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Sep 12

Walker Cup Under Way

The Walker Cup – Britain and Ireland Versus the U.S

Just as we think we know all the names of the best golfers around, we forget to search the amateur ranks. Some of these names will be the great ones of tomorrow. Some of them are in college, others not far out. Many of them, because they represent the best amateurs of Britain, Ireland, and the U.S., are playing right now in the Walker Cup.

walker So, what are these names many of us have never heard of? For one, there’s the American captain, John “Spider” Miller, and Scott Harvey, the eldest of the Americans at 37. There’s the physicist who has equalized the length of all his irons, Bryson De Chambeau. Our golf vocabulary wouldn’t be complete without Beau Hossler. What about Hunter Stewart? No, doesn’t ring a bell? Let’s try over on the European side – how about Paul Dunne or Jimmy Mullen? All right then, try Gavin Moynihan or John Niebrugge, Gary Hurley? Of course you know Robby Shelton, or perhaps not. Do we really know much about the Walker Cup at all? Many of us don’t, outside of seeing the words on the head of a driver at some time in our lives.
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It turns out that the Walker Cup goes back to the year of 1922, and has been held 45 times. It’s one of those rare weeks where we get to see intercontinental match play, in the mold of the Solheim, Ryder, and Presidents Cup. These, however, are amateur men from Britain and Ireland, facing off against the Americans.

At present, the isles off of Western Europe are leading the states, 7-5, decided on the match play point system for wins, losses, and halves. The Walker is only a two-day event, and is based on the format of four foursomes playing off on the first day. During the same time, eight singles matches form the core of the day’s play. On Day 2, another four foursomes will go at it, with two added singles matches. If the score is close by that time, almost anything can decide the outcome. If the states pulled it off with the same magic they were able to find in 2013, it would be their 36th win in the history of the get-together, begun just after the First World War.
The U.S. had its moments on the first day, with De Chambeau halving his match after several lead changes; Hunter Stewart birdied two late holes to pull out his match versus Paul Dunne. Robby Shelton appeared to have it in the bag, but halved his match with Gary Hurley. Beau Hossler was down by 3 against Ireland’s Jack Hume, but came back to win it. Britain and Ireland, on the other hand, got the better of the day when Jimmy Mullen beat Dennis McCarthy 4 – 2. There are still 14 points left on the board for tomorrow, so the income is far from certain. The Walker Cup provides 26 matches in two days, pure heaven for the match play enthusiast.
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As for the course, it would be hard to do better than holding the Walker at Royal Lytham St. Annes. The venue has housed an enormous number of international championships, including 11 Opens, 4 Women’s British Opens, 2 Ryders, a Curtis Cup, and many of the top amateur tournaments – 4 Amateur Championships and 3 Ladies British Open Championships.

It’s hard to say why the Walker Cup doesn’t have the ring that other match play events have, or as much as it once did. More than likely, it’s because these are the pre-greats, names we don’t know, people we haven’t yet seen in action. But, that can be fixed – there will be plenty of action tomorrow.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.