The History of the Walker Cup


The inaugural Walker Cup matches were contested in 1922 at the National Golf Links of America on Long Island. It was there that an outstanding United States team ' which included seven past and future national champions, including a young phenom named Bobby Jones ' won 8 to 4.
Thirty-six times more since then, teams have battled for the International Challenge trophy, donated in 1921 by George Herbert Walker.
One of those team members was none other than the great Jack Nicklaus.
It was a great thrill to stand up on the first tee, said a reflective Nicklaus of his playing days. Your shirts pounding out and youre sort of saying, Boy, this is pretty neat!
And it was fun, the 18-time major winner added. I enjoyed it a lot, and it was one of the steps that I had in my life of growing up in the game of golf.
Thats exactly what the Walker Cup has provided over the years: a history of great players, great shots and great emotion.
Until the mid 1990's, like most of the early Ryder Cup matches, the United States dominated the competition.
In 1993, at Interlachen, the Americans trounced the Great Britain & Ireland team in record-setting fashion, winning 19 to 5.
At the time, Team USA was 30-3-1 thru 35 matches, but things were about to change.
In 1995 at Royal Porthcawl in Wales, the heavily favored Americans ' led by reigning U.S. Amateur champion Tiger Woods ' appeared unbeatable, but they ran into trouble.
Despite being outdriven up to 75 yards all day by Tiger, European Gary Wolstenhome won the last hole to capture his singles match 1-up.
Twenty-four hours later, the Walker Cup, which had become known as the Walk-Over Cup in 1993, was again in the hands of the Europeans.
'The R&A and the GB&I team were under a lot of pressure because it used to be called the Walk-Over Cup, but I guarantee you its no longer a walkover,' GB&I player Joey Fanagan said after finishing with a 3-0 record at the '93 matches. 'We're just delighted as a team, we played well as a team and we're delighted.'
However, the Americans would get their revenge in 1997 at Quaker Ridge, blasting the visitors 18 to 6.
In 1999, the Great Britian and Ireland team rallied back on Sunday to win 10 of the 12 matches for a come-from-behind 15 to 9 victory.
Luke Donalds 4-0 record in that edition gave GB&I the backbone it needed to turn the tables on the Americans, and afterward, he expressed what the experience meant to him.
Playing for your country is something a little different than playing for yourself, said Donald, and its always a great honor and I was very nervous on that first tee this morning.
While Donalds great all-around play served as the catalyst for victory, it was reigning British Amateur champion Graeme Storm who sealed the deal on the weekend.
'Its incredible isn't it, said Storm following his match-clinching win. I didnt realize that was the putt to win it. I played really well today, we came back great! I mean, we worked really hard for this. Its unbelievable.'
Without doubt, there will be more unbelieveable moments this weekend at the Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.
But like John Harris (who is the winningest American golfer in Walker Cup history with a 6-0 record) once said: The game of golf is really the winner and were just happy to be a part of it.