USGA names three more to Walker Cup team
Three more spots on the U.S. Walker Cup team were filled Sunday with the USGA’s selection of Patrick Rodgers, Nathan Smith and Chris Williams. No surprises there. All three players have won big titles this summer.
Rodgers won the Porter Cup after a series of high finishes at top amateur events. Nathan Smith, a three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, won the Sunnehanna Amateur. Williams won the Sahalee Players Championship and Pacific Coast Amateur, as well as the 72-hole stroke-play portion at the Western Amateur.
The biggest surprise Sunday was the omission of John Peterson, winner of the Jones Cup and NCAA Championship and runner-up to Harris English at the Nationwide Tour’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational. Few players have had more successful seasons than Peterson, a recent LSU graduate.
Three spots remain on the 10-man team that will face Great Britain & Ireland Sept. 10-11 at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Aberdeen, Scotland. The USGA likely will name the team's final three members after the upcoming U.S. Amateur.
The USGA’s decision to leave three spots open until after the U.S. Amateur is testament to the tight race under way. In 2007 and 2009, the USGA left two spots open entering the U.S. Amateur. It appears, with so many qualified players vying to represent the United States against Great Britain & Ireland, that the USGA wants more time to evaluate potential candidates. Leaving three spots open also gives the USGA more flexibility should an unheralded American win the Amateur. Though there are no guarantees in the Walker Cup selection process, it is all but certain that the U.S. Amateur champion, if American, will be selected to the team.
Here’s a breakdown of how the Walker Cup race stands as we enter the home stretch:
ON THE TEAM
• Patrick Cantlay, Los Alamitos, Calif.
• Harris English, Thomasville, Ga.
• Russell Henley, Macon, Ga.
• Patrick Rodgers, Avon, Ind.
• Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh
• Peter Uihlein, Orlando, Fla.
• Chris Williams, Moscow, Idaho
IN THE RUNNING
8. John Peterson, Fort Worth, Texas (LSU)
Last ranked: 5
Recent results: 6th, Porter Cup; 2nd, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational; Won, NCAA Championship; Won, Jones Cup
The skinny: It’s shocking that he hasn’t been selected to the team yet. It’s hard to imagine him not being picked eventually.
9. Jordan Spieth, Dallas (Texas)*
Last ranked: 7
Recent results: Quarterfinals, Western Amateur; 3rd, Western Amateur stroke play; Won, U.S. Junior Amateur; 32nd, HP Byron Nelson Championship; 5th, Azalea Amateur; 2nd, Jones Cup
The skinny: An impressive performance at the Western Amateur will help Spieth’s chances of becoming the second incoming college freshman to make this year’s team (Rodgers).
10. Corbin Mills, Easley, S.C. (Clemson)
Last ranked: 9
Recent results: 18th, Western Amateur stroke play; 26th, Porter Cup; 4th, Palmetto Amateur; Won, Players Amateur; Won, U.S. Amateur Public Links; Medalist, U.S. Amateur Public Links
The skinny: Making the Sweet 16 would’ve been a huge boost to his candidacy. He came up one shot short, though.
• • •
ON THE BUBBLE
11. Andrew Putnam, University Place, Wash. (Pepperdine)*
Last ranked: 13
Recent results: Quarterfinals, Western Amateur; 11th, Western Amateur stroke play; 9th, Pacific Coast Amateur; 4th, Sahalee Players Championship; 10th, Northeast Amateur; 17th, Sunnehanna Amateur
The skinny: Playing well at the Western Amateur put Putnam back in the conversation. He still has work to do, though.
• • •
12. Andrew Yun, Chandler, Ariz. (Stanford)*
Last ranked: NR
Recent results: Quarterfinals, Western Amateur; 11th, Western Amateur stroke play; 6th, Porter Cup; 9th, Players Amateur
The skinny: This first-team All-American has worked his way up the rankings with steady play, but still has work to do.
13. Blayne Barber, Lake City, Fla. (Auburn)*
Last ranked: 11
Recent results: MC, Western Amateur; 5th, Southern Amateur; 3rd, Northeast Amateur
The skinny: Barber, and all the names behind him on this list, likely will need a good run at the U.S. Amateur to make the team.
• • •
14. James White, Acworth, Ga. (Georgia Tech)
Last ranked: 12
Recent results: 76th, Porter Cup; MC, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational; 5th, Players Amateur; 2nd, Northeast Amateur; 8th, Sunnehanna Amateur
The skinny: White, a first-team All-American, has been steady this summer but has been passed by players who’ve recently added big titles to their resumes.
• • •
15. Bank Vongvanij, Gainesville, Fla. (Florida)
Last ranked: 14
Recent results: MC, Western Amateur; 21st, Porter Cup; MC, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational; 5th, Northeast Amateur
The skinny: Vongvanij was a first-team All-American this year but has a relatively slim amateur resume.
• • •
16. David Chung, Fayetteville, N.C. (Stanford)*
Last ranked: 15
Recent results: 27th, Western Amateur stroke play; 72nd, Porter Cup; T-53, Southern Amateur; 28th, Northeast Amateur
The skinny: Few players had better seasons in 2010 than Chung. He’s searching to find his game, though. The Western Amateur was a step in the right direction, though. He’ll need to play well at the U.S. Amateur.
Others to watch (alphabetical order):
Zac Blair, Brad Benjamin, Luke Guthrie, John Hahn, Kelly Kraft, Scott Langley, Gregor Main, Ethan Tracy, Bobby Wyatt, Andrew Yun.