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How Would an All-California Team Do in the Walker Cup?
04 Sep 2017
by AmateurGolf.com Staff

see also: The Walker Cup, Royal Liverpool Golf Club

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LOS ANGELES, CA (September 4, 2017) - When USGA president Diana Murphy and U.S. Team Captain John "Spider" Miller announced the 10-man U.S. Walker Cup Team on the 10th green at Riviera Country Club, five of the players they named were from the state of California.

Related: Meet the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup Team
Related: TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: The Walker Cup

Cameron Champ (Sacramento), Stewart Hagestad (Newport Beach), Maverick McNealy (Portola Valley), Collin Morikawa (La Cañada Flintridge) and Norman Xiong (Canyon Lake) all hail from the Golden State and should feel right at home as the U.S. Team meets Great Britain and Ireland at the Los Angeles Country Club, Sept. 9-10.

Other Californians were under consideration for a Walker Cup berth but missed out. Still, there are more players from California in the top 50 of the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking (9) than from any other state (Texas is second with 4), which raises the hypothetical question: Could an all-California team win the Walker Cup?

Of course, such daydreaming requires a disclaimer: The entire USA Team couldn't win the last Walker Cup, losing to GB&I, 16½ -9½ at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

The 2017 GB&I Team is also a really strong team, and it will take America's best to win back the cup. So leaving off players like Braden Thornberry (Olive Branch, MS), Doc Redman (Raleigh, NC), Doug Ghim (Arlington Heights, IL), Scottie Scheffler (Dallas, TX) and Will Zalatoris (Plano, TX) is probably a very bad idea.

But that's never stopped us before, and so on we go.

Who Would be on an All-California Walker Cup Team?

As it is the earthquake capital of the USA, an urban myth has people asking Will California fall into the ocean? And given the enormity of their ecomony (the 6th largest in the world), people have wondered aloud what if California was a country?

Well, let's pretend that the rest of America falls into the ocean and California is its own country, and take a look at a 2017 All-California Walker Cup Team:

Shintaro Ban
Shintaro Ban
Shintaro Ban, 21, of San Jose, Calif.: Ban was an Honorable Mention All-American at UNLV and was on the All Mountain West Team for the second year in a row. He won the 2016 California State Amateur, as well as the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate and the Northern California Match Play and was named Northern California Player-of-the-Year. This summer he was the runner-up to Collin Morikawa at the Northeast Amateur, and was the runner-up in the Canadian Amateur. He was also the runner-up in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, finished 3rd at the NCAA Central Regional, and had top ten finishes in the Sunnehanna Amateur, Monroe Invitational, and the Australian Master of the Amateurs.

Cameron Champ
Cameron Champ
Cameron Champ, 22, of Sacramento, Calif.: He was one of two amateurs to make the 36-hole cut in the 2017 U.S. Open, tying for 32nd. Champ won this year’s Trans-Mississippi Amateur by four strokes and was runner-up in the Pacific Coast Amateur. Champ, who was the medalist in the North & South Amateur in June and a semifinalist in the Western Amateur in August, was chosen third-team All-American and first-team All-Southeastern Conference. He helped Texas A&M University finish second in the 2017 SEC Championship, and he tied for fifth individually. Champ won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational and Patriot All-America last year.

Sean Crocker
Sean Crocker
Sean Crocker, 21, of Long Beach, Calif.: Crocker was actually born in Zimbabwe but moved to the U.S. at the age of six and has dual-citizenship, so he would be eligible for the U.S. Walker Cup Team. He was a Second Team NCAA All-American and an All-Pac-12 First Team honoree at the University of Southern California, where he helped the Trojans reach the match play final 8 at the NCAA Championships. He also won this year's Italian Amateur and last year's Monroe Invitational. Crocker made the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields. He was the runner-up in the Western Intercollegiate and the NCAA West Regional, as well as last year's Northeast Amateur, NCAA South Regional, and the 2015 Sahalee Players Championship.

Stewart Hagestad
Stewart Hagestad
Stewart Hagestad, 26, of Newport Beach, Calif.: He won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship by defeating Scott Harvey in 37 holes. Hagestad, who became the second-youngest champion, produced the largest comeback victory (4 down with 5 holes to play) since a 36-hole Mid-Amateur final was introduced in 2001. He was the low amateur in the 2017 Masters Tournament, tying for 36th, and competed in this year’s U.S. Open. Hagestad was a member of the University of Southern California (USC) golf team and graduated in 2013. Hagestad, who was chosen 2016 Metropolitan Golf Association Player of the Year, won last year’s Met Amateur, edging Ethan Ng in 38 holes. He finished 4th in this year's Coleman Invitational, 10th in the Trans-Mississippi Championship, and 13th in the Irish Open Amateur.

Maverick McNealy
Maverick McNealy
Maverick McNealy, 21, of Portola Valley, Calif.: He earned the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the world’s top-ranked amateur in 2016. McNealy was a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team and halved his Sunday singles match with Paul Dunne. He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 Conference selection for the third consecutive season as a senior at Stanford University. McNealy was the recipient of the Ben Hogan Award as the nation’s top collegiate player, and received the Byron Nelson Award and Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He competed in this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills and The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. McNealy tied for 44th in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. He has competed in his nine USGA championships and four U.S. Amateurs. McNealy, who advanced to this year’s U.S. Amateur match-play bracket, was a member of the USA team that tied for sixth in the 2016 World Amateur Team Championship.

