Driving Series

08/26/2015

The Walker Cup will take place September 12th and 13th at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

Although the United States’ record in the more prestigious professional match-play competitions has been less than stellar lately—the Europeans hold both the Solheim and Ryder Cups—the nation at least has the Walker Cup to fall back on.

The biannual tournament pits teams of amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland against the Americans, the original layout of the Ryder Cup. The Walker Cup started in 1921 and the US leads the all-time series 35-8.

In 2013, the Americans prevailed in dominant fashion, winning 17-9 behind the likes of Justin Thomas and Jordan Niebrugge. The Cup has long been one of the first stops on the way to stardom for players. Just look at the 2011 U.S. Team.

Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Russell Henley, Patrick Cantlay, Patrick Rodgers, and Peter Uhlein were all present at Royal Aberdeen. Of course, that loaded group lost 14-12.

2011 walker cup

2011 Walker Cup team

There are quirks in match play that don’t arise in normal tournaments. For the Walker Cup, this is especially true. Rory McIlroy took a lot of heat for calling the Ryder Cup an exhibition a few years back. The Walker Cup has more of an exhibition feel thanks to the format. Players don’t qualify, they are picked, which means they come from all over the place.

Most are collegiate players. Some, however, are middle-aged. The US captain this year is 66-year-old John “Spider” Miller, who played on the 1999 Walker Cup team at the age of 50. That would have made him the second-oldest player on the 2015 squad. Mike McCoy, twice low amateur at the US Senior Open (2014-2015), is the elder statesman of the group.

Still, the history of the tournament adds to the prestige. The young kids don’t know any better. They play hard. The older generation rarely get to compete on such a stage. It makes for wonderful golf.

Here are the Americans who will head to Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s Golf Club by the following:

Maverick McNealy

The reigning Jack Nicklaus Award Winner as NCAA Player of the Year, McNealy has the game to match his name. As a sophomore in 2014-15, the Stanford stud won six tournaments and set a school record with a 69.05 scoring average. He and fellow teen Robby Shelton are the two youngest members of the team.

Bryson DeChambeau

It’s been quite the year for the SMU Senior. DeChambeau won the NCAA Individual Championship in the spring and just recently won the US Amateur Championship over Derek Bard. In doing so, DeChambeau became the fifth player in history to accomplish that rare double, joining the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Moore. His Payne Stewart-esque hat has become his trademark look.

Beau Hossler

Another amateur whose name has been well-known in the golf community for years, Hossler goes to England in fine form. He made the cut at the US Open in June after a standout season at Texas. He was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2015.

Lee McCoy

The 21-year-old is the latest young golfer to make his mark as a Georgia Bulldog. McCoy set the school’s scoring record last season, a tremendous accomplishment given the amount of Dawgs who have shown up on the PGA Tour in recent years. McCoy was named a First Team All-American and qualified for the US Open at Chambers Bay.

Hunter Stewart

Next to Maverick McNealy, Stewart might have the best golf name on the team. The Vanderbilt senior was named SEC Player of the Year in 2015. A Lexington native, Stewart is looking to add to the storied golf history of the Blue Grass State.

Scott Harvey

Harvey is old by his teammates’ standards with the exception of Mike McCoy. The 37-year-old won the 2014 Mid-Amateur Championship and reached the semifinals of the 2015 US Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

Denny McCarthy

The University of Virginia may not be known for golf, but McCarthy made his mark in 2015. The 22-year-old Cavalier grad finished T42 at Chambers Bay in June. He played in the NCAA Championships all four years of his career and was a Third Team All-American last season.

Mike McCoy

It’s been a pretty good year for Iowa golfers. McCoy, a Des Moines native, makes his Walker Cup debut at 52.

Jordan Niebrugge

Niebrugge made noise this summer by finishing T6 at St. Andrew’s. He stormed back on Sunday to overtake 2015 Walker Cup adversary Paul Dunne as the low amateur. Niebrugge, an Oklahoma State Cowboy, is the lone returnee from the victorious 2013 squad.

Robby Shelton

Alabama golf has become a force in recent years, winning multiple National Championships and sending numerous players to the professional ranks.

Shelton entered Tuscaloosa the number one ranked junior player in the country and has more than lived up to the promise that came with that standing. In July, he finished T3 at the Barbasol Championship, a stop on the PGA Tour.

To conclude, with this group of players, there really are no surprises…