Walker Cup: Miller, Team USA Ready for Battle
08 Sep 2017
by Yianni Gogonas of AmateurGolf.com

see also: The Walker Cup, St. Andrews - Old Course

The U.S. team has waited two long years for this moment<br>(USGA photo)
The U.S. team has waited two long years for this moment
(USGA photo)

LOS ANGELES, California (September 8, 2017) — It has been a long two years since U.S. Captain and the nation’s top amateurs left Royal Lytham & St. Annes disappointed after being defeated by seven points. The United States team is entering the 2017 Walker Cup, played at the heavily curtained Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course, rejuvenated with nine of ten players on the roster playing in their first Walker Cup appearance, five of whom are right at home playing in the Golden State.

Related: Meet the 2017 U.S. Walker Cup Team
Related: TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: The 46th Walker Cup Match

“Well, I think it’s no fun to lose,” offered U.S. captain John “Spider” Miller of his experience captaining for the 2015 team. “…over here (Los Angeles) it’s easier for me, it’s easier for the players, the travel demands are are not as great and were more comfortable here.”

As being comfortable at L.A.C.C. will be key for both teams, Miller added that team strategy could have some value as well, especially in Saturday’s opening foursomes, which can seem to set the tone for the rest of the event. He admits that his game plan could have played a part in the less than stellar performance from the U.S. in 2015.

“I have thought about it…and we’re not used to caucusing over a shot,” explained Miller.

The U.S. captain elaborated the team’s new approach to the foursomes format in which the player hitting the tee shot on a given hole will play the shot alone, with his teammate waiting down the fairway where he might play the next shot.

“We’re having the players in their own thoughts and and hitting the the shot they was they see it. And then the next shot, play it the way you find it and and the way you see it,” said Miller. “That’s the only thing thats different. Last time, players would tend to go back, stand on the tee, and talk about the shot. They’re not used to that.”

Additionally, “Spider” noted that he wanted to get the players primed to play earlier.

“The main thing I am trying to do is get the players ready earlier to do what I call ‘flip the switch’ and go into tournament mode. I say these players are like putting a thoroughbred horse in the starting gate and then not starting for ten or fifteen minutes.”

According to his golfers, who have been working toward and in some cases putting off turning professional for two years just to play in the event, Miller’s preparation strategy seems to be working.

“We have been ready to play whenever,” said 2017 NCAA champion Braden Thornberry, who will have to wait until the afternoon, where he will open the singles portion of event against English golfer Harry Ellis.

2017 U.S. Amateur runner-up Doug Ghim confirmed, offering, “We have been ready since the teams have been announced.”

They won't have to wait much longer, with Saturday’s opening match beginning at 7:15 PT.

The U.S. will be looking to get off to a strong start, with a team of Northeast Amateur champion Collin Morikawa and Western Amateur champion Norman Xiong facing off against an incredibly decorated and experienced pair from the GB&I team that includes British Amateur champion Harry Ellis, and British Open Low Amateur, Alfie Plant.

English and Plant have a history of playing well in team events, boasting a 3-0 record in the European Team Play Championship.

“Alfie is a great guy,” mentioned Ellis of his playing partner. “I think when we’ve had the success because of the mixture in the games. Alfie’s usually quite direct. He plays within himself, knows his limitations, and he’s got a phenomenal short game, whereas my game is aggressive, fairly long off the tee to put him in positions that he normally wouldn’t be in, then he capitalizes from then. There’s a blend that kind of works naturally.”

The morning will consist of three more foursomes, followed by eight singles matches in the afternoon.

Related: Walker Cup Day One Matches and Starting Times

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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