE)
Connor SYME (SCO0 – Lost 1 hole to David Langley (ENG)
William WHITEOAK (ENG) – Lost 2 holes to Tom Sloman (ENG)

Stroke Play Stage

*Caolan Rafferty achieved medalist honours in the Stroke Play Qualifying Competition. He shot 70 at Royal St. George’s GC on Day 1 and a new course record 62 at Prince’s on Day 2 for a 132 (-10) total.

The Match Play qualifying cut fell at 141 (-1).

Notable players, mainly in the context of the Walker Cup, to miss this cut included: –

Bradley MOORE (ENG) Ev
Alfie PLANT (ENG) Ev
Jamie STEWART (SCO) Ev
Jack DAVIDSON (WAL) +1
Jake BURNAGE (ENG) +2
Colm CAMPBELL (IRE) +3)
Dan BROWN (ENG) +5
Peter O’KEEFFE (IRE) +5
Liam JOHNSTON (SCO) +6
James WALKER (ENG) +6
Marco PENGE (ENG) +7
Alex GLEESON (IRE) +7
Harry HALL (ENG) +8
Owen EDWARDS (WAL) +12
Barry HUME (SCO) +12.

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship SP Results

Click here to view the – 2017 Amateur Championship MP Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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56. Hagestad And Harvey Both Qualify For The US Open

6th June 2017

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

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

Stewart Hagestad (Photo: USGA)

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

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

Scott Harvey (Photo: USGA)

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

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

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

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

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

2017 – USA Team

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

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

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

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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50. Jack Singh Brar Wins The 2017 Lytham Trophy

7th May 2017

Jack SINGH BRAR today won the prestigious Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club. His rounds of 68, 73, 72 and 75 for a +8 total earned him a memorable wire-to-wire victory.

On the back of a good set of results in Australia and his recent Hampshire Salver win Jack is now clearly very well placed to secure a spot within the Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team.

There are now only 125 days until the match starts and around 110 until the Teams are selected.

Jack is currently not in the GB&I Walker Cup squad. He also chose to step away from the formal England Golf coaching set up at the start of this season. However, following his big win on the Fylde Coast he has risen to 48th in the SPWAR and is now the fifth highest GB&I player (fourth if Sam Horsfield, who is expected to turn Pro in early June, is excluded). Sometimes it pays to trust yourself and ‘plough your own furrow’ in this life.

Jack Singh Brar With His Father Ami (Photo: @AMcGlue)

Two other English players finished 2nd and 3rd at Lytham.

The Walker Cup claims of Charlie STRICKLAND (+10), who only turns 18 later this month, will have grown a little bit louder this weekend too. Charlie won both the Duncan Putter and U18 Peter McEvoy Trophy in April but his 2nd place at Lytham is a step up on both. A man who’s confidence is growing and now has it all to play for.

Jake BURNAGE (+11) also followed up his Hampshire Hog win at North Hants GC a few weeks ago with a creditable third place here.

This was the first major amateur men’s competition of the 2017 GB&I season. As such most of our likely Walker Cup candidates were on display. Out of the current 21-man GB&I Squad only Paul MCBRIDE and Sandy SCOTT, both still competing for their US Colleges, and Barry HUME, who chose not to enter, were not present in Lancashire.

I think it is fair to say that the 2017 Lytham Trophy was generally not a confidence boosting week for our leading players and Walker Cup hopes.

Owen EDWARDS (+15 / 9th) was the highest finisher from the 18 GB&I Walker Cup squad players competing.

