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Kraft, Barber, Spieth claim final Walker Cup spots

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By Ron Balicki

ERIN, Wis. - Led by newly crowned U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, the USGA completed its 2011 U.S. Walker Cup team Sunday, naming the final three players to complete America’s 10-man squad.

Along with Kraft, of Denton, Texas, the USGA selected Jordan Spieth of Dallas and Blayne Barber of Lake City, Fla.

Previously named to this year’s American team were 2010 U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein, Patrick Cantlay, Russell Henley, Harris English, Patrick Rodgers, Chris Williams and Nathan Smith.

This squad will be out to give the U.S. its fourth consecutive Walker Cup victory when it takes on a similar group of amateurs from Great Britain & Ireland, Sept. 10-11 at Royal Aberdeen (Scotland) Golf Club.

Kraft, 22, secured his spot Sunday with his 2-up victory over Cantlay in the 36-hole final at the U.S. Amateur Championship at Erin Hills Golf Club. He recently completed his eligibility at SMU where he was Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2008 and Player of the Year in 2010 and an honorable mention All- America this past season. He’s won four college titles, two (2008 and 2011) Texas State Amateurs, was runner-up last year at the North & South Amateur and this summer won the Trans-Miss Amateur.

“Winning this (U.S. Amateur) and making the Walker Cup team is just amazing, a dream come true,” said Kraft. “I’m just really excited to be going to Scotland and to beat those guys up. It’s going to be great and what a way to end the summer.”

Spieth, 18, joins Rodgers as a team member who has yet to play a college event. Spieth will be a freshman at Texas this fall and Rodgers at Stanford. Spieth, who was a quarterfinalist last week at the U.S. Am, is a two-time (2009 and 2011) U.S. Junior Amateur champion and made the cut twice in two starts at PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Classic, tying for 16th in 2010. Earlier this year he lost in a playoff at the Jones Cup and was a quarterfinalist at the Western Amateur.

Barber, 21, who will be a junior at Auburn this season, was a member of this year’s Palmer Cup team (2-1-1). Before transferring to Auburn, he was the Conference USA player and freshman of the year and second team All-America while at Central Florida. This summer he was fifth at the Southern Am and third at the Northeast Am and was an alternate for the U.S. Open. In 2010, he advanced to the Sweet 16 at the Western and North & South Amateurs and had top-10 finishes at the Players, Terra Cotta, Azalea and Jones Cup.

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.

The USA leads the overall series 35-8-1.

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