- Alistair Tait
Horsfield fulfils Poulter's promise
Sam Horsfield is a European Tour winner, just as Ian Poulter predicted.
Horsfield’s one-shot victory over Thomas Detry in the Hero Open at the Forest of Arden shoots him to the top of the UK Swing standings. It surely suggests more wins from the talented Englishman.
Poulter will expect nothing less.
"It’s special,” Horsfield said. “With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I’m thankful that the European Tour has been able to put on tournaments for us to play. I’ve been in Orlando for the last three months and felt like my game was right there, I played decently last week, had a bad finish but kept the positives from that. I played solid all week and gave myself a lot of opportunities and made one enough."
Although born in Manchester, Horsfield has lived in Florida for most of his life. That’s where he came into contact with Poulter. The Ryder Cup star has mentored the youngster for years. Not just Poulter, but caddie Terry Mundy too. Mundy has passed on a wealth of knowledge and experience to Horsfield.
Poulter sang Horsfield's praises back in 2015 when Horsfield’s Walker Cup selection was in doubt. In fact, I seem to remember Poulter wagering $10,000 that young Sam would beat any member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team. Like Poulter, then GB&I Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards knows talent when he sees it. He included him in his 10-man GB&I team to play at Royal Lytham.
Horsfield, who won the 2017 European Tour Qualifying School, decided not to play in the contest, citing “personal reasons.” Those reasons were open to question when just a day later he played the first of five qualifying rounds for the University of Florida to see who would play in the Carpet Capital. He finished T3 in that qualifier to be one of the five players to qualify. He won three times in his freshman season.
Horsfield's Walker Cup decision didn't harm GB&I. The home team won over a U.S. side that featured Bryson DeChambeau.
Poulter’s prediction that Horsfield was better than the GB&I team has been pretty much spot on. He entered the Hero Open with a higher world ranking, 224th, than any member of that victorious 10-man team. He's now 130th.
Only one member of that 10-man GB&I team has won on the European Tour. Paul Dunne’s impressive 2017 British Masters win – impressive because he held off a charging Rory McIlroy by shooting 61 in the final round – is the only W for the Walker Cup class of 2015. Dunne's highest world ranking is 65th, but he's slipped to 519th. Ashley Chesters and Grant Forrest have had fairly decent European Tour careers so far without setting the tour alight.
Horsfield's maiden victory is proof Poulter isn’t just wizard in the Ryder Cup: he knows his onions when it comes to spotting young talent.
Jack Cope’s better
Congrats to Jack Cope on winning the English Amateur Championship at Woodhall Spa. Cope, who celebrated his 21st birthday during the tournament, defeated Callan Barrow 4&3 in the scheduled 36-hole final.
“It’s been a gruelling week, but I’m thankful and proud,” said the Gloucestershire resident.
He adds his name to a trophy already etched with great English golfers like Nick Faldo, Tommy Fleetwood, Danny Willett and Paul Casey.
“It feels fantastic – I’m very honoured to be alongside the names on the trophy.”
Cope was forced to take an extended break from the game recently because of a broken arm.
“The last two years have been exceptionally tough on and off the golf course and I have to thank my parents, coach Russell Covey and Gloucestershire County Union and I hope this a big leap in the right direction.”
Many might not have picked Cope to walk off with the trophy when he arrived at Woodhall Spa. He was ranked 4,629th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, although he has been as high as 248th. Barrow was 1,185th.
“I always knew I had ability, but it’s about producing it when it counts,” Cope said.
Now the question is, can he follow in Faldo, Fleetwood, Willett and Casey’s footsteps and produce it when it counts on the European Tour?
#JustSaying: “A champion is not a champion because he wins, but because of how he conducts himself.” Doug Sanders
Picture by Getty Images courtesy of the European Tour