2005: GB&I sets Walker Cup side

Oliver Fisher will make history at Chicago Golf Club next month when he becomes the youngest player to compete in the Walker Cup.

The 16-year-old is one of five English players to make the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team, along with Gary Wolstenholme (44), former Tennessee State player Robert Dinwiddie (22), Gary Lockerbie (22) and Matthew Richardson (20). Wolstenholme is making his sixth appearance in the biennial match, while the other four are making their debuts.

Welshman Nigel Edwards (36), a standout player in GB&I’s victory in Ganton, England, two years ago, was chosen for the team along with countryman Rhys Davies (20), who finished the college season for East Tennessee State as the No. 3 player in the Golfweek/ Sagarin College Rankings.

Scottish players on the team are Brabazon and St. Andrews Links Trophy winner Lloyd Saltman (19) and Richard Ramsay (22).

British Amateur champion Brian McElhinney (22) is the lone Irishman to make the side.

England’s Jamie Moul (20) and Andrew McArthur (26) of Scotland are the two reserves.

Fisher will be 16 years, 11 months old when the match begins Aug. 13. That is one month, 10 days younger than Justin Rose when he played at Quaker Ridge in 1997.

Fisher, the English Under 16 champion, has not looked out of place against older competition this year. The precocious youngster from Essex, England, finished second at the Brabazon, then made it to the semifinals of the British Amateur before losing to McElhinney on the last hole.

“This is a big milestone in my career,” he said. “Making the Walker Cup is high on everyone’s list, but I did not think this would come so soon.”

Fisher cemented his place on the team by helping England win the European Amateur Team Championships at Hillside. His preparation for that tournament gave a clue as to a possible foursomes partner in Chicago. Fisher played a practice round with Wolstenholme.

“I get on well with Gary, so it would be a good pairing,” said Fisher, “but I don’t care who I play with. I’ll be nervous, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Dinwiddie made the side courtesy of back-to-back victories at the Scottish Open Stroke Play and Welsh Open Stroke Play.

Lockerbie won this year’s Lytham Trophy and tied for third at the St. Andrews Links Trophy. He also is the runaway leader in this year’s Golfweek British Amateur Rankings.

Wolstenholme was always going to figure in the team, considering he’s perhaps England’s best amateur golfer ever. The 44-year-old is bidding for a fifth Walker Cup victory, following triumphs in 1995, 1999, 2001 and 2003.

Richardson played his way onto the team after compiling a 5-0-1 record to lead England to victory at Hillside. Richardson is the 2004 Brabazon and European Amateur champion.

Saltman, second in the Golfweek British Amateur Rankings, is one of the best Scottish prospects for some time. The affable 19-year-old took the Links Trophy by four shots and then turned around the next week and won the Brabazon by six shots over Fisher.

Ramsay won the Irish Open Amateur Championship earlier this year, and last year took the Scottish Open Stroke Play.

“At the beginning of the season we lost a few players to the professional ranks, and I was concerned about the strength of the side,” said Peter McEvoy, chairman of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s Selection Committee. “However, many players have improved enormously and have had successful seasons as a consequence. This team, I believe, is a very, very strong one.”

Great Britain and Ireland has won the past three Walker Cup Matches.

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