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Hot Jordan Captures St Andrews Links Trophy

by Colin Callander - June 12, 2017

England’s Matthew Jordan extended his recent run of hot form when he survived a late glitch to claim the biggest title of his career, the St Andrews Links Trophy over the Old and Jubilee courses at the Home of Golf.

The 21-year-old from Royal Liverpool came into the event after a run in which he had finished tied seventh at the Lytham Trophy, tied fourth at the Irish Open Stroke Play, fifth at the Brabazon Trophy and second at the Scottish Open Stroke Play, but this time he finally got his hands on the silverware with an accomplished performance marred only by a couple of slips at the end.

Jordan went into the final round tied alongside first-round leader John Ross Galbraith from Ireland after opening rounds of 70, 68 and 69, and he looked to be cruising to victory when he carded birdies at the second, fifth, sixth, 10th and 12th holes. But a dropped shot at the 13th followed by two more at the 17th and 18th meant he faced an anxious wait to see if he would become the first Englishman since Neil Raymond in 2013 to lift the trophy.

Australian Ben Ferguson, 18, looked to be the first player who might catch him and then Galbraith came up just short despite a closing birdie 3 in front of the R&A clubhouse.

Jordan’s final round of 70 was enough to give him a four-round total of 11-under-par 277 and a single-shot victory ahead of Galbraith, while Ferguson matched the winner’s final-round 70 to claim third place on 279.

Welshman David Boote was the top finisher among the 18 provisional GB&I Walker Cup squad members who competed in the event. He closed with three consecutive rounds of 69 to claim a share of fourth place with Argentina’s Andrés Gallegos and England’s Laird Shepherd on 280, while recent Scottish Open Stroke Play winner Liam Johnston increased his chances of earning a place on the final GB&I team by finishing as the top home player, in seventh place on 282.

Connie Jaffrey was crowned Scottish women’s champion for the first time when she beat 2015 champion Clara Young in a tense final at Royal Aberdeen.

The 20-year-old from Troon Ladies’ looked to be cruising to victory when she birdied the first, fourth, sixth and ninth holes to surge into a five-hole lead at the turn, but Young has always been a battler and she fought back to all square by winning five consecutive holes from the 11th before dropping shots at the 16th and the 18th to lose by two holes to her international colleague.

“I’m extremely proud,” said former Scottish Girls’ champion Jaffrey, who is studying psychology at Kansas State University. “It’s a title I’ve been chasing since losing the final (to Gabrielle Macdonald) three years ago. I’m really happy with the way I played.

“The key to my success this week was definitely my short game and putting,” she added. “My short game has improved loads since I first went over to the States. I holed a number of putts that were crucial throughout matches this week. Hopefully, I can maintain my performance going into the (Ladies’ British Open Amateur) next week in Wales.”

Young, a 20-year-old from North Berwick, came into the championship chasing a double after winning last week’s St Rule Trophy but in the end ame up just short. “It’s one of those things,” the University of Missouri student said. “All I could do after being 5 down was to try to get back into it and I was pleased to do that.”

Jaffrey began her quest for the title with a 7-and-6 victory against Monifieth’s Heather Munro and then went on to beat Royal Montrose’s Gillian Paton (2 and 1), Granton-on-Spey’s Hannah McCook (2 and 1) and Cardross’ Jillian Farrell (3 and 2) before completing the job in the final. Young started out with a 5-and-4 victory against Muckhart’s Eilidh Watson and then won on the 19th against Kemnay’s Rachel Polson, by 6 and 5 against Crail 13-year-old Anna McKay, and against Muckhart’s Jennifer Saxton, 4 and 3, in the semifinal.

Austria’s Matthias Schwab made a solid start to his professional career when he played all four days in front of his home fans at last week’s European Tour event at Diamond Country Club near Vienna.

Just more than a week after bowing out of amateur golf with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championship in Illinois, the former world No 4 put together rounds of 72, 70, 76 and 71 to finish just outside the top 40 at the Lyoness Open.

Four years ago, as an 18-year-old, he finished in a share of 14th in the same event before going on to become a standout performer for Vanderbilt University on the US collegiate circuit and also to represent the Continent of Europe on several occasions.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Vanderbilt and would like to thank everyone there for all their help over the last few years,” he said. “I’m proud of my progress as an amateur but now I feel ready to make the next step.”

Schwab has signed up to become part of Chubby Chandler’s International Sports Management stable.

“Matthias’ achievements as an amateur are there for all to see and he’s obviously a player of real quality,” Chandler said. “We’re hoping he will follow in the footsteps of players like Justin Thomas and Patrick Rodgers and we’re delighted to be working with him.”

Europe has assembled a formidable-looking team as it bids to claim a sixth successive victory against Great Britain & Ireland in the Vagliano Trophy at Bogogno Golf Club near Milan, Italy, from 30 June-1 July.

