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Hoylake braced for Walker Cup battle

Entertainment runs in Nathaniel Crosby’s blood and the USA captain wants his all-star team to play with style as they bid to defend the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool this weekend.

The famous Hoylake links is braced for one of the biggest weeks on the golf calendar, where two teams of ten amateurs from both sides of the Atlantic lock horns.

The United States of America has not won on British & Irish shores since 2007 when they inched to a one-point victory at Royal County Down, but their squad is already packed with well-established names.

Brandon Wu claimed a notable T35 at the US Open earlier this season, the same day he graduated from Stamford University, while Andy Ogletree is the US Amateur champion.

And Crosby – whose father is the late actor and singer Bing Crosby – warned Great Britain and Ireland that he has concocted the perfect blend, while urging his players to grasp the opportunity with both hands.

Excitement building for Crosby

“The only thing that I could say from having played on the European Tour and the Walker Cup over here is probably be aggressive downwind and be a little conservative into the wind,” he said.

“It's been a long build-up researching the players the last year and a half, and getting to know them and their parents.

“It's been a lifelong experience for me already, and I know all the players pretty well now after watching them play for a year and a half.

“I got the team that I wanted exactly, and I think we all couldn't be more excited to be here this week.”

Improving and experienced Hagestad

Crosby also has the advantage of being able to call upon Stewart Hagestad, a member of the 2017 team that won by 12 points at Los Angeles Country Club.

“I actually felt like I've got a lot better since college. Like if you were to look at my college resumé, it was nothing,” Hagestad said.

“Obviously like a lot of sacrifices are made specifically Friday, Saturday, Sunday as all of us in this room are out of college and could be a potentially fun part of your life.”

Fleetwood on hand

Local knowledge can make all the difference in links golf and Amateur Champion James Sugrue admits he was hanging on every Tommy Fleetwood word this week.

Fleetwood was on hand to offer advice and walk some holes with the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team at Royal Liverpool, just down the coast from where he grew up in Southport.

And Sugrue, who was in the field at Royal Portrush this summer to see Fleetwood finish second behind Shane Lowry at The 148th Open, insists his presence provided a major boost.

Go and enjoy it

“It was unreal. He walked quite a few holes with us,” he said.

“It was a really good experience just to get up close to him and talk to him about his experience and what he thinks of Hoylake and just pick his brain a bit.

“He really just told us to kind of just enjoy it, really. He said the week would go fast. Even already we came here Sunday, and it's flown already, so he really just said to just enjoy it, and hopefully we will and hopefully we get a good result, as well.”

Return to Hoylake

The Walker Cup is back at Hoylake for the first time in 36 years and the hosts can take confidence knowing they are unbeaten this side of the Atlantic in 12 years.

However, Captain Craig Watson is still hoping for a bit of help from above.

“I think we would prefer a wee bit of wind,” he admitted.

“The Americans will be able to handle the wind, as well. You want it to be half decent for the spectators because they don't want to be watching people hack it out of rough every hole or looking for balls every second hole. But certainly a wee bit of wind would hopefully be to our advantage.

“It would probably suit us a wee bit, but I think it's just whoever plays the best, holes the most putts I think will come out on top.”

For more information on the Walker Cup click here