Kuehne wants end to Walker Cup pain

By Brian Keogh

Texas big gun Trip Kuehne wants to end his Walker Cup losing record at Royal County Down this weekend.

But the American veteran believes the spirit and camaraderie of the matches is far more important than who lifts the trophy on Sunday night.

Back in the side for the third time after losing experiences in 1995 and 2003, Kuehne regards the biggest team event in amateur golf as treasure trove of great memories.

He said: "The Walker Cup is a great event and what people lose sight of is that it is not really about whether GB&I wins or the United States wins.

"It is about furthering the game of golf and for international relationships and friendships.

"And with the matches as competitive as they have been and the golf as good as it has been, it has really done that. The whole experience of the week is a lot of camaraderie amongst team mates, a lot of fun and a lot of pressure."

Infamous for losing a six-up lead to Tiger Woods in the final of the 1994 US Amateur Championship at Sawgrass, Kuehne is still a class act with a point to prove.

And while he lost with Kris Cox to Padraig Harrington and Jody Fanagan at Portcawl in 1995, he still remembers that week as one of the greatest of his golfing career.

He recalled: "I remember playing your fellow Irishmen Padraig Harrington and Jody Fanagan at Royal Portcawl.

"And at the 2003 US Open at Olympia Fields I needed to play a Wednesday practice round and I was sitting there and Padraig was putting.

"I was only going to play nine holes and he was only going to play nine holes and we spent the entire nine holes speaking and reminiscing about the Walker Cup.

"We hadn't seen each other in eight years and we hadn''t spoken in eight years. But it was like we never missed a beat. We had a common bond that was just incredible."

Kuehne claims that he always believed that Harrington was destined for greatness after watching him in action in 1995.

He said: "That was an awesome win that he he had there at Carnoustie- and well deserved.

"My dad and I had a running argument about who was the best player on that '95 team. The big gun on that team for GB&I was Gordon Sherry. But Dad always said it was David Howell and I always said it was Padraig.

"I'm claiming that one because of all the guys on that team, he is the highest ranked and he's got the major."

The US side arrived in Dublin from New York on Friday, playing Royal Dublin, Portmarnock and Baltray before arriving at Newcastle, Co Down for their first official practice round yesterday.

And while Kuehne admits that the US side will be at a disadvantage when it comes to links experience, he expects his massively talented team mates to give GB&UI a run for their money.

He said: "Some of the guys have played the Palmer Cup in Scotland but it doesn't have anything near the history, the passion or the tradition of the Walker Cup.

"I think when we get there to Royal County Down and put a tee in the ground, the boys will really understand what it's all about and the fun and games will really start.

"For me it is a great experience to be with these kids. Guys like Chris Kirk and Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson have really inspired me.

"I've been close to these guys for two or three years and they have inspired me to work hard on my game and I want to be friendly with these guys and also try to compete.

"It is a real privilege to be on this team and I want to play well and share some of my experiences with them."

Kuehne know show tough it can be to win Walker Cup points on links terrain.

Both his Walker Cup caps came away from home and of his seven matches he has just one win and one half to go with five defeats.

He said: "Playing Royal Dublin on Friday was the first time any of these guys have ever experience links golf.

"It is something they need to learn and I think they will be okay with it. It will be an eye-opening experience because you don't have to drive it right down the middle of the fairway to hit a beautiful shot.

"You don't have to hit a beautiful shot onto the green. You can just get it around and they are understanding it a bit more with every hole we play."