Here are the Lytham Trophy scores of the Walker Cup squad players: –

Owen EDWARDS          76 – 74 – 74 – 71  (+15)  9th
Jack DAVIDSON            79 – 70 – 72 – 75  (+16)  14th
Robert MACINTYRE    76 – 73 – 70 – 78  (+17)  21st
David BOOTE                76 – 76 – 77 – 71  (+20)  29th
Dan BROWN                  78 – 71 – 77 – 77  (+23)  34th

13 of the GB&I squad members missed the +12 36-hole cut as you can see below:-

Alfie PLANT                   80 – 73  (+13)  46th
Scott GREGORY             80 – 73  (+13)  47th
Craig HOWIE                 79 – 74  (+13)  48th
Stuart GREEHAN          79 – 74  (+13)  50th
Alex GLEESON              82 – 72  (+14)  56th
James WALKER             82 – 73  (+15)  74th
Bradley MOORE            79 – 76  (+15)  80th
Connor SYME                 80 – 76  (+16)  85th
Colm CAMPBELL          79 – 77  (+16)  86th
Conor O’ROURKE         79 – 78  (+17)  91st
Robin DAWSON            83 – 76  (+19)  104th
Craig ROSS                     82 – 78  (+20)  111th
Marco PENGE                94 – 74  (+28)  139th

Click here to view the – 2017 Lytham Trophy Results

Click here to read my report – GolfBible 2017 Lytham Trophy Preview & Results

ME.

Copyright © 2017, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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49. Spain v. England – 29/30 April 2017 – Results

1st May 2017

England beat Spain 17-13 in their biennial mixed match last weekend to retain the Seve Ballesteros Trophy.

The England Team (Photo: Adolfo Luna)

England traditionally do well in this match which was originally a men’s only affair but moved to a mixed team format in 2015. The competing team’s now consist of six men and four women. Played over two days, five foursomes are played on each morning with ten singles in the afternoon. Yesterday’s 2017 win at El Saler near Valencia took England’s series record to an impressive P17 W15 H0 L2.

The detailed match results can be viewed here – Spain v. England Results

England picked a strong team which could not necessarily be said of their opponents who had some notable omissions. The relatively close result therefore gave both parties something to cheer about. England got the match win as expected but Spain could take heart from putting up a good fight, knowing they have reinforcements to call upon in the future.

England picked their strongest six men with all of them still hopeful of picking up a Walker Cup selection in August. It is therefore interesting to review their foursome pairings and the individual match play performances.

The male foursomes pairings for both days were: –
1. Scott GREGORY and Jack SINGH BRAR
2. Bradley MOORE and Alfie PLANT
3. Dan BROWN and Marco PENGE.

Somewhat inconclusively these pairings all won on Day 1 and then proceeded to all lose on Day 2.

The singles results were similar too. Five of the players won one and lost one whilst Marco PENGE lost one and halved the other – he lost the 18th hole on Day 2 to let in Jorge Maicas in a close match.

On paper it appeared as if the Spanish Women may be their weak link and experienced English international pair Sophie LAMB and Gemma CLEWS took advantage of this. It is worth noting that England won because their four Women won their match within a match 8.5 – 3.5. The English men actually drew 8.5 – 8.5.

Here is my analysis of the individual match performances (which also shows all of the WAGR world rankings at the start of play): –

Congratulations to England on a good away win – certainly something I would never sniff at. However, from a Walker Cup perspective I am not sure the manner of the victory, the foursomes pairings or any of the overall individual performances, whilst all satisfactory, will have made Captain Watson jump for joy or strike fear into the other home nation players vying for the 10 available team places.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All Rights Reserved.

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48. USGA Softens Mid-Amateur Selection Policy

18th April 2017

Jim Nugent yesterday reported in Global Golf Post that the USGA had decided to soften their Mid-Amateur Selection Policy, starting in 2017.

The USGA adopted this approach in 2013, committing to including two mid-amateur (over 25 years old) players in all of their future Walker Cup teams.

However, with the prime instigator of this policy Tom O’Toole coming to the end of his term as USGA President, the pool of potential candidates diminishing all the time and recent results disappointing it appears a change has quietly been instigated.

