WALKER CUP
McNealy, Four USGA Champs Among 16 Invitees to USA Practice Session November 28, 2016 | Far Hills, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

Top-ranked amateur Maverick McNealy, a member of the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team, is one of 16 invitees to December's practice session. (USGA/Chris Keane) 

Four USGA champions are among the 16 players who have accepted invitations from the USGA to participate in a practice session for the 2017 Walker Cup Match. The practice session will take place Dec. 14-18 at The Los Angeles Country Club, where the 46th Walker Cup will be played Sept. 9-10, 2017.

The biennial team competition features 10 male amateur golfers from the USA facing a team from Great Britain and Ireland. While GB&I currently holds the Cup following a resounding victory in 2015 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, the USA owns a 35-9-1 lead in the series, which began in 1922.

The 16 invitees are Dawson Armstrong, 21, of Brentwood, Tenn.; Sean Crocker, 20, of Westlake Village, Calif.; Brad Dalke, 20, of Norman, Okla.; Doug Ghim, 20, of Arlington Heights, Ill.; Stewart Hagestad, 25, of Newport Beach, Calif.; Gavin Hall, 22, of Pittsford, N.Y.; Nick Hardy, 20, of Northbrook, Ill.; Scott Harvey, 38, of Greensboro, N.C.; Rico Hoey, 21, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Maverick McNealy, 21, of Portola Valley, Calif.; Dylan Meyer, 21, of Evansville, Ind.; Collin Morikawa, 19, of La Cañada, Calif.; John Oda, 20, of Honolulu, Hawaii; Scottie Scheffler, 20, of Dallas, Texas; Jimmy Stanger, 21, of Tampa, Fla.; and Will Zalatoris, 20, of Plano, Texas.

Harvey and Hagestad are the lone mid-amateur (25 and older) invitees, with the other 14 being collegians.

“All 16 of these talented individuals have demonstrated they have the ability to compete at the highest levels of amateur golf,” said Tom Hough, chairman of the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee. “This practice session will provide Captain Miller the opportunity to get to know prospective members of his 2017 team in an informal setting at the venue that will host the competition.”

John “Spider” Miller, of Bloomington, Ind., a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion and member of the 1999 USA Walker Cup Team, will captain the team for a second consecutive Match.

There is no guarantee that the 10-man team will come entirely from those invited to the practice session. The 2017 Walker Cup Team will be announced in August, following the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. In 2015, Jordan Niebrugge made the USA Team without attending the practice session.

Nine of the 16 invitees are currently in the top 25 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, including No. 1 McNealy, who won the 2016 McCormack Medal by leading the WAGR after this year’s U.S. Amateur. The Stanford University senior is one of two invitees with previous Walker Cup experience, as he and 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Harvey were members of the 2015 team. McNealy’s win earlier this fall at the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational gave him 11 tournament victories at Stanford, tying the school record held by nine-time USGA champion Tiger Woods and two-time USA Walker Cup competitor Patrick Rodgers.

In September, Hagestad (No. 1139 in the WAGR) became the second-youngest U.S. Mid-Amateur champion when he birdied five of the last six holes to beat Harvey on the first extra hole of the 36-hole final match at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa. Though he now resides in New York, the 2013 graduate of the University of Southern California grew up near LA and is a junior member at Los Angeles Country Club.

Harvey (No. 60 in the WAGR) defeated Brad Nurski in the final match to win his U.S. Mid-Amateur title at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. A few months later, he won the 2015 South American Amateur. The property manager is also a record four-time stroke-play medalist in the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad has been invited to the 2017 USA Walker Cup practice session at The Los Angeles C.C. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Scheffler (No. 17 in the WAGR), is a junior at the University of Texas who won the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif. He also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 U.S. Amateur, qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont (where he shot a first-round 69 before missing the cut) and helped the Longhorns to a runner-up finish in the 2016 NCAA Championships.

Zalatoris (No. 18 in the WAGR), a junior at Wake Forest University, won the 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands, Texas, that included a hole-out from the fairway for an eagle 2 in the championship match against Davis Riley. In 2016, he won the Trans-Mississippi and Pacific Coast Amateur and advanced to match play in the U.S. Amateur, falling to eventual runner-up Dalke in the Round of 64.

Armstrong (No. 29 in the WAGR), a senior at Lipscomb University, won the 2015 Western Amateur when he holed out for eagle from a bunker on the 20th hole of the final against Aaron Wise. This summer he carded a 64 on the North Course at Oakland Hills Country Club in the first round of the U.S. Amateur.

Crocker (No. 14 in the WAGR) advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club. The USC junior is coming off an All-America season in which he posted five top-10 finishes and helped the Trojans reach the semifinals of the NCAA Championships.

Dalke (No. 119 in the WAGR), a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, broke through in August by advancing to the championship match of the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club before losing to Curtis Luck, of Australia.

Doug Ghim (No. 32 in the WAGR), a University of Texas junior, was the runner-up to Byron Meth in the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship and was the medalist in the 2014 Western Amateur, shooting a course-record 63 at the Knollwood Club in Lake Forest, Ill. Ghim also helped the Longhorns reach the championship match of the 2016 NCAA Championships.

Hall (No. 19 in the WAGR), a University of Texas senior, was the runner-up in this year’s Porter Cup. The lefty birdied his last four holes at Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., to qualify for the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

Hardy (No. 31 in the WAGR), a junior at the University of Illinois, has qualified for the last two U.S. Opens and was named the 2015 Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year. He led the Illini to the semifinals of the 2016 NCAA Championships.

Hoey (No. 24 in the WAGR), a senior at USC, is a three-time Golf Coaches Association of America All-American who led the Trojans in scoring average last season (70.85), with 14 rounds in the 60s. He was the runner-up to Aaron Wise in the individual competition of the 2016 NCAA Championships.

Meyer (No. 9 in the WAGR), a junior at the University of Illinois, had a great run in the summer of 2016 by winning the Western Amateur and then advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur.

Morikawa (No. 16 in the WAGR), a sophomore at the University of California at Berkeley, advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2016 U.S. Amateur and won the 2015 Trans-Mississippi Amateur at Flint Hills National in Andover, Kan., by carding three consecutive 64s in the 72-hole, stroke-play event.

Oda (No. 22 in the WAGR), a junior at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, owns the second-lowest scoring average (71.38) in program history, which includes a pair of victories.

Stanger (No. 35 in the WAGR), a senior at the University of Virginia, won the 2016 Southern Amateur and advanced to the Round of 16 in this year’s U.S. Amateur.

For more information on the 2017 Walker Cup Match, visit walkercup.org.

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