Staff predictions: Walker Cup
Golfweek’s reporters have descended on Merion Golf Club for the 42nd Walker Cup. Here are their predictions:
Winning Team: USA, 14-12. Both teams are young, but I think the Americans will prevail. They should get an added boost with the American crowd. Just hope they don’t put too much pressure on themselves to win for captain Buddy Marucci at his home club.
Man of the Match: Brian Harman. he is feisty, fiery, and one of those guys who just plain hates to lose. He's struggled a little bit for a while, but is ready to make a point and a big splash as he ends his amateur career.
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Winning team: United States, 13 1/2, 12 1/2. The Americans, led by captain Buddy Marrucci (and all the home-course advantages that brings), will struggle on Day 1 but will rebound on Day 2 and make a final singles session run to squeak out the victory. Like a Ryder Cup, GB&I seems a little less affected early on here at Merion and that will show Saturday morning; but it will wake up the Americans (especially those who fell asleep in the locker room Friday during the downpours) for Sunday. Random predictions: I like Bud Cauley to go undefeated, and Adam Mitchell to clinch the final point against Sam Hutsby.
Men of the match: Brian Harman/Peter Uihlein. On a team with more reserved players than rowdy ones, Harman and Uihlein will step it up in both the swinging and screaming/shouting departments, boosting the U.S. to a hard-fought victory (We all know Drew Weaver can get a little excited, too). I also really like the possible pairings of Harman-Morgan Hoffmann and Uihlein-Nathan Smith, the latter of which supposedly won most of its matches over the several days of practice. Watch out for Cauley, too. He’s so unassuming it’s scary – or at least he should be to GB&I.
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Take 5: Walker Cup Friday
Winning team: GB&I, 13.5-12.5
As a Scot I’ve got to go with GB&I. The U.S. might have home-field advantage but this is a strong GB&I team. They probably know each other a lot better than the U.S. team simply because they have spent an awful lot of time together. They’ve had three squad sessions in the last year to prepare for this match and team harmony is excellent. The seven English players play an awful lot of team golf together so consider those players a team within a team. It will be a close match but I think GB&I are just going to shade it.
Man of the match: Wallace Booth. Wallace is so pumped up for this he can hardly wait for the match to start. He spent four years at Augusta State University so he is very comfortable in the U.S. He's strong and athletic and he has set his sights on ending his amateur career on a winning Walker Cup team. I think he'll rise to the occasion.
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Winning team: GB&I, 13.5 to 12.5: I don’t know why, but it seems to me the GB&I side is more relaxed. Buddy Marucci is expected to win on his home course and the pressure will be on him and his guys. The other guys from across the pond are young and staying loose for this week’s competition. Also, if the winds keep getting stronger and faster one would think it gives GB&I an advantage.
Man of the match: Brian Harman. There is no doubt in my mind Harman will be a part of the loudest match. He produces energy, works off energy, and flat out is full of energy. He will be a fan favorite if he gives the fans something to cheer about.