Skip to main content

What Happened to US Walker Cuppers

15-9, the final count at Nairn in the 1999 Walker Cup, was supposed to have been an aberration. Turns out that it was a lot like a Freddy Kruger movie. The sequel was just as gruesome. Great Britain and Ireland ripped up the feel-good American script which had Danny Yates returning the Cup to U.S. soil and doing so in his beloved Georgia, where he and his uncle Charlie and his father Danny all won state amateur titles at Sea Island.

Yates stoically met the media after the onslaught and said, This is tough. I dont know if Ill be able to come back here real soon.
What happened?
Well, the U.S. Amateur finalists of a year ago, Jeff Quinney and James Driscoll, went 0-5. Quinney didnt even play on Sunday.
Its not an easy call to sit the U.S. Amateur champion, said Captain Yates, who made the decision. But he couldnt find the fairway, and on this course theres a premium on accuracy.
Quinney was understandably disappointed, but anyone who saw him play Saturday when he blew an early three up lead on Luke Donald could see he was lost, with four balls finding various hazards on the majestic but highly penal Ocean Forest layout.
Also, 49-year-old John Harris, who came in 6-0 in career singles play, failed to score a single point for the weekend.
As for Great Britain and Ireland, Luke Donald capped a brilliant amateur career with three points, including a victory in the opening singles match against hard-nosed Lucas Glover. Donald displays phenomenal control with his irons as well as his emotions and looks to be a potential major champion.
Another Englishman, Nick Dougherty, scored three points as well. The 19-year-old protg of Nick Faldo oozes personality and matched with his strong game it gives him a chance to be a superstar.
Great Britain and Ireland has now won three of the last four Walker Cup competitions. More of their young players are competing on a collegiate level here in the U.S. under the same conditions and with the same intense training as their U.S. counterparts. Luke Donald won the NCAA title at Northwestern in 1999. Graeme McDowell plays at Alabama-Birmingham, Jamie Elson finished second at the NCAAs this year while at Augusta State, and Michael Hoey spent a couple of years at Clemson.
Whats more, and this is not based on any scientific study but more of a gut feeling echoed by many in attendance, is that the U.S. players seem to be wound a bit too tightly. Perhaps theyre trying too hard, if thats possible.
Of course, criticism neednt be too harsh because these are amateurs and the effort was there, even if the desired result was not.
Ultimately, The Walker Cup is much like its professional equivalent, The Ryder Cup. The Europeans have gained significant ground in the last 20 years. In truth, with the Red, White and Blue having been thoroughly whipped in the last two tries and in three of the last four, its the U.S. that now must figure out how to close the gap on Great Britain and Ireland.