Golf Editorial

20121219 Up-and-Coming Amateurs

This article arises from one of many form and pricing lessons I learned during 2012.

For that education I must acknowledge the input of John Rhodes, of Skybet, who had what I regarded as the temerity to challenge some of my pricing!

As it turned out, John was not in the uninformed shithead category, to which I had mentally consigned him along with many other bookmakers, but somebody who was well aware of performances in the world of golf – including amateur golf. And this got me thinking, and researching.

Hence this article!

The European Amateur Championship is one of those rare good quality amateur championship tournaments decided by four rounds of stroke play.

With an eye to the betting future, it is thus possible to use this event to gain some sort of measure of some European players’ ability over four rounds as opposed to, say, the US or British amateur championships where only two rounds of stroke play precede a series of match play contests to decide the champion.

This event dates back to 1986 and it’s organised / sanctioned by the European Golf Association; the winner receives an invitation to the Open Championship.

A look at past winners (see table below) uncovers some wonderful golfers of recent years (SergioGarcia, CarlPettersson & RoryMcIlroy) along with a typical set of amateur event winners who never made it in the professional game:

2012 Rhys Pugh Wales
2011 Manuel Trappel Austria
2010 Lucas Bjerregaard Denmark
2009 Victor Dubuisson France
2008 Stephan Gross Germany
2007 Benjamin Hebert France
2006 Rory McIlroy Northern Ireland
2005 Marius Thorp Norway
2004 Matthew Richardson England
2003 Brian McElhinney Ireland
2002 Raphaël Pellicioli France
2001 Stephen Browne Ireland
2000 Carl Pettersson Sweden
1999 Grégory Havret France
1998 Paddy Gribben Ireland
1997 Didier de Vooght Belgium
1996 Daniel Olsson Sweden
1995 Sergio García Spain
1994 Stephen Gallacher Scotland

Looking at the six winners prior to Pugh in August 2012, they present the starkest of contrasts.

McIlroy (in particular) & Dubuisson  have gone on to perform stellar deeds early in their professional careers. And Hebert won 3 Challenge Tour events in 2011.

On the other hand, Gross, Bjerregard &Trappel remain anonymous having each had just a handful of pro starts with no signs of success to date.

So it seems, from the pro performances of these six recent winners, that for Rhys Pugh it’s going to be either a feast or a famine during the next few years, but definitely paste him in your hat, blackbook or other aide-memoire.

To broaden the picture a bit, let’s look at the top 20 finishers in that 2012 European Amateur Championship:

1 PUGH, Rhys Wales
2 FRAZER, James Wales
3 SØRENSEN, Thomas Denmark
T4 PHELAN, Kevin Ireland
T4 WIDEGREN, Pontus Sweden
T4 PINTO, Gonçalo Portugal
7 SCHWAB, Matthias Austria
T8 BOASSON, Axel Iceland
T8 STOW, Ben England
T8 CLARK, Matthew Scotland
T8 JENNEVRET, Daniel Sweden
T13 ELISSALDE, Thomas France
T13 LAMPERT, Moritz Germany
T13 SHINKWIN, Callum England
T13 ROBERTSON, Graeme Scotland
T17 LINDSTRÖM, Niklas Sweden
T17 DETRY, Thomas Belgium
T17 SORDET, Clément France
T17 KIND, Robin Netherlands
T17 PORTEOUS, Garrick England

Keen professional golf followers will already be familiar with a few of these names from their early pro performances.

Moritz Lampert, for example, finished a spectacular 4th in the gruelling European Tour QSchool Final and, in his next outing, recorded a meritorious 32nd placing in the weather-abbreviated Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa. Big things expected in 2013.

Phelan, Pinto, Schwab & others have some pro tournament starts on their resumés.

Now let’s expand the scope of 2012 amateur stroke play performances by looking at the Eisenhower Trophy.

This is at the pinnacle of national teams’ events and also, usefully, creates the opportunity for players to register personal performances via four rounds of competitive stroke play.

