Far Hills, N.J. – The International Team Selection Committee of the USGA has invited 16 golfers, including three reigning USGA champions, to participate in an informal Walker Cup practice session Dec. 19-22 at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples, Fla. The 2013 Walker Cup will be contested Sept. 7-8 at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.
“Selection to the Walker Cup Team is one of, if not the highest honors for an amateur golfer in the United States and we take the selection process very seriously,” said Dan Burton, chairman of the International Team Selection Committee and a USGA vice president. “The practice session gives us a great opportunity to learn more about each golfer to complement the vast amount of actual tournament performance information available to us. We are looking for outstanding players who respect and understand the importance of representing your country in an international competition that has a truly unique and wonderful history.”
Among the invitees are four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and two-time Walker Cup Team member Nathan Smith, 2012 U.S. Amateur champion Steven Fox, a member of the victorious 2012 USA World Amateur Team, and 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion T.J. Vogel. Vogel was forced to withdraw from the practice session due to injury, and has been replaced by Julian Suri, a senior at Duke University. Also invited are 2011 USA Walker Cup Team member Patrick Rodgers and two past U.S. Junior Amateur champions: Cory Whitsett (2007) and Jim Liu (2010). Mike Miller, who compiled the low individual score in helping New York win the 2012 USGA Men’s State Team Championship, has also been invited.
The list also includes 2012 U.S. Amateur runner-up Michael Weaver, 2012 U.S. Amateur semifinalists Justin Thomas and Brandon Hagy, 2012 U.S. Amateur stroke-play medalist Bobby Wyatt, Zac Blair, Michael Kim, Max Homa, Todd White and Peter Williamson.
Weaver, Hagy, Kim and Homa all currently play for the University of California-Berkeley, while Thomas, a member of the gold-medal winning 2012 USA World Amateur Team, Wyatt and Whitsett are teammates at the University of Alabama. Blair is a senior at Brigham Young University and Williamson graduated last spring from Dartmouth College.
Smith and White are the lone mid-amateurs (25 and older) among the 16 invitees.
USA captain Jim Holtgrieve stressed that invitation to the practice session is by no means a guarantee of selection to the 10-man team that will face Great Britain and Ireland in September. Holtgrieve added that golfers who are not invited are not excluded from the selection process.
The practice session is designed to give Holtgrieve a chance to see potential Walker Cup players perform in an informal team setting.
“We are grateful to all the good people at Calusa Pines Golf Club for the generous hospitality and are glad to be able to use such high-quality facilities in our preparations for the 2013 Walker Cup,” said Holtgrieve. “This is a good opportunity in our evaluation process and we look forward to it.”
Holtgrieve, himself a three-time Walker Cup participant (1979, 1981 and 1983) with a 6-4 overall record, captained the USA squad to a narrow 14-12 defeat at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland in 2011.
The competition consists of four foursomes (alternate-shot) matches on both Saturday and Sunday morning, with eight and 10 singles matches, respectively, in the afternoon.
The USA Team is chosen by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee with input from the captain, while The R&A chooses the Great Britain and Ireland side. Nigel Edwards of Wales, who captained the winning GB&I side in 2011, will return as captain. Edwards competed in four Walker Cups (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007), amassing a 4-5-3 overall record.
The USA leads the overall series in the biennial competition, 34-8-1, and has not lost on American soil since the 2001 Match at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.