Tyler STRAFACI won the 120th U.S. Amateur Championship at Bandon Dunes G.C. on Sunday 16th August 2020, beating Charles ‘Ollie’ Osborne by 1 Hole in the Final. In line with the July 2018 USGA announcement on their Walker Cup team selection process – see Appendix below – it is safe to assume that in doing so Strafaci secured the first playing spot on either team.
With the USGA also committed to including a mid-amateur on their roster Stewart HAGESTAD will have done himself no harm in reaching the Quarter Finals in Oregon. Hagestad lost to Strafaci by 1 Hole but must now be odds on to make his third consecutive Walker Cup appearance. The 2020 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 edition will not be staged until after the match.
On 21st December 2020 the USGA confirmed that the three highest ranked players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) as at 10th February 2021 would receive automatic exemptions onto the 2021 USA Walker Cup team. The date chosen is tied to the playing of the Jones Cup Invitational which finishes on 7th February. On the date of the announcement these three ‘places’ were held by Davis THOMPSON #2, Ricky CASTILLO #4 and John PAK #7.
Tyler Strafaci With The Havemayer Trophy (Photo: Steve Gibbons / USGA)
On 5th July 2018 the USGA announced changes to its team selection process ahead of the 2019 match at Royal Liverpool G.C.
We were advised that future 10-man USA Walker Cup teams, assuming a September fixture, would now be selected in two parts:–
1. a) The top 3 ranked U.S.A. players in the WAGR (prior to the U.S. Amateur)*.
2. a) The (2019) U.S. Amateur champion*;
2. b) The (2019) Mark H. McCormack Medal winner (Men’s WAGRTM No. 1 / announced immediately after the U.S. Amateur Championship*; and
2. c) The remaining selections, which will include at least one mid-amateur (25 years and older) player, will be decided by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee (ITSC).
*subject to the respective players being U.S. citizens and / or remaining amateur these individuals will now be automatically selected.
The 2021 match is being played in early May which has necessitated some slight moderations to the policy.
Selection is primarily driven by playing ability, with particular emphasis on USGA Championships, and world rankings. The USGA maintains an unpublished points system to assist the ITSC with these selections. The Committee are always keen to point out that integrity, team skills and good sportsmanship are important factors too.
John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships & Governance, said on the July 2018 changes: “Adding these elements of transparency to our selections helps players understand the process and aspire to earn coveted spots on these top teams.”
USGA International Team Selection Committee
The USGA’s 10 person International Team Selection (ITS) Committee selects the U.S.A. team.
Martha Lang has been Chairman of the ITS Committee since February 2018 and will complete her term of office at the next Annual Meeting on 26th February 2021. The former Curtis Cup player (1992) and captain (1996) from Alabama is the first women to Chair the ITS Committee but is one of a number to have previously sat on it.
Surprisingly the U.S. Captain, currently Nathanial Crosby, does not sit on the Committee and whilst he obviously advises and recommends players that is said to be the extent of his input into the team selection process.
Mid-Amateur Selection Policy
Nowadays there appears to be an ongoing debate within the USGA on the role Mid-Amateurs (over 25’s) should play in the U.S.A. Walker Cup team.
2011 and ’13 captain Jim Holtgrieve first suggested to the USGA that it may be beneficial for the mid-amateur community to have a clear Walker Cup incentive.
The USGA accepted this and in 2013 formally committed to including two mid-amateurs in all of their future Walker Cup teams.
However, after disappointing mid-amateur results in the 2013 and 2015 matches and some senior executive changes the USGA let it be known in April 2017 that they planned to soften this selection policy. The commitment was reduced to one and it was made clear that mid-amateur picks would need to have proven themselves in elite amateur competition during the year of the match.
The July 2018 tweak outlined above reaffirmed the single Mid-Amateur player commitment.
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