International field targets Brabazon Trophy

An international field will head to Yorkshire next week for the Brabazon Trophy, one of the most prestigious championships in the world of men’s amateur golf.

Players from over a dozen countries will bid to become the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Champion when the tournament is played at Alwoodley Golf Club, Leeds, from Thursday, 30 May to Sunday, 2 June.

They include South African Amateur Champion Wilco Nienaber – ranked 40th in the world – who was pipped to the Brabazon title in a play-off last year.

A Yorkshireman, Nick Poppleton, triumphed and although he has turned professional, there’s a very strong contingent determined to keep the trophy in the county.

The 17 Yorkshire players in the field include the England internationals Bailey Gill (Lindrick), David Hague (Malton & Norton) and Ben Hutchinson (Howley Hall), together with boy international Ben Schmidt (Rotherham).

Among the others are county champion Sam Rook (Lindrick) and county match play champion Max Berrisford (Skipton). Alwoodley itself fields one player: Tom Irwin, who has been blogging about his preparations in National Club Golfer.

The English challenge from further afield includes Josh McMahon (Wallesey, Cheshire) who recently won the Lytham Trophy, English Amateur Champion Thomas Thurloway (Chartham Park, Sussex), European Nations Cup individual champion Tom Sloman (Taunton & Pickeridge, Somerset) and Tom Plumb (Yeovil, Somerset), the winner of the Cape Province Open in South Africa.

This is a Walker Cup year and many members of the initial squad are in the field and keen to make an impression on the selectors. There’s nine Englishmen: Gill, Hague, Plumb, Sloman, and Thurloway together with Jake Burnage (Saunton, Devon), Harry Hall (West Cornwall), Ben Jones (Northamptonshire County) and Robin Williams (Peterborough Milton, Northamptonshire).

From the other home countries come: Conor Purcell, who is ranked 21st in the world, Caolan Rafferty, John Murphy and James Sugrue of Ireland; Scottish champion Euan McIntosh, African Amateur Champion Euan Walker, Kieran Cantley and Jamie Stewart from Scotland; and Jake Hapgood and Ben Chamberlain of Wales.

Alwoodley will set them all a fine test of golf. It is regarded as one of the country’s finest inland courses and was the first designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, who went on to create Augusta National, Royal Melbourne and Cypress Point.

The club is hosting the Brabazon Trophy for the first time and will be broadcasting live coverage of the first day’s play on its YouTube channel and via social media.

Caption: The Brabazon Trophy at Alwoodley Golf Club (image copyright Leaderboard Photography).