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa, 20, of La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.: He advanced to the Round of 16 for the second consecutive year in the U.S. Amateur Championship. He earned first-team All-American and first-team Pac-12 Conference honors as a sophomore at the University of California. He was chosen 2016 Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year. Morikawa, who competed in his first USGA championship at the 2015 U.S. Amateur, won the 2017 Northeast Amateur by two strokes with a 72-hole score of 11-under 265. He was the Sunnehanna Amateur runner-up, losing to Braden Thornberry in a three-hole playoff, and tied for second in the Trans-Mississippi Amateur. He also won the Southern Highlands Collegiate, the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, last year's Sunnehanna Amateur, and the 2015 Trans-Mississippi Championship.

Christopher Petefish
Christopher Petefish
Christopher Petefish, 22, of Danville, Calif.: Petefish, a senior at Georgia Tech University, has had several top finishes in amateur tournaments this spring and summer. He won the Azalea Invitational in the spring, and this summer he finished runner-up in the Monroe Invitational and in the Porter Cup, and made the quarterfinals at the North & South Amateur. He also finished 7th in the Terra Cotta Invitational, had solid finishes in the Sunnehanna Amateur and Players Amateur, and was the medalist at his U.S. Amateur qualifier. Petefish has also had previous top ten finishes in the Players Amateur and the Southwestern Amateur. As a member of Georgia Tech, he finished 7th in last year's ACC Championship and ninth in the Puerto Rico Classic.

Justin Suh
Justin Suh
Justin Suh, 20, of San Jose, Calif.: Suh was a Third-Team NCAA All-American and an All-Pac-12 First Team honoree at the University of Southern California. Suh won the Western Intercollegiate and finished second in the NCAA West Regional, and helped the team make the match play final 8 in the NCAA Championship. He finished 10th individually in the NCAA Championship and 19th last year. He qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont and has made match play in the last two U.S. Amateurs. Suh was also the runner-up in the Western Refining College All-America, finished 3rd in the Southern Highlands Collegiate, and was 9th at the Sunnehanna Amateur.

Sahith Theegala
Sahith Theegala
Sahith Theegala, 20, of Chino Hills, Calif.: Theegala was a PING All-America Third Team selection, and the West Coast Conference co-Player-of-the-Year at Pepperdine University. He won the Sahalee Players Championship this summer and the Southwestern Invitational Collegiate in the spring. He qualified for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, and also made the cut at the PGA Tour Genesis Open, playing alongside Phil Mickelson and J.B. Holmes. Theegala was a quarterfinalist in last year's U.S. Amateur and made the second round of match play this year. He finished 4th in the NCAA Southwest Regional 5th in the Arizona Intercollegiate this spring.

Norman Xiong
Norman Xiong
Norman Xiong, 18, of Canyon Lake, Calif.: He earned the 2017 Phil Mickelson Award as Division I’s top freshman while playing at the University of Oregon. The Ducks won the Pac-12 Conference Championship, finished third at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional and reached the NCAA match-play final against Oklahoma. Xiong was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection. He shot rounds of 64 and 70 in stroke play to earn the No. 2 seed in the 2017 U.S. Amateur match-play bracket. Xiong defeated Doc Redman in 22 holes to win the 2017 Western Amateur and was the championship’s stroke-play medalist by one stroke over Brad Dalke. He finished 7th in the NCAA Southeast Regional and 11th at the Pacific Coast Amateur. Xiong won the 2015 CIF/SCGA Regional as a sophomore at Temescal Canyon High School.

First alternate: Brandon Wu, 20, Danville, Calif.: Wu was born in Danville, CA and attends Stanford University but now resides in New York. He was an All-Pac-12 Second Team selection at Stanford, and won the Porter Cup this summer. He also had top-five finishes in the NCAA Southwest Regional and the Golf Club of Georgia Intercollegiate

Second alternate: Matthew Wolff, 18, of Agoura Hills, Calif.: Wolff was the runner-up to Noah Goodwin in the U.S. Junior Amateur. He finished 9th in the Azalea Invitational and advanced to match play in last year's U.S. Amateur. As a freshman at Oklahoma State he has already made the traveling team for the first event, the Carmel Cup in Pebble Beach.

So How Would a All-Californian Walker Cup Team Do?

Would they have a chance against the formidable GB&I team? Who knows? Maybe their home state advantage would be enough to give them more than a puncher's chance. In all likelihood, however, it will take the USA's 10 best to bring home the Cup this week in Los Angeles.

But in a 10-man match against any other state in the country, they would be the heavy favorite, especially in a match at LACC.

The 46th Walker Cup Match, between the full U.S. team and GB&I, will be played at The Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 9-10.
ABOUT THE The Walker Cup

The Walker Cup Match is a biennial 10-man amateur team competition between the USA and a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland and selected by The R&A. It is played over two days with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes (alternate-shot) matches.

The first United States Walker Cup Team, which in 1922 defeated the GB&I side, 8-4, at the National Golf Links of America, is considered among the best teams ever and included Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones, Charles “Chick” Evans and Jess Sweetser. Many of the game’s greatest players have taken part in Walker Cup competition, including U.S. Open champions Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth for the USA and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose for Great Britain and Ireland.

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