By Kevin Price For AmateurGolf.com
Nathaniel Crosby with Jones Cup winner Ludvig Aberg at the Jones Cup
(Kevin Price for AmateurGolf.com)
Those players who are Walker Cup hopefuls won’t have to wait much longer to find out if they will be members of the 2021 team which will compete against the Great Britain and Ireland squad this spring at Seminole Golf Club in Florida.
, captain of the U.S. team for a second straight time, hinted Sunday following the Jones Cup Invitational at Sea Island, Ga., that the full team could be announced by the end of the month.
Crosby attended the Jones Cup last week at Ocean Forest Golf Club to get a first-hand look at several players he and those helping him select the team are considering for the 10-man roster.
Related: Ludvig Aberg wins Jones Cup with birdie on 18
“It was a really good week for the discussion that I’m about to have with the rest of the voters,” Crosby said.
Right now, only one player - 2020 U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci
- has been promised a spot on the 2021 squad that will compete in this year’s Walker Cup that will be held May 8-9 on the famous Seminole course in Juno Beach, Fla.
Three more players will be added to the team this week after the next World Amateur Rankings are released on Wednesday. The U.S. will grant exemptions to the three highest ranked American players in this upcoming set of rankings.
“The first six or seven guys are predictable, but then the last three, it’s like you’re talking about 12 guys for three spots and it just becomes a food-fight,” Crosby said about picking the Walker Cup team.
He noted that those players filling out the remainder of the U.S. roster could come shortly after this week’s exemptions are handed out.
In the previous world rankings, the top three American players were No. 2 ranked Davis Thompson
, No. 5 Ricky Castillo
and No. 6 Pierceson Coody
At the Jones Cup, Thompson, who plays at Georgia and won the 2020 title at Ocean Forest
, settled for a tie for second after having a share of the lead late. Coody finished tied for 28th and Castillo did not compete in the tournament on the Georgia coast.
All three players were also among the 16 golfers invited to participate at a U.S. team practice
back in mid-December in Florida prior to the Palmer Cup in which several of the invitees were scheduled to play.
Before the previous Walker Cup in 2018, seven of the 16 players that were invited to a similar team practice were eventually selected for the U.S. team in 2019.
Among the others invited to join the latest team practice last December were:
, of Weatherford, Oklahoma
, of Austin, Texas
, of Edmond, Oklahoma
, of Newport Beach, California
, of Houston, Texas
, of San Antonio, Texas
, of Chino, California
, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey
, of East Peoria, Illinois
, of York, South Carolina
, of San Diego, California
, of Davie, Florida
, of Wellesley, Massachusetts
Crosby didn’t deny on Sunday that this year’s Jones Cup carried added significance in terms of the results factoring into the selection process for the upcoming U.S. team since the 2021 Walker Cup is taking place much earlier than usual.
The two-day event usually is a late-summer competition that is played well after the completion of the college golf season that most of the team’s players are involved in during the spring.
This year, though, with the Walker Cup being just about three months away in early May, the players in contention for a roster spot are running out of time to make a case for themselves based on their performances during the spring collegiate season.
“A lot of the guys who were here will be heavily discussed,” Crosby said. “This was going to be an important week for the guys, and some played well and some didn’t.”
Crosby did drop a few names during his one-on-one with AmateurGolf.com that figure to be on the team.
Chief among the players he specifically brought up were Pak and Hagestad.
Pak, who did not compete in the Jones Cup, is currently ranked No. 8 in the world and is the fourth-highest ranked American player. He finished as the low amateur at the 2020 U.S. Open
played at Winged Foot.
Pak was a member of Crosby’s 2019 team
which was victorious in England.
“I have tremendous respect for his game and really look forward to having him back on our team,” Crosby said.
Crosby also briefly talked about Hagestad, the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur winner who played well in the Jones Cup. He finished tied for 11th on Sunday at 3-over-par which was five shots back of winner Ludvig Aberg
of Sweden who made birdie at the last to avoid a playoff.
Ludvig, who plays at Texas Tech, finished at 2-under in the 54-hole tournament.
“Stewart Hagestad is in great form, and he’s well ahead in the rankings as a mid-am. But it was great to see him get a rep in,” Crosby noted. “There also some guys who have played well over the last couple of months who might be in the conversation when they weren’t otherwise.”
Crosby also didn’t rule out selecting top junior players for the 2021 Cup team, though it might surprise those who follow amateur golf if a top-rated junior player ultimately makes the team with so many guys playing well who have much more experience at the collegiate and amateur levels.
“Those guys will all be on Walker Cup teams here soon, but some of them might be in the discussion this time around,” Crosby did say.
But two young players who showed serious game at the Jones Cup and could be talked about in the selection meetings were twin brothers David Ford
and Maxwell Ford
from Peachtree City, Ga. David tied for 9th at 2-over while getting off to a strong start with a 3-under 69 in Friday’s first round. Maxwell finished just behind him as he posted a 3-over total score to also join Hagestad and six others in the tie for 11th.
“These guys are really, really good,” Crosby said.
You also likely will see Hammer on Crosby’s team a second straight time. Hammer, who won the South Beach International Amateur by five shots
in December, finished the Jones Cup in the three-way tie for second at 1-under.
“Finishing second really helped his chances,” the U.S. captain noted. “He’s back in his 2019 form, so I think it was certainly a positive, positive month for Cole.”