Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Don't let amateur game die: Kuehne

Trip Kuehne reckons he's the last of a dying breed - the career amateur.

And although he accepts that players in their late twenties or thirties playing on Walker Cup teams may soon be a thing of the past, he says it's important that the competition is always played in the right spirit.

"Professional golf is going to be around forever but there is a great amateur game where there are guys that are 25-years-old plus playing and representing their country and I don't think that is going to be around forever," he said.

"And I'm scared deeply by that because I care about the amateur game of golf, not the professional game of golf.

"My family is my first priority, my business second and golf third. If golf was first, I should be a professional."

Kuehne is the embodiment of the All-American male, clean-cut and passionate about his game and will be a formidable opponent. He's the most experienced, in Walker Cup terms, on either side with two previous appearances in 1995 and 2003.

Playing a Walker Cup in America is a completely different experiences to one this side of the Atlantic where it attracts huge galleries.

And Kuehne confessed to having a baptism of fire when he made his debut at Royal Porthcawl 12 years ago.

"I was a 23-year-old deer caught in the headlights," he said.

" I wasn't prepared for anything and that's the thing I have stressed to the rest of the team is to be prepared mentally for anything that might happen.

"You know, even be prepared for an act of God because it could happen in the Walker Cup."

The standard bearer of the US team is Colt Knost, the top-ranked amateur player in the world.

He had to send an SOS to his mother Luanne to bring over a replacement driver after he accidentally snapped the shaft in two whilst leaning on it earlier in the week.

"There's no problem with the driver," he said. " I got my backup driver over here and it works just as good as the other one."

Like Kuehne, Knox hails from Texas and is reminiscent of a younger John Daly ? although he doesn't hit the ball quite as far.

Royal County Down is his first experience of links golf, but so far, he likes what he sees.

"I've been told that my frame sets up pretty well for links golf even though this is my first real experience of it," he said.

"It's just a matter of getting over here and getting used to everything. The wind doesn't bother me, being from Texas, and you have to be creative out there and I really like that."

Kuehne's selection caused something of a stir back in America, particularly after his poor showing at the American amateur championship when he shot an 83 last month.

"I don't think I have anything to prove," he said.

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