Walker Cup Watch List: U.S. Practice Session
20 Dec 2012
by Golfweek

see also: The Walker Cup, Cypress Point Club, Justin Thomas Rankings

Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas

By Sean Martin, Golfweek

The United States’ practice session for next year’s Walker Cup is underway in Florida, which provides a great opportunity to unveil Golfweek’s first Walker Cup Watch List of the season. This edition consists of the 16 players at the practice session in Naples, Fla. (as well as T.J. Vogel, who’s sitting out the session due to injury). The Walker Cup Watch List is a completely unscientific (and unofficial) list based not only on a player’s skill and resume. The USGA uses myriad variables for picking the 10-man team. Here’s how I think these players stand in the selectors' eyes, based on patterns I’ve observed in team selection over the past several years:

1. Justin Thomas

Hometown: Goshen, Ky.

College: Alabama sophomore

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 2

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 8

Achievements: 2012 Haskins Award winner (college golf player of the year); won four college titles in 2011-12, including 2012 SEC Championship and NCAA Southeast Regional; won Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate; T-7, World Amateur Team Championship; U.S. Amateur semifinalist; Western Amateur quarterfinalist; 2012 Jones Cup champion.

The skinny: Thomas said he put too much pressure on himself to make the 2011 Walker Cup team, and his game suffered because of it. He won’t need to make a statement this summer, just keep playing the way he has since he started his college career. He’s already been named to one USGA team, for this year’s World Amateur Team Championship.

Patrick Rodgers
2. Patrick Rodgers

Hometown: Avon, Ind.

College: Stanford sophomore

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 15

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 10

Achievements: 2012 First-team All- American; 2011 Walker Cup team member; winner of four collegiate tournaments, including 2011 and 2012 Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini and 2012 U.S. Collegiate; Round of 32, U.S. Amateur; third, Porter Cup; T-9, NCAA Championship.

The skinny: Rodgers won two of college golf’s biggest titles this fall, proving his game is back on track after a summer that was below his standards. He’s looking for a second consecutive Walker Cup bid.

Steven Fox
3. Steven Fox

Hometown: Hendersonville, Tenn.

College: Chattanooga senior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 17

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 86

Achievements: 2012 U.S. Amateur champion; T-10, World Amateur Team Championship; Round of 16, U.S. Amateur Public Links.

The skinny: Two words: Havemeyer Trophy. Fox holds it, and that is the main reason why he’s this high on the list.

Bobby Wyatt
4. Bobby Wyatt

Hometown: Mobile, Ala.

College: Alabama junior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 3

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 19

Achievements: U.S. Amateur stroke-play medalist; Round of 16, U.S. Amateur; Southern Amateur runner-up; Players Amateur runner-up; Sunnehanna Amateur champion; T-5, Northeast Amateur; 4th, Dogwood Invitational; third-team All-American.

The skinny: Wyatt had arguably the most consistent summer of any American amateur, including a strong U.S. Amateur run that was ended by Thomas, his Alabama teammate.

Nathan Smith
5. Nathan Smith

Hometown: Pittsburgh

College: Allegheny graduate

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 143

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: N/A

Achievements: Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion (2003, ’09, ’10, ’12); Member, 2009 and 2011 Walker Cup teams.

The skinny: The USGA is past the point of requiring that each Walker Cup team include a mid-amateur. It would still strongly prefer that each team have one, if there is a qualified candidate, though. Smith is that guy. He won his record fourth Mid-Am title this year, and is likely to be on next year’s team.

Peter Williamson
6. Peter Williamson

Hometown: Hanover, N.H.

College: Dartmouth graduate

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 9

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 29 (in 2011-12 rankings)

Achievements: Round of 64, U.S. Amateur; Western Amateur semifinalist; Southern Amateur champion; North & South Amateur champion; North & South Amateur medalist; third-team All-American.

The skinny: Williamson completed his college career earlier this year. He entered Q-School as an amateur, but failed to advance out of the first stage. He has stated a desire to remain amateur for the Walker Cup – and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he’ll earn a start off his Southern Am win – even though the competition is more than a year after his college career ended.

Brandon Hagy
7. Brandon Hagy

Hometown: Westlake Village, Calif.

College: Cal junior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 13

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 22

Achievements: U.S. Amateur semifinalist; Alister Mackenzie Invitational champion; State Fair Amateur champion; T-3, Northeast Amateur; T-8, Sunnehanna Amateur; honorable-mention All-American.

The skinny: The long-hitting Hagy has made a big move recently, starting with his third-place finish at the Northeast Amateur and extending to the U.S. Amateur. He won the State Fair, a top event in California, a few weeks later and then claimed his first collegiate title. Momentum is in his favor.

Michael Kim
8. Michael Kim

Hometown: Del Mar, Calif.

