Gophers golfer Angus Flanagan to fulfill a dream, playing in Walker Cup

·3 min read

He'll be thousands of miles away from his suburban London home. But Angus Flanagan firmly believes he'll have a home-course advantage.

Talk about coming full circle.

Starting Saturday, Gophers golfer Angus Flanagan, as part of the team from Great Britain and Ireland, will take on the United States team in the 48th Walker Cup. They will play at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla.

"I've been looking forward to this since getting the call a couple weeks ago," Flanagan said. "This is something that, growing up, I've always wanted to play in. It's always been on my agenda."

Flanagan knows this course well. He and his dad traveled there from England years ago to play there. And that trip is what brought him, ultimately, to Minnesota.

It went like this: Flanagan was at Seminole playing with his dad. They met the head pro there, Bob Ford. Ford had been a mentor to Justin Smith. Smith, of course, is now the Gophers coach. It was that connection that brought Flanagan to the University of Minnesota for a visit, where he fell in love with the campus.

"Even though it was snowing," Flanagan said.

Flanagan is finishing his fourth season with the Gophers, though it might not be the last; NCAA rules allow players an extra year of competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flanagan could return, or he could begin his professional quest. "That's an unknown at the moment," he said. "I wish I had more clarity on it."

The Walker Cup could provide that. Played every other year since 1922, this is the 48th version. The match-play event is run over two days. The event, which matches top amateurs from both sides of the Atlantic has a history of producing star players.

Consider the U.S. team that won the 2017 event held at the Los Angeles Country Club. Of that 10-player team, seven this season are playing on the PGA tour. Collin Morikawa already has four tour wins, including the 2020 PGA Championship; he tied for second at the inaugural 3M Open in Blaine in 2019. Will Zalatoris finished second at the Masters last month and was tied for sixth at the 2020 U.S. Open. Cameron Champ has two PGA tour wins, and Scottie Scheffler was last year's PGA Rookie of the Year.

"It's a good steppingstone," Flanagan said. "It's the pinnacle of amateur golf, definitely something every amateur should aspire to. Now I'm here. Being a part of it is something I'm always going to have. I'm part of its history."

Flanagan said he knows many of the players on both teams. Many of his teammates are playing college golf in the U.S. His playing here has also allowed him to know many of the U.S. members as well.

Flanagan is playing well entering the tournament.

An all-Big Ten first-team member, Flanagan won back-to-back tournaments — the Boilermaker Invitational and the Git R Done Husker invitational leading into last week's conference tournament. In six stroke play tournaments this spring Flanagan led the Gophers in scoring average (72.06), birdies (62) and rounds under par (eight).

Flanagan said he hit the ball well at the conference tournament, but problems in the putting game led to a 13th-place tie.

He'll be used to the pressure, having already appeared in two PGA tournaments, including last year's 3M Open.

And now he's back at the Seminole Club, where his American golf experience began in 2016. He played there again over winter break. So he feels right at home.

Flanagan has qualified for the NCAA regionals as well. But he has a bucket list item to take care of first.

"I'm just excited to get it started," Flanagan said. "It should be a fun weekend.''

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