William Holcomb (USGA/Chris Keane)
PINEHURST, N.C. – At least one player in the U.S. Amateur field has put a Walker Cup berth (which would be automatic with a win at Pinehurst) on a higher pedestal than the Havemeyer Trophy itself. That was finalist John Augenstein, and he looks to make the team either way at this point.
You can’t go 20 minutes here at Pinehurst without hearing the words Walker Cup – speculations about who’s on the team already, who else should be selected, what criteria should go into that selection. Whether he realized it or not, William Holcomb entered that race as he got deeper and deeper into the U.S. Amateur.
After semifinal defeat at the hands of Augenstein on Saturday afternoon, Holcomb confessed to not really knowing what this whole Walker Cup thing was even about.
“I've never dreamed of playing the Walker Cup,” he said unabashedly.
Holcomb chattered his way through the whole week. The crowd fed off of that, especially as they got to know him. What you see is what you get with Holcomb. Tears streamed down his face when, after the match was over, he spoke to a reporter on the Fox telecast about how lucky he felt just to be able to play here.
Holcomb’s Walker Cup confession wasn’t even the best part of his post-round interview. Asked for first impressions of his caddie Keith Silva, a Pinehurst local, he described him as “a complete idiot.”
“Once I learned kind of how he is, it's been good,” Holcomb clarified. “…I mean, he's a hippie. Let’s just call it what it is. Look at him. His ringtone is "Pump It" by the Black Eyed Peas. That's Keith for you. But great guy. Glad he's here with me.”
Holcomb shimmies his shoulders before most shots and often closes his eyes before stepping into the ball. He’s trying to visualize the shot at hand.
“My grandmother thinks I'm praying when I do that,” Holcomb said sheepishly.
Holcomb and his wife Graycie celebrated their second wedding anniversary earlier this month. They’ll both be college seniors at Sam Houston State in the fall. Graycie says there’s a new embarrassing story to tell on her husband every day.
“He’s got a response for everything,” she said. “He’s just very extroverted.”
According to Graycie, William calls his hometown of Crockett, Texas, “the greatest place on Earth.” The population is just less than 6,500. You can’t go to Wal-Mart, or anywhere else, without seeing several people you know.
In honor of William Holcomb’s run to the semifinals on Saturday, the club championship at Spring Creek Country Club was cancelled and a watch party was scheduled. Holcomb found out about that at lunch.
“I hope they move (the tournament) to next weekend because I will be playing in it,” he said, “and I will be winning it. We should make it to match play.”
Both U.S. Amateur finalists will receive an invitation to the Masters, but the champion gets a little something extra. During the first two rounds at Augusta National, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and the reigning Masters champion typically are paired together. That means this year’s winner will play alongside Tiger Woods.
Just think: A few more wins, and that could have been William Holcomb.
ABOUT THE U.S. Amateur
The U.S. Amateur, the oldest USGA
championship, was first played in 1895 at
Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. The
which has no age restriction, is open to
with a Handicap Index of 2.4 or lower. It is
of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are
for amateurs. It is the pre-eminent
competition in the world.
Applications are typically placed online in the spring
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