The United States is growing accustomed to winning the Palmer Cup after back-to-back victories at the annual Ryder Cup-style collegiate competition.
And, with the look at the 2012 U.S. roster, Team Europe (check out their squad here) will face a stiff test to try and cut into the Americans’ 8-6-1 advantage in the series.
Led by SMU coach Josh Gregory, who won the past two NCAA titles at Augusta State before returning to his alma mater, the U.S. will feature three players returning from last year’s squad that pulled out a 13-11 victory.
“It’s hard to choose a team when you have so many great players to choose from,” Gregory said. “We have a pretty stacked group. These eight are the best of the best.”
Gregory’s plan in coaching the elite squad? Make sure the team is having fun and simply get out of the way.
“I only know a few of the kids, so I mainly make sure they are having fun,” Gregory said. “I need to find the right pairings and matchups, and then you simply rely on the players. You find out who (the players) feel comfortable playing with and what will create a fun environment.”
Two players glaringly missing from the squad are Texas freshman Jordan Spieth and UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay (who participated in the Palmer Cup in 2011). Spieth is top-ranked in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, while Cantlay is No. 10.
But they do have a good reason: They have both been extended sponsor exemptions into the PGA Tour’s AT&T National, according to an AT&T National staffer. The event is played the same week as the Palmer Cup.
Cantlay was 20th at last year’s AT&T National and this year’s event is being held at Congressional, where he was low amateur at the U.S. Open.
“Those guys would have been picks 1a and 1b,” Gregory said. “But they have other things going on, and I think we have a great eight to go with.”
Here is a look at the squad that will be at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, for the June 28-30 matches: