Coltart eyes home-course edge for Palmer Cup

James Ross will play for Europe in the 2014 Palmer Cup (shown here during NCAA regional play earlier this year for the Houston Cougars).

Andrew Coltart is hoping home-course advantage will help Europe win the Palmer Cup for the eighth time. The European captain thinks Walton Heath Golf Club might favor his team over the United States.

Walton Heath is one of England’s classic inland courses. However, recent dry conditions in the British Isles means the golf course should play hard and fast, like a classic links.

“Both teams are very good and very talented, but hopefully the golf course will favor us more than them,” Coltart said. “My team should be used to playing on hard and fast courses because the guys have played a lot of links golf.”

The former European Ryder Cup player should benefit from having three fellow countrymen on his side. San Diego’s Grant Forrest, James Ross of Houston and University of Stirling player Jack McDonald are the three Scottish players selected to the European side.

All three grew up playing links golf and should feel right at home with the linksy conditions Walton Heath should serve up. However, Coltart, a two-time European Tour winner, knows the American college players have the skills to handle the conditions.

“The ball is going to have to be played a lot on the ground just like links golf, which is different to the way they play in America,” Coltart said. “So in theory my team should have the edge, but the American players are really talented and should adapt quite easily.”

Nine of Coltart’s team members played in the recent Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush. The three Scots made it through to the match play stages along with Belgium’s Thomas Detry, Jon Rahm of Spain, Ireland’s Paul Dunne and Portuguese amateur Ricardo Gouveia. Spain’s Pep Angles and Henry Tomlinson of England failed to qualify, while Sweden’s Erik Oja was the only member not to play in Northern Ireland.

At least one American player will be used to the conditions. Recent University of California graduate Brandon Hagy played in last week’s Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and qualified for the match-play stages. He would have gone further than the second round if not for an inspired burst from Switzerland’s Mathias Eggenberger, who birdied the 18th hole to force extra holes and then closed out Hagy with a birdie to half the first extra hole and an eagle to win the second and the match.

U.S. captain Steve Desimone has the world’s number one and three players respectively in Georgia Tech’s Oliver Schniederjans and Robbie Shelton of Alabama. Moreover, LSU’s Stewart Jolly is coming off a victory in the Northeast Amateur.

Excellent talent in the shape of Wyndham Clark of Oklahoma State, SMU’s Bryson Dechambeau, Southern California rising sophomore Rico Hoey, Anthony Maccaglia of Oglethorpe, Florida State’s Jack Maguire and Shelton’s Alabama teammate Trey Mullinax fills out Desimone’s team.

In other words, enough talent to win the Palmer Cup.

The United States leads the series 9-7-1. Coltart will be hoping to turn that middle digit into an eight.

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