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Neil, Forrest and Robb chosen for Eisenhower bid

Wallace Booth, Gavin Dear and Callum Macaulay with the Eisenhower Trophy, which the Scots won in 2008. Picture: Getty

Wallace Booth, Gavin Dear and Callum Macaulay with the Eisenhower Trophy, which the Scots won in 2008. Picture: Getty

  • by ED HODGE
 

THE trio of Bradley Neil, Grant Forrest and Chris Robb have been chosen to represent Scotland at next month’s World Amateur Team Championship in Japan, bidding to emulate the historic success of their countrymen in 2008.

Staged in the city of Karuizawa from 11-14 September, the biennial 72-hole strokeplay event is one of the most prestigious in amateur golf, and the three Scots will be aiming to add the Eisenhower Trophy to the European Nations Cup won in March in Sotogrande.

Six years ago in Adelaide, Australia, Scotland were on top of the world after brilliantly claiming a first-ever world title victory thanks to the endeavours of Wallace Booth, Gavin Dear and Callum Macaulay as George Crawford captained his side to an emphatic nine-stroke victory over a USA side featuring Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel.

The Scots also put up a stout defence in 2010, with James Byrne, Michael Stewart and Ross Kellett finishing fifth, before there was disappointment in Turkey two years ago as the team shared 44th. Other notable recent winners include Joost Luiten (Netherlands, 2006) and Romain Wattel (France, 2010).

It is now the turn of Neil (Blairgowrie), Forrest (Craigie- law) and Robb (Meldrum House) to go for glory, with Neil earning automatic selection as the top-ranked Scot in the world amateur rankings at No 7 and Forrest and Robb, 15th and 85th respectively, earning the two selectors’ picks.

Having posted seven top-ten finishes already in 2014, Neil became the first Scot in a decade to win the Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush in June.

Former Scottish Boys champion Neil, who also won the key play-off for Scotland’s Nations Cup success, went on to play in last month’s Open Championship before earning a place in Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup side against the US over his home course in late September.

Forrest, the 2012 Scottish Amateur champion, has continued his form in 2014, with the University of San Diego student notching a third win on the US college circuit.

On his return to UK soil, Forrest claimed one of the most prestigious amateur titles when he emerged triumphant in a play-off against team-mate Neil in the St Andrews Links Trophy in June, before helping Europe win the Palmer Cup. Forrest is also a past winner of the Scottish Boys and Scottish Under-16 titles.

Robb, meanwhile, has enjoyed a purple patch this summer, claiming three titles in the SGU Men’s Order of Merit: the East of Scotland Championship, Cameron Corbett Vase and the SGU’s flagship event, the Fairstone Scottish Amateur, where he defeated Graeme Robertson in the final.

The former boys cap made his men’s debut in last week’s Home Internationals, building on a year which saw him graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with All-American honours following a closing round of 64 in the NCAA Championships.

The Prince Hotel Resort’s Iriyama and Oshitate courses will be used for the World Amateur Team Championship in Japan, the country having previously served as tournament host in 1962.

The event is contested over 72 holes in stroke play format – two scores from three count for the team each day – with the Scots seeking to shine.

National coach Ian Rae, who will accompany the players in Japan, said: “We have a really strong team and they are capable of doing very well in the Eisenhower Trophy this year. The trio selected are all good at shooting low numbers when required.

“A lot of very good players have just failed to make the team and this demonstrates the strength of the team and the form of those chosen.

“The performances of all three players selected speak for themselves, especially those of Bradley and Grant, with Chris catching our eye throughout this season, having finished his time in the US strongly and then winning three times domestically, notably the Fairstone Scottish Amateur.”

Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have both featured in winning Eisenhower Trophy sides in the past, while Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Francesco Molinari and Martin Kaymer have also competed.

• Inbee Park defended the Wegmans LPGA Championship – her fifth major title – in dramatic style on Sunday with a play-off victory over Brittany Lincicome in Pittsford, New York.

The South Korean approached the final two holes trailing by two shots, but a birdie on 17 and a vital 15-foot par putt at the last gave her a two-under 70, matching Lincicome at 11-under 276 after the American bogeyed 18 to complete a 71.

That forced the pair to replay the 18th, the toughest hole of the Monroe Golf Club course.

Lincicome chipped six feet past the hole after knocking her approach to the left, and then failed with the putt, while Park, after finding the rough behind the hole with her second shot, chipped to three feet and coolly sank the putt.

It was Park’s second straight play-off win in this championship and halted a run of three straight major wins for the United States this year.

The 26-year-old admitted that her 2013 experience, when she took three extra holes to beat Scot Catriona Matthew, had come in handy.

“I didn’t feel that nervous at all today when I was just playing the final round,” she said. “But once I got to the tee on the play-off hole, I just felt the nerves right away, and it was like a replay of last year. Experience definitely helped me out, and I think I was able to stay calm.”

Matthew shot a closing 69 for a tie of 30th.

 

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