Walker Cup 2011: Tom Lewis has final chance to shine as an amateur

Walker Cup 2011

  • Venue: Balgownie Links of Royal Aberdeen Golf Club
  • Date: 10 September - 11 September 2011
  • Day 1 Coverage: Live on BBC1 & BBC1 HD 1415-1630, BBC2 & BBC HD 1630-1815.
  • Day 2 Coverage: Live on BBC2 1130-1330, BBC2 & BBC HD 1515-1800. All times BST.

Walker Cup milestone for golfer Byrne

Tom Lewis is on the brink of turning professional - but he will have one final chance to shine as an amateur in this weekend's Walker Cup.

The Englishman, 20, led the Open Championship at St George's  in July and finished tied in 30th, winning the silver medal for leading amateur.

But his last act before joining the pro circuit will be competing in amateur golf's version of the Ryder Cup in Aberdeen.

"I'm not focusing on turning pro, the focus is on this weekend," Lewis told BBC Sport.

The biennial competition, which pits Great Britain & Ireland against the United States, will be played on the Balgownie Links of the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, which was founded in 1780, making it the sixth oldest in the world.

The course's signature hole is the par-three eighth which, at 148 yards, is not particularly long but it has nine bunkers surrounding the green and dependant on the direction of the wind, could be a three iron one day, a pitching wedge the next.

Lewis has earmarked five other holes as being vitally important to Great Britain & Ireland team though.

"The first two and the last three are important," he stated. "That's where the competition will be won and lost.

"If we do well on those holes we will be in with a good chance of winning."

However, he is wary of the American challenge. The current US team features Peter Uihlein, 21, who Lewis held off in Kent, and the hugely talented Patrick Cantlay.

GB & IRELAND TEAM

Steven Brown, 24 (Wentworth); James Byrne, 22 (Banchory); Paul Cutler, 22 (Portstewart); Alan Dunbar, 21 (Rathmore); Stiggy Hodgson, 21 (Sunningdale), Tom Lewis, 20 (Welwyn Garden City); Rhys Pugh, 17 (Glamorgan); Jack Senior, 23 (Heysham); Michael Stewart, 21 (Troon Welbeck); Andy Sullivan, 24 (Nuneaton)

The 19-year-old has had a tremendous summer playing some events on the PGA Tour and even shot 60 in the Travelers Championship  - the lowest-ever round by an amateur on the PGA Tour.

"The Americans have some strong players, some of whom have played in the majors as well" he continued, "but we're on home turf with our crowd and weather they are not used to.

"I'm looking forward to playing and if we play our best in these conditions we can win."

George Herbert Walker, who lends his name to the trophy, was president of the United States Golf Association when the first unofficial match was contested in 1921 on the eve of the Amateur Chamionship at Hoylake.

The now legendary Bobby Jones helped the Americans win 9-3.

Great Britain & Ireland won the event for the first time in 1938 at St Andrews but, as with the Ryder Cup, the US dominated for the next 50 years.

A solitary victory at St Andrews in 1971 was their only triumph and they had to wait until 1989 for their next, which was also the first win on American soil.

The Americans have won the last three Walker Cups, but the Great Britain & Ireland team were victorious in the preceding three.

Rory McIlroy, then 18, played the last time the Walker Cup was held on British shores, at Royal County Down Golf Club in 2007.

That Great Britain & Ireland team was beaten 12½-11½ by a United States line-up featuring Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship  on Monday.

Last time out, the US thrashed GB & Ireland 16½-9½  at the Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania in 2009 with a team again featuring Fowler.

UNITED STATES TEAM

Blayne Barber, 21 (Lake City, Florida); Patrick Cantlay, 19 (Los Alamitos, California); Harris English, 22 (Thomasville, Georgia); Russell Henley, 22 (Macon, Georgia); Kelly Kraft, 22 (Dallas, Texa); Patrick Rodgers, 18 (Avon, Indiana); Nathan Smith, 33 (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); Jordon Spieth, 18 (Dallas, Texas); Peter Uihlein, 21 (Orlando, Florida), Chris Williams, 20 (Moscow, Idaho)

But the members of this year's teams will be hoping to emulate some of the great names who have played in this tournament in the past.

The 1999 GB & Ireland team, which triumphed at Nairn, included Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Simon Dyson and Graeme Storm.

Two years later, a line-up including Donald again plus Graeme McDowell, Nick Dougherty and Marc Warren made the victorious trip to Sea Island in Georgia , where they retained the Walker Cup for the first time for 79 years.

And Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Justin Rose are just a few of the other players who have featured in this biennial event over the last two decades.

And of course, no golf tournament would be complete without a mention of Tiger Woods.

He played for the US team at Royal Porthcawl in 1995, where Great Britain and Ireland triumphed 14-10.

On day one Woods, then 19, lost to experienced Walker Cup player Gary Wolstenholme by one hole .

He got revenge on day two with a 4&3 singles victory but then lost his day two foursomes match after being paired with John Harris against Irish pair Jody Fanagan and Harrington.

Tom Lewis makes an eagle at the seventh in the 2011 Open Championship