SEA ISLAND, Georgia (Feb. 4, 2011) -- Other than the collegiate players who are missing from the field, just about every USA Walker Cup team hopeful (and many from GB&I) are among the top-notch field at the Jones Cup Invitational. The event started on Friday morning at Ocean Forest Golf Club, a coastal Georgia venue that hosted the Walker Cup in 2001. Augusta State star Patrick Reed of Augusta Georgia is looking to defend his title or finish high enough to further cement his hold on one of the coveted spots on the 2011 USA Walker Cup team.
The top-ranked player in the field is 2010 U.S. Amateur Champion Peter Uihlein, currently ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Rankings.
Players to watch this week include Anthony Paolucci, the No. 1 ranked junior player in the U.S. who is fresh off a T29 victory (ahead of Tiger Woods) at the Farmers Insurance Classic on the PGA Tour. Also in the field are young guns like Cory Whitsett and Jordan Spieth of Texas (T16 in last year's PGA Tour Byron Nelson) and more mature amateurs like Nathan Smith, with two U.S. Mid-Ams and Masters invites under his belt. Smith finished T6 in the Jones Cup last year.
Other favorites include Russell Henley (Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Ranking No. 6) and his Georgia teammate Hudson Swafford, both of whom played in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and are surely on the short-list for the USA Walker Cup team. 2010 NCAA individual champion Scott Langley, the left-hander who also finished T16 with Henley at the U.S. open last year (one shot away from an automatic exemption to this year's Open at Congressional) is another sure-pick for the U.S. Walker Cup team and competing this week.
Let's not forget the international players. 2009 GB&I Walker Cup team member Rhys Enoch of Wales is in the field -- he was a member of the GB&I Walker Cup team.
A little bit of history of the tournament and course information follows.
ABOUT THE JONES CUP:
The Jones Cup was born from the A.W. Jones family and its commitment to amateur golf. The Jones family has owned and operated the Cloister Hotel and Sea Island Golf Club since 1928. The Sea Island Golf Club has played host to six USGA championships and will be the site of the 2004 U.S. Mid-Amateur in October. The Jones Cup is yet another extension of the family’s strong involvement in amateur golf.
The Jones Cup Invitational was first contested in 2001. The original tournament rotation was biennial (on the years the U.S. hosted the Walker Cup) but it is now held ever year.
This individual stroke play event is contested at Ocean Forest Golf Club. The Rees Jones design opened in 1995 and has hosted the 1998 Georgia State Amateur Championship, the 1999 Southern Amateur Championship and the 2001 Walker Cup Match.
The Jones Cup brings together many of the finest amateurs from the United States and abroad for this three-day competition. While the golf course proves to be a great venue for this unique event, -- at over 7300 yards in February weather it can be a stern test -- the Jones Cup’s success and popularity can be attributed to the strength of the players who comprise its field and to the gracious southern hospitality for which Sea Island is known.
ABOUT THE COURSE:
Designed by Rees Jones, Ocean Forest opened in 1995 and quickly gained notoriety as one of the finest modern links courses in the world. Framed by the Hampton River and the Atlantic Ocean, the course weaves through a myriad of oaks, pines and wetlands. Its natural rolling terrain and stunning beauty is as distracting to the golfer as it is pleasing to the eye. It is truly a great test of concentration and shot making ability.