In the period from 1973 to 2003 the US team included at least two mid-amateurs and sometimes as many as four so the formal policy introduction wasn’t a particularly earth shattering development in 2013. Having said that in 2005 there were no mid-amateurs and between 2007 and 2011 just one.

In the 2015 match at Royal Lytham 52 year old Mike McCoy became the third oldest competitor in the history of the contest when he joined Scott Harvey on the USA team.

Whilst well founded the inclusion of mid-ams hasn’t been much of a success in playing terms. They were W1-L5 at Lytham and are now W3-L8 since the formal policy was introduced in 2013.

The USGA are now said to be only committed to the inclusion of one mid-amateur for each future match. Any additional mid-amateur candidates will need to have proven themselves better than College alternatives in elite amateur competition throughout the selection period.

Stewart Hagestad (Photo: Chris Trotman / ANGC)

Following the conclusion of the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship in September Stewart Hagestad (26) and Scott Harvey (38), the champion and runner-up, were initially the clear favourites to pick up the 2017 mid-amateur spots in the USA team. Both were included in the USA’s Walker Cup squad that met up in Los Angeles in December 2016.

With Hagestad (26) having picked up low amateur honours at The Masters in April 2017 he is unquestionably the USA’s No. 1 mid-amateur and as such appears a certainty for their 2017 team. He is committed to a full amateur schedule and interestingly has indicated he plans to play in both the Irish Open Amateur and The Amateur Championship this year.

Scott Harvey would therefore appear to be the man most under pressure as a result of this policy change. It is now clear that he will need to perform very well through the spring and summer if he is to make the team for a second time.

Mr. Nugent’s full article can be read here – Global Golf Post: ‘USGA Backs Off Walker Cup Mid-Am Commitment’.

ME.

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

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37. Future Venues: Seminole Confirmed And Cypress Point Announced

15th December 2016

It’s not very easy to top the confirmation of Seminole Golf Club as your 2021 Walker Cup venue but the United States Golf Association (USGA) managed to do it today.

Probably fearing the news would break elsewhere soon, as it did with Seminole in 2013, the USGA saw fit to also announce the Cypress Point Club as it’s 2025 host course.

Seminole Golf Club (© USGA / Fred Vuich) and Cypress Point Club (© USGA / Martin Miller)

Whilst Florida is normally great for golf all year round the risk of Autumn storms, and possibly worse, has led the USGA to move the 2021 match to 8th – 9th May.

As a result of the above 2021 will be the first time the match will be played in the Spring in the USA. Traditionally every USA home match has been played in late August or September.

The Walker Cup was always held in May in Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) up until Portmarnock Golf Club hosted the 1991 match when it moved to the September berth we are now familiar with.

The 8th – 9th May will be the earliest date in the calendar the match has ever been played in it’s entire history.

Selection for the 2021 GB&I team will be more challenging than normal for The R&A given that very few major events will have been contested by that time in our season. From a US perspective some changes may also need to be made to that year’s NCAA Championship schedule which normally concludes in May.

The 50th Walker Cup match in 2025 will be played on the Monterey Peninsula, back in it’s September slot, at the Cypress Point Club in California.

This will be the second time Cypress Point has staged the Walker Cup match with the USA winning the previous encounter 15-9 in 1981.

Both courses opened in 1929 and to this day remain amongst the most private in the world as you can clearly see from the photos below.

Members Only

Nevertheless the opportunity to explore first hand both Seminole, designed by Donald Ross, and Cypress Point, with it’s strong Alister MacKenzie connections, will be a treat that many golf supporters will want to take up in the years ahead.

For more information on this topic take a look at my website page – Future Venues.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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36. Geoff Marks OBE Has Died Aged 78

14th December 2016

I was saddened to read about the passing of Geoffrey Conway Marks yesterday. Born on 2nd November 1938 he had just turned 78.

A member of Trentham Golf Club in Staffordshire for more than 60 years Geoff played in two Walker Cups and captained the Team on a further two occasions.

