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Europe, Asia Pacific Face Off In India

by Colin Callander - March 24, 2014

Europe has assembled a strong multi-national team as it bids to retain this week’s Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy against Asia Pacific at the Karnataka Golf Association course at Bangalore in India.

The Europeans beat the Asia-Pacific by a resounding 20½ to 11½ points to win the 2012 match at Monte Rei in Portugal and this time round will be bidding to capture the trophy for a fourth match in succession after previous victories at Valderrama in 2008 and Auckland Golf Club in New Zealand in 2006.

The 2010 match scheduled to take place at Karnataka Golf Club in Bengaluru, India, had to be cancelled when a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused flights to be cancelled all across Europe.

Europe currently hold a 5-2 lead in this biennial three-day men’s amateur international match first held in 1998 and will be confident of extending that advantage with a formidable team that is captained for a second match in succession by Welshman Andy Morgan and features two players who already have claimed leading amateur titles this season.

The visiting European team is headed by England’s Ryan Evans. He will turn 27 during the contest and has moved into the top 10 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking after recent victories in the Lake Macquarie International and the Avondale Medal in Australia.

Evans also finished as the leading qualifier in the Australian Amateur during the same trip.

The in-form Englishman will be joined in Bangalore by Italy’s Renato Paratore, who won this year’s Junior Orange Bowl tournament in America, and by Germany’s Dominic Foos, who claimed a share of 16th place against the top professionals at this year’s Qatar Masters in Doha.

The other nine places on Europe’s 12-man team are filled by 2013 European Amateur champion Ashley Chesters from England, 2013 Lytham Trophy winner Albert Eckhardt from Finland, 2013 Spanish Junior champion Mario Galiano Aguilar, Irish duo Dermot McElroy and Gavin Moynihan, 2013 Scottish Amateur Golfer of the Year James Ross, 2013 Danish Stroke Play champion Mads Søgaard, Germany’s Max Röhrig, and Robbie Van West from the Netherlands who won the individual title at last year’s European Club Trophy.

They face a formidable Asia Pacific Team captained by Korea’s Hyung-Mo Kang and featuring players from eight different countries. They comprise Australia’s Taylor Macdonald and Geoff Drakeford, Korea’s Soo-Min Lee and Nam-Hun Kim, Chieh-Po Lee from Chinese Taipei, Shinichi Mizuno from Hong Kong, Chinese duo Zechen Dou and Zin Cheng, Japan’s Kenta Konishi and Daichi Sato, New Zealand’s Joshua Munn, and Karan Taunk from the host nation. Taunk is currently the No. 1 amateur in India while Macdonald and Drakeford were both members of Australia’s winning team at last year’s Asia Pacific Team Championship. Nam-hun Kim claimed the individual title at that event.

“The Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy is not as well-known as the likes of the Walker Cup and the Curtis Cup but I think that is primarily due to the fact it has not been around so long,” said Morgan.

“I consider it to be one of the best events on the calendar and I am sure it will grow in stature as the years go on.”

The trophy is named in honour of Sir Michael Bonallack, the five-time Amateur champion who went on to be both Captain and Secretary of the R&A.

The format for the match is the same as the Ryder Cup, with foursomes and fourballs involving 20 players a session on the first two days and then all players competing in the final day singles.

Two years ago Europe led 6-4 at the end of the first day and then took the second-day honours 7½- 2½ before extending their winning margin to nine points with a 7-5 victory in the singles. Player of the week was Welshman, Rhys Enoch, who won all five of his matches.

Bradley Neil has decided to not defend his title at next month’s Scottish Boys’ Championship at West Kilbride.

The 18-year-old from Blairgowrie made the decision following a chat with Scottish national coach Ian Rae and after moving up to No. 63 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking on the back of a successful start to the season when he finished third at the Gauteng North Open, runner-up in the South African Amateur Championship and then runner-up again in the individual event at the European Nations Cup at Sotogrande.

The Perthshire teenager also played a decisive role in the team event at Sotogrande because he won the play-off against Italy’s Paratore to give Scotland its first victory in that event since 2008.

“I wanted to play in the Scottish Boys’ because you always like to defend a title if you get that opportunity. Ian Rae knew that and said it was up to me. But it makes sense for me to concentrate on the men’s events this season,” Neil told Martin Dempster from The Scotsman.

“If I’d decided to go to West Kilbride, it would have meant rushing through there on the Monday morning after playing in the Champion of Champions at Leven over the weekend. Making it through to the final again would also have had an impact the following weekend.

“It’s the Craigmillar Park Open then but, instead, I’m going down to Wales to play in the Duncan Putter at Southerndown. It carries more ranking points and some of the top English lads play in it, so I think that’s the better option for me.

“I’m disappointed that I won’t be defending at West Kilbride, especially as it’s where I played in my first Scottish Boys’, but I’ve progressed so much in the last eight months that I now need to focus on men’s events.”

