August 29, 2011
It doesn't get the same notoriety as the Ryder Cup, but the Walker Cup, pitting the 10 best amateurs from the United States against a team from Great Britain and Ireland, is definitely a tournament to watch -- even if you don't follow the amateur game closely.
Here's a rundown on the three players:
Blayne Barber (Auburn University): Barber's six top-10 finishes in 10 starts, during his sophomore season at Auburn, helped him earn the final spot on the team. He also finished inside the top 5 at the Northeast Amateur and Southern Amateur.
Kelly Kraft (Southern Methodist University): The recent graduate of SMU earned a place on the team with a superb performance at the U.S. Amateur. He defeated Patrick Rodgers (the fourth-ranked amateur in the world) and Patrick Cantlay (currently ranked No. 1) at Erin Hills, on the way to the biggest win of his amateur career.
Jordan Spieth (University of Texas): Spieth is biggest name of the final three. He made the cut in his last two PGA Tour starts at the HP Bryon Nelson Championship, and joined Tiger Woods earlier this year as the only other player in USGA history to win the U.S. Junior Amateur multiple times. He'll be a freshman this year at Texas.
While Spieth, Kraft and Barber are all worthy additions, the announcement came with some controversy. LSU senior John Peterson, considered by many to be a lock after he was crowned the 2011 NCAA Individual Champion and won the Arnold Palmer Award as the country's top player, was excluded from the team.
It left many wondering how you could leave a player with those kind of credentials off the 10-man roster. Even without Peterson, the United States still has a team that's stacked from top to bottom, and includes such stalwarts as Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein and UCLA's Patrick Cantlay.