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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Fisher eyes bright future
By Alistair Magowan

For those looking for British success in America this week, it might be worth switching your attention from Baltusrol to a young blond from Essex a bit further west.

When 16-year-old Oliver Fisher steps onto the first tee at the Chicago Golf Club in Illinois on Saturday, he will become the youngest competitor in Walker Cup history.

FISHER FACTS
Oliver Fisher
Born: 19.9.1988, Chingford, Essex
Golf Club: West Essex
Honours: 2004 Faldo Series, English U16 Championship, Essex men's and boys' Championships, represented Europe in the junior Ryder Cup

But if you think he's nervous about competing, then think again.

"I guess it proves if you're good enough, you're old enough," he said.

"My age isn't really a factor. My whole golfing career has been spent mixing with older players so that's not really different.

"It doesn't make me nervous when I step up a level at all. I just love golf so there's no pressure or nerves, it's just great for me."

Proven ability

Fisher's inclusion in the GB and Ireland team is a result of several expected members graduating to the professional ranks over the past year.

But to call it a surprise would be to dismiss the teenager's proven ability to compete with the best amateurs in the country.

This season he finished joint runner-up in the English stroke play championship and lost to the eventual winner Brian McElhinney in the semi-final of the British Amateur Championship.

His first England cap came at the European Championships in July, where he contributed to England's first triumph in the competition for 14 years.

And last year he won the Faldo Series adding the title to a string of successes at junior level.

That said, his near-nerveless talent on the course still allows him to get excited about his Walker Cup debut.

GB&I WALKER CUP TEAM
Fisher beat team mate Nigel Edwards at the British Amateur
Captain: Garth McGimpsey
Rhys Davies, 20, Glamorgan
Robert Dinwiddie, 22, Barnard Castle
Nigel Edwards, 37, Caerphilly
Oliver Fisher, 16, Chigwell
Gary Lockerbie, 22, Penrith
Brian McElhinney, 22, Burnfoot
Richie Ramsey, 22, Aberdeen
Matthew Richardson, 20, Ickenham
Lloyd Saltman, 19, Gorebridge
Gary Wolstenholme, 44, Market Harborough

He says: "I was gobsmacked to be honest, it was a great feeling when I found out I was in the team. Amazing.

"I'm very excited and I can't wait to be out there. My age will obviously bring some youth to the side but it's a great honour for me to be selected.

"It's the greatest thing you can achieve as an amateur so it's going to be really, really good."

And joining the likes of experienced campaigners such as Gary Wolstenholme and Nigel Edwards, who he's beaten this season, he is relishing the opportunity to learn from them.

He says: "I've got to look up to the experienced guys, just to feed off them and take note of the things they do.

"We'll be preparing as much as we can. We'll learn the golf course and the different ways you can play it.

"The greens are going to be the biggest thing. Apparently they are really, really quick and there's lots of undulations. It's going to be like Augusta almost."

Tight contest

The confidence that Fisher exudes for a 16-year-old is remarkable and it's clear that he doesn't intend to make up the numbers as GB & Ireland go looking for a fourth successive victory.

Nick Faldo, who has played a significant role in Fisher's development, believes that he can play a "major role" in Chicago. But Fisher doesn't see it quite like that.

"Everyone in the team will play a major role," he says, "I was reading an article the other day which had the past (Walker Cup) results in it. They've always been really tight.

"So every player's point counts. I don't think anyone's a major player. Someone's going to hole a winning putt but you can never tell who that's going to be.

"It's going to be difficult in America and the Americans will be so strong, as they always are, but our team is strong too so we've got a chance of going out there and defending the title."

The Americans better get used to the name because Fisher wants to play in the 2007 Walker Cup too.

Having just finished his GCSEs, he can now concentrate on his golf full-time but thoughts of professionalism are a long way off.

With the winner of the British Amateur guaranteed a place at Augusta each year, don't bet against him appearing in the Masters before then.




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