14th May 2018
The R&A have today announced a 20 player Great Britain and Ireland (GB&I) squad for the 2018 St Andrews Trophy match against the Continent of Europe.
The match, played in alternate years to the Walker Cup, will take place at Linna Golf in Finland on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 July 2018.
It was also confirmed that Scotland’s Craig Watson would return to the GB&I captaincy role after he was unfortunately unable to fulfil these duties at the 2017 Walker Cup due to a family bereavement.
Watson captained GB&I in the last St. Andrews Trophy match at Prince’s G.C., Kent in 2016. A 12.5 – 12.5 draw back then was good enough for GB&I to retain the trophy.
Captain Watson and Alfie Plant with the St. Andrews Trophy
(Photo: Darren Plant)
Watson said in the R&A announcement: “I’m delighted to resume the role and am excited about the potential of the new crop of players coming through and contending for a place in the team.”
As always the captain left the door open for other players to step forward in the coming months: “We know we will be in for a tough match in Finland and we will need a strong team if we are to win the trophy. I am sure the players we have identified, and others not currently in the squad, will be working hard to impress the selectors.”
The squad will meet up before the St Andrews Links Trophy event which starts on 8th June.
The final 9-man team will be announced after the European Men’s Team Championships, which conclude on 14th July.
Here is a list of the 20 players selected, along with their current Scratch Players World Amateur Rankings (SPWAR) and GB&I SPWAR rank.
|Todd Clements, England (21)||21||2|
|Robin Dawson, Ireland (22)||128||12|
|Alex Fitzpatrick, England (19)||332||32|
|Calum Fyfe, Scotland (20)||182||15|
|Alex Gleeson, Ireland (24)||127||11|
|David Hague, England (21)||90||6|
|Harry Hall, England (20)||64||4|
|Benjamin Jones, England (19)||151||14|
|Matthew Jordan, England (22)||14||1|
|Rowan Lester, Ireland (22)||361||35|
|Sam Locke, Scotland (19)||205||18|
|Ryan Lumsden, Scotland (21)||102||8|
|Billy McKenzie, England (23)||211||19|
|Gian-Marco Petrozzi, England (21)||91||7|
|Caolan Rafferty, Ireland (25)||104||9|
|Sandy Scott, Scotland (19)||111||10|
|Jamie Stewart, Scotland (18)||131||13|
|Euan Walker, Scotland (22)||281||27|
|Robin Williams, England (16)||279||26|
|Andrew Wilson, England (24)||420||38|
No one would argue that any of the above aren’t worthy of consideration for the GB&I team.
There are 10 English players in the squad, 6 from Scotland and 4 from Ireland. Sadly no one from Wales made the initial grade.
Only Royal Liverpool’s Matthew Jordan remains in the above selection from the 2017 Walker Cup team. Seven of the 10-man team having turned professional since the heavy loss in Los Angeles.
As the SPWAR rankings suggest GB&I currently has two outstanding players, Jordan and compatriot Todd Clements. To my eyes both have already done enough this season to warrant selection. However, the other 7 team spots are still broadly up for grabs, albeit fellow Englishman Harry Hall and Gian-Marco Petrozzi must also be close.
Below is a list of those players who are also highly ranked in the SPWAR and whose omission is therefore worthy of further discussion.
|Harry Ellis, England||48||3|
|Paul McBride, Ireland||71||5|
|Tom Plumb, England||197||16|
|Jake Burnage, England||204||17|
|Conor Purcell, Ireland||229||20|
|Daniel O’Loughlin, England||236||21|
|Mitch Waite, England||243||22|
The two most obvious omissions for me are England’s Mitch Waite, who has won the Hampshire Salver this year and finished runner-up at the recent Lytham Trophy, and Conor Purcell, who has done well for Charlotte this year in the U.S., culminating in an invitation by the NCAA to play in this week’s Division I Regionals as an individual.
Finally, a quick word on the two other 2017 Walker Cup players who remain amateur and are listed in the second table above.
Harry Ellis withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Cup selection process in April signalling a clear intention to turn Pro after his forthcoming U.S. Open appearance in June. Hence his absence from the list is understandable.
Paul McBride is perhaps more of a surprise. He had intimated that he may stay amateur until the Autumn once he graduates from Wake Forest in the next few weeks. The World Amateur Team Championship (for the Eisenhower Trophy) is being held at Carton House, Ireland in September and this was supposedly a factor in his thinking. However, his omission from this squad is a clear indicator that he too will be turning pro very shortly.
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