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With Walker Cup looming, the Jones Cup takes on extra importance
The Jones Cup and the Walker Cup have been linked ever since the tournament was first played in 2001 as a preview for the 38th Walker Cup matches played at Ocean Forest later that year.

The Great Britain & Ireland team, anchored by Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, would beat the Americans 15-9.

20 years later, the Jones Cup has become a major of amateur golf in its own right, drawing all-star fields and producing a past champions list full of PGA Tour players. Over half of its champions have made it to the PGA Tour, including major champions Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed.

This despite the fact that the coastal Georgia winter weather can be tough on the scorecard, with the challenge of an already-difficult course often amplified by cold and wind. The forecast for this week calls for wet conditions and temperatures not escaping the 50s.

The defending champion is Davis Thompson, the University of Georgia senior and current world #2 who ran away with the tournament by nine shots last year.

Thompson would seem to have an inside track to making captain Nathaniel Crosby's Walker Cup team when the matches are played in three months' time at Seminole Golf Club in Florida. But the Jones Cup field will be filled with Walker Cup hopefuls from both sides of the Atlantic.

Nine players from Great Britain and Ireland are at Ocean Forest this week, including Wake Forest sophomore Mark Power or Ireland, who is the highest-ranked GBI player in the field.

Many of the American contenders will be competing this week, with the notable exception of U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci, who played the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines this past week and has already earned his spot on the team.

Three players will be added to the team at the end of the week based on their World Amateur Golf Ranking. For now, those spots would go to Thompson, Ricky Castillo and John Pak.

One spot will be reserved for a mid-amateur, with Stewart Hagestad having the inside track given his performance on the winning 2017 and 2019 teams. Other top mid-amateurs, including Joseph Deraney and past U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Kevin O'Connell are looking for a breakthrough this week to challenge Hagestad, who is also in the field.

The rest of the team will likely be comprised of college players.

Quade Cummins, the current #1 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking, is in the field, as well as Cole Hammer, who played in the 2019 matches and appears to be peaking at the right time, coming off of a win last month at the South Beach International Amateur.

Other prominent contenders include Sunnehanna Amateur and past U.S. Junior champion Preston Summerhays, Western Amateur champion Pierceson Coody, and Southern Amateur champion McClure Meissner.

Play starts Friday and finishes Sunday, when the Walker Cup picture will come a little more into focus.

ABOUT THE Jones Cup

The Jones Cup is probably the biggest of the springtime amateur majors in the United States, and the reason is the venue and the strong U.S. and international field. The past champions list is littered with PGA Tour stars, including Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Luke List, Kyle Stanley, Beau Hossler and several others.

This 54-hole individual stroke-play event, inaugurated in 2001, is played at Ocean Forest Golf Club. The Rees Jones design opened in 1995 and has hosted the Georgia State Amateur Championship, the Southern Amateur Championship and the 2001 Walker Cup Match. The Jones Cup brings together many of the finest amateurs from the United States and abroad for a three-day competition.

The Jones Cup was born from a deep commitment to amateur golf by the A.W. Jones family, who founded the Cloister and Sea Island Golf Club in 1928. The Sea Island Golf Club has played host to seven USGA championships. The Jones Cup is yet another extension of the family's strong involvement in amateur golf.

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