One of golf's great matches, the Walker Cup, stands to go unnoticed in United States
I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with another American on US soil about the Walker Cup. In three visits to the UK and Ireland in the last year, I was engaged in banter almost daily about it with Brits or Irish or Scots, and my contributions were generally far less insightful.
It’s a shame the Walker Cup isn’t on the hearts and minds as much over here. It’s one of the great amateur matches and spotlights some of the budding stars of tomorrow. Tiger Woods played in the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Porthcawl.
Of course, it’s also competing with NFL opening weekend and a full college slate. At least USC has the weekend off, so maybe Trojan nation will root on their fellow student and NCAA champ Jamie Lovemark at Royal County Down this weekend.
Burying the event even more, now the PGA Tour is encroaching into the Walker Cup spotlight with Tiger in the field at the BMW Championship for the new FedEx Cup playoffs. Even the NBA, out of respect for the college ballers, doesn’t schedule games on the Final Four’s championship night.
But instead, we’ll get about eight hours of weekend coverage for the BMW, plus all-night analysis on the Golf Channel, versus two hours of Sunday coverage on ABC and little else. The Walker Cup won’t get much publicity here, but in the UK, it will be the biggest sports event Sunday.
This malaise might plant the seed for America’s Ryder Cup failures. We clearly aren’t all that concerned with these team events compared to our foe, and some of our best young players seem indifferent about it.
Tadd Fujikawa, America’s most high-profile male teen golfer, inexplicably went pro just months before the Walker Cup, which clearly wasn’t even on his radar. Instead, he’s fighting to make cuts in silly season, second-tier tournaments rather than play in a historic, prestigious tournament (since when do those things really matter in golf, though?)
The GB&I team’s top player Rory McIlroy, the low amateur at the British Open in Carnoustie, has been saying for about a year now he would turn pro immediately after the Walker Cup staged in his home country in Northern Ireland.
A Lovemark-McIlroy duel could be as intense (relatively speaking) as Tiger-Phil. But the airwaves will be flooded with BMW Championship coverage (is there any doubt that Tiger doesn’t win this tournament?)
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If only we could get the BBC. Commenter Wendy tells me they have shown the entire competition, and without commercials. I'm so jealous.