One Western Amateur Match: How Important Is It In The Walker Cup Selection Process?
Today, Chris Williams plays the most important match in his quest to make the USA Walker Cup team. Understand, it won’t determine much else in Chris Williams life (future spouse, career choice, permanent residence) but it might impact the run he has made over the last few weeks.
A bit of history: David Chung won the Porter Cup in 2010, followed it up with a Western Amateur win and a US Amateur runner-up, then made the USA side (much tougher, only 3 spots) for the World Amateur Team championship. Williams has won two consecutive events on the west coast (Sahalee Players and Pacific Coast Amateur) and is the record-setting medalist at North Shore, outside Chicago, this week at the Western Amateur.
The WA is the most grueling championship on the summer amateur circuit, with apologies to no one. 72 holes of stroke play, with cuts after 36 and 54 holes, are followed by the low 16 moving to match play. The eventual champion must win four matches to bear the title.
Williams shot rounds of 66-66-70-66 to finish 16-under par, some 3 strokes clear of the runner-up. One might think he has the upper hand as the number one seed, heading into match play. His first-round opponent, however, is Patrick Cantlay.
Cantlay has finished top 25 this year in three PGA Tour-level events, including the US Open. He was one of four players named to the USA Walker Cup side last week by the USGA. He is a rising sophomore at UCLA and is “all that and more,” as one might remark.
Does Williams have to win? I don’t think so. Does he have to make it to the 16th hole against Cantlay? Yes. If he does, then I believe a Walker Cup spot is his. He can’t get annihilated, and anything more than a 3&2 loss would be considered a blow-out. I suspect that the other 7 matches on the course, for a time, will have few spectators outside friends and family.
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