Header photo by Jeffrey Bertch (linkslandphoto)
Team match play, USA vs. GB&I, Seminole Golf Club. Let’s get it.
2021 Walker Cup Preview
The 48th Walker Cup Match is here! This weekend, 10 amateurs from the U.S. will face off against 10 amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. On Saturday and Sunday, foursomes (alternate-shot) matches will take place in the morning, and singles matches will be played in the afternoon. Team USA has won the past two Walker Cups—at Los Angeles Country Club in 2017 and Royal Liverpool in 2019—and will need 13 points to retain the Cup at Seminole. Walker Cup Fast Facts
The Walker Cup is known for visiting great courses, and this weekend’s edition is no different. Designed by Donald Ross in 1929 and restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw in 2017, Seminole Golf Club won’t necessarily jump off your TV screen. It doesn’t have flashy bunkering or dizzying elevation changes, and while it’s next to the ocean, it doesn’t play along clifftops. Seminole’s virtues are more understated: exacting greens that sit at uncomfortable angles, and a clever, spiraling routing that keeps players wondering about the wind.
The length of the course—7,256 yards at a par of 72—won’t intimidate the young bucks of Team USA and Team GB&I. But to succeed at Seminole, their approach and recovery shots will need to be extremely precise. Once they get out of position around the greens, they’ll be in trouble.
This will be the second time golf fans have gotten a glimpse at Seminole Golf Club in the past year. Last May, at the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns, four PGA Tour stars participated in the TaylorMade Driving Relief match at Seminole. It ended up being a rather awkward, low-energy affair, but it was the first televised golf any of us had seen in a while, so we relished it. Andy talked about the course with Bill Coore and Zac Blair and wrote an article about Ross’s use of the property’s natural assets. Evergreen content!
Team USA (captain: Nathaniel Crosby)
Team GB&I (captain: Stuart Wilson)
No two ways about it: the U.S. team is stacked. It has 2020 U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci, 2019 U.S. Open qualifier Austin Eckroat, living mid-am legend Stewart Hagestad, and a reemergent Cole Hammer. It has world amateur Nos. 2, 3, and 4 in Pierceson Coody, Davis Thompson, and John Pak. (Remember, Thompson was the kid who fired a 69 in the first round of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot last year.)
In comparison, the challengers from Great Britain and Ireland look like underdogs. Granted, Joe Long won the 2020 Amateur Championship, Angus Flanagan played in this year’s Genesis Invitational on the PGA Tour, 18-year-old Ben Schmidt is a tremendous prospect, and Alex Fitzpatrick, Matthew’s younger brother, has compiled a strong collegiate résumé at Wake Forest University. But the fact remains that Team GB&I has an average world amateur rank of 68.7 to Team USA’s 12.0. Plus, the Americans have won six of the past eight Walker Cups.
When it comes to team match play, though, none of that really matters. Seeming underdogs triumph all the time. How often have pundits predicted easy victories for the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup, only to watch the Europeans trounce the Americans? So anything can happen this weekend at Seminole, especially if the wind shows up.
All times ET
Saturday/Sunday (May 8-9) Foursomes: 10-11 a.m. on Peacock, 11 a.m-1 p.m. on Golf Channel
Saturday/Sunday Singles: 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Peacock, 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Golf Channel
Look, it’s not the all-day coverage we dream about, but this broadcast package is a hell of a lot better than 2019’s near-nothingness from Hoylake. Let’s just hope the next overseas Walker Cup—2023 at St. Andrews—gets a similar amount of airtime.
U.S. Open Victory Club
Just as Walker Cuppers and national amateur champions Tyler Strafaci and Joe Long have been invited to this year’s U.S. Open, you are invited to become a member of the U.S. Open Victory Club!
The U.S. Open Victory Club is the official fan club for both the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open. A free membership, the Victory Club provides exclusive access to limited-edition merchandise, contests, sweepstakes, and virtual fan experiences; and early access to tickets and packages. Become a U.S. Open Victory Club member today and experience this year’s national championships in upgraded fashion!
As it turns out, the “Super Golf League,” which suddenly started making its presence known on Tuesday, is not a rebranded Premier Golf League. In fact, the SGL is a breakaway faction of Saudi investors who considered partnering with the PGL but now appear bent on crushing it. Alan Shipnuck has the enormously clarifying scoop for the Fire Pit Collective.
The initial reactions from top players to the SGL news have been a predictable mix. Adamantly opposed: Princes of Ponte Vedra Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas. Vaguely intrigued: marketable but declining talents Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Rex Hoggard has been tracking the fallout from Tuesday’s reports.
Speaking of Phil Mickelson, he leads by two at the Wells Fargo Ch—… wait, what? Phil Mickelson leads by two at the Wells Fargo Championship? The one taking place in 2021? Leaderboard
After opening with a two-under round at the Wells Fargo Championship, Viktor Hovland referred to host Quail Hollow Club as “kind of a driving range golf course.” He also has Spotify playlists full of Norwegian death metal, so yeah, he’s our favorite golfer. Thank you for your service, Westy.
At the Honda LPGA Thailand, Patty Tavatanakit showed up big in her first competitive round in her home country since winning the ANA Inspiration. She is -8, tied at the top of the leaderboard with fellow Thai player Atthaya Thitikul. Leaderboard
We have a developing situation on the Korn Ferry Tour. After one round of the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation, Stephan Jaeger is tied for the lead with Austin Smotherman. If Jaeger wins, he would not only tie the all-time record for KFT titles (seven) but also, since it would be his third victory of this extended season, receive a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. Leaderboard
Major championship golf! Kind of! Darren Clarke leads the Regions Tradition after one round at Greystone Golf and Country Club. The Tradition, ICYMI for the past 30-some years, is one of the five senior majors. Leaderboard
Here’s a fun read about a Welshman rediscovering a lost Alister MacKenzie course near Rhayader.
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Shotgun Start: Phil’s “selflessness,” SLG vs. PGL, and Walker Cup preview with Brentley Romine
This Friday episode begins with some quick reactions to Phil Mickelson taking the early lead in Charlotte, which is an occasion to quickly pivot to his quotes that joining a PGL or SLG league for tens of millions of dollars will actually require selflessness. This leads to a pivot to discuss the report from Alan Shipnuck that these are, in fact, not the same thing and actually competitors, and boy does the Saudi backed one sound terrible! There’s also a discussion on a report in The Athletic with a deposition of Jay Monahan, who did not name a single LPGA player when queried. There is also reveling in Viktor Hovland calling Quail Hollow a form of “driving range golf.” Then Brendan and Andy are joined by Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine, an amateur golf encyclopedia who is at the Walker Cup this week. They discuss some players to watch, whether all of continental Europe should be made eligible, a food poisoning outbreak, and features of Seminole. Then Flashback Friday focuses on some amusing Walker Cup controversies and characters as well as some stories from Ben Hogan’s time at Seminole. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.