The Walker Cup is the pinnacle for an amateur golfer and many top professionals in the game today have graced the biennial event.
Tiger Woods, currently on the comeback trail after a lengthy injury absence, made his one appearance back in 1995 and went on to win 14 majors, while Rory McIlroy played in 2007 before turning professional later in that year.
GB & Ireland triumphed during the 2015 Walker Cup in Lancashire (UK). Now many on that side of the world will be hoping they can replicate the victory, as the best from Great Britain and Ireland travel to Los Angeles Country Club in September for the 46th Walker Cup.
While the team from across the Atlantic cannot call on any stars from continental Europe, they have held their own in recent years, attaining honours in the last ten editions of the prestigious event.
With both the American and GB & Ireland on equal footing with five wins each since 1997, all eyes will be on the prize this year. America certainly has a lot to prove after being bested two years’ prior at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Back then, it was Welshman Nigel Edwards who captained his men to glory in Lancashire, cunningly taking out John ‘Spider’ Miller’s charges. With Craig Watson as skipper for the team of 10 this time around, there’ll be plenty to prove – though there won’t be any prize apart from prestige for the squad.
An initial 19-man squad has been announced by the R&A for the match to be played over the weekend of September 9-10. However, Watson has made it clear that the door is not closed for those who missed out on initial selection.
Technically, official announcements don’t actually occur till later in the year. However, on the US-side, many are placing their bets upon Maverick McNealy making the cut. The amateur is the top ranking in the world, and looks set to graduate from the prestigious Stanford university this spring.
Other golfers who are in the running on the US side are Dylan Meyer, Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler. All rank highly, with Meyer coming in seventh at the Jones Cup.
As for Great Britain and Ireland, 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory is said to be part of a core group of Englishmen in the provisional line up. He is joined by the likes of English Amateur Champion Daniel Brown.
With America set to play on home turf this time round, it certainly looks as though the team from GB & Ireland will have to work hard to defend their current title. Whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be an exciting game. Even sports tipsters are getting in on a piece of the action in golf these days, offering everything from golf betting tips to free bets.
As for the more immediate future, keep your eyes peeled for the year’s first major, The Masters, taking place in April at Augusta National. Expect to see the likes of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson challenge McIlroy for the Green Jacket.