Amateur champ Gregory is one of six England caps in initial 19-man line-up for this year's match
By Michael McEwan
Six England players have been named in the initial 19-man squad for the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team.
Amateur Champion Scott Gregory is joined by Lytham Trophy winner Alfie Plant and English Amateur champion Dan Brown, as well as fellow internationals Bradley Moore, Marco Penge and James Walker. Gregory and Plant helped England to win the world championship silver medal at last season's Eisenhower Trophy.
This year's Walker Cup will be the 46th edition of the match, taking place over the weekend of September 9-10 in California, with GB&I aiming to retain the trophy after a record 16.5-9.5 victory over the USA at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2015.
The 19-man squad will be cut to ten for the match later this year and Scotland's Craig Watson, who will captain the team for the first time, succeeding three-time skipper Nigel Edwards, believes he has a strong squad available to him.
"We have identified a strong group of players who are all in contention for a place on the team and we will be monitoring their performance and results over the coming season," said Watson.
"We will also pay close attention to the progress and form of players who have not been included in this current squad as they also have the opportunity to play their way into contention for the team selected to play the USA in September."
As well as six English golfers, the squad also includes six Scots. Robert MacIntyre, beaten by the aforementioned Gregory in last year's Amateur Championship final, heads the contingent from north of the Border after reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Amateur at the beginning of the year.
He is joined by Craig Howie, Sandy Scott and 2016 Australian Amateur champion Connor Syme, all of whom played in Scotland's successful defence of the 2016 European Amateur Team Championship. Completing the Scottish six are Barry Hume and 2016 South African Amateur champion Craig Ross.
The squad also features two Welshmen in David Boote and Owen Edwards. Stanford University graduate Boote excelled for GB&I against the Continent of Europe in the St Andrews Trophy and made significant contributions to the winning European teams in the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy and the Arnold Palmer Cup.
Completing the squad are Colm Campbell, the current Irish Amateur Open champion, as well as his fellow Irishmen Paul McBride, Conor O'Rourke and R&A Foundation scholars Alex Gleeson and Stuart Grehan. Gleeson is the Irish Amateur Close champion, while O'Rourke triumphed in the St Andrews Links Trophy last season. Grehan and McBride, meanwhile, were teammates for Ireland at last year's world championship, winning a bronze medal in the Eisenhower Trophy.