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Can GB&I claim Walker Cup?

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Iain Carter | 23:13 UK time, Thursday, 8 September 2011

It feels like the old days when the United States would routinely bash Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup.

The US team defending the trophy at Royal Aberdeen this weekend are odds-on favourites to claim victory for the fourth match running.

Certainly, the US amateur scene is packed full of talent. Jim Holtgrieve's team boasts the top four players in the current amateur world rankings but their GB&I opposition should still feel capable of wrestling back the trophy for the first time since 2003.

Recent Walker Cup history suggests it is time for the pendulum to swing back this side of the Atlantic because, over the last ten matches, there has been little to choose between the two teams. America have won six match-ups, with GB&I taking four.

Before the 1989 clash at Peachtree in Georgia - when the US lost on home soil for the first time - it had been virtual one-way traffic with America winning 29 out of 31 matches.
Peter Mattsson is the English Golf Union's outgoing director of coaching. He said: "There is no doubt all eyes in the amateur game are on the Walker Cup, which is great.

"When you look on paper, there is no doubt the Americans have a very strong team. But, when the match is played over here, the kind of golf played is different from what the Americans are used to.

"Our team are more experienced in the type of golf we will see at Royal Aberdeen. I think when the match gets going it will be a very interesting one."

The Swede is a master of understatement. This is going to be far more than interesting and will be fascinating for several reasons - the main one surrounding the question of how GB&I handle such impressive opposition.

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What does Walker Cup mean for amateur golfers?

What sets the Walker Cup apart is the fact it is not only a potentially epic contest - but also provides a glimpse at the golfing future. How many of the 20 men on show will become players who dominate headlines in years to come?

Phil Mickelson was in the American team that was beaten in 1989 and, along with David Duval, in the one that reclaimed the trophy two years later. On that occasion, they beat a side that included Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Andrew Coltart and Gary Evans.

When Tiger Woods, Notah Begay III and Chris Riley were among those who lost at Royal Porthcawl in 1995, the Americans were beaten by a GB&I line-up that included Harrington, Stephen Gallacher, Mark Foster and David Howell.

After that, GB&I won three times in a row, with players like Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Simon Dyson, Graeme Storm and last year's US Open champion Graeme McDowell. Lucas Glover, who won the US Open in 2009, was on the losing side in 2001.

In those days, there was still room for the career amateur. Nigel Edwards holed from 30 yards on the 17th at Ganton to give GB&I their hat-trick of victories in 2003.

Now captain, it is down to Edwards to inspire his team to halt a run of defeats that stretches back to 2005.

The opposition includes the top amateur in the world - Patrick Cantlay - and the last two US amateur champions, Peter Uihlein and Kelly Kraft. Jordan Spieth, who is second in the rankings, is included, while Russell Henley and Harris English have both won professional events on America's second tier of professional golf.

Not that Tom Lewis is likely to be phased by such opposition. The 20-year-old Briton from Welwyn Garden City demonstrated his appetite for the big time by grabbing the first round lead with a 65 on his Open debut at Royal St George's in July.

Lewis will be a key man for Edwards but the Welsh captain's biggest asset could be a team spirit that makes his side greater than its sum parts. Andy Sullivan, Michael Stewart and Stiggy Hodgson - the only survivor from defeat in 2009 - will be vital components.

The US have won the last three matches - but two of them by a single point - and form guides can be blown away, especially on a windy Scottish links in September.


  • Comment number 1.

    good round up Iain, cheers.
    i think GB&I will win it, the team is solid. Young Cutler is a class act, i seen him win the West of Ireland this year, he was awesome

  • Comment number 2.

    At last our illustrial Blog Poster that is Mr Iain Carter as returned!

    I for one cant see anything but a USA win here, and i am confident it will be an easy victory, there team is riddled with class players and the one man that will do the damage is Kelly Kraft! I have watched Kelly and all the talk seems to be about Cantlay but Kelly as just beat Cantlay by two to win the US amateur Championship that i was luck to go and watch a day of as i was on business for 5 days in Milwaukee, this kid is class and so is Cantlay and i am sure we will see majors very soon for these guys.

    Verdict - Easy USA Victory.

  • Comment number 3.

    i really hope some of the young GB&I players arent in the Lee Westwood mould ( Massive chokers and bottlers ) and can get the job done this weekend. Tom Lewis does seem to have the stones to handle pressure. Unlike Lee Westwood who constantly bottles it under pressure.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think one of the best Walker cup teams i have seen is the GB&I team of 1985...

    The likes of Colin Montgomerie, Peter Baker, David Gilford & John Hawksworth, these players struck fear into the USA teams and i dont think we have that anymore in the youngsters we have coming through.

  • Comment number 5.

