A world class field is lined up for next week's European Amateur Championship at Walton Heath Golf Club, Surrey.
The winner will not only follow in the footsteps of such past champions as Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, but will play in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale in July.
This is the second time England Golf has hosted the championship and it will be played from Wednesday, 28 June to Saturday, 1 July.
It is one of the biggest amateur titles in golf and has attracted entries from some of the finest players around the globe.
Between them they represent 32 different countries and they include Stewart Hagestad, who was the low amateur at The Masters; Paul Chaplet, the South American amateur champion; and defending champion Luca Cianchetti of Italy (pictured courtesy European Golf Association).
Cianchetti has great form at Walton Heath having won the South of England Open Amateur there two years ago. Meanwhile David Boote, the top-ranked Welsh amateur in the world, will enjoy home club advantage. He recently came within a whisker of winning a place in the US Open at the qualifier hosted by Walton Heath when he posted a record 62 on the New Course in the first round.
English high-flyers include 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory of Hampshire, who will be able to draw on the experience of having played in The Open, The Masters and this week’s US Open.
Dorset’s Jack Singh Brar and Cheshire's Matthew Jordan have both hit tremendous form. Singh Brar won the Lytham Trophy and shared second place in the Brabazon Trophy, alongside Jake Burnage of Devon, who is another exciting prospect. Jordan capped a string of high finishes with victory in the St Andrews Links Trophy. Somerset’s Josh Hilleard is another England international who already has a big win under his belt this season, having captured the French amateur.
Among the players from the other Home Countries is Jack Davidson of Wales who is enjoying a stellar season with wins in the Spanish amateur and the European Nations Cup. Robert MacIntyre and Connor Syme of Scotland both feature in the world top ten, while Stuart Grehan is Ireland’s highest ranked player on the world stage.
The field of 144 players will be challenged by Walton Heath’s Old Course, which is recognised as one of the finest inland courses in the country.
The club has hosted nearly 90 major amateur and professional championships, including the 1981 Ryder Cup, five European Opens and the Senior Open Championship.
Amateur events include the English Amateur and the Brabazon Trophy, the British and English Ladies’ Championships, the British Seniors’ and the British Mid-Amateur.
In recent years the club has introduced the South of England Open Amateur Championship and the 2007 winner was Danny Willett, who went on to win the 2016 US Masters. The club has hosted qualifying for the US Open for 12 successive years and in 2005 Michael Campbell made his way through the qualifier to win the championship.
England last hosted this championship in 1991 at Hillside, Lancashire, when Jim Payne became the first Englishman to take the title. He was followed by Matthew Richardson in 2004 and then by Ashley Chesters in 2013 and 2014, adding a special line in the history of the championship as the only back-to-back winner.
The 72-hole European Amateur Championship will be played over four days from Wednesday, 28 June to Saturday, 1 July. After 54 holes the field will be cut to the leading 60 players and ties who will play the final round.
Visit www.ega-golf.ch for more information