Schupak: A brief proposal on how to make the Walker Cup better

The Walker Cup is already great, but it can be better.

Schupak: A brief proposal on how to make the Walker Cup better

I love the Walker Cup. Or, to be more accurate, I love most everything about it. Watching amateurs compete in a match play team format is golf at its purest and the Walker Cup is contested on courses superior to those that host the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup. Well, just because something is great doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. Look at New Coke. OK, bad example, there, but here’s how I’d make the Walker Cup even better.

The 48th playing of the biennial competition between a team of 10 U.S. male amateur golfers and 10 players from Great Britain and Ireland was staged in early May this year ostensibly due to weather reasons. Florida in the traditional fall date during Hurricane season could have been a (natural) disaster. But I’ve been saying this for a while: The dates need to be shifted permanently to May or early June at the latest.

GB&I may not like it because the golf season across the pond is just getting started, but the reality is that the September date is antiquated for these college-aged players, many of whom plan to turn pro and no longer want to wait and miss out on sponsor’s invites and the chance to earn enough money and qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The week after the NCAA Men’s Championship finishes (first week of June) is about as late as this competition should be contested. We want to see the best 10 players on each side, not just the best 10 that didn’t turn pro early.

Cole Hammer celebrates making a birdie putt on the 18 hole to win his Foursomes match at the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Photo: Scott Halleran/USGA)

That brings me to my next change. Out of concern for COVID-19, both teams had two alternates available that traveled to the matches. That became important to the success of the matches when a different virus reared its ugly head and 18 of the 24 competitors dealt with a stomach virus. It forced both teams to use alternates for the first time in the 99-year history of the competition. It’s time to expand the roster to 12 members to a team. As Team USA alternate Mac Meissner said, “I worked my butt off to be on this team.”

But he didn’t do so to wear an ear piece all weekend and have a beach holiday. The Ryder Cup already has proved that 12 is the magic number.

Speaking of the much ballyhooed pro version of the Walker Cup, it’s time for the USGA to take a page out of the Ryder Cup playbook and expand the GB&I side to constitute all of Europe. Doing so rejuvenated the Ryder Cup from what was a stale competition into arguably the biggest deal in golf.

Walker Cup

Ricky Castillo and Mac Meissner fist bump on the 17th hole during Foursomes at the 2021 Walker Cup at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Photo: Chris Keane/USGA)

While GB&I put up a noble fight, losing 14-12, the U.S. now holds a 38-9-1 all-time record in the competition. It isn’t quite the Harlem Globetrotters dominance of the Washington Generals, but it is lopsided enough to resemble Alabama over the rest of the SEC. Four years from now when GB&I returns to the U.S. for the matches at Cypress Point, it is likely that none of the competitors will have been born since GB&I last won on U.S. soil (in 2001). We’ll never know how much of a difference Spain’s Jon Rahm and Norway’s Viktor Hovland would have made, but I’d love to find out from the next generation of continental Europe stars and put to bed the nickname of “the Walk-over Cup.”

And while we’re borrowing from the Ryder Cup, let’s add a third day of competition. This has been widely discussed before and I just don’t see what the downside to another day of competition should be. Two years of buildup for two days? We can do better than that. We’ve got the best players assembled, so let them settle who’s best on the course and enough with the practice rounds. Even U.S. team captain Nathaniel Crosby seemed to be on board with several of these suggestions.

“I’d love to see it go to 12 players, a couple alternates and three days,” he said. “The guys fight so hard to get here. It takes two years. But that’s my opinion, and I’m sure that there’s a dogfight back in some conference room that I’m not invited to on that.

“But this has been the thrill of a lifetime. When I say something out of bounds like that, it’s certainly not a reflection of the USGA’s opinion or the R&A’s opinion, and they’ve earned their right to continue the tradition as is. For me to say anything to have a subtle variation of the format would be out of bounds for me.”

Tradition be damned. If baseball’s National League can do away with pitchers batting after all these years, the Walker Cup can take the necessary steps to evolve and continue to be the pinnacle of amateur golf.

Source : Golf Week More   

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AT&T Byron Nelson odds, predictions and PGA Tour picks

We take a look at the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson odds and make our PGA Tour picks and predictions to win.

AT&T Byron Nelson odds, predictions and PGA Tour picks

The PGA Tour shifts to TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, for this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson as the final tune-up ahead of next week’s PGA Championship. Below, we look at the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson odds and make our PGA Tour picks and predictions to win.

Five of the top-nine golfers in the Golfweek/Sagarin world rankings are in attendance. The strong field is headlined by world No. 1 Jon Rahm and reigning FedExCup champ Dustin Johnson. Sung Kang is defending his 2019 Byron Nelson championship but this is the first year the tournament is being played at TPC Craig Ranch.

The venue measures 7,468 yards and plays to a par of 72. It has hosted Korn Ferry Tour events but will welcome the PGA Tour for the first time this week.

2021 AT&T Byron Nelson picks – Favorite

Odds provided by BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated Monday at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Will Zalatoris (+3000)

At No. 7 in the Golfweek rankings, Zalatoris is the third-best golfer in this field, but he has just the 10th-best odds to win. His missed cut at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship was his first in 14 PGA Tour events since the Sanderson Farms Championship in October.

It was poor putting which did in Zalatoris last week at Quail Hollow Club. He still gained strokes from tee-to-green and around-the-green over his two rounds, and he has been an above-average putter for the 2020-21 season.

As in every tournament immediately preceding a major, the motivation of the top players in the field is questionable this week. Zalatoris still needs a win in order to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, despite his world ranking and three top-10 finishes this year.

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2021 AT&T Byron Nelson picks – Contender

Keith Mitchell (+8000)

The value’s still right for Mitchell coming off his T-3 finish at Quail Hollow last week. He held the 54-hole lead and was in the final pairing with Rory McIlroy. He fell two strokes shy of victory with a Sunday round of plus-1, 72.

Mitchell was second in the field with 1.85 Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and sixth with 2.32 SG: Tee-to-Green per round last week. TPC Craig Ranch is of similar length, and those two parts of his game will transfer well.

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2021 AT&T Byron Nelson picks – Long shot

Sung Kang (+50000)

Kang’s 2019 Byron Nelson win should be ignored as it was at a different venue and against a considerably weaker field. He’s still well worth a long-shot bet, as he is a member of TPC Craig Ranch and will have an edge over most of the field in the venue’s PGA Tour debut.

Kang missed the cut in eight of his 12 events to begin 2021, but he tied for second in last year’s Genesis Invitational and finished T-9 at the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Both results were in strong fields and at long courses.

New to sports betting? A $10 bet on Kang to win would return a profit of $5,000. The same wager on Zalatoris would net a return of $300.

Get some action on the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson by signing up and betting at BetMGM. If you’re looking for more sports betting picks and tips, access all of our content at SportsbookWire.com. Please gamble responsibly.

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Source : Golf Week More   

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