Augusta State’s Patrick Reed defeated Frenchman Victor Dubuisson in a one-hole, sudden-death playoff Sunday to capture the Jones Cup at the prestigious Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga. Both players finished at 6-over-par and Reed triumphed when two of Dubuisson’s tee balls found a water hazard on the last hole.
“Biggest win for me ever, so far,” said Reed, who transferred from Georgia and is a native of Baton Rouge, La. The field featured players native to places all over the world. Dubuisson is the No. 3 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
In fact, the the 54-hole Jones Cup continues to grow in stature globally. This year, it featured 25 of the top 50 amateurs in the world and 30 of those players came from outside the United States. The English, Scottish and French national teams were represented. This year’s event had one major U.S college event conflict, or the field would have been even stronger. It is hoped that in 2011 this conflict will be avoided because the tournament will be held one week later. Tournament officials are hoping to lock these dates down so that major U.S. college golf teams will schedule around the event.
Sea Island has been in the news for financial reasons, but that did not stop Ocean Forest from hosting an event at which players were pleased about everything from the hospitality to the quality and condition of the golf course. The weather wasn’t ideal, but that appeared to be the only issue Sea Island could not control.
Scotland’s Philip McLean grabbed the first-round lead with a 3-under-par 69. The Scottish Elite Team member had a two-stroke lead over Matt Nagy of Kennessaw State University and Romain Wattel of the French National Team. The first round was threatened by inclement weather but play was never suspended. The field played through rain showers and heavy winds on the difficult Rees Jones layout. The average score for the 84-player field was 78, with only three bettering par.
Scottish amateur golf team captain Scott Knowles, watching from the sidelines, admitted he was jealous of the players in the field. “If only we’d be given that sort of opportunity when I was younger,” said Knowles. “It must have been a fantastic experience and should be helpful for the season ahead.”
Later this year, the Scots will defend the European Team Championship in Sweden and the World Team Championship in Argentina. “The Jones Cup is the start of the battle for places on those teams,” said Knowles. “Last year provided some great guidance, but this is the main year and the opportunity is there for all our top amateurs to show what they can do.”
Four Scots – Ross Kellett, Steve McEwan, James White and McLean – spent the week leading up to the Jones Cup at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where they worked with their national coach, Ian Rae, and the Scottish Institute of Sport’s golf psychologist, Dr. Richard Cox. McLean’s 81 in the second round led to a T12 finish the final day.
The weather improved somewhat Saturday but a chill remained and the wind was strong. Throughout the day, winds gusted to 20 mph. Auburn sophomore Blayne Barber took the 36-hole lead with a 74 to bring his two-day total to 3-over-par 147. Barber’s Sunday 76 left him alone in third.
On a day when most of the field found scoring to be difficult, Dubuisson recorded a 2-under-par 70 to put him one shot behind Barber. Joining Dubuisson with a two-day total of 148 were Reed and the Alabama’s Hunter Hamrick. Rounds of the day belonged to Dubuisson and GB&I Walker Cup team member Stiggy Hodgson.