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Lytham Trophy To Hint At Walker Cup Selections

by Colin Callander - April 29, 2013

Great Britain and Ireland’s top men amateur golfers will be looking to make a big impact when they tee up in next month’s Lytham Trophy over the formidable links at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Royal Lytham & St Annes

The event marks one of the most significant installments in the race to decide who will represent GB&I in the 2013 Walker Cup match at the National Golf Links of America and it gives the home players a massive opportunity to impress the selectors in an event featuring one of the strongest fields of the year.

Last year’s Lytham Trophy was dominated by Dutchman Daan Huizing, and a glance at the 2013 draw suggests that it is the Continental players who will start out as favourites again this year.

Frenchman Adrien Saddier is the backmarker in the field with a remarkable handicap of +6.0 and his compatriot, Thomas Elissalde (+5.5), plus Germans Dominic Foos (+4.8) and Sebastian Schwind (+4.8), all had lower handicaps than the top-ranked GB&I player, Richard O’Donovan (+4.7), when the competitors posted their entries for a tournament that will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014.

That statistic might well say something about the differences that exist between the GB&I and Continental handicap systems but what is in no doubt is that the GB&I players will have to be at their absolute best if they are to overcome the leading Continental players in events like the Lytham Trophy, the St Andrews Links Trophy, the Irish Open Stroke Play Championship, the Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship, the Brabazon Trophy and The Amateur Championship, which this year is to be staged at Royal Cinque Ports and Prince’s in Kent on June 17–22.

All six of those events will rank among the highlights on what is an increasingly cluttered calendar and the Boys’ Amateur Championship, at Royal Liverpool and Wallasey, and the Jacques Leglise Trophy, at Royal St David’s, will also come into that category.

Leading team competitions like the Leglise are always among the most eagerly awaited events on the amateur calendar and this year the Home Internationals, at Ganton on August 14-16, should be particularly special with Scotland defending the title against an English team that won the recent European Nations Championship at Sotogrande and an Irish squad that emerged victorious in the Nations Cup that preceded the Spanish International Men’s Amateur Championship at La Manga.

Rhys Pugh

Indeed, all four of the participating countries will fancy their chances because Wales are no mugs either and in Rhys Pugh will have the reigning European Amateur champion in their ranks.

I have had a soft spot for the Home Internationals ever since I watched strong Scottish teams headed by the likes of Charlie Green and Ian Hutcheon win two successive matches back in the mid-1970s. But there is no doubt the highlight of the 2013 season will be on the other side of the Atlantic where a GB&I team captained by Nigel Edwards will be defending the Walker Cup against the Americans at the National Golf Links of America on Sept. 7-8.

The Walker Cup will be at the forefront of the thoughts of all the leading GB&I players this summer. With Pugh the only member of the victorious 2011 side not to have turned pro in the interim, this year’s team promises to be one of the youngest the four home nations have ever assembled.

There is no Curtis Cup this year but there will also be wholesale changes in GB&I’s Vagliano Trophy team to face Europe at Chantilly on June 28-29.

GB&I has now lost the last three Vagliano Trophy matches in succession against their European counterparts and its attempt to reverse that trend has been complicated by a rash of defections into the professional ranks. Kelly Tidy, Holly Clyburn, Danielle McVeigh and Pamela Pretswell have all made the switch since representing GB&I in the last match at Royal Porthcawl, and they have been joined by the precocious Charley Hull, who has jumped straight from the ranks of the Junior Vagliano Trophy team onto the Ladies’ European Tour.

"Following our historic Curtis Cup win at Nairn, I would dearly love to raise the bar even higher, by winning back the Vagliano Trophy and then (next year) retaining the Curtis Cup in St. Louis."
- Tegwen Matthews

The good news is that GB&I can still call on the services of players of the calibre of Amy Boulden, Kelsey MacDonald, Stephanie Meadow, Georgia Hall, Bronte Law, Amber Ratcliffe, Lauren Taylor, Chloe Williams and the Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa, but they will need all the firepower they can muster to overcome a formidable European squad that could include seven players who are currently within the top 25 on the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.

The 2013 GB&I Vagliano Trophy team will be captained by the hugely impressive Welsh woman, Tegwen Matthews, who led the 2012 Curtis Cup team to victory at Nairn last summer and has also agreed to continue in that role for the 2014 match in America next summer.

In her dual role, Matthews will be looking for players who produce impressive performances in the likes of the Helen Holm Trophy (April 26- 28), the St Rule Trophy (June 1-2), the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship (June 11-15), the European Ladies’ Individual Championship (July 24-27), the Ladies’ British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship as well as the home countries’ own national championships. She remains optimistic that she has the talent at her disposal to combat the threat from both sets of opposition.

“I am thrilled, honoured and excited to be invited to captain the GB&I international team for a further two years,” Matthews said. “Following our historic Curtis Cup win at Nairn, I would dearly love to raise the bar even higher, by winning back the Vagliano Trophy and then (next year) retaining the Curtis Cup in St. Louis.

“Both are tough calls, but winning is a habit and I will be doing everything in my power to keep that habit well and truly alive. With many of the Curtis Cup team turning professional, I am sure both teams will be very different, but I know there are a lot of girls waiting in the wings, desperate for the chance, not just to play for GB&I, but to be part of a winning GB&I team.

“My job is to harness that desire and make it a reality,” she added.

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