Apr 23, 2008

Nantz talks Walker Cup at Merion GC

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Walker Cup

ARDMORE, Pa. — Merion GC welcomed CBS sports broadcaster Jim Nantz Tuesday as a featured speaker at Walker Cup Media Day.

   Nantz, along with 2009 Walker Cup team captain George “Buddy” Marucci, was on hand to promote ticket sales for the event, which will be held at Merion Sept. 11-13.

   “It’s an honor to be here. It doesn’t get any better than Merion,” Nantz said.

“I play so seldom, but I’ve seen the changes here,” he said. “I’m so thankful to be a part of this club. This is an exciting time for our club.”

   The Walker Cup Match pits amateur players from the United States against those from Great Britain and Ireland. It takes place every two years, alternately in the United States, Great Britain and Ireland. Merion has never hosted the Walker Cup, but it has staged the most USGA championships in the nation.

   Being the home of the Walker Cup is special for Merion, according to Nantz. He recalled the club’s memorable moments, such as Ben Hogan’s U.S. Open victory in 1950 and Lee Trevino’s snake prank on Jack Nicklaus in the 1971 U.S. Open.

   “There’s a tremendous history here, and a great shot value in every single shot,” Nantz said. “On every single shot, a player has a wonderful look through the eye. Every shot here — tee shot, second shot, pitches around the green — is just the right place. This is one of the great, classical golf courses of all time.”

   Marucci, a Villanova, Pa. resident and Merion GC member, is thrilled to lead the Walker Cup squad through his home course this year.

   “It’s a unique challenge to do this at home,” he said. “It’s beyond words. I’m not sure I can articulate it. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. I think the golf course will be on display. It will be in championship condition. What makes (Merion) special is it starts the second you walk out onto the course. Every single shot requires thought and is challenging.”

   The Walker Cup is “the event of a lifetime,” according to Marucci. He hopes that “as many people as possible” will witness it in September at Merion.

   “The bigger crowds do add to the event,” Marucci said. “The matches provide that opportunity to get up close and personal.”

   Rod Day, a fellow Merion GC member and chairman of the 2009 Walker Cup Committee, considers the Walker Cup to be “special.”

   “It’s the kind of event that’s for golfers and future golfers,” he said. “It means a lot to Merion to host it this year.”

   Nantz, who has anchored CBS’s golf coverage since 1994, felt “happy to be a part of” Tuesday’s press event at Merion. And though he thoroughly enjoys the game of golf, Nantz prefers to provide its audience with his commentary.

   “I kind of enjoy watching golf and playing golf from 20 feet above the back tees,” he said.

   Aside from addressing Merion and its role as host of the Walker Cup, Nantz also shared his thoughts on the professional circuit.

   On Kenny Perry, who lost to Angel Cabrera in a sudden death playoff at the Masters this month: “I think he’ll probably bounce back with a win. We know the Zurich Classic isn’t going to wash away all of the pain from Augusta, but there are a couple of ways he knows how to deal with this. I think he’s a man of good faith and tremendous talent. He’s a great player. I think he can win a major.”

   On Brian Gay, who won last week’s Verizon Heritage by finishing 20-under 264: “It’s one thing to win, but when you demolish a field at a real challenging course, and you double-over second place, I think it’s a harbinger of some really big things to come from Brian Gay. Now, people look at him in a totally different light. He completely manhandled the rest of the field. If I had to pick three players this year who will win tournaments, you know you’re going to have Tiger (Woods) on that list. I’m going to put (Phil) Mickelson on that list, and I’ll put Brian Gay on that list.”

   On Lanny Wadkins’ induction into the Hall of Fame: “I’m thrilled to death for Lanny. He deserves it. I believe he should’ve been in several years earlier. I always looked at him as a Hall of Famer. It’s just confirmation of what people knew years ago. I know it means a lot to him. I’m very happy for him. He belongs there.”

   For Walker Cup ticket information, visit www.2009WalkerCup.org, call 484-708-1050, or e-mail tickets@walkercup.org. Packages range from $40 for a daily grounds ticket to $90 for a season grounds ticket (Friday through Sunday) to $225 for a season Trophy Club ticket, which includes access to a hospitality area with food and beverage options.

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