LA set for amateur showcase
The 46th Walker Cup is upon us, as GB&I head to the US as holders. So here’s everything you need to know.
Amateur golf’s Ryder Cup is a two-day matchplay affair that pits the 10 best male amateur golfers from Great Britain & Ireland against America’s 10 finest. The first day’s play consists of four foursomes matches and eight singles; the second day features another four foursomes matches and 10 singles.
The Walker Cup takes its name from former USGA President George Herbert Walker, who proposed the match as a way of raising the sport’s profile in the aftermath of World War I. First officially held in 1922, it’s been played every other year since 1947 with the venues alternating between GB&I and America. This year’s tussle takes place over the North Course at the exclusive Los Angeles Country Club. The highly-rated layout was recently redesigned by Gil Hanse and is gearing up to host the 2023 US Open.
Overall, the event’s results do not make pleasant reading for golf fans on this side of the Atlantic, with the US winning 35 of the 45 matches, Great Britain & Ireland triumphing nine times and the 1965 match ending in a draw. More positively, GB&I have won seven of the last 14 contests, and, thanks to a resounding 16½-9½ win at Royal Lytham in 2015, are the current Walker Cup holders.
THE FORMER STARS
Jack. Tiger. Rory McIlroy. Phil Mickelson. Jordan Spieth. Justin Rose. Dustin Johnson. Bobby Jones. Choose a big golfing name from GB&I or the US and the chances are they will have cut their teeth in this event. “The Walker Cup was a big part of my career,” admits Jack Nicklaus, who played in the 1959 and 1961 Walker Cups. “It took me from one level to the next level.”
THE FUTURE STARS
Stars of tomorrow include, for the US, big-hitting Braden Thornberry, who recently finished tied 4th at the PGA Tour’s FedEx St Jude Classic, former World Amateur No.1 Maverick McNealy and Scottie Scheffler, who finished tied 27th at this year’s US Open. For GB&I big things are expected of this year’s Amateur Champion Harry Ellis, current European Amateur Champion and Silver Medal winner Alfie Plant and World Amateur No.9 Connor Syme.
THE LIKELY WINNERS
Due to their strength in depth and home advantage (the home side have won 10 of the last 12 Walker Cups), John Miller’s United States team go into the encounter as heavy favourites. But GB&I Captain Craig Watson believes his team are capable of causing a shock, as does Amateur Champion Harry Ellis. “It’s going to be a battle,” he says, “but we can definitely bring the Cup home.”