Neil will start as one of the favourites when the annual Scottish Champion of Champions event gets under way this weekend at Leven.

He will be joined in the field by Scott Borrowman, Graeme Robertson and Jack McDonald, who were teammates of Neil’s during Scotland’s win at the European Nations Cup at Sotogrande. They will be together for the first time since that success in southern Spain.

The field also includes Kilmacolm’s Matt Clark, who teamed up with this victorious quartet in the Scottish team at last year’s Home Internationals at Ganton, but reigning Scottish champion Zander Culverwell, Ross from Royal Burgess, Forrest from Craigielaw, Scott Crighton from Aberdour and Ewan Scott from St Andrews all miss out for a variety of reasons. Forrest and Scott currently are playing collegiate golf in the States while Ross is in India as part of the European team for the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy (see above).

Last year’s Champion of Champions event was won by Borrowman. He put together rounds of 70, 67, 72 and 71 for 280 to record a wire-to-wire three-shot victory ahead of Clark. Culverwell shared third place on 287 alongside Robertson and Craig Howie, the 2012 Scottish Boys’ champion from Pebbles.

Norway’s Andreas Halvorsen joined an illustrious group of past champions when he won the recent Florida Azalea tournament at Palatka Golf Club.

The 17-year-old from Larvik put together rounds of 67, 65 and 73 to finish two shots ahead of Welshman Jack Davidson on 9-under-par 205. In the process he emulated the likes of 1973 Masters champion Tommy Aaron, 11-time PGA Tour winner Bob Murphy and American European Tour player Peter Uilhein, who are all past winners of this event.

He also succeeded Uilhein as the youngest winner of an event that was started back in 1958 as a two-man team tournament.

Halvorsen is currently at high school in the States where he is attending Tom Burnett’s Golf Academy in St Augustine and last year was named as player of the year on the Future Collegians World Tour.

Llanwern’s Davidson opened with rounds of 69 and 70 and then made up three shots on his Norwegian rival with a closing 70. He was not the only Welshman to finish near the top of the leaderboard at Palatka because fellow junior international Otto Mand was tied 10th. Mand is currently living in Clermont, Fla., and to date this season also has finished fourth in the Orlando Junior Challenge and tied for fourth at the Bobby Grace Putters Junior Open.

Davidson is part of the Welsh team selected to represent Wales in the Under-18 international match against Ireland at Cardigan Golf Club on April 5-6. He is joined in that team by Ben Chamberlain (Padeswood & Buckley), Joshua Davies (Celtic Manor), Thomas Davies (Penrhos), Robert Evans (Cradoc / Vale Resort), Kyle Harman (Cottrell Park), Rhys Jones (Mountain Ash) and Thomas Williams (Wrexham).

The Irish team for that contest comprises Marc Boucher (Carton House), David Brady (Co. Sligo), Cathal Butler (Kinsale), Ted Collins (Rosslare), Caolan Kennedy (Forrest Little), Eoin Leonard (Wentworth), Marc Norton (Belvoir Park) and Rory Williamson (Holywood).

China’s Jing Yang confirmed her reputation as one of the world’s most promising amateur players when she finished tied for 27th place against the leading Ladies European Tour professionals at the recent Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.

The reigning British Ladies’ Stroke Play and British Girls’ champion carded rounds of 72, 73, 71 and 71 to finish tied alongside a large group including 15-year-old French amateur Mathilda Cappeliez on 3-under-par 287. The highlight of the week for the precocious youngster from Évian-les-Bains was a superb 7-under-par 64 in the second round.

Cappeliez, who is a member at the Evian Resort Course, home to the Evian Championship, had five birdies and an eagle on a flawless score card.

“It was an amazing day,” said the French girl who was playing in her second professional tournament following an LET debut at the 2013 Lacoste Ladies Open de France where she missed the cut.

“I putted really well with no bogeys on the card, so it was easier to make a good score. My game was nice, always on the green. My game was really good.

“After the first nine I was minus- 2 and just a little bit nervous, but after the birdie, eagle and birdie on 10, 11, 12, I was trying to make pars. I think my game was like the pros so it made me feel secure.”

The third amateur to make the cut in Morocco was reigning Irish Girls’ Stroke Play champion Olivia Mehaffey, who was making her debut on the Ladies European Tour.

The 16-year-old Royal County Down Ladies member made it through to the weekend on 3-over-par 145 after opening rounds of 72 and 73 and then closed with two level-par rounds of 71 on the challenging Golf de l’Océan course in Agadir.

“It was a bit intimidating on the first couple of days when I arrived and saw all the players you normally see on television but after a while you just get on with it,” she said.

Unfortunately, Mehaffey had little time to savour her success because she had to go straight back to school to prepare for her forthcoming GCSE exams.

Reproduced with kind permission of Global Golf Post - Subscribe now for free


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