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McCullen Hangs On To Win McEvoy Trophy

by Colin Callander - April 21, 2014

Haydn McCullen followed in the footsteps of Lee Westwood and Justin Rose when he withstood a spirited fightback from defending champion Bradley Moore to win the Peter McEvoy Trophy at Copt Heath Golf Club near Birmingham.

McCullen started the final round with a five-shot lead after opening rounds of 66, 69 and 70 but had to battle all the way before securing a par 4 on the last for a 74 and a two-shot victory ahead of 16-year-old Moore on 5-under-par 279.

Moore was 3-over par after five holes for his final round but then played the remaining 13 holes in 3-under par to close with a level-par 71 for a 3-under-par aggregate of 281. That left him three shots ahead of British and Scottish champion Ewen Ferguson, and English international Marco Penge, who shared third place on level-par 284.

“It was getting tense towards the end,” admitted McCullen, who made history last year by becoming the first player to win both the Lancashire men’s and boys’ county titles in the same calendar year. “Brad started to hit some good shots and hole some good putts. I wasn’t at my best but I managed to finish it in the end.

“I’ve had some good results in the past but this has got to be my best win to date,” added the 17-year-old from Delamere Forest. “My goal this year is to try to get into the top 100 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and this is a good way to start.”

Moore was battling to become the first player to win the McEvoy Trophy for two years in succession but was not too disappointed to come up just short.

“It was a good defence but not quite good enough,” said the reigning European Young Masters champion, whose consistency last year saw him finish No. 1 on the 2013 England Golf Boys’ Order of Merit title.

“I’m pleased for Haydn because he played well and hung in there when I started to come back at him. It’s a shame I didn’t manage to defend the title but the good news is that I have got another two years to win it again.

“Nobody has ever won it twice before so that’s something to aim at.”

The uncapped Sam Horsfield is one of 21 players to have been included in the GB&I squad for this year’s St Andrews Trophy at Barsebäck Golf Club in Sweden.

Sam Horsfield

The 17-year-old reigning Florida state champion, who has lived in the States since he was four, is joined in the squad by five other teenagers in the shape of Bradley Neil (18), Ewan Scott (18), Gavin Moynihan (19), Nick Marsh (19) and Matt Fitzpatrick (19). The rest of the squad comprises Grant Forrest (20), Jack Hume (20), Rhys Pugh (20), Tomasz Anderson (21), Gary Hurley (21), Jimmy Mullen (21), Jack McDonald (21), Jordan Smith (21), Ben Taylor (21), Dermot McElroy (21), Greg Eason (21), Paul Howard (23), Ashley Chesters (24), James Ross (24) and Ryan Evans (27). Eason is expected to drop out because he is likely to turn pro at the end of the collegiate season after earning his playing privileges at the recent Canadian Tour Q-School.

Including Eason, there are a total of 11 Englishmen in the squad compared to five Scots, four Irishmen and a solitary Welshman.

This year’s St Andrews Trophy is to be played at Barsebäck Aug. 29-30. The nine-man team to face the Continent of Europe will be named in mid-August.

Ross, Forrest and McDonald have also been included in the European team to face the US in the 2014 Palmer Cup, to be played at Walton Heath on June 2628. The rest of the team is made up of Spaniards Jon Rahm and Pep Angles, Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, Sweden’s Erik Oja, Belgium’s Thomas Detry, Ireland’s Paul Dunne and Louis Tomlinson from England. All but Tomlinson and McDonald are at universities in the States.

Jimmy Mullen lived up to his reputation as one of England’s most promising young players when he won the prestigious Duncan Putter against a strong international field at Southerndown.

The 18-year-old from Royal North Devon, who played all four rounds of last year’s Open Championship at Muirfield, opened with 76 but then carded rounds of 70, 67 and 69 for a three-shot victory ahead of Ardee’s Eugene Smith on 2-over-par 282.

Windermere’s Adam Chapman fell back into third place on 286 after a closing 75 while Tullamore’s Stuart Grehan was fourth on 288.

The prize for the leading Welsh player younger than age 21 was won by 2013 champion Tim Harry (Vale Resort), who defeated Josh Davies (Celtic Manor) on a card countback after both had finished on 292. Twelve months before, Harry caused a major surprise when he became the tournament’s youngest winner, aged just 15.

Neil’s decision to forgo his defence of the Scottish Boys’ title in order to play at Southerndown backfired after he was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score after the third round.

Two of GB&I’s most experienced women players did their hopes of picking up a Curtis Cup wild card no harm at all when they won on the same weekend in different parts of the country.

English champion Sarah-Jane Boyd made the trip from Truro to North Hants where she carded rounds of 70 and 69 for a three-shot victory ahead of Lizzie Prior from Foxhills in the Hampshire Rose while Wales 2013 national close champion Becky Harries repeated her 2012 victory at the Tenby Trophy.

The Haverfordwest player carded rounds of 69 and 72 to finish no less than 11 shots ahead of Lauren Hillier from Newport and Chloe Williams from Wrexham.

