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.