Walker Cup Watch List: Several bubble players step up in July

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Walker Cup Watch List: Several bubble players step up in July

Amateur

Walker Cup Watch List: Several bubble players step up in July

The USGA’s Walker Cup selection committee is going to have their hands full next month when they decide which 10 players will represent the U.S. at the 2017 Walker Cup.

There are several “locks” already, including Braden Thornberry and mid-amateurs Stewart Hagestad and Scott Harvey, but a handful of bubble guys made big statements in July, most notably Cameron Champ, Sam Burns, Doug Ghim and junior Noah Goodwin.

The U.S. team is expect to be named the day after the U.S. Amateur, which ends Aug. 20. This year’s Walker Cup will be played Sept. 9-10 at Los Angeles Country Club.

Who will make U.S. captain John “Spider” Miller’s 10-man squad this year? We’ll keep tabs on the candidates all year until the team is selected in August.

Here is the latest look at the potential American roster (Note: World Amateur Golf Ranking in parentheses; one of 10 players must be a mid-amateur):

Braden Thornberry (3): The 2017 NCAA champion also boasts victories this year at the Jones Cup and Sunnehanna, plus he was T-4 at the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. He also won five times as a sophomore at Ole Miss to capture the Haskins Award. More recently he missed the cut at the Greenbrier Classic and tied for ninth at the Pacific Coast Amateur. High character guy who carries a chip on his shoulder. He’s safely on the team.

Collin Morikawa (6): Despite missing NCAA Championship, Morikawa has been stellar so far this summer. He represented the U.S. at the Palmer Cup, lost in a playoff to Braden Thornberry at the Sunnehanna and then won the Northeast Amateur. More recently he was T-2 at the Trans-Miss Amateur. Great ballstriker who has greatly improved his short game this year. Could pair with a strong putter to form an almost unbeatable duo.

Stewart Hagestad (40; mid-amateur): Defending U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and low amateur at the Masters, Hagestad is a lock. He didn’t play particularly well at the U.S. Open, but he looked better in his T-21 finish at the Northeast. He also tied for 10th at the Trans-Miss. Plus, he brings a great knowledge of LACC to the table.

Scottie Scheffler (49): Starred on big stages at the NCAA Championship and the U.S. Open, where he finished T-36 to capture low-amateur honors at Erin Hills. However, his stock has taken a slight hit this past month after finishing outside the top 10 in the Northeast Amateur, Trans-Miss Amateur and Pac Coast Amateur. He’s safely on the team right now, but needs to play better at the U.S. Amateur.

Scott Harvey (57; mid-amateur): Despite the mid-am requirement being dropped to one, Harvey should still make the team. He was runner-up to Hagestad at the U.S. Mid-Amateur and he recently qualified for the U.S. Open. Then there were big victories at the Coleman and Thomas invitationals, the latter of which came at LACC. More recently he finished a disappointing T-23 at the Porter Cup. But he should have no worries when it comes to whether or not he’ll earn his second straight trip to the Walker Cup. Harvey hits the ball a mile and his wedge game is just as great.

Maverick McNealy (2): Represented the U.S. at the 2015 Walker Cup and brings a ton of experience to the table. However, some questioned earlier this summer whether McNealy deserved another spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team. He hasn’t played an amateur event this summer, though he’s teed it up in two majors (he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and British Open) and the John Deere Classic, where he was T-44 and looked good. He should be on the team, but he definitely can’t afford to miss match play again at the U.S. Amateur.

Cameron Champ (10): Has rocketed up the world rankings thanks to making the cut at the U.S. Open and his win at the Trans-Miss. Was also the stroke-play medalist at the North and South Amateur and recently finished runner-up to Doug Ghim at the Pac Coast. The long-hitter has arguably done enough to make the U.S. team, and he could pair nicely with fellow Texan and good friend Scottie Scheffler.

Sam Burns (19): After a stellar sophomore season at LSU in which he won four times and captured the Nicklaus Award, Burns got off to a slow start this summer. He struggled down the stretch at the NCAA Championship and Sunnehanna Amateur, but looked good in the final round at the Northeast, where he finished fifth. Last week he shined at the PGA Tour’s Barbasol Championship, tying for sixth. He’s putting off turning pro this fall in hopes of making the Walker Cup team, and now his chances are very much improved. He’s an intimidating matchup when he’s on his game; just ask the Europeans who played against him three years ago at the Junior Ryder Cup.

Dylan Meyer (4): This is where it gets tough. Meyer won the Western Amateur last year and made it to the quarterfinals of the 2016 U.S. Amateur. We all know what he can do in match play; he’s also showed his ability in the format at the last two NCAA Championships. He made the cut at the Web.com Tour’s Lincoln Land Charity Championship, but in his other two summer events missed the cut, at the Sunnehanna Amateur and the John Deere Classic.

Doug Ghim (7): So many deserving players for this last spot, but right now the edge has to go to Ghim. He recently won the Pac Coast and his summer also includes a fourth at the Northeast, T-14 at the Trans-Miss and a 4-0 performance at the Palmer Cup. He also was a second alternate for the U.S. Open. Consistency is his strength and you always know you’re going to get a smart, steady performance from the Texas senior.

NEXT FIVE

Will Zalatoris (9): Captain Miller is a big fan of Zalatoris’ competitiveness. The Wake Forest senior is a past USGA champion and had a solid year for the Demon Deacons. He recently missed the cut at the Web.com Tour’s Air Capital Classic, but was T-10 at the Trans-Miss before a third-place showing at the Pac Coast.

Sean Crocker (12): Spending his summer overseas and is performing. He made the cut at the BMW International Open on the European Tour and recently won an event in his native Zimbabwe, the Chapman Grand Slam. He also won the Italian Amateur this year and was 3-0-1 at the Palmer Cup. But it’s hard to pick him when he hasn’t played head to head against the top Americans this summer. Strong match-play pedigree and possesses a swagger that the U.S. team needs.

John Oda (32): Oda, like Zalatoris and Crocker, could very well make the U.S. team. He qualified for the U.S. Open at Erin Hills and recently was T-4 at the Sahalee Players and T-6 at the Pac Coast.

Nick Hardy (16): Made cut at the John Deere Classic and tied for 55th, and has played in two U.S. Opens in three years, though he missed out this summer. Finished T-8 at the Northeast and T-6 at Pac Coast. If he makes a run at the U.S. Amateur, he will have a good chance to make the U.S. team.

Noah Goodwin (13): The top-ranked junior will likely not get a nod this year, but he definitely is deserving. He recently won the U.S. Junior, a year after finishing second in the event. Also won the CB&I/Simplify Boys, one of the top AJGA events, earlier this year. Was T-11 at Sahalee and T-12 at Sunnehanna. Among favorites to play in 2019 Walker Cup.

 

SECOND FIVE

Sahith Theegala (69), Jimmy Stanger (22), Brad Dalke (59), Dawson Armstrong (14), Theo Humphrey (44)

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