On the eastern end of the Atlantic, many old-time musical hall jokes begin with the line “a Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman walk into a bar.” The Walker Cup matches are similar but a lot more serious, of course. The team that will represent Great Britain & Ireland in the two-day biennial contest that is returning to St. Andrews, Sept 2-3, for the first time in 48 years is comprised of four Irishmen, three Englishmen, two Scots and a lone Welshman.
As ever, the team is young, with an average age of just over 22. Only 30-year-old Irishman Matthew McClean, last year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, is older than 24. McClean is joined by compatriots Alex Maguire, (winner of this year’s St. Andrews Links Trophy), Lian Nolan (Brabazon Trophy winner and South American Amateur champion) and Wake Forest graduate Mark Power, one of only two holdovers from the 2021 team that lost to the Americans at Seminole.
The two Scots competing on home ground are 17-year-old Conor Graham, the youngest member of the side and holder of the R&A’s Junior Open, and Calum Scott, who follows brother Sandy, as a Walker Cup player. The elder Scott was a member of the losing team at Hoylake four years ago.
The English representation is led by the other returnee from 2021, Stanford stand-out Barclay Brown, who is joined by 2021 British Boys champion and Florida State freshman, Jack Bigham and John Gough, the 2022 Lytham Trophy winner who this year added the Australian “Master of the Amateurs” title to his CV and whose younger brother, Conor, played Walker Cup golf in 2019.
Rounding out the team is James Ashfield, the 2022 Welsh Amateur champion who was the leading points scorer for Wales in the recent Home International tournament that features sides from each of the four countries that make up every Walker Cup team.
GB& I will captain for a second straight time is Scotland’s Stuart Wilson. A Walker Cup player at Ganton in 2003, the Forfar-native won the Amateur Championship at St. Andrews a year later, as well as the silver medal as the leading amateur in the Open Championship at Royal Troon in 2004.
“We have selected 10 players who we believe will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against the United States of America,” Wilson said in a statement. “This is their opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in amateur golf and have their name written alongside some of the greatest names in the history of the sport by winning the Walker Cup. There is arguably no more iconic venue in the world to achieve that feat than on the Old Course in St Andrews.
“We look forward to the challenge of winning the match next week and I know these players will give it their all to win back the trophy in front of a home crowd.”
No easy task. Currently, the U.S. leads the overall series 38-9-1, has won the past three editions and seven of the last nine dating back to 2005.
2005/Chicago Golf Club: U.S. wins 12½-11½
2007/Royal County Down: U.S. wins 12½-11½
2009/Merion Golf Club: U.S. wins 16½-9½
2011/Royal Aberdeen: GB&I wins 14-12
2013/National Golf Links: U.S. wins 17-9
2015/Royal Lythan & St. Annes: GB&I wins 16½-9½|
2017/LACC: U.S. wins 19-7
2019/Royal Liverpool: U.S. wins 15½-10½
2021/Seminole Golf Club: U.S. wins 14-12