SEA ISLAND, Ga. – For a tournament that originally served as a Walker Cup preview in 2001, the Jones Cup still draws a strong field to Ocean Forest GC.
“As far as rankings go,” said Kory Reitz tournament director, “this is by far our best event and best field we’ve been able to get. Walker Cup captains are usually here and this event plays into their selection process.”
Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt, who were on the winning 2013 U.S. Walker Cup squad as well as Alabama’s national-championship team, will be joined by fellow Walker Cupper Michael Weaver of Cal when the tournament begins on Friday. The mid-amateur contingency is, too, well- represented again at this year’s event. Past U.S. Mid-Amateur champions Mike McCoy and Nathan Smith – two 2015 Walker Cup contenders – lead the way.
Other U.S. contenders include recent BYU graduate Zac Blair, SMU’s Bryson Dechambeau, Tyler Dunlap of Texas A&M, Brandon Hagy of Cal Michael Johnson of Auburn, South Florida’s Chase Koepka, recent Tennessee grad Richard Lamb, South Carolina’s Matthew Nesmith, Alabama’s Robby Shelton and LSU’s Curtis Thompson.
Some of the nation’s top junior players are also in the field. Sam Horsfield, who recently won the New Years Invitational, leads a contingency that also includes Zachary Bauchou, Brad Dalke, Scottie Scheffler and Austen Truslow, who won last week’s AJGA Puerto Rico Open.
The event’s international feel is bolstered by numerous elite players – including the top-ranked golfer of eight countries, Reitz said. Chief among the foreign contingent is undoubtedly Garrick Porteous, the 2013 British Amateur champion and No. 2-ranked player in the Golfweek/amateurgolf.com World Player Rankings. TCU junior Julien Brun from France, Arkansas’ Sebastian Cappelen of Denmark, England’s Greg Eason, Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan, a Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team member in 2013, and Cal’s Joel Stalter are among the international players who could contend this week. In all, 18 countries will be represented.
“The international flavor adds a lot to the event and helps it stay true to what the event is,” Reitz said.
The strong field won’t bolster 2013 champion Sean Dale, who turned pro. Other pros who are past Jones Cup winners include Luke List, John Peterson, Patrick Reed, Kyle Stanley, D.J. Trahan and Justin Thomas.
The 54-hole event will begin under seasonably comfortable temperatures. But the course at Ocean Forest has taken its fair share of hits from this frigid winter.
“It will play firm and fast,” Reitz added.