Tournament: The Walker Cup
Course: Royal County Down, Northern Ireland
See greats pictures of RCD
Course Details: Par 71, 7,181 yards. As befitting one of the world?s very best courses, RCD boasts a ?who?s-who? of the game?s greatest ever course designers. Old Tom Morris was first employed to build a championship course at Newcastle, paid 4 guineas in 1889. It was re-modelled in 1900 by George Coombe before Harry Vardon took over in 1908. The final touches were put on it in 1926 by Harry Colt. With the towering Mountains of Mourne on one side and the insatiable Irish Sea the over, it is the perfect spot for a truly spectacular golf course.
The breath-taking stage is set and the cream of the amateur game from both sides of the Atlantic are ready to do battle in the 38th Walker Cup. The biennial match play tournament has attracted huge levels of interest this year, thanks to the host course and the quality of players on both sides. The expected record 40,000 visitors are in for something special.
Leading the GB & Ireland charge will be Rory McIlroy, recent winner of the Silver Medal at the Open Championship. The 18-year-old is poised to turn professional after the two-day competition and has the eyes of the golfing world on him, having come 42nd at Carnoustie. ?I?m just really looking forward to it,? said McIlroy. “I think the atmosphere on the first tee come Saturday morning is going to be electric and with the crowds walking with you on the fairways it creates a buzz around the place.”
The American side has its very own head-turning star, with current US Amateur champion Colt Knost leading the World Amateur Rankings. Knost, who has not lost a match play game this year, has enjoyed a stellar season in the USA, adding the US Amateur to the 2007 US Public Links Championship. He has been well and truly knocked over by the standard of RCD. ?I’ve played Pebble Beach, the Olympic Club, Merion but this one is pretty unbelievable,” Knost said. “No hole is alike out there and it’s very, very challenging. You have to hit so many different shots. You can’t scrape it around out here. You miss-hit a shot and you’re going to pay the penalty for it.?
The USA lead the Walker Cup standings by 31-5-1 but it is only in the last few years that it has become truly competitive. GB & Ireland have taken four of the last five but the USA edged a real nail-bitter last time out in Chicago. The 2005 match was nip and tuck from the first day and in the Americans took it 12.5 to 11.5.
As you can see from below both sides are packed with talent. Aside from McIlroy, Rhys Davies, who played in the US Open this year, Lloyd Saltman, winner of four titles in five weeks this summer, and Jamie Moul, world amateur number one for 16 weeks, will be among those spearheading GB&Ire?s challenge. In the absence of the phenomenal Gary Wolstenholme, three-time WC veteran Nigel Edwards will be adding his experience.
For the USA, Knost will be joined by Jonathan Moore, 2006 NCAA winner and participant at this year?s US Open, Rickie Fowler, winner of the Players Amateur Championship and Webb Simpson, semi-finalist at this year?s US Amateur championship. The 35-year-old Trip Kuhene, a two-time Walker-Cupper will be providing the experience.
The Walker Cup gets underway on Saturday 8.30am with four foursomes matches followed by eight singles matches. The format is repeated on Sunday. Golf Monthly will have a full rundown of all the action on Sunday evening.
Cpt: Colin Dalgleish
Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye)
Rhys Davies (Royal Porthcawl)
Nigel Edwards (Whitchurch)
David Horsey (Styal)
Llewellyn Matthews (Southerndown)
Rory McIlroy (Holywood)
Jamie Moul (Stoke-by-Nayland)
John Parry (Harrogate)
Lloyd Saltman (Craigielaw)
Daniel Willett (Rotherham)
Cpt: George ?Buddy? Marucci
Rickie Fowler (Murrieta)
Billy Horschel (Grant)
Dustin Johnson (Myrtle Beach)
Chris Kirk (Woodstock)
Colt Knost (Dallas)
Trip Kuehne (Irving)
Jamie Lovemark (Rancho Santa Fe)
Jonathan Moore (Vancouver)
Webb Simpson (Raleigh)
Kyle Stanley (Gig Harbor)