The team is headed by Swiss world No. 4 Albane Valenzuela, and Swedish world No. 11 Linnea Ström, both of whom were part of the winning European team during the last match at Malone Golf Club in Northern Ireland, and also includes Italian world No. 17 Virginia Elena Carta and Danish world No. 25 Puk Lyng Thomsen. There are also places for Dutch world No. 30 Dewi Weber, Finnish world No. 32 Matilda Castren and Swiss world No. 45 Morgane Métraux, while the youngest member of the team is 16-year-old Swede Julia Engström, ranked 16th in the world and the reigning Ladies’ British Open Amateur champion. Italy’s Anna Roscio returns as captain having led Europe to its slender 12½-11½ victory in the last match.

This year’s European Junior Vagliano Trophy team looks equally strong as it bids to extend its 100 per cent record which began when they beat GB&I in the inaugural match at Royal Porthcawl in Wales in 2011 and continued with victories in the next two matches in France and Northern Ireland.

The top-ranked player in the European team is Sweden’s Amanda Linnér, who this year has won the French International Under-21 (Esmond Trophy), reached the quarter-finals of the Spanish International Ladies’, finished second in the Annika Invitational and third in the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open. The rest of the six-player squad made up of players aged 16 and younger comprises Italy’s Caterina Don, Alessia Nobilio and Emilie Alba Paltrinieri; Austria’s Isabella Holpfer; and Spain’s Blanca Fernández García-Poggio. Paltrinieri is the reigning British Girls’ and Italian Ladies’ Match Play champion while Holpfer returns for a second time having been a member of the European U-16 team two years ago.

Linn Grant’s recent victories at the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open and German Girls’ Championship mean that the Swede has all but clinched her place on Europe’s Junior Solheim Cup team.

Grant currently holds a substantial lead ahead of compatriot Linnér on the European Junior Solheim Cup Ranking and with just four more counting events starting at this week’s Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship she looks like a dead cert for the match against America at Des Moines Golf & Country Club in August.

The ranking is currently dominated by Scandinavian players with Sweden’s Frida Kinhult in third place ahead of (in order) Italy’s Letizia Bagnoli, Sweden’s Beatrice Wallin, Austria’s Emma Spitz, Sweden’s Engström, Italy’s Nobilio, Denmark’s Line Toft Hansen and Scotland’s Shannon McWilliam. The top six at the end of the qualification process earn automatic places in the team, with the squad being augmented by a further six captain’s picks.

All 10 compete in this week’s British Ladies’ at Pyle & Kenfig in Wales, where Engström is defending the title she won after beating Holland’s Weber on the first extra hole of the inal at Dundonald Links 12 months ago. The Swede was only 15 at the time.

That field is headed by world No 1 Leona Maguire, whose handicap was a scarcely credible plus-5.6 when she entered, and also includes world No. 10 Olivia Mehaffey and world No. 11 Ström.

The R&A will urge competitors to play “ready golf” during the stroke-play stage of this week’s Ladies’ British Open Amateur Championship in Wales.

It is the latest step taken by the game’s governing body to improve pace of play and also will be utilised during the stroke-play stages of the Amateur Championship and the other stroke-play events under its jurisdiction. The current Rules of Golf preclude ready golf from being implemented in match play.

“We support solutions that address the issue of slow play and ready golf is an effective means of reducing the time it takes to complete a round,” said Duncan Weir, the R&A’s executive director for golf development. “Our research has shown that golfers would enjoy the game more if it took less time to play.”

Examples of ready golf include hitting a tee shot if the person with the honour is delayed in being ready to play, shorter hitters playing first from the tee or fairway if longer hitters have to wait, playing a shot before helping someone look for a ball and adopting continuous putting where possible. Ready golf was utilised after bad weather caused havoc during the first round of last year’s AIG Irish Close Championship at Ballyliffin and proved to be a success.

Stewart Hagestad made a name for himself earlier this year when he finished as leading amateur at The Masters and now he has a chance in another major after earning a spot in this week’s US Open at Erin Hills.

Just a couple of months after claiming the Silver Cup awarded to the leading amateur at Augusta, the 26-year-old American mid-amateur now has the opportunity to do the double after carding rounds of 67-68 for 135 to come through US Open sectional qualifying at Big Canyon Country Club and Newport Beach Country Club in California.

Hagestad will now have to abort his plans to complete in the Amateur Championship at Royal St George’s and Prince’s but he will regard that as a price worth paying after being one of five amateurs to claim one of the six available spots at his qualifying event.

Eleven amateurs in all joined exempt players Scott Gregory, Brad Dalke and Maverick McNealy in the field for the second major of the year. Among them were current world No. 1 Joaquín Niemann of Chile and 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Scott Harvey. Norwegian Arnold Palmer Cup team member Viktor Hovland missed qualifying, while England’s Sam Horsfield elected to withdraw following an opening 75 at Jupiter Hills in Florida.


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