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First Five U.S. Walker Cup Players Selected
The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced the selection of five of the 10 amateur players for the 2013 USA Walker Cup team. The 44th Walker Cup Match against Great Britain and Ireland will be played September 7-8 at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., which is hosting the match for the first time since the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922.
"We are proud of the players who have been chosen to represent the USA when the Walker Cup returns to its historic birthplace," said Thomas J. O'Toole, Jr., USGA vice president and chairman of the USGA's Championship Committee. "I have no doubt that every one of these young men is ready for the challenge presented by the team from Great Britain and Ireland. Each will perform with distinction and bring honor to a competition and a place that have a unique connection to the game's history."
The first five players named to the 2013 USA Walker Cup squad are:
Max Homa, 22, of Valencia, Calif. - Homa won the Pac-12 Conference Championship in early May and was the individual medalist at the 2013 NCAA Men's Division I Championship to close out his career at the University of California-Berkeley. In his senior year of 2012-13, he captained a team that won 11 tournaments. His individual honors include being named as a first-team All-American and to the All-Nicklaus Team, both awarded by the Golf Coaches Association of America. In June, he survived a playoff at sectional qualifying to make the field for the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, where he missed the cut by three strokes. Homa also advanced to the quarter finals of the 2010 U.S. Amateur.
Michael Kim, 20, of Del Mar, Calif. - Kim won four collegiate events in his sophomore year at Cal and was honored as the 2012-13 Golfweek/Sagarin Player of the Year and the Pac-12 Conference Golfer of the Year. He was first-team All-American and named to the All-Nicklaus Team, Palmer Cup, All-West Region and All-Pac 12. He also won the 2013 Golfstat Cup for having the lowest adjusted scoring average entering the NCAA Championship. In May, he won the Jack Nicklaus Award as the NCAA Division I player of the year, and in June the Fred Haskins Award as the national collegiate player of the year as determined in voting by collegiate golfers, coaches and members of the national media. He was one of three finalists for the Ben Hogan Award presented annually to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or NJCAA college golfer. He finished as the low amateur by five strokes at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, tying for 17th place. He also tied for 38th in the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic in July.
Patrick Rodgers, 21, of Avon, Ind. - Rodgers is a returning USA Walker Cup Team member, having competed at the 2011 match at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland. Rodgers wrapped up his sophomore season at Stanford with three intercollegiate victories and six top-10 finishes, leading the Cardinal with a 70.88 stroke average. For the second consecutive year, he was named first-team All-American, first-team All-Pac 12 Conference, and was a Palmer Cup selection. He was also named to the All-Nicklaus Team this year. During the 2011-12 college season, Rodgers produced two tournament wins and 10 top-10 finishes, was named to the All-Freshman Team, and was a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award. The 2011 Porter Cup champion, Rodgers was also a quarterfinalist at the 2011 U.S. Amateur, where he lost to eventual champion Kelly Kraft. He finished tied for 15th at the 2013 PGA Tour's John Deere Classic.
Justin Thomas, 20, of Goshen, Ky. - In his sophomore season at the University of Alabama, Thomas was named as a second-team All-American and first-team All-Southeastern Conference with two wins and six top-10 finishes. In 2012, he was selected as a first-team All-American with four wins and nine top-10 finishes, and was a Palmer Cup selection in each of the past two years. Thomas played an integral part in Alabama winning the 2013 NCAA Division I National Championship, the first in the school's history, as well as the 2013 SEC Championship. He also played for the victorious USA Team in the 2012 World Amateur Team Championship at Antalya, Turkey, where he finished tied for seventh. Thomas advanced to the semifinals at the 2012 U.S. Amateur, and was the runner-up at the 2010 U.S. Junior Amateur. Thomas won both the 2012 Fred Haskins Award and the 2012 Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation's top collegiate golfer, as well as the 2012 Phil Mickelson Award, for the outstanding freshman in Division I men's golf. He won the 2012 Jones Cup, and finished tied for 30th in the 2013 PGA Tour's Travelers Championship.
Cory Whitsett, 21, of Houston, Texas - Whitsett, who just completed his junior year at Alabama, secured the clinching points for the Crimson Tide in its first-ever NCAA Division I National Championship victory. In 2013, he was selected as a first-team All-American and to the All-Nicklaus Team with three wins and eight top-10 finishes, and was the only player to win all three matches at the 2013 NCAA Championship. Whitsett continued his winning ways after the collegiate season, leading the USA to victory over Europe in June in the Palmer Cup, compiling a 3-0-1 record in the matches at Wilmington (Del.) Country Club. He then captured the prestigious Northeast Amateur with a 10-under-par 266 total at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I., closing with a round of 63, the lowest final-round score by a winner in the tournament's 52 years. Last year, Whitsett was named second-team All-American with two wins and five top-10 finishes. He is also the 2011 Patriot All-America winner and the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur champion.
"It is an honor to be involved with this prestigious match and these fine young men who will represent the USA in Walker Cup competition," said Jim Holtgrieve, captain for the USA, whose stellar amateur career includes a winning record as a member of three victorious USA Walker Cup Teams and the captaincy of the USA Team at the 2011 Match at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland. "I appreciate the commitment on the part of these talented players who were chosen and those who are still being considered."
The final five players of the 2013 USA Walker Cup Team will be named later this summer following the conclusion of the 2013 U.S. Amateur, to be played August 12-18 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
The Walker Cup Match is a biennial 10-man amateur team competition between the USA and a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland. It is played over two days with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes (alternate-shot) matches. The USA leads the overall series 34-8-1, and has not lost on American soil since the 2001 Match at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.
Many of the game's greatest players have taken part in Walker Cup competition including U.S. Open champions Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods for the USA and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose for GB&I.
The first USA Walker Cup Team in 1922 - which defeated the GB&I side, 8-4, at the National Golf Links of America - is considered among the best teams ever and included Ouimet, Jones, Charles "Chick" Evans and Jess Sweetser.
The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information, visit www.usga.org. For more details about the 2013 Walker Cup, visit www.2013walkercup.com, call 631/488-4065 or send an email to [email protected].