The Walker Cup action is about to get under way but do you really know the two teams? Andrew Wright has some surprises in store...
The 2019 Walker Cup is almost upon us. The 47th instalment of this famous amateur match between GB&I and USA starts tomorrow at Royal Liverpool.
Held over two days, it will consist of four morning foursomes matches followed by eight afternoon singles on Saturday and 10 on Sunday – with 26 points in total up for grabs.
The hosts will be keen to make the most of the home-course advantage that has been so decisive in the recent history of this championship.
USA prevailed 19-7 two years ago at the Los Angeles Country Club and lead the series overall 36-9-1.
But do you know your players inside and out? Here are five things you might not know about this year’s participants.
1. GB&I’s Conor Gough will become the second youngest player to tee it up at the Walker Cup
Englishman Conor Gough celebrated his 17th birthday just two days ago, making him the second youngest player in Walker Cup history. Only Oliver Fisher, who competed in the 2005 edition, at the age of 16, was younger.
2. Son of legendary American singer and actor Bing Crosby, captains the US side
Son of famous father Bing, Nathaniel Crosby leads a visiting US side looking for their first away win since 2007. The omens are good for the 57-year-old. He was part of a winning Walker Cup team the last time the event was held at Royal Liverpool in 1983.
3. How this year’s teams compare on paper
Despite battling home course advantage, the US side arrive as the clear favourites with half of their team occupying a spot in the top-1o of the amateur rankings.
Only recently crowned US amateur champion Andy Ogletree ranks outside the top-25. But while he might not have the number, he has immense pedigree. He’s one of only three Georgia Tech players to have lifted the Havemeyer Trophy. The other two? Bobby Jones and Matt Kuchar.
Conversely, Conor Gough is the only player inside the top-10 for GB&I and three are ranked outside the top-50.
4. Fitzpatricks set to become the first siblings to represent GB&I since World War II
GB&I’s Alex Fitzpatrick is following in the footsteps of famous older brother, Matthew.
Six years on from Matt’s Walker Cup appearance, at National Golf Links of America where he picked up three out of four points in a 17-9 GB&I defeat, Alex will ensure the Fitzpatrick name is etched into the history books as the first brothers to represent GB&I since World War II.
5. Akshay Bhatia becomes youngest ever American to play in Walker Cup
Akshay Bhatia is set to become the youngest ever American to take part in the Walker Cup, replacing three-time major winner Jordan Spieth. Bhatia is just 17, while Spieth was 18 years and one month when he represented the Stars and Stripes.
Although seven months older than GB&I’s Conor Gough, Bhatia will be the first junior to play for the US side in the last three Walker Cups.