The professionals dominated the other big women’s event played on the same weekend with former English Girls’ champion Emily Taylor, from Lancashire, posting rounds of 68 and 72 to claim a four-shot victory ahead of Suzanne Dickens at the Roehampton Open Golf Challenge Cup. Sophie Walker made it a 1-2-3 for the professionals by finishing third on 145 while the leading amateur was 2013 English Girls’ champion Sophie Keech (Parkstone), who carded rounds of 72 and 74 to finish in fourth place one shot ahead of Curtis Cup hopeful Gabby Cowley (Hanbury Manor).

Georgia Hall, 2013 British Women’s champion, from Remedy Oaks in Hampshire, made a low-key start to the season, finishing tied seventh at North Hants with rounds of 74 and 73 in an event she has won for the past two seasons.

Hall has entered the forthcoming Welsh Ladies’ Open Stroke Play Championship at Prestatyn, after which the 2014 GB&I Curtis Cup team will be announced. At one point last year she indicated she would turn professional on her 18th birthday on April 12, but she seems to have had a change of heart and has indicated to the LGU that she is available for selection for the biennial transatlantic contest.

“We have had a letter from Georgia informing us that she’s available for selection which is good news,” confirmed LGU CEO Shona Malcolm.

The LGU has introduced a new Curtis Cup selection system for this year’s match with places going to the top four players on the World Amateur Golf Ranking and the top two players on the LGU Order of Merit not selected by the WAGR. The team will be augmented with two captain’s picks.

As things stand approaching the deadline, Stephanie Meadow (No. 4), Hall (8), Bronte Law (37) and Charlotte Thomas (58) are the leading four GB&I players on WAGR, followed by Gemma Dryburgh (59) Annabel Dimmock (61), Hayley Davis (74), Cowley (89) and Williams (100).

The Maguire twins, Leona and Lisa, are not available because of exam commitments so the next two in line from the LGU Order of Merit are Cowley and the twins’ compatriot, Paula Grant. Bubbling under on that list are Meghan MacLaren, Chloe Ryan, Alex Peters, Dimmock, Eilidh Briggs and Williams.

Cowley, Dimmock, MacLaren, Peters, Briggs, Grant, Williams, Harries and Boyd all join Hall in the field for next week’s showdown at Prestatyn.

The GB&I team for the match June 6-8 at St Louis CC is to be announced on May 6. In the meantime, the US Curtis Cup team, which was selected last month, have been warming at the tournament venue by practising foursomes against a group of elite male golfers from the St. Louis area.

The men were handpicked by Jim Holtgrieve, the US Walker Cup captain in both 2011 and 2013. “I kind of wish I had done it for the Walker Cup, getting some older Walker Cuppers to come play against the guys and just get a feel for it,” he said. “We had some fun with it but we were also serious.

“I was very impressed with the maturity of these young ladies,” he added. “I had Jordan (Spieth) on my (2011) Walker Cup team and he was the most mature young man I’ve ever met. I felt like that about these ladies. They’re very focussed.”

The Curtis Cup team halved the impromptu match against the menfolk. Mariah Stackhouse, an All-American from Stanford University, and reigning US Women’s Amateur champion Emma Talley posted a 2-and-1 victory against Bill Dewitt and Toby Martin. UCLA freshman Alison Lee, No. 2 on the WAGR, and partner Ashlan Ramsey, the 2012 US Women’s Public Links champion, claimed an emphatic 4-and-3 win over Jack Eisenbeis and Drew Lilly while there were narrow defeats for reigning NCAA champion Annie Park and Kyung Kim as well as for Erynne Lee and her partner, 2013 North & South Women’s Amateur champion Ally McDonald.

Boyd, Cowley, Dimmock, Grant, Harries, MacLaren and Williams all will have another chance to impress the Curtis Cup selectors when they tee up in this week’s Scottish Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship at Royal Troon and Troon Portland.

They will be joined by Irish Girls’ champion Olivia Mehaffey, her compatriot Julie McCarthy, who won the recent Scottish Girls’ Under16 Championship, plus strong group of Scottish players including Eilidh and Megan Briggs, Connie Jaffrey, Hazel MacGarvie, Alyson McKechin, Heather Munro, Ailsa Summers, Lauren Whyte and Clara Young.

There are also competitors from as far afield as Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia.

Last year’s championship was won by Rotherham’s Olivia Winning who lived up to her name by leading from start to finish to beat McKechin and Poppy Findlay by two shots. She is not defending because she is currently in the States as part of the same Tulane golf squad as Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh.

Cowley and Sophie Lamb both produced grandstand finishes to give an English Girls’ Under-18 team a share of the spoils in a friendly match against France at St Cloud, near Paris.

Cowley closed with three consecutive birdies to claim a one-hole victory over Eva Gilly while Lamb knocked a wood to 5 feet on the last to secure a point against Chloe Caron.

In the other matches, Dimmock lost by 2 and 1 to Mathilde Cappeliez, Sophie Keech lost on the last to Elise Genoux and Alex Peters was thrashed 6 and 5 by Elizabeth Codet, but Sammy Fuller beat Manion Veysseyre by one hole and Alice Hewson halved with Lauralie Migneaux to ensure the match was halved 3½-3½.

The match was a precursor to the French Lady Junior Championship, which we will report on in next week’s issue.

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