Cole Hammer (USGA photo/Chris Keane)
As 2019 approaches, so does the next edition of the Walker Cup. In preparation for selecting the 10-man squad that will try to retain the cup next September at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, the USGA hosted an initial 16-man practice session Dec. 14-18 at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla.
The final U.S. Walker Cup squad won’t come together for months still, but it’s a good sign to be selected to the practice squad. In 2017, six of the 16 players at the practice session went on to make the team. Nine of the 16 from the 2013 and ’15 practice sessions were selected.
U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby, who was part of the winning U.S. squad at the 1983 matches at Royal Liverpool, and members of the International Team Selection Committee also attended the practice session at Seminole. When it comes time to select the team, revisions to the international team selection process announced earlier this year allot automatic selections (assuming the player is a U.S. citizen and remains amateur) to the 2019 U.S. Amateur champion, Mark H. McCormack Award winner (WAGR world No.1 immediately after U.S. Amateur) and the top 3 U.S. players in the WAGR (as of early August). The remaining players will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee. The team must include at least one mid-amateur.
Practice session attendees included Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach, Calif., John Augenstein, of Owensboro, Ky., Akshay Bhatia, of Wake Forest, N.C., Will Gordon, of Davidson, N.C., Cole Hammer, of Houston, Texas, Brandon Mancheno, of Jacksonville, Fla., Bryson Nimmer, of Bluffton, S.C., Kevin O’Connell, of Cary, N.C., Matt Parziale, of Brockton, Mass., Chandler Phillips, of Huntsville, Texas, Trent Phillips, of Inman, S.C., Isaiah Salinda, of South San Francisco, Calif., Alex Smalley, of Wake Forest, N.C., Tyler Strafaci, of Davie, Fla., Matthew Wolff, of Agoura Hills, Calif., and Brandon Wu, of Scarsdale, N.Y.
Most of those players are familiar with each other after competing against each other in college and amateur events. Three of the 16 are mid-amateurs -- Hagestad, Parziale and O’Connell – with the latter two being thirtysomethings. As Parziale, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, noted in a USGA video recap of the week, some players he met for the first time at the practice session.
“I met a lot of guys I didn’t know,” he said. “Knew their names at the high level of amateur golf but other than the mid-ams, making new relationships and playing these courses has been a lot of fun.”
The USGA put together the following video that gives a look inside the practice session:
ABOUT THE The Walker Cup
The Walker Cup Match is a biennial 10-man
team competition between the USA and a team
composed of players from Great Britain and
and selected by The R&A. It is played over two
with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes
The first United States Walker Cup Team, which
1922 defeated the GB&I side, 8-4, at the
Links of America, is considered among the best
ever and included Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones,
“Chick” Evans and Jess Sweetser. Many of the
greatest players have taken part in Walker Cup
competition, including U.S. Open champions Jack
Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth for the
and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin
for Great Britain and Ireland.
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