SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Walker Cup captains Nigel Edwards and Jim Holtgrieve are relying on tried-and-trusted pairings to help win the 44th version of George Herbert Walker’s legacy to the game of golf.
Both captains have done their homework before arriving in Long Island. Edwards took copious notes after winning 14-12 at Royal Aberdeen two years ago. He’s confident heading into the first two sessions.
“I know where I am in my mind, and I know where the players are,” Edwards said. “All we have got to do is be ourselves and do the simple things very well and let things take care of themselves.”
As for Holtgrieve, he began making plans as soon as his team was finalized.
“The format that’s come up with these three guys from Cal (University of California) and three guys from (University of Alabama), and then Patrick (Rodgers) and Justin Thomas being such good friends, I had a heck of a start in foursomes.
“I mean, I got three really solid teams in foursomes play. When that formulated, I wasn’t going to change a thing.”
Edwards sends out the English pairing of Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin in the first match to meet Holtgrieve’s duo of Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt. Whitsett and Wyatt know each other well: They are teammates at Alabama.
Kimsey and Orrin are familiar with each other, too. They are regular foursomes partners for England.
U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond go out in the second match against Jordan Niebrugge and Nathan Smith. Smith is playing in his third consecutive Walker Cup. Edwards has deviated slightly from type on this one. Raymond normally plays foursomes golf for England with British Amateur champion Garrick Porteous.
Michael Weaver and Todd White team up in the third match against Rhys Pugh and Porteous. Pugh is the only GB&I player returning from the victorious side that beat the U.S. at Royal Aberdeen two years ago. Pugh went 3-0 in the last match to help GB&I win, 14-12.
Holtgrieve and Edwards have gone back to tried-and-tested pairings in the final foursome match. Best friends Rodgers and Thomas take on the all-Irish pairing of Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan.
Raymond and Wyatt lead off the afternoon singles in what should be one of several intriguing singles matches on the opening day. Both captains ensure all 10 of their players get action on the opening day. Mid-amateurs White and Smith sit out the singles as Michael Kim and NCAA champion Max Homa see action. Meanwhile, Edwards sits Pugh and Phelan to get Callum Shinkwin and Jordan Smith into the match.
Smith takes on Whitsett in the fifth singles match. Smith is widely regarded as one of the steadiest players on the GB&I team, and arguably might have been expected to play in the foursomes.
As promised, Holtgrieve makes returnee Rodgers his anchorman in the singles. Rodgers goes up against 18-year-old Irish player Gavin Moynihan, the youngest player in this edition of the Walker Cup.
Fitzpatrick sees action in the sixth singles match. He takes on Michael Weaver, who lost in the final of the 2012 U.S. Amateur Championship.
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Walker Cup: Saturday foursomes draw (GBI listed first)
7:15 a.m.: Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin vs. Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt
7:30 a.m.: Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond vs. Jordan Niebrugge and Nathan Smith
7:45 a.m.: Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh vs. Michael Weaver and Todd White
8 a.m.: Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan vs. Patrick Rodgers and Justin Thomas
• • •
Walker Cup: Saturday afternoon singles draw (GBI listed first)
1 p.m.: Neil Raymond vs. Bobby Wyatt
1:11 p.m.: Max Orrin vs. Max Homa
1:22 p.m.: Callum Shinkwin vs. Michael Kim
1:33 p.m.: Jordan Smith vs. Cory Whitsett
1:44 p.m.: Garrick Porteous vs. Jordan Niebrugge
1:55 p.m.: Matthew Fitzpatrick vs. Michael Weaver
2:06 p.m.: Nathan Kimsey vs. Justin Thomas
2:17 p.m.: Gavin Moynihan vs. Patrick Rodgers