SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Great Britain & Ireland can probably count on two, maybe three players, returning for the 2015 Walker Cup match. The remaining seven players will be in the pro ranks.
U.S. Amateur champion Matt Fitzpatrick and Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan are likely to still be around for the match at Royal Lytham & St. Annes two years from now. They begin their respective freshman years at Northwestern and Alabama this week. Rhys Pugh may also stick around to play in another Walker Cup, a third match. He has two years left at East Tennessee State and might be tempted to play again.
Neil Raymond, Kevin Phelan and Max Orrin turned pro immediately after the 17-9 loss to the U.S. on Sunday at National Golf Links of America. Callum Shinkwin, Jordan Smith, Nathan Kimsey and Garrick Porteous will remain amateurs but will attend European Tour Qualifying School this year. They can maintain their amateur status at the school and turn pro if they get a European Tour card.
“Ideally, I wouldn’t like them to go to tour school – not all of them, anyway,” GB&I captain Nigel Edwards said. “I’m being totally selfish in my job with England Golf.”
Edwards is the performance director for England Golf, the man responsible for making sure England fields its best teams in the big amateur competitions.
“The World Championships take place in Japan next year, and I’m sure we’d have a very strong team for that,” Edwards said.
Porteous will stay amateur until after next year’s Masters, in which he will play courtesy of winning the 2013 British Amateur. He will turn professional after the Masters and forgo an invitation to the U.S. Open. If he secures a European Tour card at this year’s Q-School, he can wait until after the Masters to join the European Tour.
At 27, Raymond was the oldest member of the GB&I team. His decision to join the paid ranks came as no surprise.
“I’m ready to turn professional,” Raymond said. “I’ve done everything I wanted to do in the amateur game. The English Golf Union was fantastic to me, and I can’t thank them enough, but I’m ready for the next part of my career.”
Raymond has signed a contract with management team 4sports & Entertainment. Former IMG agent Marcus Day will represent him. Raymond is hoping to make some Challenge Tour starts between now and the end of the season but has not confirmed anything.
Phelan has signed with Andrew "Chubby" Chandler’s International Sports management team and will make his debut in this week’s KLM Open on the European Tour.
Orrin’s decision to try for his tour card comes two years early. The 19-year-old had set his sights on a Walker Cup spot in 2015 but is two years ahead of schedule.
“I’m going to give it a go,” Orrin said. “I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Neither do Shinkwin, Smith and Kimsey. If they miss out on European Tour cards, they still can remain in the English Golf Union’s elite squad and receive financial aid to play another year of amateur golf before having a crack at a 2014 European Tour card.