The United States holds the power in men’s amateur golf. That much is obvious with this week’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. Seven amateurs pledging allegiance to the red, white and blue occupy places in the world top ten.
Andy Sullivan and Tom Lewis’s decision to turn pro leaves two holes at the top of the world order. Two US players have exploited the vacancies. US Amateur champion Kelly Kraft moves four places to world number eight, while Andrew Yun improves his ranking by five places to world number nine. Meanwhile, Chris Williams moves three places to world number seven.
With Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Rodgers and Peter Uihlein holding the first four places respectively, it means US golfers occupy seven of the top nine spots on the WAGR table. Japanese golfers break up the US monopoly. Hideki Matsuyama and Yoshinori Fujimoto hold the world number five and six spots.
Chris Brant’s victory in the Gopher Invitational at Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minnesota, was the highlight of the first week of the new college golf season. The University of Iowa player returned rounds of 70, 75 and 69 for a 2-under-par total of 214 to win by a stroke from teammate Barrett Kelpin. It is Brant’s first college victory, and moves him 23 places on this week’s WAGR table into the top 50 in 30th place.
Welshman Jason Shufflebotham carried his fine summer form into the new college season. The Welshman departed the British Isles as Welsh Amateur champion. He quickly backed that victory up by sharing first place in the Sam Hall Intercollegiate. The UAB player shared the spoils with Blake Kelley of South Alabama thanks to a closing 5-under-par 66. Shufflebotham moves 58 places to world number 181.
Austin Ernst didn’t waste any time in beginning her quest to get to the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Ernst ended her first year at college with victory in the NCAA Championship in June. The student at Louisiana State University quickly laid down the gauntlet to the rest of women’s college golf by winning the first tournament of the current college season, the Cougar Classic at the Yeamans Hall Club in Hanahan, South Carolina.
After recording scores of 67, 69, the Seneca, South Carolina, native entered the final round one shot behind Erica Popson of Tennessee. However, Ernst played the final round in 67 strokes compared to Ernst’s 72 to win by four shots.
Ernst recorded 18 birdies over the 54 holes and just five bogeys. Her 13-under-par total of 203 sets an LSU record for 54 holes.
Ernst makes a serious move on this week’s WAGR table, jumping four places to fourth, just one spot behind world number three Popson.
Spain’s Ha Rang Lee finished top woman in the Duke of York Young Champions event at Royal Liverpool. Rounds of 78, 77 and 71 saw Lee tied for the lead with England’s Harry Casey. Casey won the playoff at the first extra hole.
Lee’s reward for finishing best female is a move of 40 spots on the amateur pecking order, up to 70th in the world.
Demi Runas of UC Davis kicked off her college season with victory in the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic at Ptarmigan Country Club in Fort Collins, Alabama. Rounds of 66, 71 and 74 gave her a three shot victory. Runas improves her world ranking by 17 places, moving to world number 81.
Carlie Yadloczky won the Texas A&M M Mo’morial at the Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas. She moves to 352nd on this week’s WAGR table from 539th.