Geoff Marks

He played for Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) at Milwaukee CC in 1969 (lost 10-8) and at the Old Course, St. Andrews in 1971 (won 13-11).

Paired with Rodney Foster he lost his opening foursomes game 2&1 in 1969 before winning both his singles, beating Lanny Wadkins (1 hole) and Dr. Edgar Updegraff (3&2).

In 1971 he lost all three of his games at St Andrews. He lost singles to Allen Miller III (1 hole) and Tom Kite (3&2). Having not played foursomes on Day 1 he lost by 1 hole the following day when paired with Charles Green.

After captaining England between 1980-83 Geoff took on the GB&I Walker Cup role; firstly at Sunningdale GC in 1987 and then at Peachtree GC two years later. His first game was far from successful – GB&I losing 7.5-16.5 at home. However the second would go down in history. The 12.5-11.5 victory in Atlanta was the first time GB&I had won a Walker Cup match on American soil. At the end of the 1989 season Geoff Marks and his Walker Cup team were awarded the Association of Golf Writers Trophy in recognition of their achievement.

Marks also represented GB&I in the St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe in 1968 and 1970 before captaining the team in 1988 and 1990.

In a distinguished amateur playing career he represented England 65 times between 1963-1975 with the team winning 45 of those matches.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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35. Look Who’s In The 2016/17 Home Nation Squads

4th December 2016

Over the last few weeks each of the home nations has announced their 2016/17 national men’s squads.

England have selected 16 players, Ireland 24, Scotland 11 and Wales 7.

Given that these 58 players will receive most of the funding and best coaching it is very likely that the majority of our 2017 Walker Cup squad will come from within their ranks.

Of course a number of high quality players are playing in the US College system and in some cases they have not been selected by their national unions. Sam Horsfield, David Wicks, Billy McKenzie and Euan Walker fall into this group.

Here is the complete list of 58 selections (with rankings as at 4th December): –England
Dan Brown 22 (Masham) – SPWAR 167 / WAGR 124
Scott Gregory 22 (Corhampton) – SPWAR 49 / WAGR 6
Harry Hall 19 (West Cornwall) – SPWAR 243 / WAGR 242
Josh Hilleard 21 (Farrington Park) – SPWAR 189 / WAGR 505
Bradley Moore 19 (Keddleston Park) – SPWAR 174 / WAGR 46
Marco Penge 18 (Golf at Goodwood) – SPWAR 122 / WAGR 81
Alfie Plant 24 (Sundridge Park) – SPWAR 48 / WAGR 48
Sean Towndrow 25 (Southport & Ainsdale) – SPWAR 1,122 / WAGR 746

England A
George Bloor 21 (Cavendish) – SPWAR 260 / WAGR 633
Jake Burnage 21 (Saunton) – SPWAR 434 / WAGR 591
Tom Gandy 24 (Rowany) – SPWAR 599 / WAGR 550
Matthew Jordan 20 (Royal Liverpool) – SPWAR 472 / WAGR 440
Josh McMahon 21 (Wallasey) – SPWAR 461/ WAGR 901
Gian-Marco Petrozzi 19 (Trentham) – SPWAR 221 / WAGR 307
Will Whiteoak 22 (Shipley) – SPWAR 982 / WAGR 770
Jack Yule 22 (Middleton Hall) – SPWAR 242 / WAGR 273

