09/10/2015

Welcome to a 2015 Walker Cup Preview highlighting the American side.

The last time we were at Lancashire, England and Royal Lytham & St. Annes was for the 2012 Open Championship (won by Ernie Els). Els nudged Adam Scott, who at the time was in pursuit of his first career major championship. A heartbreaking finish– and four bogies on his last four holes— surrendered the event for Scott.

Will this year’s Walker Cup provide as much drama? I guess we’ll find out this weekend.

What is the Walker Cup, again?

The Walker Cup is the premier amateur team event in all of golf. Pitting the best amateur golfers from America and Great Britain and Ireland (note, it does not include all of Europe).  Hosted biennially in the same way of the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup is played in odd number years and is contested typically in the fall.  

Fun fact: The Walker Cup is named after George Herbert Walker, the grandfather of president George H.W. Bush and great-grandfather of George W. Bush.

The Course– Royal Lytham & St. Annes

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The iconic clubhouse behind 18

If you remember the event in 2012, you’ll remember the amount of bunkers this course featured. Do you know how many there were?

Well, its 204. This course has 204 bunkers. Which sand related joke should I insert here to marvel at the amount sand this place has? I’ll just let U.S. team member Lee McCoy emphasize my point: 

Founded in 1886, the present course at Royal Lytham St. Anne’s wasn’t built until 1897– a fact I view the same way as the inception of our country (1776) and the ratification of our Constitution (1789). Sometimes, things take patience to come to full form.

The par-5 11th and the par-3 12th are the final two non-par-4s on the golf course, as the par-70 finishes with a flurry of 4s. This week’s course will measure a fraction over 7,100 yards.

The course is one of the few I’ve read about that actually boasts that it isn’t an aesthetically pleasing venue– something I found to be completely hilarious. This sentence was on their official website:

“It is not a conventionally beautiful golf course, surrounded as it is by suburban housing and flanked by a railway line, but it has a charm all of its own.”

The course was last altered in 1919, just after World War I and has stood the test of time as one of Britain’s best.

Mark James issued another great course about the course after David Duval’s Open Championship in 2001.

“And Lytham was set up magnificently in 2001 (for the Open Championship), perfect for the world’s premier golfing event. I do not think they could have prepared that Course better. It was a perfect combination of width of fairways, length of rough and pace and quality of greens. It should be used as a model for future Opens. Everyone who knows Lytham knew that it would be the one Course where Tiger Woods would not have a big advantage because of the distance he hits, as there are relatively few holes where you can carry the trouble. Tiger could not tame it”.

For a peak at the course, watch this video highlighting Scott’s misery in 2012:

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Players

Americans

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Photo courtesy USGA.

The Americans are featuring a cast of talent again this year that will be probably starring on the PGA Tour in only a few years.

We remember the teams from the past 5-10 years, with the names like Spieth, Fowler, Reed, etc. This team will add a couple to that list.

Headlining the bunch is Maverick McNealy, a Stanford stand-out who will represent the American side as the only teenager of the bunch. McNealy’s story is an intriguing one. I won’t explain it all here, but I encourage you to read Golf Channel Ryan Lavner’s account from earlier this summer. McNealy is the real deal.

Two McCoys join the team, separated by some 1,500 miles geographically and 31 years. Lee McCoy (Athens, GA), 21, and Mike McCoy (Des Moines, IA), 52, will present a balance between youthful, exuberance and tempered demeanor. The elder McCoy will be the third oldest competitor in the event’s history. He’s played in a whopping 46 USGA events, which has to be some sort of record.

The most decorated player of the bunch could be Bryson DeChambeau, the reigning NCAA individual champion and U.S. Amateur champion. DeChambeau is often considered to be “a mad scientist” in between the ropes, boasting a set of irons that are all the same length (for swing consistency) and a tinkered bag that features clubs 99% of the golf public have never heard of. His Payne Stewart style look and Patrick Reed type intensity will make him one of the names to watch this week.

The rest of the team features collegiate stars Beau Hossler (U.S. Open cinderella in 2012), Denny McCarthy (a UVA product who won the 2015 Porter Cup), Jordan Niebrugge (low am at the Open), Hunter Stewart (Vanderbilt star and Palmer Cup star) and Robby Shelton (a Alabama star since his freshman campaign).

The Americans have won 4 of the last 5 matches.

This article outlines the American team beautifully.

Hopefully you’re able to tune in this week and watch some of the world’s best amateurs compete. It’s going to be another show.