Walker Cup News
No Fear Of The Unknown
Teams don’t know much about the other, but this Match will feature a blend of skill and power
By Dave Shedloski
Ardmore, Pa. – The USA Walker Cup team holds a commanding 33-7-1 lead over Great Britain & Ireland dating back to the inception of the competition in 1922, and its victories in the last two meetings further suggest that the host team here at Merion Golf Club should further embellish America’s record.
If only it were that simple.
Those last two USA victories were by identical one-point margins, 12½ to 11½, and helped to stem the tide of a GB&I surge in recent matches. In fact, the GB&I squad has won four of the last seven meetings.
“We are under no illusions about how good the Great Britain and Ireland team is,” said USA Captain George “Buddy” Marucci on Thursday amid a practice session at Merion.
But Marucci also isn’t all that interested to find out how good they are – at least not in advance.
“No disrespect to them or their captain, but our focus is not on our opponent but playing the golf course. If we concentrate our energies on how we want to play the course, we should be fine,” he said.
The format for the competition, which begins Saturday is one day of foursomes and singles matches and a second day of foursomes (alternate shot) and singles matches on Sunday. Pairings are determined via the same blind draw system used in the Ryder Cup.
“That kind of prevents you from speculating on how certain players match up,” Marucci said. “That’s why it’s best to just tell your team to stick to what they do best.”
What both teams possess is a blend of power players and control players. That could make for intriguing dynamics when the competition begins – and some close matches if players of similar styles square off. Both squads are also quite young. The GB&I team has no player older than 25-year-old Gavin Dear of Scotland. The American “old-timer” is 31-year-old Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh.
“We might be young, but we have considerable match play experience, and we are not so short on our resumes,” said GB&I Captain Colin Dalgleish of Scotland, who listed Dear and fellow Scot Wallace Booth, 24, as spearheading the squad. “We have players who have competed all over, so I think we will be fairly adaptable to the course.”
Indeed, like Marucci, others stress the importance of respecting your opponent but getting to know and like the golf course.
Dear was indifferent toward the question of how important it was for GB&I to know their counterpart.
“It’s not a huge deal. We don’t really see them. They won’t know our game and we won’t know theirs. We just have to get it into the hole less than they do,” said Dear.
Likewise, American Drew Weaver, the former British Amateur champion, couldn’t say he knew much about his opponents, and that only adds to the competition.
“I know some of the guys from college events, but not much. I know they are good,” said Weaver, 22, of High Point, N.C. “For the most part they’re a new team from 2007, as are we, which is kind of an interesting aspect of this event. I think having that element of the unknown adds to the competition. You just have to go out and play your own game and not worry about who is on the other side.”
“You never know what to expect until you get out there, but the last half-dozen matches suggest this will be a tight match,” Dalgleish added. “I would be surprised if it wasn’t.”
Dave Shedloski is a freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA championship sites.