Irish stars get ready for Walker Cup matches

Walker Cup, Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, 7th and 8th of September 2019

Shane McGlynn

The 47th playing of the Walker Cup will take place this weekend at one of the great Open Championship venues. Royal Liverpool Golf Club, affectionately known as Hoylake, which has hosted the game’s oldest championship on twelve occasions.

Some of the greatest names in major championship golf have won there, notably Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods and most recently, Rory McIlroy. The Merseyside links will provide a fair test for the elite amateurs from both sides of the Atlantic.

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The Famous Five. Photo by Golffile 

Home advantage has proved to be decisive in this event over the last decade, the last time a visiting team has come away with the cup was in Royal County Down Golf Club in 2007. The Americans were strong favourites going into that event with future PGA tour stars like Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Billy Horschel all in the team.

The traditional Irish links and stormy conditions were not enough of an advantage for the home team that included 18-year-old Rory McIlroy. The Americans narrowly edged it by a single point that year and the tie finished 12.5 to 11.5.

Irish Walker Cup Stars

Three Irish have made the final cut for the ten-man GB and I team, an improvement from 2017, when the Dubliner Paul McBride was the only representative from the 32 counties. It worth noting that these three Irish players have each won two match play championships in recent years. The GB and I team will be hoping that this experience will help them execute shots in tight situations.

Caolan Rafferty

Club: Dundalk

Age: 26

Ranked: 37

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Caolan Rafferty. Photo by Golffile

Rafferty’s 10 under-par 62 in the 2017 Amateur championship would have caught the eye of the GB and I selectors, and 26-year-old from Dundalk took this form into the 2018 and 2019 seasons. After winning the South of Ireland Championship in Lahinch in 2018, he followed that by beating Walker Cup teammate Conor Purcell in the final of the West of Ireland Championship in Rosses Point last April. 

The Dundalk star also had Top 5 finishes in the South African Amateur Championship, European Nations Cup, and St Andrew’s Links Trophy which earned him his spot at Hoylake.

James Sugrue 

Club: Mallow

Age: 22

Ranked: 53

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James Sugrue. Photo by Golffile

After defeating GB and I teammate Euan Walker on the 36th hole of the Final of the Amateur Championship at Portmarnock, James Sugrue was unfortunate to miss the cut at the Open Championship by the narrowest of margins. 

The worlds 53rd ranked amateur plays with a patient style and calm demeanour, and on paper, he is an ideal fit for both foursomes and singles sessions. Recent experiences playing at the highest level in Royal Portrush will surely stand to him in tight situations

Conor Purcell 

Club: Portmarnock

Age: 21

Ranked: 25

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Conor Purcell . Photo by Golffile

After reaching the semi-final of the 2018 Amateur Championship at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Purcell became the first Irishman to win the prestigious Australian Amateur Championship earlier this year. His runner-up finishes in the West of Ireland and Irish Amateur Open Championships has seen him climb as high as 13th in the R&A world amateur golf rankings (currently ranked 25th).

The plus five handicapper has been one of the most consistent performers in the country since becoming South of Ireland Champion in 2016 and will not be out of his depth at this level.


Captain: Craig Watson

Alex Fitzpatrick, Age 20, Ranked 36

Conor Gough, Age 16, Ranked 3

Harry Hall, Age 21, Ranked 80

Thomas Plumb, Age 20, Ranked 57

Conor Purcell, Age 21, Ranked 25

Caolan Rafferty, Age 26, Ranked 37

Sandy Scott, Age 20, Ranked 42

Tom Sloman, Age 22, Ranked 39

James Sugrue, Age 22, Ranked 53

Euan Walker, Age 24, Ranked 13


Captain: Nathaniel Crosby

John Augenstein, Age 21, Ranked 14

Akshay Bhatia, Age 17, Ranked 5

Steven Fisk, Age 22, 10

Stewart Hagestad, Age 28, Ranked 7

Cole Hammer, Age 19, Ranked 1

Andy Ogletree, Age 21, Ranked 41

John Pak, Age 20, Ranked 19

Isaiah Salinda, Age 22, Ranked 20

Alex Smalley, Age 22, 2Ranked 1

Brandon Wu, Age 22, Ranked 8


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