- Alistair Tait
Who’ll suffer Walker Cup woe this year?
Hard to believe Sam Burns nearly overcame a stellar field to win the Genesis Invitational yesterday yet wasn’t considered good enough for the US Walker Cup team.
Burns isn’t the first player to induce head scratching at being left out of the best team contest in amateur golf. The guy pictured knows all about that.
Assuming the R&A and USGA ignores my plea to delay the match to give Great Britain & Ireland adequate time to prepare for this year’s May meeting at Seminole Golf Club (Why would they? They haven’t listened to me for years.) then we’re getting close to the selection of both teams. Wonder who’ll suffer Burns’s fate this year.
Burns was an All-American during his time at Louisiana State University, a Jack Nicklaus Award winner. He qualified for the 2016 US Open and helped the US win the 2017 Palmer Cup. He was considered a lock for the 2017 US team for uber-snooty Los Angeles Country Club. Yet he didn’t make the 10-man side.
There will be those who say the USGA hierarchy got team selection spot on because the home side romped to an easy victory. Wrong. The score doesn’t validate team selection. Any team should include the best available players.
To this day Burns must wonder what he did to upset the USGA hierarchy.
Ditto for Brandt Snedeker. The nine-time PGA Tour winner and 2012 FedEx Cup champion seemed a certainty to play in the 2003 Walker Cup, but never got the call despite winning a USGA title. Along with the Southeastern Conference Championship as a star at Vanderbilt University, Snedeker won the US Public Links Championship. Yet when the USGA’s team of selectors chose the side to travel to Ganton Golf Club, Snedeker wasn’t on it.
To be fair to US captain Bob Lewis, he didn’t have final say over the 10-man team. A committee made the choice. Can you imagine Jürgen Klopp or Bill Belichick not having final say about who plays in their teams?
John Peterson suffered the same fate as Burns and Snedeker for the 2011 match. He was the reigning NCAA champion, yet never made the trip to Royal Aberdeen as Jim Holtgrieve’s side failed to defend the trophy the US had won at Merion two years previously.
That 2011 Walker Cup is significant for another anomaly. Local boy David Law was controversially left of the GB&I team even though he had more knowledge of the golf course than anyone else in the GB&I squad.
Richard Finch was a regular in the England team when he was an amateur. The Hull native won the 2002 English Amateur and delayed turning professional to play in the 2003 Walker Cup at Ganton. Like Snedeker, he didn’t get fitted for a Walker Cup blazer. And also like Snedeker, he had the last laugh. Finch won two European Tour titles. Oliver Wilson was the only member of that victorious GB&I team to lift a European Tour trophy, winning the 2014 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
These are just a few recent examples. Space does not permit me to list all the unfortunate Walker Cup snubs. I just wonder who’ll suffer Walker Cup woe this year.
#JustSaying: “Anyone can be beaten in 18-hole match play.” Oliver Wilson