I think Scott Michaux was a bit stunned to find 2013 Walker Cup Captain Jim Holtgrieve scouting players at the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley, now in its second year of glorious excess. Holtgrieve confirms he is hitting the junior golf trail in anticipation of Q-School's demise causing top players to turn pro long before the Walker Cup at The National Golf Links.
“I’m going to be a little more cognizant about junior play because I think that’s probably where it’s going to go,” Holtgrieve said of the Walker Cup selection process. That’s a safe bet considering 2011 Sage Valley runner-up Patrick Rodgers made Holtgrieve’s 10-man roster last fall.
“Last year having Patrick Rodgers on the team was eye-opening,” said George Cunningham, 15, of Tucson, Ariz., who played in his second Junior Invitational.
Because of the pending changes to Q-School, Holtgrieve has received every indication that top American collegians Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth will pass up hanging around as amateurs another year in order to participate in the final Q-School that hands out PGA Tour cards. Cantlay and Spieth were Holtgrieve’s top point-getters with 2.5 each in last year’s Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen, and they would have been the expected leaders for next year’s campaign to win back the cup.
“Nobody is a lock, but there’s no doubt about it that both of them are great players and great ambassadors for the United States,” Holtgrieve said. “So selfishly I’m hoping they stay amateur and try to make the team again.”
Realistically, he knows that won’t happen. Because Holtgrieve understands that amateur and collegiate golf are all the unintended victims of the death of Q-School.
“Absolutely,” he said when the trickle-down consequence of Q-School’s demise was broached.
By the way, if you get weepy seeing the yellow jacket ceremony at the Junior Invitational presented by Electrolux, or nauseous at the sight of 16 year olds with caddies in white overalls, don't watch the final round highlights produced by PGA Tour Productions. They also had W on hand for the banquet.