ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Max Orrin has given the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup selectors something to think about recently with two wins. He could make them think just a little bit harder by winning the St. Andrews Links Trophy.
Winning over the Old Course could get him into the GB&I team two years ahead of schedule. Not many would be surprised if he were to emerge on top of the field after the final 36 holes on the Old Course.
The English amateur returned a second-round, 2-under 70 over the Old Course to go with his opening 73 over the Jubilee. The 19-year-old’s 1-under total of 143 is just four shots off the 5-under lead held be compatriot Ryan Evans.
France’s Gregoire Schoeb and England’s Jordan Smith are one shot behind Evans at 4 under.
Orrin arrived in St. Andrews after winning the South of England Links Championship and Lagonda Trophy. A bad performance in the Lytham Trophy was just what he needed to win both tournaments.
“I missed the cut at Lytham, and it kind of gave me a little kick,” Orrin said. “I knew I needed to pick myself up, and I worked with my coach (Darren Parris) and it’s paid off. My confidence is massive right now, especially with the putter.”
Orrin made history last year when he became the first English player to win the AJGA’s Thunderbird Invitational. That victory drew a lot of attention from U.S. college coaches, but Orrin spurned interest from Arizona State, Florida State, Oklahoma State and Tennessee, among other schools.
“Some of my friends played college golf and I did think about it, but I didn’t want to do the studying so thought I’d stay here and play.”
Orrin is a plus-3.8 handicap member of North Foreland Golf Club in the South of England. He has come through the England coaching setup, playing on the boys’ team before graduating to the England elite squad.
At 19, Orrin had his sights set on the Walker Cup, but more realistically two years from now than this year. Although he doesn’t mind re-scheduling.
“I started the year thinking about the Walker Cup, but to be honest I was thinking if I didn’t make it I’d be happy to wait a couple of years. But I’d love to play this year.”
Evans’ name at the top of the leaderboard is a bit of surprise, given that he is one of very few true amateurs in the field. He actually works for a living. The 26-year-old works in the IT department of Avon Cosmetics and plays golf part-time.
The member of Wellingborough Golf Club near Northampton is a member of the England A squad, and is hoping to play well this week to try to graduate to the elite squad. He would then have an outside chance of making the Walker Cup team. Two more rounds like his opening 66 and 73 might make England and Walker Cup selectors sit up and take notice.
Toby Tree is best placed among the GB&I Walker hopefuls. The highly-rated Englishman has compiled back-to-back rounds of 71 for a 2-under total of 142, three off the lead.
Scotland’s Graeme Robertson is one shot behind Tree at 1 under, but should be further up the leaderboard. Three putts on Nos. 15, 17 and 18 at the Old Course cost him dearly. However, he is still well-placed to make an impact.
“I know I can do it on this course because I had a 64 in the last round last year to finish third,” Robertson said.
England’s Neil Raymond, winner of the last two English Stroke Play Championships, is 1 over. Reeve Whitson of Ireland, the recent Spanish Amateur champion, is 2 over, while England’s Ben Stow, a University of Kentucky player, is 3 over.
The cut fell at 4-over 148. Rhys Pugh, a member of the victorious 2010 GB&I Walker Cup team, missed when he compiled a 149 total. England’s Garrick Porteous was the most notable GB&I hopeful to miss the last 36 holes. The former Tennessee player returned an 81 to go with his opening 76.