Where are they now? 2007 Walker Cup squad
In many ways, the 2007 United States Walker Cup squad was a dream team. If you were at Royal County Down in 2007 or watched the Walker Cup from home it was not hard to spot a plethora of talent.
Looking at that team photo, you got the feeling that it was only going to be a matter of time before many of those players would be on the PGA Tour, and now that is going to happen.
• Rickie Fowler who was the youngest on the team, has been the most successful. Forget that he has a Puma deal, and style that attracts attention like Justin Beiber teeny-boppers. Fowler played on this year’s Ryder Cup team, which may have surprised some, but the young gun backed it up with stellar play. The 21-year-old turns 22 next week, and has established himself as one of the game’s rising stars.
• As a rookie in 2008, Webb Simpson finished 70th on the PGA Tour money list. That’s not bad at all for a rookie campaign. This year, Simpson skidded down a bit, finishing 94th. However, he remains on the Tour and is still gunning for his first win.
• One player that not many knew when he entered college has suddenly become a household name. That would be Dustin Johnson, who in his three years as a pro has won four times – including nearly winning two majors this season. Johnson finished fourth on the money list, and has suddenly become one of the best players in the world (No. 13 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings). We will always wonder what could have been if he knew he was in a fairway bunker at the PGA Championship, but in the mean time we already know how good he is.
• Colt Knost can finally try to move on and fulfill his dream of playing in the Masters. Many people questioned Knost’s decision to turn pro in 2007, which cost him a chance to play at Augusta after his 2-and-1 win over recent Q-school graduate Michael Thompson at the U.S. Amateur. Knost never doubted his decision, often telling reporters he would play his way into the event someday soon. The SMU graduate will now continue that quest on the PGA Tour after finishing 15th on the Nationwide Tour money list. It may have taken Knost a bit longer then expected to make it to the Tour, but one thing is for sure and – he knows how to win.
• The youngest player ever to finish atop the Nationwide Tour’s money list, Jamie Lovemark, also happens to be from that 2007 Walker Cup squad. Ever since his junior golf days, Lovemark has been known as a prodigy. He was always the big kid in junior and college golf, but now has a chance to shine as a pro. If there was one player from the 2007 Walker Cup squad that everyone would have pegged as a sure-fire professional it was Lovemark, and now he will have that chance to prove a lot of people right.
• Finishing second on the Nationwide Tour this year was Chris Kirk. It took the 25-year-old three years to finally make it to the big stage, but this former Georgia Bulldog worked hard to make it. This past year on the Nationwide Tour, Kirk won twice and now he will take his effortless swing to the PGA Tour, where he hopes he can establish himself as an instant contender.
• This year did not go as planned for Billy Horschel. The former Florida Gator played in just four PGA Tour events before opting to hang it up and pursue a medical extension. Horscel had a wrist surgery, but is feeling better and earned his way back on tour with a T-27 finish at Q-School this week. We never really were able to see what Horschel was made of last year, but perhaps we will get the chance in 2011.
• Kyle Stanley, the 2009 Ben Hogan Award winner, was kind of off the map since turning pro. While playing the Nationwide Tour last year Stanley led the tour in driving distance with a 317.7-yard average before finishing 35th on the money list. The former Clemson Tiger finished T-9 at Q-School and will now try to become the next big “bomber” on the Tour.
• Jonathan Moore turned professional, but he is still still working to join his fellow teammates on the PGA Tour. The only player to remain amateur from the 2007 squad was Trip Kuehne.
Eight out of 10 players surely isn’t bad, but this was a team we all knew would have great success down the road. When I look at a picture of the team it makes me stop and wonder when I’ll see this same picture on a sports documentary as a where are they now piece?
In 2007, the United States was lead by an abundance of talent, and now for many of these players, their dreams have come to fruition. It will take time for these young guns to become successful, but who knows, maybe they will team up and play as a team once again down the road.