Debate: Should the Walker Cup be opened up to Europe?September, 2013 Courses & Travel
Two of our writers debate whether or not the Walker Cup should be opened up to Continental Europe...
Joe Whitley (JW): After the thumping GB&I took at the weekend, isn’t it about time we open up the Walker Cup to continental Europeans? We did it in the Ryder Cup and look at us now.
Dan Murphy (DM): I think we must remember that when taking on the Americans in matches like this we are always going to lose more than we win. It’s just a question of numbers – the US have a way bigger talent pool than GB&I
JW: Exactly, that’s why we should strengthen our resources by drafting in the might of Europe. It’s the only way to make the competition fair.
DM: Fair? Have you noticed that since 1989 GB&I have won six matches to the USA’s seven? That would hardly seem to represent American dominance.
The only reason we’ve done so well recently is the conditions of our home courses suiting us so well. We’ve barely had a sniff in the States. We’re like Stoke FC – we can put up a decent fight at home but are useless away. JW: Pre-1989 we won twice. The USA have won 35 times in total. That isn’t fair. The only reason we’ve done so well recently is the conditions of our home courses suiting us so well. We’ve barely had a sniff in the States. We’re like Stoke FC – we can put up a decent fight at home but are useless away.
DM: That’s funny because the last time I looked we’d won twice away in recent times – at Peachtree in 1989 and Sea Island in 2001.
Obviously, home advantage plays a significant part, as it does in all sports.
I mean, the other way of looking at it is that in only one of the last six matches has not been won by the home team, and the exception, in 2007 at County Down, was a very close match in the end.
JW: The two matches you refer to are the only times we’ve ever won away. So twice in 91 years. Not great really, is it? The Americans have won 16 times on British soil.
Aside from this, another big positive I see in bringing in the Europeans is building relationships with future Ryder Cup teammates. I know the Walker Cup pre-dates the Ryder Cup but let’s face it, the professional competition is the one everyone cares about.
DM: I don’t think there’s any doubt the Walker Cup has changed in the last 25 years or so – the teams used to comprise career amateurs whereas now it’s teens and 20-somethings on their way to the pro game. I’m sure the general standards have improved, especially on our team. I’m not sure the Ryder Cup is anything to do with it. After all, only a couple of members from each game typically go on to make it in the professional game, let alone play in Ryder Cups.
JW: I disagree. Look back to the 2007 match at Royal County Down, for example. On the home side you had Rory McIlroy, Dave Horsey, Rhys Davies, John Parry and Danny Willett, while the Americans had Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Kyle Stanley, Colt Knost, and Billy Horschel. Most of these players are household names and push for Ryder Cup spots on a regular basis.
DM: Right, and let’s look at our 2011 team, for example. I’m not sure any of those boys have even got a European Tour card at the moment, let alone are threatening to play in the Ryder Cup.