by Peter Conroy - amateurgolf.com
CARLSBAD, California (June 14, 2007) -- With the 2007 Walker Cup selections just over a month away, we at amateurgolf.com decided to put ourselves in Coach Buddy Marucci’s shoes and take a look at who will be making the trip to Ireland in September. Yes, we know that the USGA has their own internal ranking system to figure these things out, but in this age of mock drafts and fantasy golf, isn’t speculating half the fun?
Below we have listed 9 those who we think will be one of the 10 members, and those who you should keep an eye on for the 10th spot.
Jamie Lovemark – Freshman, Southern California
Bet the farm on this one. Lovemark, as a freshman at USC, has been named First-Team All-American after wrapping up just about every possible NCAA golf honor out there. Lovemark took the Jack Nicklaus award as the Division I player of the year, Phil Mickelson award as freshman of the year, and the Arnold Palmer award for winning the NCAA individual tournament. One of the most exciting young golfers in recent history, Lovemark is two-for-two in PGA Tour cuts made, and is comfortably taking his game to the next level.
Billy Horschel – Sophomore, Florida
Horschel has already proven that he can go very low in big situations. In 2006 he set a USGA record by firing a 60 at the Chaska Town Course at the US Amateur. He still took medalist honors after following that up with a 78. A back-to-back First-Team All-American, Horschel has yet to finish below 25th in a tournament he has entered and was named SEC player of the year.
Webb Simpson – Junior, Wake Forest
The reigning national No. 1 in the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf player rankings, Simpson has quieted a bit since breaking his hand in fall of 2006, and was named an honorable mention for the 2007 All-American team. The highlight of the 2007 season is a victory at the Azalea Invitational, though in 2006 he won the Sunnehanna while taking runner-ups in both the Dogwood Invitational and Northeast Amateur. Will he be a victim of “What have you done for me lately?"
Chris Kirk – Senior, Georgia
Kirk seems to have all the intangibles, from consistency as a three-time All-American (including back-to-back First-Teams) to experience as member of this year’s Palmer Cup, where he went 2-2. Kirk won the Hogan Award as the nation’s top player and led his Bulldogs team to a second-place finish at the NCAA’s.
Brian Harman – Sophomore, Georgia
Another Bulldog, Harman is the first golfer in school history to be named All-American four years running. In 2005, at age 18, Harman was the youngest golfer in U.S. history to make the Walker Cup team, where he was impressive, going 2-0-1. He seems to have done nothing to damage his chances of making the squad again this year, especially after helping the U.S. Palmer Cup team romp over their European counterparts this year.
A three-time All-American while he was at Oklahoma State in the late 90’s Kuehne was one of the few golfers of that collegiate caliber to forgo the pro game. Instead Kuehne went to work as a hedge fund analyst, opting to play only the top amateur tournaments every year, and usually doing quite well. Quarterfinalist at the 2006 US Amateur at Hazeltine. Experience is a major factor, as Kuehne was a Walker Cupper in both 1995 and 2003. He also shares common ground with Coach Buddy Marucci in that both fell to Tiger Woods in the finals of the U.S. Amateur, Kuehne in ’94 and Marucci in ’95.
Kyle Stanley – Freshman, Clemson
Stanley burst on the scene in 2006, winning the Sahalee Players Amateur as well as the Southern Amateur leading up to his freshman year as a Tiger, where all he did was become the first freshman in ACC history to win Conference Player of the Year honors. Stanley also has some international experience, placing third at the 2006 Junior World Cup.
Rickie Fowler – High School Senior, Southern California
Made his case to be the youngest member on the team in a big way recently by passing up his chance to defend his title at the California high school tournament to play the Sunnehanna Amateur, then won that event by a stroke. Had an impressive run in 2006 at the US Amateur, where he lost to eventual champ Richie Ramsay in sudden-death. Also placed 11th this year at the Jones Cup, which is seen as a Walker Cup preview.
Dustin Johnson – Junior, Coastal Carolina
Three-time All-American, including back-to-back first team appearances. Two final-day wins at Palmer Cup helped U.S. team to landslide victory. Was on Ben Hogan Award Watch List for nation’s top collegiate golfer. Has top scoring average in school history at 72.70.
other players to watch:
Jonathan Moore – Sophomore, Oklahoma State
Won 2006 NCAA Division I championship as a freshman and qualified for U.S. Open in the same year. Runner-up in last year’s amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings. Helped U.S. Palmer Cup team take back title by going 2-1.
Peter Uihlein – Junior, David Leadbetter Academy
Tied for first nationally in the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings, Uihlein won the Terra Cotta Invitational and was the runner-up at the Sunnehanna. Tied for 27th at the Jones Cup.
Jon McLean – Sophomore, Texas Christian
The reigning champ of the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf Florida rankings, McLean tied for fifth at the Jones Cup.
Colt Knost – Senior, Southern Methodist
Currently ranked first in Texas according to the amateurgolf.com-Bridgestone Golf Player Rankings after tying for fifth at the Jones Cup and 12th at the Sunnehanna. Third-Team All-American.
John Kelly – Senior, Missouri
Runner-up at the 2006 U.S. Amateur, played well at The Masters, where he was the low-amateur despite not making the cut and being officially awarded that designation.