Walker Cup

Brown draws on experience for second Walker Cup bid

The R&A
31 Aug 23
3 mins

At the age of 22, it would be strange to call Barclay Brown ‘experienced’ as he prepares for the 49th Walker Cup in St Andrews.

However, there is no doubt the Englishman’s past efforts in the biennial team encounter and on the Old Course itself offer Great Britain and Ireland a useful asset this weekend. The Hallamshire player makes a second Walker Cup appearance after playing at Seminole in 2021, a contest that saw the visitors push the United States of America close before being edged out in a 14–12 defeat. A blossoming amateur career continued when, after qualifying for The 150th Open at St Andrews last summer, Brown was tied 12th after 36 holes to make the cut.

Town support

“I quite enjoyed being one of the youngest players in 2021, so it’s quite sad for me!” laughed Brown. “Connor (Graham), at 16, is now the youngest person ever to play (in the Walker Cup) but I’m happy to be able to offer some experience. I don’t feel as old as I now am, but I’ll try and provide any help I can to the team. “It’s great to be back playing in the Walker Cup again. Since making the 2021 team, the goal for the next couple of years was to be back here. I knew it was going to be in St Andrews, so it feels great and I can already feel the support from people around the town and people around the golf course. I’m looking forward to starting.” So what does Brown draw from his twin experiences – first at Seminole and then in front of record Open crowds for such an historic staging of the Championship last July? “Just how much every shot matters,” he answered, in relation to Seminole. “It was close in 2021. We were behind and ended up having a really good run at it. We were one match flipped from drawing there. Everything throughout this whole weekend, from the first shot on Saturday to the last shot on Sunday is going to be huge. We need full care and attention and being meticulous right from the go.”
Barclay Brown's opening four-under-par 68 at the Old Course  | The 150th Open Championship

Open knowledge

And The 150th Open? He continued, “Just angles – playing the course how it is meant to be played instead of taking some of the more generous things it gives you and trying to stay disciplined. So hitting it where you have to and hitting the right shots, largely off the tee to give you those birdie looks. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of birdies this week and you’ve got to be hitting it in the right spots. “The Open was basically the first time I had played the Old. It was playing pretty different last summer, firmer and faster. It was a little warmer as well! It looks a little different without the stands up but when the crowds come in this weekend I’m sure we’ll see the same kind of visuals. It was great playing it in tournament conditions then and I’ve looked forward to playing the Old Course again since.” So far in 2023, the member of England’s national team has earned All‑America honours in his senior season at Stanford University, finished tied-fourth in the NCAA Division One Individual Championship and competed in the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Placed 26th on the World Amateur Ranking® (WAGR®), he is a player very much in from. In 2022, he was also a member of the winning GB&I team in the St Andrews Trophy against the Continent of Europe. With home advantage often an asset in the Walker Cup, can he achieve more amateur dramatics over the famous Fife Links?

Team belief

“I don’t know if we’ll necessary draw on past results, but we believe in the team we have and everyone’s abilities and how we will come together as a team,” added Brown. “We will take the confidence from our games and believe in what we can do. “They (United States of America) have a great team, they are great players, but it’s nothing that anyone on our team is incapable of. They are really solid golfers, they hit the ball well, chip well, play well – all things that we can do. We believe in the abilities of our team. We know it’s a tough test but I don’t think we want it any other way and we are so looking forward to the challenge.” If there is another area GB&I can draw on, it is their familiarity with foursomes golf – the format played in the sessions on Saturday and Sunday morning. Brown has been playing alternate shot since representing England in under-16s matches. “I’m sure they (the USA) will have done their preparation, it’s golf at the end of the day,” said Brown.  “But I guess it’s nice that we are comfortable in that format and for the most part we’ve all grown up playing the same tournaments together and know each other pretty well. We’re confident in how the team is bonding.”

Liam Nolan - Great Britain and Ireland

“It’s incredible to be here. The last two years of golf has really just been trying to get here. Getting the call three weeks ago was amazing and also a lot of relief as well."

Nolan confidence

Ireland’s Liam Nolan has brought his infectious enthusiasm to the home camp already this week and echoed Brown’s words with regard to foursomes play.  “I started playing foursomes around 14, playing smaller tournaments in Ireland,” said the 23-year-old from Galway. “If you get on well with your partner – and there are a lot of guys in this team I get on really well with – that’s the main challenge really. Hopefully we can draw on some of the strong friendships in the team for this week.” Nolan has been part of GB&I training sessions twice this year in St Andrews and believes his overall knowledge of perhaps the most famous course in the world has continued to increase. “It’s incredible to be here,” he added. “The last two years of golf has really just been trying to get here. Getting the call three weeks ago was amazing and also a lot of relief as well. “Every time you come here you feel like you learn something new about the course. There are such a variety of ways you can play it, especially around the greens. I’ve played it so many times now. I feel really comfortable. I love the tee shots, especially, they really suit my eye. I’m getting used to the greens more and more every time I play it.” Come along to enjoy the 49th Walker Cup by purchasing tickets here.