There are fewer than 10 weeks left until the Walker Cup, and on Monday the USGA unveiled the 10-man team that will represent the U.S. in the May 8-9 matches at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.
While former Georgia Tech standout Tyler Strafaci, the 22-year-old reigning U.S. Amateur winner, had already been announced as exempt into captain Nathaniel Crosby’s squad, the remaining seven players are now officially released. That included three players – Georgia senior Davis Thompson, Florida sophomore Ricky Castillo and Florida State senior John Pak – who qualified via the World Amateur Golf Ranking on Feb. 10, as well as six USGA working group picks: mid-amateur Stewart Hagestad, Texas juniors Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody, Oklahoma senior Quade Cummins, Oklahoma State senior Austin Eckroat and Pepperdine sophomore William Mouw.
All 10 team members are ranked No. 23 or better in the WAGR, including four in the top 10 – Thompson (1), Pak (5), Castillo (6) and Coody (9).
Pak, Hammer and Hagestad were members of the 2019 team, also captained by Crosby, that defeated Great Britain and Ireland, 15.5-10.5, at Royal Liverpool, the first American victory on foreign soil since 2007. Pak went 3-0 that week.
Hagestad will play in his third straight Walker Cup, as he also was on the victorious 2017 squad. The 29-year-old Newport Beach, California, native, who won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur, was low amateur at the 2017 Masters and last summer reached the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals at Bandon Dunes, is the first three-time U.S. Walker Cup participant since Nathan Smith in 2013 and only the fifth in the past 10 editions.
The U.S. holds a 37-9-1 all-time advantage in the Walker Cup, though the Americans are just 9-7 against GB&I since 1989.
This year’s Walker Cup will be the first contested in May. The decision, which was made because Seminole is closed in early September, along with the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a unique qualifying process. Normally, the summer amateur schedule, which culminates with the U.S. Amateur, carries heavy weight. However, many such events were canceled last summer, and with a spring Walker Cup there wasn’t the opportunity for a player to make a late run like Jordan Niebrugge or Cameron Champ in recent years.
That put more emphasis on fall and winter amateur tournaments, including a late summer/early fall U.S. Open, a new Maridoe Amateur, the South Beach International Amateur and Jones Cup, which was the last tournament considered in the team-selection process. Hammer won the South Beach and was runner-up at the Jones Cup, two performances that likely solidified his place on the team. Pak and Thompson made the cut at Winged Foot, where Castillo and Eckroat also teed it up.
Coody, Cummins and Mouw all had strong summers, with Coody winning the Western Amateur and Mouw reaching the Round of 16 at Bandon. Cummins won a GCAA Amateur Series event after posting top-10s at the Southern and Sunnehanna amateurs last summer.
Pak was the only current college player on the team that didn’t play college golf last fall because of the ACC’s pandemic decision to not compete, though it’s not believed that college events were greatly considered in picking the team. Strafaci decided not to return for his extra year at Georgia Tech last fall and plans to turn professional after the Walker Cup.
SMU senior Mac Meissner and Oklahoma senior Garett Reband were named first and second alternates, respectively. Meissner, who won the Southern Amateur last summer, is No. 22 in the WAGR while Reband, who missed last summer’s U.S. Amateur while recovering from a broken right hand, is No. 16.
The GB&I side has yet to announced its team, though it’s expected that the visiting side will feature several players from U.S. colleges, including Texas Tech’s Sandy Scott, Minnesota’s Angus Flanagan and Wake Forest teammates Alex Fitzpatrick and Mark Power.
2021 U.S. Walker Cup team
- Tyler Strafaci, 22, Davie, Fla., Georgia Tech (alum)
- Davis Thompson, 21, St. Simons Island, Ga., Georgia (senior)
- Ricky Castillo, 20, Yorba Linda, Calif., Florida (sophomore)
- John Pak, 22, Scotch Plains, N.J., Florida State (senior)
- Pierceson Coody, 21, Plano, Texas, Texas (junior)
- Cole Hammer, 21, Houston, Texas, Texas (junior)
- Stewart Hagestad, 29, Newport Beach, Calif., USC (alum)
- Quade Cummins, 24, Weatherford, Okla., Oklahoma (senior)
- Austin Eckroat, 22, Edmond, Okla., Oklahoma State (senior)
- William Mouw, 20, Chino, Calif., Pepperdine (sophomore)