2017 Walker Cup - U.S. Team Preview

What is it?

The Walker Cup is a biennial event pitting the best amateurs from the U.S. against Great Britain & Ireland. It was first played in 1921 at Royal Liverpool. The event was originally played on even-numbered years, but switched to odd-numbered years after World War II. The Walker Cup is named after George Herbert Walker, President of the USGA in 1920 and great-grandfather of George W. Bush. While the U.S. leads the all-time record 35-9-1, the competition has been much closer since 1989 and each team has 7 wins. 

The Format

The Walker Cup serves as the Ryder Cup of Amateur golf, and earning a spot in the competition is one of the biggest honors an amateur can receive. Unlike the Ryder Cup, there is no “points list.” Instead, each team’s captain makes all of the selections for the team. Each team has 10 players, and the contest is played over two days in Mid-September. Each day consists of foursomes matches in the morning and singles matches in the afternoon. Overall, there are 26 points available, with 13.5 needed to keep the cup and 13 needed to retain the cup. 

Why is it Important?

This is the most prestigious event in amateur golf. Being selected to the Walker Cup team is an honor that players carry for the rest of their careers. Many of the biggest stars in golf have competed in the event, including Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Bobby Jones, Francis Ouimet, Harvie Ward, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Rory Mcilroy, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Justin Rose, Pádraig Harrington and Luke Donald. 

The Walker Cup typically visits the best courses on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2017, the event will be held at Los Angeles Country Club and it will only get better from there. The USGA recently announced the next two venues for Walker Cups in the United States, Seminole Country Club (2021) and Cypress Point Club (2025). Across the pond, the R&A has secured Royal Liverpool for the 2019 Walker Cup and it’s rumored that the 2023 event will be at Carnoustie. With less logistics and smaller crowds than the PGA Tour or even Web.com Tour events, this opens up opportunities to play at the best courses that the United States, Great Britain and Ireland have to offer. These great courses and talented amateurs make the future bright for the Walker Cup for years to come. 

2017 Preview

The 2017 Walker Cup will take place September 9-10th, 2017 at George C. Thomas’ masterpiece, Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course. Consistently ranked among the top 50 courses in the world, LACC’s North Course was completed by Thomas in 1926 and was recently restored by Gil Hanse in 2010. The Walker Cup will serve as a good warmup for LACC, which was selected as the host of the 2023 U.S. Open. 

The famed 11th hole at LACC's North Course

The famed 11th hole at LACC's North Course

The last major event held at LACC was the 2013 Pac-12 Championship, which was won by California. The winning team score for that event was +6, with Max Homa winning individually at –9.

U.S. Team Preview

Only 10 players make the squad, with 2 of the 10 spots going to mid-amateurs (amateurs over 25), making competition intense for the final 8 spots. The U.S. team will be captained again in 2017 by John “Spider” Miller. 

The USGA typically hosts a practice session in December of the year before and that session just concluded a few weeks ago. The players who were invited this year include:

Dawson Armstrong
Lipscomb University
WAGR: 29
Fast Facts: 2015 Western Amateur Champion, T2 at 2016 U.S. Amatuer Stroke Play

Sean Crocker

Sean Crocker
University of Southern California
WAGR: 14
Fast Facts: 2016 Monroe Invitational Champion, 2015 PING All-American

Brad Dalke
University of Oklahoma
WAGR: 116
Fast Facts: Finalist in the 2016 U.S. Amateur

Doug Ghim teeing off at the 2016 Western Amateur

Doug Ghim
University of Texas
WAGR: 32
Fast Facts: 2014 Western Amateur Stroke Play Medalist, Selected to 2016 Palmer Cup Team

Stewart Hagestad winning the 2016 U.S. Mid Amateur

Stewart Hagestad
Mid-Amateur
WAGR: 1212
Fast Facts: Won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur

Gavin Hall
University of Texas
WAGR: 19
Fast Facts: Qualified for 2013 U.S. Open, Won two college events in 2016

University of Illinois' Nick Hardy.

University of Illinois' Nick Hardy.

Nick Hardy
University of Illinois
WAGR: 31
Fast Facts: Two-time U.S. Open Qualifier, Won 2016 Illinois State Amatuer shooting a record 28-under par

Scott Harvey
Mid-Amateur
WAGR: 61
Fast Facts: 2014 U.S. Mid-Amauter Champion, 2015 South American Amateur Champion

Rico Hoey
University of Southern California
WAGR: 25
Fast Facts: Selected to 2016 U.S. Palmer Cup Team, 2nd at 2016 NCAA Championship

Maverick McNealy
Stanford University
WAGR: 1
Fast Facts: 11 career wins at Stanford, matching Patrick Rodgers and Tiger Woods for most in program history

Dylan Meyer hitting a second shot at the 2016 Western Amateur

Dylan Meyer
University of Illinois
WAGR: 9
Fast Facts: Won 2016 Western Amateur, 2016 U.S. Amateur Quarterfinalist

Collin Morikawa
California University
WAGR: 16
Fast Facts: Lost in a playoff at the Web.com Tour’s 2016 Air Capital Capital Classic

John Oda
UNLV
WAGR: 23
Fast Facts: Won the 2016 Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate

Scottie Scheffler
University of Texas
WAGR: 17
Fast Facts: Qualified for 2016 U.S. Open, 2015 Phil Mickelson Award Winner (Freshman of the Year)

Jimmy Stanger
University of Virginia
WAGR: 38
Fast Facts: Won the 2016 Southern Amatuer

Will Zalatoris
Wake Forest
WAGR: 18
Fast Facts: Won the 2016 Trans-Miss Amateur Championship, Pacific Coast Amateur Championship

While this list is not entirely representative of the pool that Captain Miller will choose from, it does give an idea of who he is looking at. Hagestad and Harvey are the clear and heavy favorites for the mid-am spots, leaving only the 8 amateur spots to speculate on.  I thought that there were some surprising choices for players that were invited and some deserving of a look that were left off.  Here are a few that I think Spider Miller might want to take a closer look at: 

Noah Goodwin
2018 SMU commit
WAGR: 10
Fast Facts: 2016 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup team member, Finalist at 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur 

Corey Pereira
University of Washington
WAGR: 15
Fast Facts: 2015 Sahalee Players Amatuer Champion, Two-time First Team All PAC-12

Derek Bard
University of Virginia
WAGR: 26
Fast Facts: 2015 U.S. Amateur Finalist

Sam Burns
LSU
WAGR: 49
Fast Facts: Qualified for 2016 U.S. Open, Won 2016 Western Refining Collegiate All-American

Wyndham Clark
Oregon
WAGR: 182
Fast Facts: Ranked 2nd in Golfweek collegiate rankings, 2nd at 2016 Nike Collegiate Invitational 

Braden Thornberry
Ole Miss
WAGR: 64
Fast Facts: Ranked 1st in Golfstat Collegiate rankings, 2 wins in 2016 fall college season

The U.S. Team is by no means set in stone, and there is plenty of time for this list to change before selections are made in late spring of 2017.  

 

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