Gough gets Walker Cup nod after English Am win but in-form quartet miss out

FIVE English players have been included in the Great Britain & Ireland team to face America in this year’s Walker Cup, at Royal Liverpool, on September 7-8.

Stoke Park’s recently-crowned teenage English Amateur Champion Conor Gough is joined by three other players from the South, and Yorkshire’s Alex Fitzpatrick, the younger brother of Ryder Cup player Matt Fitzpatrick.

Gough had ironically been dropped from the 16-man squad that was announced in July for a practice session over the Hoylake links having missed a big chunk of the amateur season because of his GCSE exams, although he did make his European Tour debut in the British Masters at Hillside GC, in May.

West Cornwall’s Harry Hall, and Somerset foursomes partners Thomas Plumb, from Yeovil GC, and Taunton and Puckeridge’s Tom Sloman are in the team to play the USA at Hoylake.

But there is no place for Devon’s St Andrews Links Trophy winner Jake Burnage or record-breaking Brabazon and Carris Trophy winner Ben Schmidt, from Rotherham, who like Gough is just 16 years old.

Schmidt, who broke Sandy Lyle’s record as the youngest to win both the English Boys’ and Men’s Amateur Strokeplay titles in less than seven weeks, is joined by Northamptonshire County’s Ben Jones as the first two named reserves, with the Yorkshire lad the first on standby.

Another to miss out surprisingly given his links pedigree and local connectins was Wallasey’s Josh McMahon, who won the Lytham Trophy in May.

Victory in both the Lytham and St Andrews Links in Walker Cup would normally give you a very good chance of selection historically. Burnage only lost to Gough in the English Amateur in the semi-final at Hankley Common.

The rest of the 10-man team is made up of Ireland’s Conor Purcell (Portmarnock), Caolan Rafferty (Dundalk) and James Sugrue (Mallow), the reigning Amateur Champion, and Scotland’s Sandy Scott (Nairn) and Euan Walker, from Kilmarnock Barassie, who lost to Sugrue in the final at Portmarnock in June.

GB&I captain Craig Watson, who has not picked any Welsh players, said: “It has been a very difficult decision to select 10- players for Great Britain and Ireland from a strong squad.

“But we have been very impressed with the results of those we have picked and we believe they will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against a strong American team.”

“The Walker Cup is a fantastic opportunity for those amateurs to demonstrate their talents on the big stage and it will be an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

“We are looking forward to the match at Hoylake and I’m sure the players will give it their very best to win.”

GB&I is bidding to win back the Walker Cup after the USA secured a 19-7 victory in the 2017 match, which featured three Hamphshire players in Harry Ellis, Scott Gregory and Jack Singh-Brar, at Los Angeles Country Club.

Home advantage has proved a key factor in recent matches with GB&I winning the biennial encounter at Royal Aberdeen in 2011 and the 2015 match at Royal Lytham & St Annes.