    I was wondering how many comments it would take till John Hawksworth got a mention on a fairly difficult subject to get round to JH & the answer is 4 posts!
    Whatever happened to poor old Peter Baker? He was firing all cylinders and then fell away to the challenger didn't he?
    To be honest I know little about amateur golf but the walker cup of 89 sounded tasty!
    I also happened to notice that we have an exciting finish at the weekend potentially in holland with bob rock,ken ferrie,rors & that famous 'choker' LW in prime position.Rors and Caro double for the weekend?

  • Comment number 6.

    Westwood choking again with a shoking round today. what a bottler!
    Ahh good aul John Hawksworth, no blog is complete without mentioning him.

  • Comment number 7.

    What a marvellous win by GB&I.
    Down to earth for US Amateur Champ Kelly Kraft who went 0-4.
    Hopefully, Iain, you and the BBC will continue to cover the exploits of the Team as they move on to the next stage of their golfing careers.
    (If not, readers will certainly find them covered in the golf pages of www.606v2.)

    Coincidentally of course, Simon Dyson also won today, a veteran (with golfers such as Casey, Donald, Storm) of the 1999 Walker Cup winners who beat Byrd, Kuchar, Molder etc, at Nairn.

  • Comment number 8.

    @kwiniaskagolfer it as been widely speculated all weekend that Kelly Kraft as been suffering from Tennis Elbow, which may explain his bad form, i dont know how true this is but my mate said he was speaking to Bob Bubka up there at the weekend and that was what he said.

    On another note i see Lee Westwood yet again Choked and Vommited at the final Hurdle, when is this man going to step up to the plate!

    And i would also like to congratulate Robert Rock on proving your critics wrong.

  • Comment number 9.

    I must say that genuinely I am not a confrontational guy but I really must say that the people who disrespect a ryder cup hero and all rounbd decent spud LW by saying he is a choker are talking nonsense if they are using landmarks like robert rock as comparisons.Although westwood is similar to monty on the major choke front possibly,he has been a stellar tour player and in comparison to players like rock he is another galaxy.
    @mickysausage, you congratulate robert rock for what?
    Finishing mid pack in an average european tour event?
    Winning next to nothing in his career ( i may be wrong but I do believe one tournament?),being only a few years younger than Lee(34 is not spring chicken material) who has won all over the world,about 300 odd tournaments,been in countless ryder cup heroic matches & a past number 1?
    I like everybody on this site and respect their opinions but to call Lee a vomiter or choker is plain wrong.
    Why do you not highlight the negatives on robert rock and the unlikelihood he will even get into the top 20,rather than No.1?
    I really don't know what i read sometimes but everyone is entitled to their opinion!!
    And yes rors didn't win but did well and also forget about rock,ferrie,brian davis,john hawkswith,best ball strikers etc... The best golfer in england at the moment may just be dyson??!!!well done to him!!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    PS 30 odd tournaments for lee,not 300,crikey!!!hahaha

  • Comment number 11.

    look at comment number 1. Bilo gets it right again. Cutler was awesome. probably the best player.
    Agree with mickysausage, Lee Westwood choked again. he'll never win again, his confidence is lower than a snakes belly to the floor. As a former world #1 he's a disgraceful bottler.
    Agree with mickyweir about Dyson, i have always said Dyson is arguably the best English player about. And not a choker like Lee Westwood.
    p.s thats true about Kelly Kraft, he was injured, he'd pulled his wire 2 days before the tournament started.

  • Comment number 12.

    @bilo - 'a disgraceful bottler?' 'pulled his wire?'
    You need a yellow card for that surely??!!
    The Lee Westwood comment is harsh to say the bare minimum.
    I know of some digraceful acts in life but he has yet to be involved in any of them IMHO.
    OJ Simpson,Pakistani cricketers,joey barton in the past,ben johnson,marion jones blah blah etc... are disgraceful but not our lee,stalwart of the ryder cup.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mickweir- totally agreed with your comments about Lee Westwood. This guy has achieved a high level of success in his career- 2 Order of Merits, 35 wins, reached world no1, fantastic ryder cup record. Also he managed to claw his way back up to the summit of the game from the depths he sank to circa 2001-2002. This takes amazing dedication, "bottle", courage and pure will.
    It is astounding that he is being lambasted while so called leading lights such as Kenneth "Ferrie Across the Mersey", Robert "Can you smell what the Rock is cooking?" and Brian "greatest ball striker to ever have graced god's green earth etc......" Davis are being championed........................

  • Comment number 14.

    cont.................... I'm a huge LW fan and if i was English I would be extremely proud to have LW representing the nation as a sportsperson. As far as I can see, as well as being hugely successful, he has always conducted himself with humility and sportsmanship, is a gentleman off the course and puts his family first.
    Critics- lay off this guy, he has achieved more than you ever will. It is outrageous that, on a blog about the Walker Cup, you have taken the opportunity to lambast a brilliant English sportsperson, rruly baffling.

