BROOKLINE, Mass. – No American is left at the 113th U.S. Amateur, but the all-international final four might actually be good news for the Walker Cup hopefuls.
That means there are effectively three spots up for grabs when the team is likely announced Sunday. Had an American (who wasn’t already among the five players selected to the team) won the U.S. Amateur, he would be virtually guaranteed a spot on the 10-man roster. Now, there are five available picks, with two reserved for the mid-am players – a new, U.S.-only rule for this year – which will most likely go to Nathan Smith and Todd White.
Michael Kim, Max Homa, Justin Thomas, Cory Whitsett and Patrick Rodgers have already been named to the U.S. team, with only Rodgers advancing to the match-play portion of the U.S. Amateur.
Jordan Niebrugge, Michael Weaver, Bobby Wyatt, Scottie Scheffler, Sean Dale and Brandon Hagy are in the mix for the final three spots, but it’s a secretive process, and the best players aren’t always selected. (Just ask John Peterson in 2011.)
Niebrugge has enjoyed the best summer of those six players, and perhaps of any WalkerCupper, after winning the U.S. Amateur Public Links, Wisconsin Amateur and Western Amateur in consecutive weeks.
Weaver was a U.S. Amateur runner-up a year ago and has followed up that performance with another consistent, if unspectacular campaign.
Wyatt, an integral part of Alabama’s national-championship team, seemed like a lock for the team before a sub-par summer that ended with a loss in the Round of 64 here.
Scheffler could be the wildcard pick, as the soon-to-be high-school senior won the U.S. Junior and then advanced to the quarterfinals here at the U.S. Amateur. The selection committee likes to see that kind of match-play record, and it has shown a tendency in the past to select a young player – think Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth – to prepare him for future team competitions.
Dale, who delayed turning pro to try and earn a spot on the team, won the Jones Cup and reached the finals of the Western Amateur, while Hagy, a member of Cal’s historic team, has a strong match-play record, is one of the longest hitters in college golf, and can rack up birdies in bunches.
Fortunately, the Walker Cup speculation ends Sunday.