Hammer, Bhatia, Hagestad named to Walker Cup based on WAGR
Cole Hammer, Stewart Hagestad, Akshay Bhatia
Cole Hammer, Stewart Hagestad, Akshay Bhatia

The first piece of the Walker Cup puzzle went into place today as the top three Americans in the World Amateur Golf Ranking were selected to the team that will compete at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, in September. Those three men are Cole Hammer, Akshay Bhatia and Stewart Hagestad.

All three have impressive resumes, and despite their ranking, would have been solid selections to the team regardless.

Hammer, who will be a sophomore at Texas, has been the closest thing to a lock for this team really since he won the Western Amateur last summer. Hammer’s summer match-play record in 2018 was 17-2. That included the Western Amateur plus semifinal runs at the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur. Most recently, he beat Matthew Wolff in the NCAA semifinals, 4 and 3.

Bhatia, a 17-year-old and likely the only junior who will be selected to the team, was invited to the practice session for Walker Cup hopefuls in December, then won the Jones Cup, a major winter amateur event, roughly six weeks later. Earlier this summer, Bhatia went on something of a links golf odyssey. Even though his Amateur Championship run came up short, the reigning Jones Cup champion followed that with a top 10 at the European Amateur and an Open Championship qualifying attempt.

Bhatia blistered the junior schedule last summer, earning four major junior victories and three runner-up finishes. Last week, playing in what will likely be his final U.S. Junior. Bhatia went out at the hands of eventual champion Preston Summerhays in the Round of 16.

As for Hagestad, the 28-year-old satisfies two requirements set forth by the USGA's International Team Selection Committee. Not only is Hagestad, at No. 5 in the WAGR, among the top-ranked Americans, but he is also a mid-amateur. There must be at least one on the team, and Hagestad has shown himself to be the most consistently competitive among the mid-amateurs who frequent the amateur circuit. He qualified for the U.S. Open for the third consecutive time in June, then finished runner-up at the Northeast Amateur later that month. Most recently, Hagestad opened with a 11-under 61 at the Players Amateur and finished an eventual second at that event.

The winner of next month’s U.S. Amateur will also automatically earn a spot on the team, as well as the Mark H. McCormack medal winner (the top-ranked player in the WAGR after the U.S. Amateur, provided he is an American and not named Hammer, Bhatia or Hagestad).

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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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