Inside Tyler Strafaci’s late-night, post-hospital Walker Cup practice session
JUNO BEACH, Fla. — In waning daylight, Tyler Strafaci stood on the practice green at Seminole Golf Club armed only with his putter and a small collection of practice balls. One ball after another tumbled along the baked-out turf as the maintenance crew finished their final touch-ups for the night. In golf-speak, he was grinding.
This isn’t a particularly rare scene for high-level golf, but considering where Strafaci had been just hours earlier, it was remarkable.
Strafaci is just one of several Walker Cup players who have been stricken with a mysterious stomach virus this week. Just before his scheduled 3:03 p.m. tee time Saturday afternoon, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion was scratched from the lineup. Moments later, he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a local hospital.
Details on the matter were sparse. “Tyler Strafaci did leave the grounds of Seminole Golf Club and is receiving fluids at a local hospital,” the USGA said in a statement. “[But] there is no additional information available at this time.”
The 22-year-old later revealed to Golf Channel that he’d been admitted for dehydration, and received three IVs. He was discharged from the emergency room later in the afternoon and returned to the course, where he rejoined his teammates to watch the Americans claim a 7-5 lead over GB&I.
When the excitement of the day wound down, Strafaci headed to the practice green unperturbed by the day’s (chaotic) events, and unmoved from his original goal.
“I want to win as bad as everyone else on that team,” Strafaci told GOLF.com. “This event is as meaningful as any other golf tournament in the world.”
As Strafaci continued his routine, Walker Cup stalwart Steward Hagestad approached him. The two chatted for a moment and then the elder statesman gave Strafaci a hug. Hagestad almost surely shared some words of encouragement for what figures to be a 36-hole day for Strafaci tomorrow.
Hagestad played in just one match on Saturday, a foursomes loss to Angus Flanagan and Jake Bolton. But even though the last two men on the putting green didn’t contribute any points on the board on day one, the younger Strafaci still provided some veteran wisdom.
“That’s the great thing about this event,” he said. “It’s about everyone as a team. We have a two-point lead going into tomorrow — that’s all that matters.”
With the sun fully vanished behind the Western dunes, Strafaci and Hagestad walked back toward the pink stucco clubhouse. It seemed like a rough day for the Walker Cup rookie, but Strafaci had a different perspective.
“It wasn’t a bad day,” he said. “We’re leading. That’s all that’s important.”