Tyler Strafaci played in the 2021 Masters in April.
By Ryan Herrington
JUNO BEACH, Fla. — The Walker Cup had been the end goal for several months now for Tyler Strafaci, the place where the reigning U.S. Amateur champion would make his amateur swansong after an memorable nine-month stretch following his victory at Bandon Dunes. Now, it’s unclear whether he’ll get a chance to play at all in the two-day competition at Seminole Golf Club after needing to go to the hospital for precautionary reasons on Saturday afternoon.
Strafaci later returned to the course to watch the competition and said, “I really wanted to contribute. I just felt like I couldn’t give it my all today. … I wasn’t feeling up to it.
“It’s tough. I wanted to go out. I’ve been playing all my life for this. [But] I couldn’t have walked 18 holes.”
Like many on both the American and Great Britain & Ireland teams, Strafaci was stricken by a stomach bug that made his participation in the matches questionable. He started feeling sick on Thursday, arriving late at the course on Friday to practice a bit in the afternoon. On Saturday, he was a spectator watching the morning foursomes matches, but captain Nathaniel Crosby had him in the afternoon singles lineup, seemingly indicating that he was feeling well enough to play.
Yet while warming up on the driving range about a half hour before his 3:03 p.m. match against Ben Jones, he started feeling sick again. Strafaci sat down on a bench at the end of the range while medical personnel administer IV fluid to him. Teammate William Mouw was quickly summoned to the range to start to warm up as a potential replacement.
Strafaci got up and tried to hit a couple more golf balls, but after talking to U.S. Walker Cup team officials, the decision was made to substitute Mouw, a relaxation of the rules around the Walker Cup that had been allowed this week because of the fact that upwards of 15 players and both captains have been hit with the virus.
As a precaution, USGA officials said Strafaci was taken to a local hospital to receive more fluids.
In Strafaci’s place, Mouw dominated Jones, winning 4 and 3.
After winning the Havemeyer Trophy last August, Strafaci decided to forgo a fifth year of college golf at Georgia Tech, instead taking advantage of the spoils of being U.S. Amateur champion. He has played in two PGA Tour events (missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and withdrawing after a round at the Genesis Invitational) as well as competing in last month’s Masters, where he also missed the cut. The dry run on tour was all in preparation for turning pro, with his scheduled debut to come next week at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Strafaci also has an exemption into the U.S. Open in June, thanks to his U.S. Amateur win.