Walker Cup captain Nigel Edwards and Open champion Padraig Harrington during dinner at Portmarnock Golf Links Hotel © Matthew Harris/TGPL www.golfpicturelibrary.comThree-time major Champion Padraig Harrington has met with the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup squad during a two-day training session in Portmarnock.

Harrington, who represented GB&I in the biennial match against the USA in 1991, 1993 and 1995, spent time with the players 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 honour 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 is 2010 Amateur Championship runner-up James Byrne. The 21-year-old Scot lost out to eventual Open Championship Silver Medallist 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.

GB&I squad members, Darren Wright (left, hitting shot) and Ross Kellet practising at PortmarnockTom Lewis, narrowly defeated in a play-off 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, Pennsylvania, is the only player in the squad with previous Walker Cup experience.

The 2011 Walker Cup will take place at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Scotland, on 10 & 11 September. 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.

GB&I: 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)