Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington met with the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad this week during a two-day training session in Portmarnock, Ireland, near his hometown of Dublin. Harrington, who represented GB&I in the biennial match against the United States in 1991, 1993 and 1995, spent time with the players and offering advice in advance of next year’s contest at Royal Aberdeen.
“I have fond memories of playing in the Walker Cup and rate my three appearances very highly on my list of personal achievements. I learned a great deal during that time and I gained considerable experience, which has helped me throughout my professional career,” said Harrington. “It was a pleasure to spend time with the next generation of Great Britain and Ireland’s elite players, and I hope that some of my advice will help them in their preparations."
The squad arrived in Ireland on Tuesday morning before taking to the course for practice foursomes rounds on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
“It was a privilege to have Padraig at Portmarnock with us,” said GB&I Captain Nigel Edwards, himself a four-time Walker Cup player. “He knows what an honor it is to play in a Walker Cup, and what it can mean in terms of future career development. I know that the players have taken a lot from his visit and I’m sure they will be inspired to go out there and prove that they deserve a place in the team.”
Included in the 21-man squad of hopefuls is 2010 British Amateur runner-up James Byrne. The 21-year-old Scot lost out to eventual British Open silver medalist Jin Jeong in the final at Muirfield in June. English squad members Laurie Canter and Tyrrell Hatton joined Jeong at St. Andrews, having earned their major championship debuts at Local Final Qualifying.
Tom Lewis, narrowly defeated in a playoff by Peter O’Malley at November’s New South Wales Open, earned his place in the 21, as did Northern Ireland’s 2010 Lytham Trophy Champion Paul Cutler, and this year’s Scottish Amateur champion, Michael Stewart. Stiggy Hodgson, who secured two points for GB&I in the 2009 encounter at Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, is the only player in the squad with previous Walker Cup experience.
The 2011 Walker Cup will take place Sept. 10-11 at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland. Founded in 1780, the club, which moved to its present location on Balgownie Links in 1888, is the world’s sixth-oldest active golf club.
The entire 21-man line-up included: James Byrne (Banchory); Laurie Canter (Saltford); Paul Cutler (Portstewart); Alan Dunbar (Rathmore); Rhys Enoch (Truro); Oliver Farr (Ludlow); Tyrrell Hatton (Harleyford); Billy Hemstock (Teignmouth); Stiggy Hodgson (Sunningdale); Alastair Jones (Radyr); Ross Kellett (Colville Park); Tom Lewis (Welwyn Garden City); Kris Nicol (Fraserburgh); Eddie Pepperell (Drayton Park); Kevin Phelan (University of North Florida); Rhys Pugh (Vale of Glamorgan); Jack Senior (Heysham); Matthew Southgate (Thorpe Hall); Michael Stewart (Troon Welbeck); Andy Sullivan (Nuneaton); Darren Wright (Rowlands Castle)