College: Cal sophomore

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 25

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 2

Achievements: Isleworth Collegiate Invitational champion; Round of 64, U.S. Amateur; Round of 16, U.S. Amateur Public Links; Dogwood Invitational runner-up; T-5, Jones Cup; 7th, Sunnehanna Amateur; honorable-mention All-American.

The skinny: Kim is a collegiate player-of- the-year candidate after this fall. He finished in the top 10 in all five starts, and won the prestigious Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. He’s come on strong this season.

Mike Miller
9. Michael Miller

Hometown: Brewster, N.Y.

College: N/A

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 33

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: N/A

Achievements: USGA State Team Championship medalist; Round of 32, U.S. Amateur; Sunnehanna Amateur runner-up; T-4, Irish Amateur Open; T-4, Lytham Trophy; T-4, Azalea Invitational; Terra Cotta Invitational runner-up.

The skinny: Miller, a New York native, would give the home-state fans someone to cheer for at National Golf Links. His eight-shot victory at the USGA State Team Championship caught selectors’ eyes. Though he doesn’t play college golf, he’s collected a series of strong finishes in amateur events around the world.

T.J. Vogel

10. T.J. Vogel

Hometown: Cooper City, Fla.

College: Florida senior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 12

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 12

Achievements: U.S. Amateur Public Links champion; second-team All- American.

The skinny: Vogel had to sit out the practice session with a sports hernia, but is expected to be back in the lineup for the spring season. His upcoming Masters appearance is a great opportunity to impress.

Michael Weaver
11. Michael Weaver

Hometown: Fresno, Calif.

College: Cal junior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 35

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 25

Achievements: U.S. Amateur runner-up; T- 13, Players Amateur; Alameda Commuters champion.

The skinny: Weaver’s run at the U.S. Amateur gives him two great opportunities to impress selectors, at the Masters and U.S. Open.

Cory Whitsett
12. Cory Whitsett

Hometown: Houston

College: Alabama junior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 32

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 71

Achievements: 2011 Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic champion; 2011 Patriot All-American champion; T-44, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational; T-4, NCAA Championship; second-team All-American.

The skinny: Could we have three players from the same college team on one Walker Cup squad? It happened in 2009, when Rickie Fowler, Morgan Hoffmann and Peter Uihlein played for the United States.

Max Homa
13. Max Homa

Hometown: Valencia, Calif.

College: Cal senior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 26

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 17

Achievements: Round of 32, U.S. Amateur; 2nd, State Fair Amateur; T- 9, NCAA Championship; T-5, Jones Cup; third-team All-American.

The skinny: Some of Homa’s biggest competition will come from his own teammates. Four Cal Bears are at the practice session. The fact that all eyes will be on the Bears this spring could help their candidacies, but it will be hard for any one player to stand out on this team.

Zac Blair
14. Zac Blair

Hometown: Ogden, Utah

College: BYU senior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 79

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 223

Achievements: Round of 64, U.S. Amateur; Round of 16, Western Amateur; Round of 32, U.S. Amateur Public Links; T-9, Sahalee Players Championship; T-5, Northeast Amateur; won 2011 William H. Tucker Intercollegiate; third-team All-American.

The skinny: Blair seems to have struggled a bit since a strong summer of 2011 that put him in the running as an outside candidate for the Walker Cup team.

Jim Liu
15. Jim Liu

Hometown: Smithtown, N.Y.

College: N/A (high-school senior; Stanford commit)

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 108

Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Ranking: 2

Achievements: U.S. Junior Amateur runner- up; U.S. Junior Amateur co- medalist; Azalea Invitational runner-up; Terra Cotta Invitational runner- up; New Year’s Invitational runner-up; advanced to second stage of European Tour Q-School.

The skinny: Liu, a Stanford signee, represents the junior set at the practice session. He came close to joining Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth as the only multiple winners of the U.S. Junior, but lost a lead in this year’s final.

Todd White
16. Todd White

Hometown: Moore, S.C.

College: Furman graduate

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 72

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: N/A

Achievements: U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist; Round of 32, U.S. Amateur; T-10, Northeast Amateur; T-7, Azalea Invitational.

The skinny: Is there room for two mid-ams on this team? There haven’t been two mid-ams on a U.S. team since the 2003 Walker Cup, which the U.S. lost.

Julian Suri
17. Julian Suri

Hometown: St. Augustine, Fla.

College: Duke senior

R&A World Amateur Ranking: 19

Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking: 58

Achievements: T-3, 2011 Patriot All- American; 2011 and 2012 Rod Myers Invitational champion; John A. Burns Intercollegiate champion; third-team All-American.

The skinny: Suri was added to the practice squad as a replacement for the injured Vogel.

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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