Shay’s Short Game: Lily May Humphreys victorious in the US

New year, new rules: CONGU changes come into effect from Monday January 1st

Lily May Humphreys (L) receives the girls’ trophy at the Junior Orange Bowl International.

Lily May Humphreys (L) receives the girls’ trophy at the Junior Orange Bowl International.


Lily May takes first USA title by nine shots

England teenager Lily May Humphreys capped a superb 2017 when she won the girls’ title at the Junior Orange Bowl International in Florida by the hefty margin of nine shots. The Curtis Cup squad member is the first English player to win the event, finishing on nine-under par 276 over 72 holes at the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, Miami.

It was the fourth big title of 2017 for the 15-year-old England girl international, following wins in the British girls’, English women’s and European Young Masters championships. Goto Miyu from Japan was second with scores of 72-68-72-72 for 284 and Cory Lopez from Mexico third on 285 after carding rounds of 71-69-73-72.

Humphreys was at the top of the leaderboard throughout, sharing first place after her first round of two-under 69 and then forging ahead on her own with rounds of 67, 66 and 73.

Her third round 66 was the low score of the girls’ championship and put her 10 shots clear of the field. Her opponents could barely dent that advantage as she signed off with 73, compiled in chilly, windy conditions, and including a sought-after birdie on the 18th. “It was nice to do that in the final round, after trying all week, in front of everyone watching,” said Humphreys.

Another England player, Annabell Fuller of Roehampton, Surrey, tied 20th after rounds of 75-76-76-75. Fuller, also 15, is the English girls’ U16 champion and, like Humphreys, has been named in the initial GB&I squad for the 2018 Curtis Cup match.

CONGU changes come into effect

The changes to the CONGU UHS System which will come into effect from January 1st 2018 are:

Retirement of Club & Disability Handicaps - As a result of their low impact these have been removed and replaced by a new Category 5 for Men and Category 6 for both Men and Women, providing for a maximum handicap of 54.0 for all golfers. Players will be able to maintain a Competition Handicap in all six categories. Upward adjustment for all categories will remain at 0.1 and downward adjustments for Net Differentials below Buffer Zones will be 0.5 for Category 5 and 0.6 for Category 6.

After January 1st 2018 Handicap Committees can increase handicaps above the current limits of 28.0 and 36.0, and they will also increase above those limits automatically as a result of above Buffer Zone returns in Qualifying Competitions and Supplementary Score submissions.

Supplementary Scores - relaxation of the rules to allow an unlimited number of score submissions per year and removal of the restriction of one per week. However, the restriction on Category 1 players will remain in place.

Mixed Tee Competitions -reinforcement of the single CSS Adjustment Calculation. Having a single CSS adjustment for two or more competitions will provide a more equitable value when one of the competitions has a very low number of players. To overcome the technical IT implementation issues, the approach agreed will be to enter all scores into a single competition (and so a single CSS Adjustment Factor is calculated) with a facility within the software to allow the results to be separated for each group of competitors.

Definitions - confirmation that cards submitted for Initial Handicap Allocation are included in the definition of qualifying scores for handicap purposes. Accordingly a player whose handicap is allocated on the basis of such submitted scores under Clause 16 will automatically be allocated a Competition Handicap status.

Nine Holes Competitions - introduce the option of nine-holes Medal Competitions and nine-holes Open Competitions. For handicap purposes, the nine-holes Medal scores will be converted to Stableford and will appear as stableford on the players handicap record.

Handicap Adjustments - confirmation that the adherence to Appendix M (Guidelines for Handicap Reviews) is mandatory, not optional.

Phelan ready for new challenge

Waterford’s Kevin Phelan will be aiming to put a disappointing 2017 behind him when he tees it up in the PGA Tour Latinoamérica Qualifying School later this month.

The former Walker Cup player made just five cuts from 16 Challenge Tour starts last year and finished 155th in the Road to Oman standings.

Ranked 97th in 2016, he needs a new lease of life and will be hoping to find it when he tees up at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Florida from January 9th-12th - one of the four 72-hole qualifying tournaments where membership will be awarded to the top 35 and ties at each site.

Four Irish players will also tee it up at one of four venues in the First Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School in Thailand from January 3rd-6th.

Former Irish PGA winners Niall Kearney and Tim Rice will attempt to qualify over 72 holes for the Final Stage at Rayong Green Valley Country Club in Bangkok with Rory McNamara in action at Windsor Park & Golf Club and Black Bush assistant Stephen McCarthy at St. Andrews in 2000.

The Asian Tour’s 90-hole Final Stage will be played at Rayong Green Valley Country Club and St. Andrews 2000 from January 10th-14th, where a maximum field of 264 will play one round at each venue.

After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the leading 140 players and ties who will then play a further two rounds. After 72 holes, the field will be cut to the leading 70 players and ties who will then play the final round.

At the conclusion of 90 holes, the top 35 and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2018 season.

Strong field for Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship

The R&A and Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) have announced that 81 players from 18 countries have already been confirmed for the first Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, which will be held in Singapore from 21st-24th February 2018.

The entry list’s leading players on the World Amateur Golf Ranking include Thailand’s Paphangkorn Tavatanakit (ranked 15th), China’s Wenbo Liu (27th), Korean A-Yean Cho (37th), Japan’s Yuna Nishimura (47th), the Philippines’ Yuka Saso (52nd) and Australia’s Kirsty Hodgkins (58th).

As nations with the top-ranked players, Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines and Thailand will each field six players.

The winner will earn invitations to play in two major championships next year - the ANA Inspiration (March 29th-April 1st) at Mission Hills Country Club in California, USA; and the Ricoh Women’s British Open (August 2nd-5th) at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club in Lancashire, England.

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific will be played over the redeveloped New Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club.

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