Walker Cup

McCoy eyeing career pinnacle with Walker Cup triumph

The R&A
31 Aug 23
3 mins

United States of America captain Mike McCoy says a Walker Cup victory for his side at St Andrews would represent “the pinnacle of my golfing life”.

McCoy has achieved many impressive feats during a stellar career, including an emphatic victory in last year’s R&A Senior Amateur Championship at Royal Dornoch. He also won the US Mid-Amateur in 2013, earned low amateur honours at the US Senior Open in 2014 and 2015, and represented his country in the Walker Cup at the age of 52 eight years ago at Royal Lytham & St Annes. However, McCoy is in no doubt that this week would top the lot if the USA secure victory over the Old Course.

Dream scenario

“It’s a dream come true, it really is,” said McCoy. “I was just reflecting on how fast the two years has really gone since I was named captain. “(Winning the Walker Cup) would be certainly the pinnacle of my golfing life. It would be a great honour. We’ll do our best and let the chips fall where they may.” McCoy’s star-studded side features eight of the top ten in the World Amateur Golf Ranking® (WAGR®), with John Gough the highest-placed Great Britain & Ireland player at 14th in the standings. Yet the US captain knows that will count for precious little when the action gets underway on Saturday morning.

Reverse psychology

“I think when you get to match play and you get to a links course they (Great Britain & Ireland) are very familiar with, you can throw all the WAGR stuff out the window,” said McCoy. “I'm certainly not putting much weight in it this week. “I'm really more focused on our guys getting to know the golf course and understanding that it's hard to win when you're on the road like this and when you're playing at a golf course they're so familiar with. I'm trying to reverse the psychology a little bit.” Experience of links golf is in relatively short supply in a youthful USA team, so McCoy has been eager to share the knowledge he has built up on a number of visits to the Old Course. "I came over when I was younger and played a couple of St Andrews Links Trophy events and then I was fortunate enough to qualify for the Senior Open (in 2018),” he explained.

Mike McCoy - United States of America Captain

“It’s a dream come true, it really is. (Winning the Walker Cup) would be certainly the pinnacle of my golfing life. It would be a great honour. We’ll do our best and let the chips fall where they may.”

Wind prepared

"I also came last year and watched The 150th Open. I walked the course a couple of times just to reacquaint myself and then we walked it again on Sunday morning, so I'm starting to get a real good feel for it. “I think the key and the thing I've tried to explain to the players is how the weather can shift so rapidly and the winds can look like they're going to be coming one way and then an hour later they've shifted. So just trying to make sure we're prepared for any change in the wind, I think that's the most important thing I can do. "I’ve encouraged the guys to put a 2-iron or a long iron in the bag, and most of them have. I've told them to take a little bounce off their wedges and I think they've done that, but they're so good, the players. We know that the GB&I players are wonderful players too, so they'll adapt to whatever the wind brings.” The foursomes contests, which see team-mates sharing the same ball and playing alternate shots, have typically represented the greatest challenge for the USA in past Walker Cup matches. A lack of exposure to the format in comparison to their GB&I counterparts is a hurdle for the Americans to overcome, but McCoy is confident his side can rise to the challenge.

Foursomes work

“We know it's important – we did play some foursomes in our practice session around Christmas time, so I got some ideas then on certain combinations,” he continued. “We played foursomes yesterday (Tuesday), we’re gonna play foursomes again today (Wednesday). I’m very happy with the combinations we’ve found. I think that everybody’s complementing each other.” With the build-up to the biennial contest almost at an end, excitement is understandably high for McCoy and his charges. The 60-year-old USA skipper is having the time of his life at St Andrews and acknowledged he does not want the week to end. “I’m sure it will be a let-down when it’s over,” said McCoy with a smile. “But I’m enjoying it right now – there’s a lot of adrenaline.”