The U.S.G.A.’s International Team Selection Committee announced the remaining members of their 2019 Walker Cup team shortly after the conclusion of play at the U.S. Amateur Championship on Sunday 18th August 2019.The following players were added to the U.S.A roster for the match at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 7-8 September 2019: –
John AUGENSTEIN (21) – U.S. Amateur runner-up Steven FISK (22) Andy OGLETREE (21) – U.S. Amateur champion John PAK (20) Isaiah SALINDA (22) Alex SMALLEY (22) Brandon WU (22)
They join: –
Cole HAMMER (19) Akshay BHATIA (17) Stewart HAGESTAD (28)
who were all selected on Wednesday 24th July 2019 based on their World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR). They were the three highest ranked U.S.A. players on that date.
Chandler PHILLIPS (22) and Ricky CASTILLO (18) are the first and second alternates respectively.
2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup Team (photo: Fox Sports / USGA TV Graphic)
The WAGR has ranked Cole Hammer 1st, Akshay Bhatia 4th and Stewart Hagestad 5th today and they are the three leading U.S. players on the list.
My views on the accuracy of the WAGR are well known and as such I am not convinced that this was a sensible idea by the USGA. Yes, by all means announce some players early but don’t use the WAGR (alone) to determine who they are would have been my advice.
All three players attended the December 2018 USGA practice session in Florida so were clearly in the mix already.
As an advocate of the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) my immediate response to these selections is to view where these players sit in this alternative and better ranking, particularly in the U.S. players-only list. Here is the answer (as at 12 noon on 24th July): –
Cole Hammer #2 (1st in the U.S.A.)
Akshay Bhatia #67 (37th in the U.S.A.)
Stewart Hagestad #33 (16th in the U.S.A.)
Whilst I would certainly not suggest that either Bhatia or Hagestad are weak players I imagine many of their peers, certainly those ranked well above them in the SPWAR, are questioning what is going on however transparent the policy may have been.
Stewart Hagestad is of course a mid-amateur and therefore his early inclusion fulfils the USGA’s commitment to include one player aged over 25 on the U.S.A. team.
The seven remaining players will be selected by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee on or shortly after 18th August 2019, the day the U.S. Amateur Championship finishes.
The Committee will gain additional selections if one of the above three players wins the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship or wins the 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner (Men’s WAGR No. 1). Should another U.S. player secure either of these honours they will be automatically selected to the team.
The 47th Walker Cup match will take place at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 7th-8th September 2019.
The USGA’s International Team and The R&A Men’s Selection Committees have invited various players to attend 2019 Walker Cup practice sessions in December.
The U.S. gathering is scheduled to take place between December 14th– 18th at Seminole G.C. in Florida.
16 players will be in attendance (current SPWAR / WAGR): –
John AUGENSTEIN – Owensboro, Kentucky (6 / 27) Akshay BHATIA – Wake Forest, North Carolina (104 / 29) Will GORDON – Davidson, North Carolina (9 / 37) Stewart HAGESTAD – Newport Beach, California (80 / 15) Cole HAMMER – Houston, Texas (15 / 11) Brandon MANCHENO – Jacksonville, Florida (39 / 50) Bryson NIMMER – Bluffton, South Carolina (11 / 38) Kevin O’CONNELL – Cary, North Carolina (270 / 21) Matt PARZIALE – Brockton, Massachusetts (130 / 155) Chandler PHILLIPS – Huntsville, Texas (22 / 12) Trent PHILLIPS – Inman, South Carolina (105 / 37) * Isaiah SALINDA – South San Francisco, California (13 / 32) Alex SMALLEY – Wake Forest, North Carolina (16 / 24) Tyler STRAFACI – Davie, Florida (21/ 75) Matthew WOLFF – Agoura Hills, California (14 / 5) Brandon WU – Scarsdale, New York (19 / 47)
* Davis RILEY – Hattiesburg, Mississippi (10 / 8) withdrew on 25th November having decided to forego his final semester of eligibility at Alabama University and turn professional. He was replaced by Trent PHILLIPS.
Stewart Hagestad is the only member of the 2017 USA Team who will attend the practice session and one of three mid-amateurs invited; the others being Matt Parziale and Kevin O’Connell.
The absence of Collin Morkikawa (2 / 2), Braden Thornberry (3 / 3) and Justin Suh (4 / 1) suggests all three have made their intentions to turn Pro at the end of the current U.S. College season known to the USGA.
Zachary Bauchou (12 / 18) and Philip Knowles (20 / 69) are two of the more noteworthy U.S. players missing from the list.
John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships said: “This practice session presents an excellent opportunity for the players, the captain (Nathaniel Crosby) and the USGA to become familiar with each other as we begin the process of team selection. While these 16 talented individuals represent the first pool of potential team members, we expect many others will be considered as the selection process moves toward its conclusion next August.”
Looking back at recent Walker Cup practice sessions six of the 16 players named in 2017 made the final 10-man USA Team whilst nine of the 16 did so in both 2013 and 2015.
The final 2019 USA Walker Cup team will potentially include five automatic selections drawn from: –
– the top 3 USA players in the WAGR (as of early August).
– the 2019 U.S. Amateur champion (if eligible);
– the Mark H. McCormack Award winner (WAGR world No.1 immediately after U.S. Amateur – if eligible);
The remaining five to seven U.S. players will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee after the U.S. Amateur concludes.
The R&A, who chose not to make a formal announcement, have also recently invited a group of players to a practice session to be held at the 2019 venue Royal Liverpool G.C. on 18-19 December 2018 *.
Unfortunately the dates clash with the South Beach International Amateur which a number of Great British and Irish players have already committed to. Amongst those planning to be in South Florida and high in the rankings are Jake BURNAGE (ENG), Conor GOUGH (ENG), David LANGLEY (ENG), Ben JONES (ENG), Joe PAGDIN (ENG), Tom PLUMB (ENG) and Robin WILLIAMS (ENG). I assume all of them will be sending their apologies.
*Subsequently photos were released by The R&A reporting that 10 players attended the two day session. These were: –
Bailey GILL (ENG) Alex FITZPATRICK (ENG) Jake HAPGOOD (WAL) Billy MCKENZIE (ENG) Conor PURCELL (IRE) Caolan RAFFERTY (IRE) Sandy SCOTT (SCO) Jamie STEWART (SCO) Tom THURLOWAY (ENG) Euan WALKER (SCO)