Walker Cup hopefuls take steps to shore up selection
Sunday, March 6, 2011
It might only be March, but the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team – set to take on the United States at Royal Aberdeen, Scotland, Sept. 10-11 – is beginning to take shape.
Michael Stewart, Laurie Canter and Stiggy Hodgson took great strides toward places in the 10-man GB&I team with good performances in different parts of the world recently.
Stewart won the South African Amateur Championship March 4 when he defeated countryman Paul Shields 5&4 in the 36-hole final at Vaal de Grace Estate Golf Club. Canter, meanwhile, hammered Hodgson 11&10 to win the Spanish Amateur March 6.
All three players are already in the GB&I Walker Cup squad but have stolen a march on other squad members with their performances in South Africa and Spain.
Hodgson is looking for his second consecutive appearance in the biennial match. The diminutive Englishman was the surprise package at Merion two years ago when he won two and lost two in a losing GB&I effort.
The Englishman struggled with the weight of expectation in 2010. He didn’t figure in the big amateur events in the UK, and then failed to advance to the final stage of the European Tour qualifying School.
Despite the margin of his loss to Canter in Spain, Hodgson is a little bulldog in match play. GB&I captain Nigel Edwards will want Hodgson on the team he takes to Aberdeen, and will be hoping for a big summer from Hodgson.
Canter first came to prominence when he won last year’s South African Amateur Championship. The Englishman backed it up with victories back home in the West of England Stroke Play and the Hampshire Hog, and helped England win the European Men’s Team Championship and the Home Internationals.
Stewart spent two years at East Tennessee State University under the tutelage of coach Fred Warren. However, he quit college golf early to focus on playing full-time amateur golf. Victory in South Africa would seem to justify that decision.
Stewart, along with fellow Scot James Byrne, was already in pole position to play at Royal Aberdeen following his victory in last year’s Scottish Amateur Championship. The 21-year-old would seem a natural to play at Royal Aberdeen since he hails from Troon and feels comfortable playing links golf.
The GB&I Team will be selected following the conclusion of the English, Scottish and Welsh Amateur Championships July 30. Canter, Stewart and Hodgson have a head start on the pack.