U.S. Palmer Cup team coach Conrad Ray won't have to search long or hard for a twosome capable of leading the charge when the annual matches are held in June at Scotland's Glasgow GC. Not with the star tandem from the victorious American side at last September's Walker Cup, Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler and Florida's Billy Horschel—among the eight players named to the U.S. team last week. The duo won both of their foursomes matches at Royal County Down and helped set a spirited tone for the U.S. side.
Joining them on the eight-man Palmer Cup team that will face its collegiate counterparts from Europe, June 26-27, are UCLA's Kevin Chappell, Louisville's Derek Fathauer, San Diego State's Aaron Goldberg, Georgia Tech's Chesson Hadley, Georgia's Adam Mitchell and Alabama's Michael Thompson. In addition to his Walker Cup experience, Horschel is the lone player to have competed in the Palmer Cup, going 4-0 en route to a convincing 18-6 victory last June at Caves Valley GC outside Baltimore.
Ray, who coached Stanford to the NCAA title last year, still will have some work on his hands, however, considering the event’s history. Only once has the U.S. won on the road, claiming the matches at Ireland’s Doonbeg GC in 2002. (Their overall record is 6-4-1.)
Being picked for the U.S. side was a much appreciated gift for Thompson, who got the news April 16, his 23rd birthday. Having been among the odd men out for last year’s U.S. Walker Cup team, the U.S. Amateur runner-up doesn’t consider it a consolation prize.
"As it continues to grow in prestige, being picked for this team is something a lot of people have as a goal,” Thompson said a few weeks ago. "To represent your country is just such a great honor, and it will be a special way to end my amateur career." Thompson will play in the U.S. Open two weeks earlier and anticipated turning professional afterward had he not made the Palmer Cup team.