Golf

Who are the unknown English quantities making their US Open debut?

A record 14 English players have qualified for the US Open starting on Thursday… and Sportsmail takes a look at the unknown quantities from the European Tour making their tournament debut at Torrey Pines

  • Eight household English players at the US Open this week play on the PGA tour
  • But there are six who have a handful of American appearances between them
  • Marcus Armitage, Dave Coupland and Joe Long are all featuring this week 
  • Matt Southgate and Jordan Smith are other unknown quantities competing  

The record number of 14 Englishmen to qualify for a US Open are split almost evenly between eight household names, who play largely on the PGA Tour, and six underdogs with just a handful of appearances in America between them. 

You’ll be familiar with Richard Bland’s remarkable story by now, but he’s hardly alone in being a European Tour loyalist who’s risen above forbidding odds to make it to America’s national championship for the first time. 

Let’s meet the rest, plus amateur Joe Long.

Marcus Armitage is one of the English players making his US Open debut this week

MARCUS ARMITAGE  

The 33-year-old from Salford went to Hamburg for the Porsche European Open recently after worries about his father’s health. When he arrived, he took an instant dislike to the course, losing seven balls during a practice round.

Four days later, he crafted one of those fairytale victories the tour seems to be specialising in recently. Armitage then gave an emotional winner’s speech that moved everyone as he recounted losing his mother to cancer 20 years earlier when he had a handicap of 10, and how he had dreamed of winning an event ever since. He’s playing in his first tournament in America.

DAVE COUPLAND    

The first Lincolnshire golfer to compete in the US Open since Tony Jacklin, who won the event 51 years ago. By the side of the 35-year-old will be his dad Paul, who has just given up his job as a refuse collector to caddie for his son. 

Coupland, who used to sell shares in himself to pay his way, holed mammoth putts on the final two greens of the British Masters last month to qualify for Torrey Pines. ‘I can hardly believe I am here,’ he said on Tuesday, as he looked in awe at his new surroundings. ‘This event is the pinnacle of the game, and it feels incredible to be playing in it.’

Dave Coupland is the first Lincolnshire golfer to compete in the US Open since Tony Jacklin 

MATT SOUTHGATE   

Showed tremendous resolve in 2015 when he came through all three stages of the tour’s qualifying school to gain his playing privileges just months after recovering from testicular cancer. He then made quite a few Sportsmail readers very happy after we tipped the 350-1 shot as a useful each-way bet for the 2017 Open — and he finished tied sixth.

The tall 32-year-old from Essex — no relation to the other Southgate currently getting one or two sporting headlines — comes into just his second American major following a useful run of form in Europe, including a runner-up loss to Armitage in the European Open.

Matt Southgate, 32, finished tied sixth as a 350-1 tip at the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale 

JORDAN SMITH 

Looked one of the coming men of European golf when he notched a top 10 in only his second American major at the 2017 US PGA. The fact he hasn’t played in another since tells its own story of a career that’s stalled in recent years at a level just below the limelight.

Perhaps this appearance will prove the one for the 28-year-old from Bath to propel him back towards the upper echelons. Finished 11th, 3rd, 17th and 33rd in his last four European starts and the gifted ball striker should enjoy the wiles of Torrey Pines.

Jordan Smith’s career has stalled in recent years after a top-10 finish at the 2017 USPGA 

JOE LONG 

Came here with plenty of mixed feelings as he wasn’t able to defend his Amateur Championship title currently taking place at Nairn in Scotland. It didn’t take him long, however, to get over them as he’s been chatting away happily with the stars on the practice ground.

The 22-year-old got into the US Open after beating fellow Bristolian Joe Harvey in the final of the Amateur at Birkdale — a player he had more routinely competed against for monthly medals. Will turn pro after playing in the Open at Royal St George’s next month.

Amateur Joe Long will turn professional after playing in the Open at Royal St George’s in July 




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