Ireland – National Panel
Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint) – SPWAR 107 / WAGR 148
Robin Dawson (Tremor) – SPWAR 164 / WAGR 326
Colin Fairweather (Knock) – SPWAR 671 / WAGR 365
John Ross Galbraith (Whitehead) – SPWAR 112 / WAGR 208
Alex Gleeson (Castle) – SPWAR 147 / WAGR 156
Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) – SPWAR 103 / WAGR 58
Rowan Lester (Hermitage) – SPWAR 523 / WAGR 518
Paul McBride (The Island) – SPWAR 79 / WAGR 127
Tiarnán McLarnon (Massereene) – SPWAR 409 / WAGR 679
Conor O’Rourke (Naas) – SPWAR 238 / WAGR 235
Conor Purcell (Portmarnock) – SPWAR 568 / WAGR 298
Jonathan Yates (Naas) – SPWAR 729/ WAGR 486
Sean Flanagan (County Sligo) – SPWAR 419 / WAGR 797
Jordan Hood (Galgorm Castle) – SPWAR 486 / WAGR 911
Daniel Holland (Castle) – SPWAR 1,053 / WAGR 783
Mark Power (Kilkenny) – SPWAR 827 / WAGR 2,137
Kevin Le Blanc (The Island) – SPWAR 581 / WAGR 615

Ireland – Development Panel
Cathal Butler (Kinsale) – SPWAR 2,059 / WAGR 1,668
Peter Kerr (Royal Portrush) – SPWAR 1,229 / WAGR 1,577
Neil McKinstry (Cairndhu) – SPWAR 1,653 / WAGR 1,699
Ronan Mullarney (Galway) – SPWAR 470 / WAGR 754
John Murphy (Kinsale) – SPWAR 1,085 / WAGR 1,510
Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) – SPWAR 741 / WAGR 418
Jake Whelan (Newlands) – SPWAR 671 / WAGR 2,221

Scotland
Matthew Clark 7/11/81 (Kilmacolm) – SPWAR 356 / WAGR 352
Calum Fyfe 28/05/97 (Cawder) – SPWAR 119 / WAGR 266
Craig Howie 27/08/94 (Peebles) – SPWAR 73 / WAGR 65
Barry Hume 30/01/82 (Haggs Castle) – SPWAR 216 / WAGR 102
Liam Johnston 01/01/93 (Dumfries & County) – SPWAR 127 / WAGR 212
Robert MacIntyre 03/08/96 (Glencruitten) – SPWAR 23 / WAGR 11
Graeme Robertson 20/06/88 (Glenbervie) – SPWAR 416 / WAGR 100
Euan McIntosh 24/02/69 (Turnhouse) – SPWAR 353 / WAGR 87
Craig Ross 08/02/93 (Kirkhill) – SPWAR 81 / WAGR 47
Sandy Scott 28/06/88 (Nairn) – SPWAR 106 / WAGR 149
Connor Syme 11/07/95 (Drumoig) – SPWAR 14 / WAGR 21

Wales
Ben Chamberlain 18 (Padeswood and Buckley) – SPWAR 1,321 / WAGR 883
Jack Davidson 18 (Llanwern) – SPWAR 568 / WAGR 407
Joshua Davies 19 (Celtic Manor) – SPWAR 370 / WAGR 449
Owen Edwards 23 (Llanwern) – SPWAR 309 / WAGR 182
Evan Griffith 21 (Conwy) – SPWAR 830/ WAGR 377
David Boote 22 (Walton Heath) – SPWAR 21 / WAGR 28
Tom Williams 18 (Wrexham) – SPWAR 764 / WAGR 523

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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34. English Internationals Jamie Bower and Adam Chapman Turn Pro

2nd December 2016

Whilst to my knowledge no official announcement has been made yet Jamie Bower‘s exclusion from the England Men’s Squad clearly signalled that he will be turning pro imminently. [Jamie officially signed with Georgia Golf on 7th December].

Yorkshireman Bower had a great 2016 winning the Gauteng North Open Amateur (RSA), Southern Cape Open Amateur (RSA) and most notably the English Open Amateur Stroke Play (Brabazon Trophy). Jamie also reached the last 16 of the 2016 Amateur Championship.

Jamie Bower with the Brabazon Trophy (Photo: Leaderboard Photography)

Compatriot Adam Chapman made his pro debut yesterday on the Algarve Pro Tour.

