Alex Maguire (St. Andrews Links photo)
One hundred forty-four golfers vied for the St. Andrews Links Trophy, an event at the "Home of Golf" that has become one of the ‘majors’ in men’s amateur golf, helped by its venue and timing.
This year it is even more important for the GB&I players who are competing as the Old Course in St. Andrews will also be hosting the 49th Walker Cup match in September.
An international leaderboard with a European edge shaped up after round one, as Jack Ingham (The Netherlands), Ronan Klue (Switzerland), Erik Jansson (Sweden), Robert Moran (Ireland), and Peter O'Keeffe (Ireland) all fired 5-under 66 on the "New Course" to tie for the early lead.
Alex Maguire of Ireland -- just a week removed from defending his East of Ireland title
-- was four strokes back and well down the leaderboard at that point. But there was a lot more golf to play, and the venue for the next three rounds would be the 2023 Walker Cup venue -- The Old Course. Time to put your game face on again, Mr. Maguire.
And that's exactly what he did, rattling off rounds of 66, 66, and 64 to cap things off with a 5-shot victory over Sweden’s Albert Hansson.
Maguire was interviewed by the Irish Examiner after the round. Excerpts of that conversation follow:
“It feels absolutely amazing to be able to call myself the St Andrews Links champion. What a place to win. You couldn’t pick a better place to have a victory than the Old Course. I’m absolutely delighted,” said Maguire.
“It was my first time playing the Old Course this week. And it’s a strange thing, I have a habit of winning in my first time playing events. I’ve done it the North, did it Connacht Stroke Play. I did well at British Am my first time playing it and then obviously this.
“Two titles in two weeks. I probably wouldn’t have wrote it but I just felt like the pressure I had last week made it a lot easier this week because there was no crowds out watching. I knew it was a big event but I didn’t really feel much pressure.
With the British Amateur scheduled to be played at England's Hillside Golf Club beginning June 19, Maguire will enjoy a brief holiday in London before cleaning up the clubs and getting ready for the big one.
More information about the 2023 event courtesy of Golf Bible
The Links Trophy is a 72 hole scratch stroke play competition played annually over the St. Andrews Links in early June.
The field is primarily determined by reference to the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and finished off with various National Golf Union and St. Andrews Links Trust nominations.
This year Round 1 will be played on the New Course and Round 2 on the Old Course. In non-Open Championship year’s the Jubilee Course normally alternates with the New for Round 1.
The New Course plays 6,681 yards to a par of 71. The front nine is 3,302 yards long with a par of 36 whilst the tougher back nine is slightly longer at 3,379 yards but has a lower par of 35.
Following a top 40 and ties cut on Saturday the leading players will play a final 36 holes on the Old Course on Sunday.
The Old Course has been set up at 7,171 yards for the event and has a par of 72. Both nines have a par of 36 and have similar yardages – the front is 3,535 yards long whilst the back is longer at 3,636 yards.
The winner will be the player who returns the lowest 72 hole aggregate score.
In the event of a tie a sudden death play-off will be held over holes 1 and 18 on the Old Course.
Ties for other places will be decided by the lowest score for the last 18 holes or the last 9 or 6 or 3 or 1 hole if necessary.
As this is the first event that takes place in Great Britain & Ireland after the U.S. college season has ended the field is stronger than we have seen in recent weeks.
GB&I Walker Cup squad members James ASHFIELD (WAL), Josh BERRY (ENG), Archie DAVIES (WAL), Arron EDWARDS-HILL (ENG), Hugh FOLEY (IRL), Connor GRAHAM (SCO), John GOUGH (ENG), Frank KENNEDY (ENG), Robert MORAN (IRL), Liam NOLAN (IRL), Peter O’KEEFFE (IRL), Mark POWER (IRL), Calum SCOTT (SCO), Dylan SHAW-RADFORD (ENG), Harley SMITH (ENG), Gregor TAIT (SCO) and Tyler WEAVER (ENG) are all competing.
The missing squad members are Barclay BROWN (ENG), Josh HILL (ENG) and Matthew MCCLEAN (IRL). Brown is playing in U.S. Open Final Qualifying in California today (Monday 5th) and McClean is travelling over to the U.S. Open Championship for which he is exempt following his 2022 U.S. Mid-Amateur win.
Max KENNEDY (IRL), who won the Ulster Men’s Amateur Championship last week, had planned to play but withdrew when he was selected for the International Team at the Arnold Palmer Cup, which is also being played this week. Max, who is at Louisville, was our leading player on the U.S. college circuit this season.
Other GB&I players who have been showing some recent form are Jack BIGHAM (ENG), Tomi BOWEN (WAL), Seb CAVE (ENG), Zach CHEGWIDDEN (ENG), James CLARIDGE (ENG), Paul CONROY (IRL), Will COXON (ENG), Charlie CROCKETT (ENG), Matthew DODD-BERRY (ENG), Zach LITTLE (ENG), Sean KEELING (IRL), Alex MAGUIRE (IRL), James NASH (WAL), Matt ROBERTS (WAL) and Caolan RAFFERTY (IRL); all of them should be competitive this week.
In recent weeks Liam Nolan has won the Brabazon Trophy at Sunningdale, Connor Graham the Scottish Men’s Open Championship at Meldrum House and Alex Maguire the East of Ireland Amateur Open at County Louth so all three of them will arrive with their confidence high.
The overseas players in the field that stand out to me are Harrison CROWE (AUS), Quentin DEBOVE (FRA), Albert HANSSON (SWE), Elias HAAVISTO (FIN), David LUNDGREN (SWE), Louis MASAVEU (ESP), Laurenz SCHIERGEN (GER) and Altin VAN DER MERWE (RSA).
Players from 22 countries will be competing at St. Andrews this year.