2013 Walker Cup: Golf's top prospects from USA, Great Britain & Ireland compete for amateur title

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It's a quiet week in golf, but the next crop of PGA Tour stars will go head-to-head in a historic match play event for one of the game's oldest trophies.

It's an off week for the PGA Tour and the biggest beneficiary is the USGA and the Walker Cup -- a match play event between 10 amateurs from the USA and 10 amateurs from Great Britain & Ireland. The Tour typically mixes in an off week during the four-event FedExCup Playoffs, but it changes from year-to-year. So the Walker Cup, an event that's relatively unknown, is really the main show stateside this week in golf.

While most casual sports and golf fans don't know much about the Walker Cup, it's one of the oldest intercontinental events and one that's celebrated and mythologized by golf nerds and historians. The USGA will trumpet the importance of the event, and the key place that amateurs have in the game. But this is basically a 10-on-10 junior Ryder Cup featuring college all-stars and players who will be professional within the next few years.

Over the last decade or so, the Walker Cup has become of a preview for many of the upcoming stars in the game and players who will soon be on tour. Three players from the 2011 American Walker Cup team have already won on the PGA Tour: Russell Henley, Harris English, and Jordan Spieth. The 2007 American team is the one often cited as being the most loaded collection in recent competitions. That team had current PGA stars Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, and Kyle Stanley. It's an event Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson had to play in, and the Great Britain & Ireland side has also put out Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, and Rory McIlroy over the past dozen years -- getting a spot on the team is one of the higher honors as an amateur. So that's the kind of talent, albeit currently unknown, that will be on display at the National Golf Links of America.

Here are your rosters for this week -- again, many of these players are decorated as the best at the NCAA level (e..g. Michael Kim of Cal), or are already some of the most hyped college prospects (Matthew Fitzpatrick, an Englishman who just won the U.S. Amateur and just enrolled at Northwestern).

Team USA:

Players Age Amateur World Rank College
Jim Holtgrieve - Captain


Max Homa 22 13 Cal (2013)
Michael Kim 20 2 Cal
Jordan Niebrugge 20 24 Oklahoma State
Patrick Rodgers 21 5 Stanford
Nathan Smith 35 148
Justin Thomas 20 12 Alabama
Michael Weaver 22 22 Cal (2013)
Todd White 45 102
Cory Whitsett 21 3 Alabama
Bobby Wyatt 21 27 Alabama
Great Britain and Ireland:

Players Age Amateur World Rank College
Nigel Edwards - Captain


Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) 18 1 Northwestern
Nathan Kimsey (England) 20 19
Gavin Moynihan (Ireland) 18 133 Alabama
Max Orrin (England) 19 7
Kevin Phelan (Ireland) 22 52 North Florida
Garrick Porteous (England) 23 18 Tennessee (2012)
Rhys Pugh (Wales) 19 346 East Tennessee State
Neil Raymond (England) 27 23
Callum Shinkwin (England) 20 11
Jordan Smith (England) 20 15
Course

The Walker Cup is also renowned for going to some of the older, stuffier clubs in the country. The USGA can use it as an opportunity to visit some of the bastions of American wealth that aren't typically options for the U.S. Open, such as LA Country Club (2017), Chicago Golf Club, Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Merion, and now the National Golf Links of America.

The National Golf Links is one of the country's oldest seaside layouts, and the Long Island club hosted the original Walker cup in 1922. Located in Southampton, the scenic layout abuts Shinnecock Hills and Sebonack Golf Club, where the USGA took the U.S. Women's Open earlier this year. That's about as exclusive a corner of private golf on the planet, boosting Long Island's image as an embarrassment of riches when it comes to top 100 courses. The National Links was inspired by many of the famous and classic links holes on British courses, so there's no real advantage for the home team.

Schedule

Between the setting and the reverence of the tradition of this event, it could get a bit insufferable so hopefully the competition is close and the college kids let loose (adding to the stuffiness, it's named for George Herbert Walker, former USGA president and grandfather to "Bush 41"). The schedule is a little lighter than the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, with only two days of competition for the amateurs. There are 26 points on the line, however, with singles matches on both days. Golf Channel will provide TV coverage from 4 to 6 p.m. ET on each day this weekend. The schedule:

Saturday, Sept. 7
Four Foursomes (alternate shot) Matches: 7:15 a.m. -- 4 points available
Eight Singles Matches: 12:45 p.m. -- 6:00 p.m. -- 8 points available

Sunday, Sept. 8
Four Foursomes (alternate shot) Matches: 7:15 a.m. -- 4 points available
Ten Singles Matches: 12:30 PM -- 6:00 p.m. -- 10 points available

So the first team to 13 1/2 points wins the cup, and if it's an even split of 13 points a side, then the last winner retains the trophy, much like the Ryder Cup. The GB&I team has the advantage this year, as they knocked off the Americans on Scottish soil in 2011. While they don't have the luxury of drawing players from the entire continent of Europe like they do for the Ryder Cup, the Brits and Irish have been extremely competitive in recent decades. An eight-cup USA winning streak was ended in 1989, and since then, each side has won six Walker Cups. With the big boys not playing this week, it's a good opportunity to watch some of the top prospects in golf compete for one of the game's oldest trophies.

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