In addition to many high finishes Cumbrian Chapman won a number of amateur events in recent years. These included the South of England Open Amateur in 2014 and the North of England Open Amateur in both 2014 and 2015. He reached the last 32 of the 2016 Amateur Championship having beaten Ireland’s highly rated Jack Hume in Rd 1.

Adam Chapman with the North of England Open Amateur Trophy (Photo: Driving PR)

Prior to being removed last weekend Jamie Bower and Adam Chapman were ranked 36th and 113th in the SPWAR. As of this week they still remain in the WAGR; ranked 12th and 370th respectively.

Both players, and clearly Bower was currently very well placed, would certainly have had a chance of making the GB&I Walker Cup team if they had remained amateur.

The list of GB&I amateurs that have turned pro in 2016 continues to grow.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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33. USA Selects 2017 Walker Cup Practice Squad

29th November 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cropped-img_6769.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two other squad selections stood out for me.

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

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

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

Patrick MARTIN – SPWAR 16 / WAGR 53

Sam BURNS – SPWAR 26 / WAGR 49

Corey PEREIRA – SPWAR 41  / WAGR 15

Noah GOODWIN – SPWAR 183 / WAGR 7

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

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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31. Alfie Plant Fully Committed To The 2017 Walker Cup

13th November 2016

Englishman Alfie Plant has undoubtedly been one of the stars of the 2016 Great British and Irish amateur golf season.

The highlight of Alfie’s year was his 7-shot win in the prestigious Lytham Trophy in May, where he dominated a strong field in often poor conditions.

Alfie Plant – Winner Of The 2016 Lytham Trophy (Photo: Darren Plant)

However, it was his impressive performance in the Eisenhower Trophy in September, where he finished tied 3rd on -12 and led England to a best ever silver medal position, that perhaps emphasised just how important he maybe to our 2017 Walker Cup hopes.

Particularly as this came on the the back of two other solid team performances this year. Alfie earned his first Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) cap in The St. Andrews Trophy match against Europe and captained England against France at Formby.

England beat France 14-10 in May with Alfie picking up two wins and one half to be joint leading contributor. The St. Andrews Trophy match in July was halved, with the trophy retained, with Alfie delivering one of four all-important single wins on the final afternoon as GB&I staged a stirring comeback.

Something of a late developer in the modern era the 24 year old from Kent seems to be getting better, benefiting from more maturity and competitive experience in an extended stay in the amateur game.

Alfie currently sit’s 40th in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking and 52nd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. That places him 6th and 9th respectively in the GB&I-only lists.

In a recent interview with Steve Carroll in the November 2016 edition of the National Club Golfer magazine Alfie was clear as to his number 1 goal for 2017.

“I want to play in the Walker Cup. Everyone is fighting to get in the team but I am a little bit older than the rest and, hopefully, my experience will mean I can perform again next season to get out to LA.”

“After the Walker Cup I will be turning professional. I will be 25 and I think that’s a good age. I know a lot of people turn a lot younger and I am bit of a veteran out there but I have done my apprenticeship and I am on the right track.”

“The Walker Cup is the pinnacle of amateur golf. The coverage you get from it is brilliant and people who have played in it in the past are performing on the main tour.”

“I’ve been looking up the course in Beverley Hills and am getting excited about it. But it is a long season and I have still got to perform”.

The 2016 St. Andrews Trophy – Friends In High Places (Photo: Darren Plant)

Alfie clearly knows that at this early stage nothing can be taken for granted but he also knows he is playing better than ever and now delivering consistently in the big events.

I fully expect him to be a member of the GB&I Walker Cup team in 2017. In what will be a very challenging away match his “veteran” status will be a most welcome addition to the team.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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30. Sam Horsfield Will Be Turning Pro In 2017…But When ?

