The American Walker Cup team arrived in Scotland looking like an amateur juggernaut.
With the biennial competition beginning with opening ceremonies Friday at Royal Aberdeen and the matches on Saturday and Sunday on the Balgownie Links, Ladbrokes have made the Americans a heavy 4/9 favorite to defeat Great Britain & Ireland for a fourth consecutive time.
The Americans look unbeatable on paper. They feature amateur world No. 1 and NCAA Player of the Year Patrick Cantlay, two U.S. Amateur champs (Peter Uihlein and Kelly Kraft), two winners of Nationwide Tour events this summer (Russell Henley and Harris English), two-time U.S. Junior champ Jordan Spieth and three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Nathan Smith.
But before you bet your house on another United States’ victory, consider that American juggernauts have struggled on foreign turf in recent competitions. Though the U.S. holds a 34-7-1 lead over 90 years of the competition, GB & I has won three of the last four on its own turf. And the ’07 American team that won in that span barely escaped with a victory at Royal County Down in Ireland despite being loaded up with eight players who now make their living on the PGA Tour. That American team included Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk, Jamie Lovemark, Kyle Stanley, Colt Knost and Billy Horschel but won by a single point.
GB&I will be looking to take advantage meeting the Americans on a classic links course in conditions that should favor the hosts. GB&I is led by Tom Lewis, the Englishman who was low amateur at this summer’s British Open; Jack Senior, a semifinalist at last month’s U.S. Amateur; and Stiggy Hodgson, who won two points for GB&I in the Walker Cup loss at Merion two years ago.