Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the July 31 digital issue of Golfweek Magazine.
SOUTHPORT, England – When Great Britain and Ireland’s Walker Cup squad arrives at Los Angeles Country Club in September, it likely will be led by two Englishmen who have performed brilliantly this summer, individually and as a duo.
Alfie Plant and Harry Ellis are two of their region’s top amateurs. Plant captured low-amateur honors at the British Open at Royal Birkdale and won the European Amateur in early July. Ellis won this summer’s British Amateur, a victory that earned him spots in the British Open (he missed the cut) as well as next year’s Masters and U.S. Open.
Together, the two combined to go 3-0 in foursomes to help England finish runner-up at the European Amateur Team Championship in Austria. They added three more singles points between them, while Plant tied for second in the stroke-play portion and Ellis was T-8.
“I played in the Palmer Cup, so I know most of the guys that are going to be on the U.S. team. They’re going to have a very good team, but there’s no reason why we can’t go over there and do a job,” said Ellis, 21, a rising senior at Florida State. “… Alfie’s played great, as well, and depending on his selection – obviously, we had a great run last week in the foursomes at European Team – hopefully we’ll be a pairing (at the Walker Cup), as well.”
While Plant’s father, Darren, believes “without a doubt” that his son will represent GB&I in the Sept. 9-10 matches at LACC, Plant doesn’t want to make assumptions.
“You try and put yourself in selector’s shoes, and you don’t ever want to say you’re in it,” said Plant, 25. “I think if you always say you’re out of it, you’re always going to try to get better results and push forward.”
It is expected that GB&I captain Craig Watson will announce his 10-man squad Aug. 21. The selectors committee includes chairman Andy Ingram, as well as Michael Burns and three-time Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards, all of whom attended a dinner with several team candidates before the Lytham Trophy in May.
Ellis and Plant shouldn’t have to worry. Their inclusion on the team is all but a certainty. Others such as England’s Scott Gregory, last year’s British Amateur champ, and Wales’ David Boote, who played four years at Stanford, are part of a competitive race for the final eight spots.
The English, Scottish and Welsh amateur championships are set for early August, while the Irish Amateur this year will be contested after the Walker Cup team is finalized. Ellis, Plant, Gregory, Boote, Scotland’s Connor Syme and Robert MacIntyre, and Ireland’s Stuart Grehan are all exempt into the U.S. Amateur at Riviera. England’s Jack Singh Brar qualified for the U.S. Amateur, as well.
“If it was done on world rankings, I am third in terms of Great Britain and Ireland players at the moment, so hopefully that helps,” said Syme, who missed the cut at Royal Birkdale. “But you never know. It’s a team pick and hopefully I am the right fit.”
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The GB&I Walker Cup contenders: By the rankings
Here is a look at 20 top contenders for the 10 spots on the 2017 Great Britain and Ireland team for the Walker Cup on Sept. 9-10 at Los Angeles Country Club, listed in order of average rank between World Amateur Golf Ranking and Scratch Players ranking:
|Connor Syme||Drumoig, Scotland||11||13||12|
|Robert MacIntyre||Oban, Scotland||8||31||19.5|
|David Boote||Kingswood, Wales||27||27||27|
|Alfie Plant||Kent, England||26||34||30|
|Matthew Jordan||Hoylake, England||46||19||32.5|
|Scott Gregory||Hampshire, England||5||68||36.5|
|Craig Howie||Peebles, Scotland||50||44||47|
|Paul McBride||Dublin, Ireland||53||51||52|
|Jack Singh Brar||Romsey, England||83||26||54.5|
|Liam Johnston||Dumfries, Scotland||87||32||59.5|
|Jack Davidson||Newport, Wales||52||74||63|
|Harry Ellis||Southampton, England||90||47||68.5|
|John-Ross Galbraith||Antrim, Ireland||95||60||77.5|
|Stuart Grehan||Tullamore, Ireland||55||111||83|
|Robin Dawson||Faithlegg, Ireland||122||62||92|
|Daniel Brown||Bedale, England||84||104||94|
|Gian-Marco Petrozzi||Stoke-on-Trent, England||120||86||103|
|Harry Hall||Hayle, England||101||114||107.5|
|Sandy Scott||Naim, Scotland||167||83||125|
|Craig Ross||Glasgow, Scotland||102||178||140|