    Ps. Mickyweir- great to see another Irishman Cutler as the star of the Walker Cup. However they were all brilliant- that was an extremely strong US team and beating them was a magnificent achievement. Could Cutler soon become NI's 4th different Major Champion in recent times?

  • Comment number 15.

    I hope so sir but I ain't in the business of talking nonsense generally and my knowledge of amateur golf is little to none.I have read about cutler and I sat in a bar in belfast recently where a guy told me that he is destined to be better than rors but I can't buy that.I never really got into the walker cup,I was a traitor watching the dutch whilst flicking across the rugby,soccer saturday and perusing the scores of other stuff.
    I am a large sports fan and the rugby wc is a big thing also so it is all go but that is another blog!
    Look JK, I'm a fan of the persecuted if I feel their case is just and when it comes to LW,RM,DC or even TW, I will weigh in with my pound of flesh defending them as they are hardly a serial killer?!!
    I have followed golf since I was a kind and seen alot of what I would call B+ guys and monty,mark james,sam torrance,ken brown,paul broadhurst,des smyth,barry lane etc... come into this category along with the recent rose,poulter,westwood,garcia,casey,levet,hansen,stenson,donald types who are close to an A but can't get over the line, as in a major.Golf and sports like tennis are judged by majors and if you don't win one,your legacy is hit badly.
    I think lee etc.. is in focus now with this and people jump on the late 30s/early 40s guys with no majors in the same way Andy Murray will suffer if he doesn't grab a big 4 crown.It is the landmark they are judged Jeff but disgraceful or choker is OTT,the guy like you say is a legend and shown great bouncebackability from his issues.
    Can you imagine if he does win a major? Career complete then..Good luck to him I say.

  • Comment number 16.

    Belfast eh mickyweir! thats where i'm from. fancy a pint in the Bot to continue the debate?!
    As you can see from the very first point i know my golf....said Cutler would be the star. thats why i am also right about Lee Westwood! and about John Hawksworth!

  • Comment number 17.

    We are all right in our own heads I guess and that is sport and opinions.
    I am little old for the bot although I did attend in my student days!
    Get back to you on that one as I am only in belfast occasionally but the offer of drink and kinship is noted and appreciated.
    I am away to research John Hawksworth as it is now beyond belief how much he features in this blog and all I know is that he ain't no legend in my book,but maybe so if research it!

  • Comment number 18.

    Once upon a time John Hawksworth hit a great 3 iron....... the end........... however somehow we are still talking about him...... truly mind boggling...... pretty soon, if we're not careful, he will be destined for the same cult notoreity as one Chuck Norris!!

    Like you Mickyweir I cannot pretend to know much about the amateurs on the GB&I team. I was glad that I managed to catch the final days action from the Walker Cup, some excellent golf and most impressively the match was played in a great spirit, wonderul sportsmanship displayed and respect between the two groups of players.

  • Comment number 19.

    i'm a bit of a duke of york man or mchughs! let me know if you fancy a pint and debate! make sure your studied up on John Hawksworth though...ill be testing you!

  • Comment number 20.

    jeffkenna.....John Hawksworth...the new Hoff?!

  • Comment number 21.

    Thanks for the coverage this weekend Iain, nice additions using twitter etc... but worried about the decline in the quality of BBC coverage which started at the Opn this year. The early end to the Walker Cup coverage on Sunday was surprising, but I consoled myself with the notion that the closing ceremony and trophy presentation would be on the highlights or red button.......... eh, nope.

    Is this a long lingering death for the BBC televised Golf coverage?

  • Comment number 22.

    Rankis, lay off Iain and the BBC. they are doing a class job. We all love Iain, leave him alone and stop bullying.

  • Comment number 23.

    Bilo- the Hoff has won as much in golf as John Hawksworth-less!

  • Comment number 24.

    LOL, delicious irony in BilboMcT rushing in to be the high protector of decency after all his comments about LJW. :)

  • Comment number 25.

    no need for that Rankis! We have proof that Lee Westwood is the ultimate choker. We have proof that Iain Carter is king of the blogs and golf coverage. back off or i think you'll get the wrath of Don247, Sumo82 and mickysausage! They are Carter's biggest fans!

  • Comment number 26.

    @mickyweir and @JeffKenna, what as Westwood actually accomplished though apart from being a good journeyman and earning a good living? The tournaments that he as won are mediocre tournaments that only he enters, i think the best he as won is the St Jude Classic, he as only won two tournaments since 2009 one of them the St Jude and the other the Ballantines Championship (whatever that is?) You may aswell say Westwood is the same as Monty because Monty actually had 40 pro wins(more than westwood) yet you still call him a bottler? Westwood is a choker and at least Monty actually had a chance to win a major, Westwood bottles his chances before he even gets to the 18th.