In his End of Fall Season press conference University of Florida Coach JC Deacon confirmed that Sam Horsfield will be leaving College and turning professional at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Click the link in my tweet below to see the ‘unofficial announcement’: –

What is not clear at this stage is the timing of the move. Has Captain Craig Watson persuaded him to stay on until after the 2017 Walker Cup ? No is probably the answer with Sam almost certainly planning to turn pro after the NCAA Championships are concluded in late May.

Ranked No. 2 in the SPWAR and No. 3 in the WAGR at the time of writing one thing’s for sure if he doesn’t play the GB&I Team will be weaker for his absence, particularly with the match being played in the United States this time around.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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29. Scott Gregory Targeting The Walker Cup

18th October 2016

The Amateur Champion, Scott Gregory, gave an interview to Sky Sports News at the British Masters last week.

In his third professional start after The Open Championship and The Bridgestone Challenge he confirmed that he was not looking to rush into the pro ranks after next year’s Major exemptions.

His Amateur Championship win at Royal Porthcawl will of course afford him invites to the 2017 Masters in April and US Open in June.

Scott Gregory (Photo: Andrew Griffin)

Talking about his future plans the 21 year old from Corhampton GC in Hampshire said: “I don’t feel I’m ready yet. For me to turn pro, I want to do it when I’m ready to compete. Obviously playing events like the British Masters gives me an idea. I’m just learning and getting better each day.”

Scott shot rounds of 74 and 69 at The Grove to finish tied 74th on +1. He missed the cut at his first European Tour event by 1-shot.

It was pleasing to hear him go on and say: “One of the events I’d love to play in is the Walker Cup, so I’m hoping to wait it out and play a nice season next year. It’s going to be a big year. I understand that I have to work hard and keep getting better. My objective now is just to keep winning as much as I can while I’m still an amateur and make the move professionally when I feel like it’s the right time.”

Given the recent number of players who have turned pro this will no doubt be music to the ears of Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) team captain Craig Watson. Watson will have pencilled in Scott after his St. Andrews Trophy contribution for GB&I and more recent role for silver medal winning England at the Eisenhower Trophy in Mexico.

Of course one strong performance in a US Major could change these plans but at least Scott is talking positively about hanging on until September 2017 at the moment.

[The quotes used above were first reported in an R&A article published on Global Golf Post on 17/10/16]

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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28. Jack Hume Turns Pro

3rd October 2016

Jack HUME today confirmed what everyone already knew – the man from Naas in Ireland was turning professional.

Having signed with International Sports Management (ISM) he will make his professional debut at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

He is the last of the ‘famous five’ Irish players who made the 2015 Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) Walker Cup team to do so, following in the footsteps of Paul DUNNE, Gary HURLEY, Gavin MOYNIHAN and Cormac SHARVIN.

Jack won 1.5 points out of a possible 4 at the 2015 Walker Cup; he won his opening morning foursomes with Gavin Moynihan 3&2 against Mike McCoy and Lee McCoy and halved his final day singles with Robby Shelton.

All 10 of the 2015 GB&I Walker Cup team have now turned pro. Gavin MOYNIHAN and Jack MCDONALD also signed for ISM, Gavin straight after the Lytham match and Jack in March 2016.

Jack, who will turn 23 this coming Saturday, has been one of the world’s leading amateurs for the last few years. He made a superb start to 2016 winning both the South African Stroke Play Championship and the European Nations Cup. Results that made him an obvious choice for the inaugural Golf Bible Player of the Quarter award (for Quarter 1 2016).

He also starred for Europe in the Bonallack Trophy in March winning all four of his matches, played well for Ireland in the European’s Men’s Amateur Team Championship and was a leading contributor for GB&I in the retained (halved) St. Andrews Trophy match.

In his amateur swan song last week he helped Ireland to a best ever tied 3rd finish at the World Amateur Team Championship, finishing in a share of 11th in the Individual standings in Mexico.

Jack first came to prominence in 2010 still when he won all four boys provincial championships in Ireland, a feat never achieved before or since.

