Walker Cup hero Ashley Chesters and world number five Bronte Law are England Golf’s top golfers of 2015, winning their respective Orders of Merit for the year.
Chesters (Hawkstone Park), who has now turned professional, was the runaway winner of the men’s title for the second year in a row. His success underlines a spectacular season in which he tied 12th in The Open at St Andrews and helped GB&I to win back the Walker Cup.
Law (Bramhall) topped the women’s table despite spending most of her time at college in the USA. She successfully defended her English women’s amateur title – with a 16-shot winning margin – and helped England to win the silver medal in the Spirit International Amateur.
Looking back on the year, Chesters picks The Open as his highlight. “It was such a good week from start to finish and to play well and play all four rounds at St Andrews was amazing!” he said.
The Walker Cup, in which he amassed 3½ points from four to help GB&I to victory, was “also right up there” but didn’t earn any order of merit points.
Chesters’ achievement in winning the title for the second year in a row helped him decide he was ready to turn professional after an amateur career which included European championship wins in 2013 and ’14.
“It is great to have won this back-to-back and the last couple of years have made me think I am ready to turn pro and could be good enough to make a living out of playing golf.
“Obviously England Golf helped a lot with that, with all the coaching, trips away and all the other things they do to help us get better!” he added.
Chesters’ main aim now is to secure his European Tour card. But he cautions: “That can take different times for different people, so I am going to see how Q school goes and, when I know where I am likely to be playing most of my golf next year, I will set some appropriate goals.”
Bronte Law is a student at UCLA in California and has limited opportunity to play in counting events for the order of merit- so her success is particularly sweet.
“It means a lot to win the order of merit,” she said. “I miss the majority of counting events being in the US, so I’m very pleased I could play so well in the tournaments over the summer while I was back at home,” she said.
She announced her return from the US for the summer season in no uncertain terms, opening her defence of the English women’s amateur at Hunstanton with nine-under par 63 – the lowest-ever score by a woman on the Norfolk links. It set up an emphatic victory and she went on to retain the trophy by 16 shots.
During the season she got to third in the world rankings, tied fourth in the European amateur and has recently won her fourth tournament on the US college circuit.
The 20-year-old has already played in two Curtis Cup teams – including GB&I’s 2012 victory in Nairn – and her targets for next year include a place in the 2016 team. Her other goals are to finish the season as the number one player in collegiate golf and to help her university win the national championship.
1 Ashley Chesters (Hawkstone Park) 114355pts
2 James Allan (Chelmsford) 73593
3 Scott Gregory (Corhampton) 61998
4 Josh Hilleard (Farrington Park) 59105
5 Joe Dean (Lindrick) 59021
6 Paul Kinnear (Formby) 51972
7 Thomas Robson (Weymouth) 49443
8 James Walker (The Oaks) 47117
9 Marco Penge (Golf at Goodwood) 46600
10 Steve Robins (Hull) 44489
1 Bronte Law (Bramhall) 75678.588
2 Sophie Keech (Parkstone) 72018.235
3 Sammie Giles (St Mellion) 57955.957
4 Bethan Popel (Long Ashton) 54045.549
5 Rochelle Morris (Woodsome Hall) 52933.820
6 Sophie Lamb (Clitheroe) 46377.999
7 Gemma Clews (Delamere Forest) 40906.502
8 Lizzie Prior (Burhill) 40367.868
9 Hollie Muse (West Lancs) 37782.137
10 Alice Hewson (Berkhamstead) 36815.977
Image © Leaderboard Photography