Star sparkle to ignite GB&I

By Brian Keogh

Welsh wizard Nigel Edwards believes that Great Britain and Ireland's superstars have the spark to ignite some Walker Cup dynamite at Royal County Down.

The veteran from the valleys, 39, will be playing in his fourth Walker Cup this weekend.

And he sees so much talent in the likes of star trio Rory McIlroy, Rhys Davies and Lloyd Saltman that he's convinced they have what it takes to deal with first tee Walker Cup nerves that will hit them in the face like a full-blooded drive.

Relaxed after a practice session at Baltray, Edwards said: "Lloyd Saltman, Rory, Rhys Davies, they have that spark. It is just something that you can't quite put your finger on.

"There is a coolness a confidence, a commitment to every shot they hit. They have total self-belief in what they are doing. It just looks right.

"There are some other sneaky players on the team that are obviously not as established as Rory and Lloyd and Rhys.

"Take Danny Willett, who's had a great summer, or John Parry. They are all good players. In fact, everyone in the squad has won somewhere around the world.

"They all have something inside - an inner belief that they have what it takes to cope with the pressure and handle all the emotions.

"And that's because we have a lot of belief in our ability. We play a lot around the world and have been successful all over the world. And we are used to playing outside our own comfort zone."

McIlroy feeds off pressure but Edwards knows that this will be far different from teeing it up in the Open or playing a European Tour event.

He said: "It will be very different from any of those things because it is something that these guys have been striving to achieve their whole lives.

"And when you finally get there, the enormity of it all hits you full in the face - uuffff.

"You have really got to focus on doing your job to the best of your ability. You have got to put the blinkers on and go for it.

"A lot of things go through your mind but all you have to do is focus on your game and what you have done for the rest of your golfing career to get yourself into this position.

"You can't change your game once you are here. You have got to go with what you've got. You just have to commit to all your shots and if you do that and get beaten, so be it.

"But we have a very strong team with a couple of players who are going to be real star performers in the world of golf in the future. It's going to be great."

As for the American side, Edwards knows that they will take a lot of beating with the likes of US Public Links and US Amateur champion Colt Knost and NCAA title winner Jamie Lovemark.

Edwards said: "How can you pick a bad USA team? You can't. They have such a big population and such a large number of golfers.

"Apart from Trip Kuehne, they are all college golfers who will go on to be pros and they will be going for it. You'd expect them to be hard to beat.

"Playing County Down is a different class of golf. I said to Rory today, it is probably the toughest golf course we ever play. And that includes Carnoustie.

"It is seriously difficult. You get to the greens and then the real work starts. You can have a 15 foot putt and all of a sudden you can race it five feet by because of the slopes. You need a lot of nerve out there.

"A lot has been said about the Americans not knowing how to play links shots. But a lot of the time it is a putter from off the green.

"Holing putts is vital and you could see it in the last Ryder Cup where Europe holed everything. It is the same in the majors and the Walker Cup too.

"There are so many great holes at Royal County Down but I think the short, par-four 16th will be key. You could see a number of fives and even a few twos.

"Picking the pairings is going to be a real headache for the captain and the next few days will give a good idea of who is hitting fairways and holing putts and that will have a large bearing on the choices the captain makes."