ABERDEEN, Scotland – The breezes that swept Erin Hills in Wisconsin during the recent U.S. Amateur were far more soothing than the cold, damp winds that blow off the North Sea at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. So different, in fact, that most U.S. players will have to make significant adjustments to their games this week at the Walker Cup.
U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, who hits a high ball, might have difficulty adjusting to the links game. On a recent trip to Kingsbarns and the Old Course at St. Andrews, I talked with some of the caddies who looped during the Americans’ practice rounds earlier this week. One recurring comment from some of the caddies was that Kraft’s ball flight is just too high.
In 2005, when Tom Watson won here for his second of three Senior British Open titles, he talked about the wind being a significant impediment all week.
“You’re playing a golf course with – when the wind is coming from the west like it is out here – every hole is crosswind,” Watson said. “The only hole you have downwind is 17. Par 3. That’s it. Every hole is a crosswind.”
Even U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve conceded that until the team got to Scotland, there could be no valid preparation for the weather conditions that his players were likely to face.
Kraft might be expected to be one of the Americans’ leading point-getters, but Ladbrokes has him at 10-1 – seventh on team – to win the most U.S. points. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Overall, the U.S. is a strong 4-9 favorite to retain the Walker Cup, with the GB&I team listed at 9-4. The odds of a draw were set at 10-1.
Since winning at Portmarnock in Ireland in 1991, the U.S. team has won only once in four Walker Cups on foreign soil. In 2007, the Americans defeated a GB&I team that included Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in his backyard at Royal County Down.
Now with the U.S. favored so heavily, the Americans could post another victory on foreign soil. The U.S. hasn’t lost since a one-point defeat in 2003 at Ganton (England) Golf Club.
The favorites to win the most points for either side: Patrick Cantlay for the U.S. at 4-1 and Tom Lewis of GB&I at 3-1.
The rest of the odds follow:
- Peter Uihlein 5-1
- Harris English 6-1
- Russell Henley 6-1
- Patrick Rodgers 8-1
- Jordon Spieth 8-1
- Kelly Kraft 10-1
- Chris Williams 10-1
- Nathan Smith 12-1
- Blayne Barber 14-1
- Andrew Sullivan 5-1
- Jack Senior 6-1
- Paul Cutler 8-1
- Steven Brown 9-1
- Michael Stewart 10-1
- James Byrne 10-1
- Stiggy Hodgson 10-1
- Alan Dunbar 12-1
- Rhys Pugh 14-1