Ireland will have three representatives at this year’s Walker Cup after the final ten players were announced for the Great Britain and Ireland team to play the United States of America in the 47th match at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) on Saturday, 7 and Sunday 8, September.
Amateur Champion, James Sugrue will be joined by Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty and Portmarnock’s Conor Purcell as GB&I bid to win back the famous trophy after the USA secured a 19-7 victory in the 2017 match at Los Angeles Country Club. Home advantage has favoured the winners in recent matches with GB&I winning the biennial encounter in 2011 at Royal Aberdeen and 2015 at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Sugrue heads the Irish trio after he became the first Irishman to win The Amateur Championship since 2005 when he defeated Euan Walker by two holes at Portmarnock. He narrowly missed the cut in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush. Sugrue represented Ireland in the European Amateur Team Championship this summer.
As for Rafferty, the R&A Foundation scholar who attends Maynooth University pipped fellow Irishman Conor Purcell to the West of Ireland Amateur Open title at County Sligo in April. Rafferty has also recorded top five finishes in the South African Amateur Championship, The R&A Foundation Scholars’ Tournament, the European Nations Cup and the St Andrews Links Trophy this season. He won the South of Ireland Amateur Open Championship at Lahinch in 2018.
Purcell completes Ireland’s contenders. Back in January, he won the Australian Amateur Championship in January and achieved runner-up berths in the West of Ireland Amateur Open and Irish Amateur Open Championship. In 2018 he reached the semi-finals of The Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen and represented GB&I in the St Andrews Trophy match played in Finland.
The GB&I team also includes Alex Fitzpatrick, whose brother Matthew played in the Walker Cup in 2013, alongside Scotland’s Euan Walker who finished runner-up in both The Amateur Championship and European Amateur Championship.
Craig Watson, GB&I captain, said, “It has been a very difficult decision to select ten players for Great Britain and Ireland from a strong squad but we have been very impressed with the results of those we have picked and we believe they will give us the best chance of regaining the Walker Cup against a strong American team.
“The Walker Cup is a fantastic opportunity for these amateur golfers to demonstrate their talents on the big stage and it will be an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. We are looking forward to the match at Hoylake and I’m sure the players will give it their very best to win.”
The GB&I team:
Alex Fitzpatrick, Hallamshire, 20
Conor Gough, Stoke Park, 16
Harry Hall, West Cornwall, 22
Thomas Plumb, Yeovil, 20
Conor Purcell, Portmarnock, 22
Caolan Rafferty, Dundalk, 26
Sandy Scott, Nairn, 21
Tom Sloman, Taunton & Pickeridge, 23
James Sugrue, Mallow, 22
Euan Walker, Kilmarnock (Barassie), 23
Benjamin Schmidt, Rotherham, 17
Benjamin Jones, Northamptonshire County, 20
Craig Watson, East Renfrewshire, 53
2017 Los Angeles Country Club, USA 19 GB&I 7
2015 Royal Lytham & St Annes, GB&I 16½ USA 9½
2013 The National Golf Links of America, USA 17 GB&I 9
2011 Royal Aberdeen, GB&I 14 USA 12