    Robert Rock as proved is current for by being picked for the Sevie Trophy ahead of some big names, he is Nailing his critics!

  • Comment number 27.

    @Rankis havent you got Sky? The coverage on Sky is second too none and the commentary is fair also, good coverage for the GB&I guys and for the Americans, the Walker Cup hasnt had the same coverage since Howard Clarke, Tim Barter, John Hawksworth & Ken Brown were poached by Sky. Now we are stuck with Sue Barker, Hazel Irvine and the jokes that are Ken Brown & Peter Alliss! How them two guys can even speak about golf is a joke, Sky coverage much better. The only thing keeping the Golfing going for the BBC is Iian Carter!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Crickey!, Rankis realises he has crossed paths with a vipers nest from the Iain Carter Fan Club and slinks off back to his mundane working life (although secretley he is a member of the Iain Carter fan club too........ ;)

  • Comment number 29.

    Crickey! Rankis realises he has found some hard edged IC fans and slinks off back to his mundane working life (despite the fact he is a secret IC fan too ;)

  • Comment number 30.

    Mickysausage- and just how many large tournaments have messrs Stenalink Ferrie, The Rock and Brian "best ball striker ever in the world ever and if he'd been born in the 40s he would have won more majors than that big blonde Jack Nicklaus fella (whoever he is)" Davis? (to answer you question they have won 5 events collectively). And how many Ryder Cup appearances/points won? Zero. Still there must be some logic behind your affirmation that they are ahead of Lee Westwood (23 event wins, 6 top 3s in majors (top 3 hardly being a "failure" as you make it out to be) exceptional Ryder Cup record) in the list of English golfers.

  • Comment number 31.

    Peter Alliss a joke mickysausage? Wow! Wow! An institution and nostalgia of the finest.I accept your comparison of monty / LW but wee lee isn't finished yet! Think dc and he has 4 years minimum,monty is a goner.
    You ask what lee has ever done and if you are being serious (i suspect there are people winding sensibly guys up on this blog) the answer is simple.He has been number 1,been 'in the mix' numerous times and only one can win and there are 4 majors per year.Do the maths.No.1,not a wannabe like robert rock etc...
    I genuinely can't take some of the debates seriously here as lee is a ledge,rock is 34 and has won one tournament! Wake up lads!

  • Comment number 32.

    @mickyweir accept my apologies for the Peter Alliss comment, thats me typing when trying to work, haha i meant to put Ken Brown & Andrew Cotter, absolute jokes them men, Peter Alliss as been roumoured to be going to sky i have heard, this would finally kill golf for the BBC

  • Comment number 33.

    Alliss does need to step aside. remember when he didnt even realise that Phil Mickleson had won the Masters! ' Its a Play Off ' not so sure Peter!

  • Comment number 34.

    As Peter Alliss was 80 this year, I wonder which Sky you mean he's rumoured to be going to, mickysausage?
    I hope he continues for a few years yet and with the BBC. Firstly because he's an encyclopedia of golfing memories and keeps the game's history and ethics in our minds, and secondly because as long as BSkyB has a Murdoch on its board and Murdoch money in its capital, I refuse to put a penny in that family's pockets.

  • Comment number 35.

    I used to love watching 'around with Alliss' but he did used to wear some shocking trousers !

  • Comment number 36.

    @playunextyear Alliss as been roumoured to dislike the direction that the BBC are taking sport, with its lack of coverage etc etc, and Sky have offered one final swansong of joining his good friends Butch Harmon, John Hawksworth and Bob Bubka, you will also find that Rupert and James Murdoch are no longer CEO's of BskyB and it is now run by Jeremy Darroch, Bob Kelly and Ray Smith CBE. Murdoch only actualy owns 39.1% and his bid too takeover collapsed so your saying you dont want sky when 60.9% is owned by other parties? Wierd. I think its probably time that Alliss hung up his golf shoes BiloMct because he is obviously losing his marbles.

  • Comment number 37.

    Sumo82, do you remember Alliss used to dress like Rupetrt the Bear?!

  • Comment number 38.

    My dad always used to say to me that Alliss will always be remembered for his shot at the 1969 open at royal Lytham he hit a 1 iron (yes 1 iron not many people could hit this club) into a cross wind on the long par 3 5th, catching the fringe and rolling to stop on the edge of the hole before (apparantly) the wind blew it in after 3 secs, i am yet to see this but my dad said Alliss was a great ball striker!

  • Comment number 39.

    Bilo, i do remeber them trousers!!
    He also did a follow up to the 'around with Alliss' series called 'who the hell is Alliss'
    it wasn't as well known but it was miles better, he used to do trick shots! Peter Alliss is to golf what John Virgo is to the world of snooker, a legend.


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