Here are the top 50 finishers in the 2012 Eisenhower Trophy, played in Argentina in October:

1 Sebastian Vazquez Mexico
2 Chris Williams United States
3 Moritz Lampert Germany
4 Julien Brun France
4 Julio Vegas Venezuela
6 James Frazer Wales
7 Chang-Woo Lee Korea
7 Adrian Meronk   Poland
7 Justin Thomas United States
10 Rafael Becker Brazil
10 Steven Fox United States
10 Neil Raymond   England
13 Scott Fernandez   Spain
13 Soo-Min Lee Korea
13 Vaughan McCall New Zealand
13 Cameron Smith Australia
13 Brandon Stone   South Africa
13 Kristoffer Ventura Norway
19 Rodolfo Cazaubon Mexico
19 Edouard Espana France
19 Tim Gornik   Slovenia
19 Gavin Green Malaysia
19 Mackenzie Hughes Canada
19 Carlos Pigem   Spain
19 Peter Valasek Slovakia
26 Filippo Bergamaschi   Italy
26 Daan Huizing   Netherlands
26 Kristian Johannessen Norway
26 Si-Woo Kim Korea
26 HIdeki Matsuyama   Japan
26 Kevin Phelan   Ireland
32 Scott Vincent   Zimbabwe
33 Albin Choi Canada
33 Corey Conners Canada
33 Daniel Jennevret Sweden
33 Lukas Nemecz   Austria
33 Thomas Pieters   Belgium
33 Marcel Schneider Germany
39 Axel Boasson   Iceland
39 Ricardo Celia   Colombia
39 Antonio Costa Chile
39 Robin Kind   Netherlands
39 Kenta Konishi   Japan
39 Hamza Sayin   Turkey
39 Matthew Stieger Australia
39 Natthawat Suvajanakorn Thailand
39 Jonathan Woo Singapore
48 Victor Henum Denmark
48 Craig Hinton   England
48 Khalin Joshi   India
48 Max Rottluff Germany
48 Marcelo Rozo   Colombia

Reverting to my initial European perspective, it’s interesting to look for performance correlations between the Eisenhower and the European Amateur.

The aforementioned Moritz Lampert finished 3rd in the 2012 Eisenhower.

James Frazer of Wales just as boldly stands out with a 6th & a 2nd in these two events and will assuredly be one to watch when he tees it up in pro events!

Si-Woo Kim, in 26th place at the Eisenhower, went on to secure his PGA Tour card for 2013, albeit too young at 17 to accept it until June!

Julien Brun, 4th in the Eisenhower, did not feature in the Euro Amateur but preceded his October Eisenhower with a stunning win in September’s European Challenge Tour Allianz Golf Open Toulouse Metropole!

Norway’s Kristoffer Ventura, who was 13th in the Eisenhower and 50th in the Euro Amateur, had previously finished an excellent 16th in the 2011 Norwegian Challenge in his only significant tournament start. Another to watch in 2013.

Outside the European focus of this article, the Eisenhower individual winner, Sebastian Vazquez, subsequently went on to compete on the new PGA Latinoamerica Tour where he has already recorded a victory! This confirmed the undoubted promise evident from his 4th place in the stroke play rounds of the 2012 US Amateur.

Malaysia’s Gavin (Kyle) Green, who was 19th in the Eisenhower, was in top 10 contention until late in last week’s Iskandar Johor Open in his first start in a professional event; he eventually finished an outstanding 18th. Definitely one to watch when he tees it up in Asia in 2013!

America’s Chris Williams placed 7th in the US Amateur stroke play and was the Eisenhower runner-up. Also one to watch when he tees it up in 2013. He’s had some big tournament experience already, including the 2011 US Open. Justin Thomas made the cut in his first PGA Tour start (Greenbrier, July)

Hideki Matsuyama is already an established star on the JGTO (Japan Mens) Tour where he won in 2011 and recorded four top 10’s from just 7 starts in his shortened 2012 season.

And so on!

There was a time when a quality gulf existed between the amateur and professional ranks, and this is still true, of course, but the difference today is the sheer number of fearless young amateurs who bring quality-coached swings, proper physical and mental preparation and huge confidence to the course and who can tee it up with the pro’s and still perform to the best of their ability.

When looking for those longshot: each way, Top10, Top20 or first round leader bets in 2013, don’t discount players who come in with form in quality amateur events!

Cheers and good luck with your golf betting in 2013, Mike.


© Copyright Mike J Miller: 19December 2012


Additional Notes (added 1 Jun 2018):


Jon Rahm won the 2014 Eisenhower Trophy individual scoring. Lucas Herbert T2, Bryson DeChambeau T8 ….


Aussie Cameron Davis beat compatriot Curtis Luck in the 2016 Eisenhower Trophy individual scoring.