This weekend sees the best amateurs from Great Britain and Ireland try to regain the Walker Cup against the best amateur players from America. The Walker Cup is essentially the Ryder Cup but for players who have yet to turn professional. In recent years it has been contested between players who have gone on to be household names and win major championships. This year’s crop of promising players will all be hoping to emulate the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, for whom the Walker Cup was a major part of their golfing apprenticeship.
This year the host venue is the iconic Royal Lytham & St Annes. Founded in 1886, the course offers one of the truest tests of links golf and as such it is included in the rotation for courses that host the Open Championship and has also hosted the Ryder Cup twice. Despite not being the longest course, it is incredibly difficult. The conditions and the presence of 200 bunkers – many of which are in positions that can only be described as evil – make it very tough to get up and down should the players’ approach shots miss the green.
The bookies are finding it incredibly difficult to separate the two teams. Despite the withdrawal of the excellent Sam Horsfield from the Great Britain and Ireland team having a negative impact on their chances, you can still back the home team at 6/5 with Coral while the US team are a top priced 10/11 with Bet365. The USA are considered slight favourites because they comfortably won the 2013 Walker Cup at the National Golf Links of America by 17 points to nine and because of the highly competitive collegiate golf set up in the States.
The American team lost the last time the Walker Cup was held away from American but they won back in 2007 when a team including Fowler, Johnson, Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel won at Royal County Down, so the USGA know how to prepare teams to play well away from home. This current team includes some very strong talent and they look to have enough to defend the trophy at 10/11 with Bet365.
As well as betting on the winner of the event, many bookies will be offering betting on the individual matches. There are foursomes and singles matches to get involved in if you want an in-play bet during the action but the best markets to get involved with before the off are the top American and top GB & Ireland player markets.
The favourite to be the highest points scoring American is Bryson DeChambeau. The 21-year-old recently recorded the incredibly rare feat of winning both the NCAA Division One Championship and the US Amateur title in the same year. He caused a bit of a stir in doing so because, unusually, his irons are all the same length but he makes it work for him and he looks a good bet at 9/2 with Coral. DeChambeau was pushed hard at the US Amateur by Irishman Paul Dunne. He rose to prominence at this season’s Open Championship where he was tied for the lead on Sunday and that links form makes him a good bet to be the top GB & Irish player at 5/1 with Coral.