Selectabet: The Walker Cup

Date:                     10th – 11th September 2011

Competition:     The Walker Cup

The Professional games impressive little amateur brother for the best players from the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Contested by male amateur players in teams of not more than 10 players and a Captain. Much as the Ryder Cup, the Walker Cup is contested every two years, alternately in the USA and Great Britain and Ireland.

Venue:                 Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Aberdeen, Scotland

Founded in 1780, Royal Aberdeen is the sixth oldest golf club in existence. For the first 35 years, the club was known as The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen, with membership being determined by ballot. The Aberdeen Golf Club was formed in 1815 on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, and its members continued to play on the Queen’s Links, a strip of common land between the Don and Dee Rivers, until 1888 when they migrated to the current links at Balgownie.

More recently it has been Richie Ramsay’s training ground – a wild and windy frontline for whatever the North Sea wishes to throw at the Scottish mainland.

Yards:                   6,873 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Consider…:

The Americans look stronger on paper. But the Great Britain & Ireland have the home advantage. But the US are always favourites but….and it’s a huge but, the weather is set to be wet and windy. It’s a tough links and I know from recent personal experience that they have tightened the course in a little and while the greens are relatively slow for this standard, 10.5 (or so) on the stimp, they will most definitely be tough in these conditions.

Ones to watch:

Patrick Cantlay – Cantlay has had a stellar freshman season at UCLA, winning three events and being named Golfer of the Year, first-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-10. He was recipient of the Jack Nicklaus Award (NCAA Division I player of the year) and the Phil Mickelson Award, presented to the freshman of the year.

He was the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, tying for 21st place. He shot 60 in the second round of the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, which set the record for the lowest round in a PGA Tour event by an amateur. He went on to finish 24th in the event. He also had a top-25 finish at PGA Tour’s AT&T National at Aronomink outside of Philadelphia and tied for ninth at the RBC Canadian Open. He claimed the 2011 Southern California Golf Association Amateur and was runner-up to Ethan Tracy at the Western Amateur, losing the final match, 1 down.

He currently is the top-ranked amateur, according to the World Amateur Golf.

Tom Lewis – Lewis announced himself to the world of golf at Royal St George’s this July when he became the first amateur since Sir Michael Bonallack in 1968 to lead The Open Championship. Lewis compiled an opening 65 to share the lead with Thomas Bjorn, and went on to finish joint 30th to take the silver medal as leading amateur. He won the St Andrews Links Trophy in June.

He finished 59th in the Dubai Desert Classic, his first European Tour event. He ended the 2010 season with two outstanding performances on the Australasian Tour, finishing 12th in the Australian Open and losing a playoff to Peter O’Malley in the New South Wales Open.

Ones to win:

As there are only three possible outcomes – it’s a surprisingly hard one to call. Essentially, its better “big event” ready players (US) versus the links friendly home advantaged. 

The available odds tell the full story: the US being offered at 8/15 with Betfair while Team GB & I, are at 9/4 with Ladbrokes and SkyBet.

The odds of a tie (where the US retain the trophy) are valued at 10/1 with practically everyone including William Hill, Stan James and BoyleSports.

I’m going with my gut instinct on this one and saying that Team GB & I will dominate (courtesy of the wind and rain) day one – much as the Europeans do in the Ryder Cup and while it will be a close call at the end, the Americans will eek out a vital win (again).

Jenks out.

http://www.selectabet.net/

View From the Spire: The Walker Cup

“The Walker Cup wont be won on paper”

Author: Stephen Gallacher, European Tour Pro @ Pressandjournal.co.uk

The United States may be overwhelming  favourites for the Walker Cup this weekend, but don’t write off Great Britain and Irelands chances just yet. I am quietly confident our boys can overcome the odds and pull of a remarkable upset. The United States arriving as favourites in nothing new. They are always the favourites. This year their team looks particularly strong on paper, but what is it that they say about games never being won on paper? 

The GB&I team has got plenty of talent as well and there is also the Royal Aberdeen factor. The Balgownie links is a phenomenal course, one of my favourites, but it will be tricky for the Americans to master no matter how many rounds they have played this week.

It is a traditional links which our players will be used to playing. Most of the big amateur tournaments in this country are on the great links courses, so they are well schooled. It will be even better if there is a bit of a breeze. I know from experience how much of an advantage it can be to be at home.

There is nothing wrong with giving yourself an edge with the venue. The Americans do it when they are hosting, often taking the Walker Cup to the warmest parts of the country. No matter the location, the US team is generally regarded as the stronger. The United States were favourites when they pitched up at Porthcawl in Wales in 1995. They had a certain Eldrick Woods in their ranks, who at 19-years-old brought with him plenty of hype he would go on to justify. Not that we were overawed.

My enduring memory of the Walker Cup week was the laughs we had. Our team included Padraig Harrington, Mark Foster and David Howell. Had great camaraderie – which I believe is key to success. It is important to stay relaxed and stick to your own game. Most important is to enjoy it.

I take great pride in having the Walker Cup on my CV, and even more at being on the winning side. It is easy for it all to go past in a flash. I am sure the current crop will not be overawed in the slightest. These guys are more professional than amateur and are used being involved in big events.

When we played there were players in our team who still worked full time and were amateurs in the traditional sense. It is all changed now and everyone involved will be looking towards the professional ranks. The Walker Cup will be one the highlights of their careers, as it was for me. It will be even more so, if they can get their hands on the trophy on Sunday night.