Breaking down Walker Cup matches
The U.S. team should dominate the 2013 Walker Cup matches. Six of its 10 players are from either Cal or Alabama, the two most dominant college golf programs.
GB&I (Great Britain & Ireland) has won only eight of the 43 Walker Cups since they began in 1922 at the National Golf Links. But the matches have become much more competitive in recent years. Since 1989, GB&I has won six times.
Golden Bears and Crimson Tide
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There are three players from the Cal team on the U.S. squad: Max Homa, Michael Kim and Michael Weaver. These players know each other's strengths and weaknesses. Coach Jim Holtgrieve should pair these players. While they haven't been in alternate shot together, they have great chemistry as college teammates. Plus they were the nucleus of a Cal team that won 10 times in 12 events in its most recent season.
Alabama also has three players on the U.S. side: Justin Thomas, Corey Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt. They helped the Crimson Tide to the 2013 national championship in match play.
U.S. team members will get up for Matt Fitzpatrick, the U.S. Amateur champion. From top to bottom, the U.S. can put a number of groupings of players out to face Fitzpatrick, who was the low amateur at the Open Championship in July. The U.S. has eight college players ready to get a close-up view of Fitzpatrick's game before his first college tournament at Northwestern.
A singles match on Sunday afternoon featuring Fitzpatrick and Jordan Niebrugge, the 20-year-old U.S. Amateur Public Links champ, could be an interesting matchup of USGA champions.
Kim was the best college golfer this past season and the low amateur at the U.S. Open at Merion. Fitzpatrick would learn a lot from playing against him.
Kevin Phelan made the cut at the U.S. Open, finishing in a tie for 62nd. The 23-year-old Irishman who plays golf for the University of North Florida won his first college title in 2013. Don't be surprised to see him give GB&I a bolt of energy.
For the Americans, look out for Thomas, who was a key member of Alabama's 2013 national title team. The former national player of the year is turning pro after the Walker Cup matches.
The clash of the Mid-Ams
In January, the USGA made it mandatory for the U.S. team to have at least two mid-amateurs (25 and up) on the U.S. Walker Cup team.
Nathan Smith, 35, and Todd White, 45, represent the United States. The Great Britain & Ireland side is led on this front by 27-year-old Neil Raymond.
Both Smith, a four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and twice a Walker Cupper, and White, a veteran of 11 USGA championships, will provide a steady hand and leadership to their much younger teammates.
Raymond, a quarterfinalist at the 2013 U.S. Amateur, will provide some direction for his squad with his experience. He failed to make the two previous teams and plans to turn pro after the matches.