Five Irish players have been named by The R&A in an initial 19-man Great Britain and Ireland squad from which the selectors will choose the 10-man Walker Cup team to face United States at Los Angeles Country Club from September 9-10.
GB&I will be bidding to retain the historic trophy after a record 16½ - 9½ victory over the USA at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2015, when Ireland had five players in the side.
While players from outside the 19-man squad can still make the 2017 team, Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), Paul McBride (The Island), Conor O'Rourke (Naas), Alex Gleeson (Castle) and Stuart Grehan (Tullamore) will have high hopes of making the side which will be captained by Craig Watson for the first time.
“We have identified a strong group of players who are all in contention for a place on the team and we will be monitoring their performance and results over the coming season,” Watson said.
“We will also pay close attention to the progress and form of players who have not been included in this current squad as they also have the opportunity to play their way into contention for the team selected to play the USA in September.”
Those words will be music to the ears of the likes of Irish internationals John Ross Galbraith, Robin Dawson, Conor Purcell, Colin Fairweather, Tiarnan McLarnon and Rowan Lester, not to mention West of Ireland winner Jonathan Yates, and North of Ireland champion Sean Flanagan, who would also have Walker Cup ambitions.
The 2016 Amateur Champion Scott Gregory leads a strong English contingent which includes current Lytham Trophy champion Alfie Plant and English Amateur Champion Daniel Brown. Fellow Englishmen Bradley Moore, Marco Penge and James Walker have also been selected.
Robert MacIntyre, who was defeated by Gregory in the final of The Amateur at Royal Porthcawl, joins Craig Howie, Sandy Scott and Connor Syme, his teammates in Scotland’s successful defence of the 2016 European Amateur Team Championship in the squad alongside compatriots Barry Hume and Craig Ross. Hume is a reinstated amateur following a spell in the professional ranks.
Campbell, the current Irish Amateur Open Champion, is joined by McBride, O’Rourke and R&A Foundation scholars Gleeson and Grehan.
Gleeson is the Irish Amateur Close champion, while O’Rourke triumphed in the St Andrews Links Trophy last season.
Grehan and McBride were team-mates for Ireland at last year’s World Amateur Team Championships in Mexico and won a bronze medal in the Eisenhower Trophy.
Two Welshmen have been selected for the squad: David Boote and Owen Edwards. Stanford University graduate Boote excelled for GB&I against the Continent of Europe in the St Andrews Trophy and made significant contributions to the winning European teams in the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy and the Arnold Palmer Cup.
Ireland had five players in the 2015 side — Jack Hume, Paul Dunne, Gary Hurley, Cormac Sharvin and Gavin Moynihan — all of whom are now professionals.
The GB&I squad
- David Boote (Walton Heath, Surrey)
- Paul McBride (The Island, Dublin)
- Daniel Brown (Masham, Yorkshire)
- Bradley Moore (Kedleston Park, Derbyshire)
- Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint, County Down)
- Conor O'Rourke (Naas, County Kildare)
- Owen Edwards (Llanwern, Newport)
- Marco Penge (Golf at Goodwood, Sussex)
- Alex Gleeson (Castle, Dublin)
- Alfie Plant (Sundridge Park, Kent)
- Scott Gregory (Corthampton, Hampshire)
- Craig Ross (Kirkhill, Lanarkshire)
- Stuart Grehan (Tullamore, County Offaly)
- Sandy Scott (Nairn, Nairnshire)
- Craig Howie (Peebles, Borders)
- Connor Syme (Drumoig, Fife)
- Barry Hume (Haggs Castle, Glasgow)
- James Walker (Oaks, Yorkshire)
- Robert MacIntyre (Glencruitten, Argyll & Bute)
The final ten-man GB&I team will be announced in August.