Amateur notebook: Palmer Cup preview

The U.S. team for the 2012 Palmer Cup (clockwise from top left): Blayne Barber, Derek Ernst, Corbin Mills, Patrick Rodgers, James White, Andrew Yun, Justin Thomas and Chris Williams.

The U.S. team for the 2012 Palmer Cup (clockwise from top left): Blayne Barber, Derek Ernst, Corbin Mills, Patrick Rodgers, James White, Andrew Yun, Justin Thomas and Chris Williams.

The 16th annual Palmer Cup -- an international, Ryder Cup-style competition between college standouts from the United States and Europe -- begins Thursday at Royal County Down in Newcastle, Northern Ireland.

The U.S. has won the last two matches -- no side has even won three in a row -- and leads the overall series, 8-6-1.

Here is a roster breakdown of each eight-player team:

TEAM USA (coached by SMU coach Josh Gregory)

• Blayne Barber: Posted a 2-1-1 record in leading the Americans to a Palmer Cup victory last year at The Stanwich Club. Represented the U.S. at the 2011 Walker Cup. Named a 2011-12 first-team All-American during junior season at Auburn, when he had seven top-5 finishes and broke the 36-year-old Auburn scoring average record (70.76).

• Derek Ernst: Five top-5 finishes during senior season at UNLV, including a victory at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. Lost in the finals of the 2011 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

• Corbin Mills: Won the Players Amateur and U.S. Publinx in consecutive events last year. Missed the cut at the 2012 Masters. Named third-team All-American during junior season at Clemson. Will turn pro later this summer, forgoing final year of eligibility.

• Patrick Rodgers: Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Won twice (10 top 10s in 12 starts) during freshman season at Stanford. Represented the U.S. at the 2011 Walker Cup. Last year’s victory at the Porter Cup was one of seven top-5 finishes in elite amateur events.

• Justin Thomas: Won numerous postseason awards, including Golfweek Player of the Year and Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Haskins awards. Captured four individual titles during his first season at Alabama, including the SEC Championship and NCAA regional. Also won the Jones Cup in February.

• James White: Graduated from Georgia Tech in May. Twice recognized as an All-American and three-time All-ACC selection. Shared 2012 Byron Nelson Award as nation’s top senior.

• Chris Williams: Became the University of Washington’s all-time wins leader (six) in 2011. Won Washington State Amateur by 10 shots, becoming the second-ranked amateur in the world. Went 2-0-2 at last year’s Palmer Cup.

• Andrew Yun: Six top 10s during junior year at Stanford, including individual title at Pac-12 Championship. Went 4-0 at last year’s Palmer Cup, becoming just the 13th player in the event’s history to post a perfect record in the matches.

TEAM EUROPE (coached by Swedish National Team coach Rickard Lindberg)

• David Booth: Won the Scottish Universities and R&A Foundation Scholars Championships, before tying for second at the Battle Trophy.

• Julien Brun: First-team All-American after freshman season at TCU, during which he won a program-record three times and tied for second at the NCAA Championship. First Frenchman to be named to Palmer Cup team.

• Sebastian Cappelen: Won Cabo Collegiate and had seven other top-15 finishes during sophomore season at Arkansas. Went 3-1 at last year’s Palmer Cup.

• Daan Huizing: Top-ranked player on European side. Won both the St. Andrews Links Trophy and Lytham Trophy this season. Also won seven other amateur titles since 2010.

• Robert Karlsson: Ten top-10 finishes during his final season at Liberty, during which he won both the conference title and tied for first at the NCAA regional. Was winless (0-2-2) in last year’s Palmer Cup.

• Thomas Pieters: Won 2012 NCAA Championship as sophomore at Illinois. Placed in the top 11 in 10 events for the Illini. First Belgian to be selected for Palmer Cup team.

• Graeme Roberston: Teammate of Booth’s at the University of Stirling. Won Craigmillar Park Open Amateur, and was a three-time winner in 2011 (European Universities, Edwards Trophy, South East District Open Am).

• Pontus Widegren: Three-time Palmer Cup participant (5-3 record overall). Four top 10s during his junior season at UCLA, including T-2 at Southern Highlands, the highest-ranked college event of the season.

MATCHUPS WE WANT TO SEE

• Justin Thomas/Patrick Rodgers (USA) vs. Daan Huizing/Julien Brun (Europe): Good friends Thomas and Rodgers each finished the college season inside the top 5 in Golfweek’s rankings, and Huizing and Brun are the top-ranked players on the Euro side. Would be fascinating to see these heavyweights together.

• Blayne Barber (USA) vs. Thomas Pieters (Europe): Pieters won the NCAA title in June at Riviera, so seeing one of the best American college golfers trying again to knock him off offers plenty of intrigue.

• James White/Derek Ernst (USA) vs. David Booth/Graeme Robertson (Europe): The American team would consist of two players who have graduated from college, and the Euro side has two players who play exclusively overseas. Until now, we know very little about them.

• Chris Williams (USA) vs. Pontus Widegren (Europe): Been battling in the Pac-12 for a number of years. Why not at Royal County Down, too?

SCHEDULE

Thursday, June 28:

• Four morning four-ball matches Morning matches

• Four afternoon foursomes matches

Friday, June 29:

• Eight singles matches

Saturday, June 30:

• Eight singles matches

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