Jack will be looking for some invites on to the European Challenge Tour in the next few weeks before teeing it up at one of the European Tour’s Second Qualifying Stage events in Spain in early November.

He said: “It’s been a great year but I want to move to the next level and I can’t wait to turn professional. I’m really looking forward to the weeks and months ahead and testing myself.

“Joining ISM is a big part of it. They’ve helped a lot of players from the very start of their careers and that’s obviously a path I’m hoping to follow.”

ISM’s Chief Executive Officer Chubby Chandler said: “We’ve monitored Jack for a long, long time and he’s a player with a huge amount of potential.

“He’s got all of the ingredients and we’re excited about doing what we can to help him be the best he can be and really flourish.”

Good luck to Jack this week and in his future professional career.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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

15th September 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well played Stewart and Scott – what a Final !

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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8. Marco Penge & The 2016 PGA EuroPro Tour Q-School

8th April 2016

The 2016 PGA Euro ProTour Final Qualifying School came to a conclusion today at Frilford Heath G.C. in Oxfordshire.

For followers of amateur golf the entry of England’s Marco PENGE into the Q-School progress was of particular interest.

Marco Penge is one of GB&I’s leading amateurs ranking, at the time of writing, around 90th in the World (SPWAR 97 / WAGR 86). This despite only being 17 – he is 18 on 15th May. He has started the 2016 season well, recording a T6 finish in the South American Amateur, a T4 at the Portuguese Amateur, a T14 in the European Nations and of course winning the Sunningdale Foursomes with girlfriend Sophie Lamb last month.

Marco Penge Scottish Open Strokeplay Championship

Marco Penge – 2015 Scottish Men’s Amateur Champion (Photo: Kenny Smith Photography)

Marco qualified for the EuroPro Tour’s Final Stage Q-School comfortably on 30th and 31st March, finishing 4th at Burhill G.C., with rounds of 66 and 76 (-2). In the Final at Frilford rounds of 71, 73 and 72 saw him finish Even and Tied 22nd. This Top 30 finish saw him earn the highest card possible, a Category 3.

The good news is I believe Marco isn’t planning to turn Pro on the back of his solid start to the year and today’s securing of EuroPro Tour playing rights. I think he wants to play another amateur season, hopefully winning more men’s events and gaining selection for both the St. Andrews Trophy (20-21 July) and Junior Ryder Cup (26-27 September) teams.

The bad news is (at least from my perspective), assuming he maintains his form, he almost certainly will be moving into the Pro ranks towards the end of this year.

Looking at his situation from the perspective of this website it is clear that as things stand he doesn’t see the 2017 Walker Cup as part of his medium term plans. Of course no-one is guaranteed selection but I am sure he would be one of the players Captain Watson would currently like to have at his disposal in 2017. It is hard to criticise Marco for his ambitions. He continues to keep moving forward and the next match in Los Angeles, still over 500 days away, has always looked like being a year too far away for him.

Following his decision to turn Pro last week (click to read article) Jack McDONALD shot rounds of 71, 76 and 71 to finish on +2 and Tied 46th.  He secured a Category 6 card.

With the EuroPro offering 14 events between May and September and operating with fields of 168 both Jack and Marco (but only if he chooses to turn Pro) should be able to play most of the events they want to this season.

It will be interesting to see what Marco decides to do as the season progresses. Why enter the EuroPro Tour Q-School if you don’t plan to turn Pro ? For the time being I guess it can have done him no harm to use the Q-School for experience and to gauge where he currently stands in the pecking order. At 17 I am sure he must be pleased with what he found out.

18th August 2016 Update: Marco PENGE played in The Matchroom Sport Championship at East Sussex National as an amateur this week. He shot rounds of 77 and 76; his +9 score saw him finish a disappointing tied 133rd on his PGA EuroPro Tour debut.

ME.

Copyright © 2016, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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