- Alistair Tait
Senior Golf’s Time To Shine
American golfers have cleaned up at the Senior Amateur Championship through the years. Odds on an American winner at Ganton Golf Club (pictured) this week are slim. Covid-19 restrictions mean just two Americans are in the field. Gene Elliott, the 2019 runner-up, and Walker Taylor are the pair representing the red, white and blue over the glorious Yorkshire course.
Covid protocols have put paid not just to US competitors, but players from other countries too. That’s robbed this great championship not only of good golfers from other nations, but its cosmopolitan appeal. The USA is one of just five nations represented in this week’s championship along with England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The breakdown of the 143-man field is 102 English, 24 Scots, 11 Welsh, four Irish and the two Americans.
In other words, expect the winner to hail from one of the four nations of the British Isles, with English golfers clearly the odds on favourites.
Defending champion Craig Davis isn’t here this year because of Covid. Two years ago, he defeated fellow American Elliott at the third hole of a sudden death playoff at North Berwick after the pair tied on 54-hole 207 totals. Davis was making his debut appearance in the championship. (There was no championship last year because of the pandemic.)
When Davis lifted the crown, he made it 22 American wins since the championship began in 1969, and the 18th of the past 23 tournaments since Joel Hirsch won in 1996.
The word you’re looking for is “domination.”
Elliot will be hoping to make it 23 times an American flag has been draped over the Senior Amateur Trophy when he tees off at 1:20 pm at Ganton today in the company of England’s Paul McGarry (Bridgenorth) and Nick Robson of Scotland (Royal Aberdeen).
Competitors, all of whom have to be 55 before the tournament begins, will have to go 72 holes this year to get their hands on the trophy, after the R&A decided to add another round for this year’s championship. The top 60 and ties after 36 holes play the final 36 holes.
Trevor Foster and Bryan Hughes are the last two Englishmen to win the championship. Foster won at Royal Porthcawl in 2018, while Hughes took the title at Sunningdale the year before. Both are in the field this year and will fancy their chances of repeat victories.
No Irish player has won the title since Arthur Pierse did so in 2007 at Nairn. The late Charlie Green is the last Scot to be crowned Senior Amateur champion. The Walker Cup player won his sixth title at Formby in 1994, ending an incredible run of six wins in seven years.
The winner receives the Senior Amateur trophy and a gold medal. More importantly, he can call himself a winner of an R&A event and the best senior golfer in the British Isles. Now that’s something to dine out on.
#JustSaying: “When you get up there in years, the fairways get longer and the holes get smaller.” Bobby Locke