Thursday, September 05, 2013


        Defending the Walker Cup ... Nigel Edwards and his winning team at Royal Aberdeen in 2011

Great Britain and Ireland’s hopes of retaining the Walker Cup will receive a timely boost today when they are reunited with their captain Nigel Edwards, who was forced to fly home at the start of the week because of a family illness. 
he health of Edwards’ father has improved sufficiently to allow the Welshman to return to the National Golf Links of America in time to help finish off his team’s preparations for the two-day match which tees off on Saturday.
And although Edwards claims his players would have “coped fine” if a late change of captain had been required, his presence might prove crucial as they attempt to win on US soil for just the third time in the cup’s 91-year history.
“Jonathan [Plaxton, the chairman of selectors] has been with them and the lads all know the schedule and system,” Edwards told Telegraph Sport. “There has been an emphasis on the short game, as the greens on Long Island will be very quick. I’m sure the lads are up to speed. They’ll be ready to go on Saturday.”
It has been an eventful trip for the 10-strong squad. There was a six-hour flight delay on the way over and on Tuesday storms here led to a washout which stalled their acclimatisation to the revered layout which hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. But now, with Edwards back in the fold, the momentum will really start to build.
When leading GB and I to victory at Royal Aberdeen two years ago, Edwards was hailed as a master motivator and his CV also boasts a victory in America.
Four-times a Walker Cup player, Edwards made his debut on the GB and I team, which included the likes of Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, who won in Sea Island, Georgia, in 2001.
With both the US Amateur champion, Matt Fitzpatrick, and the Amateur champion, Garrick Porteous, in his ranks, Edwards will be quietly confident of a repeat.
“We’ve got a great team and, of course, I cant wait to get back with them,” he said. “But we’re going to have to work very, very hard for it.”
As if any of the amateurs needed further incentive as to where this week could lead, it was provided yesterday by Freddie Couples picking Jordan Spieth for next month’s Presidents Cup match against the Internationals in Ohio. Two years ago the 20-year-old played in the Walker Cup.
Miguel Ángel Jiménez has no problem with Spieth’s selection – after all, he is a proven PGA Tour winner – but the European Tour’s oldest-ever winner does not agree with 13-year-old Ye Wocheng, the Tour’s youngest ever competitor, being invited to play in the European Masters, which tees off today in Crans-sur-Sierre.
The 49-year-old said: “A 13-year-old should be playing alongside other 13-year-olds and not players averaging 33 years of age. No doubt the sponsor wants publicity for the tournament but, I’m sorry, this shouldn’t be allowed.”





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