Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Marucci hoping to make it three and easy for US side

Walker Cup

American captain Buddy Marucci will give every one of his ten players at least three matches over the two days of the Walker Cup.

That's the same format he played under in 1995 and 1997 and unless something goes drastically wrong over the weekend, that's what he intends to do at Royal County Down.

"I think to work towards an event like this for two years and then play only once isn't right," he said.

"So the plan is to play everyone at least three time and two players in all four matches."

Outside of picking the original ten-man team, he says deciding on who to leave out of the eight singles matches each afternoon is the hardest part of his job.

"As a captain I think it would be wonderful to pick all ten players or even to play like a Ryder Cup format and play another day.

"But as I step outside that role it would be hypocritical of me not to appreciate the tradition that's been established over the years."

His opposite number Colin Dalgleish said he was taking a less rigid approach to selecting his teams, apart from trying to give all ten players a game on the first day.

"I think that what you do for the Sunday depends so much on what happens on the Saturday that you can't go in with a fixed plan in mind," he said.

"Right now I'm about 95 percent sure of my pairings for the Saturday foursomes so it's not completely decided just yet."

Rory McIlroy practised again with Jonathan Caldwell yesterday, another indication if one were needed that the Ulster pair will play together in tomorrow morning's foursomes, continuing on their successful partnership for Ireland in the European team championships.

Marucci, who played twice on the American Walker Cup team in 1995 and 1997 and who was runner-up to Tiger Woods in the 95 US Amateur Championship, is making a point of involving his players as much as possible in his decisions.

" You know this isn't my team; it's their team," he said.

" We have a team here and they are going to make the decisions as well, so it's not my decision entirely.

"So the players that will not be playing in any of the matches will be part of the decision to be in that position.

"At the end of the day I will have to make the call but frankly it will not be without the insight of the players."

Dalgleish reckons that this weekend will follow the pattern of the last two matches at end up extremely close.

"The expectation is that it is to be close and that GB&I have a good chance of winning," he said.

"And I think that expectation is all important.

"We don't know a lot about the American team apart from that they have some very good players but possible only five of them have maybe travelled overseas before to play in many events.

"But these players are of a level that they are adaptable.

"Our players travel around the world and they are world players in matchplay and I think they are quietly confident they will go out there and see what we can do."

Dalgleish knows he has a not-so-secret weapon in Rory McIlroy and is likely to play him in all four matches.

"It's a great and amazing coincidence to have someone of Rory's exceptional talent to come along at this moment in time when the matches are being played here at Royal County Down.

"Certainly as far as the matches are concerned he's going to raise the profile here in Ireland and we got a taste of that when we arrived into Belfast on Monday.

"But he gets no special privileges on the team and in the team room he bonds very well, a solid team member and we're certainly on the golf course expecting great things of him."

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