The United States drew first blood in a month of international golf battles, fighting back to defeat Great Britain and Ireland at the 49th Walker Cup on Sunday.
Team USA’s top men’s amateur players had trailed by three points heading into the final day at a windy St. Andrews in Scotland, but roared back to clinch a 14.5 – 11.5 victory on the iconic Old Course.
The Americans, captained by Mike McCoy, won three of the four Sunday foursomes and seven of the 10 singles matches to claim their fourth consecutive Walker Cup victory and extend their commanding overall record to 39 wins, nine losses and one draw.
“It’s pretty special. It’s certainly the pinnacle of my golfing life,” McCoy, who suffered a bruising 16.5 – 9.5 defeat in his sole Walker Cup playing appearance in 2015, told reporters.
“2015 was tough. We felt crummy for our team, felt crummy for the captain. We just got outplayed.
“This is a great feeling. I tried to put a lot of effort into this for two years and tried to do anything I could that would help make the team successful … I learned a little bit about what made each of them tick, and it just worked out.”
‘They didn’t turn up with their ‘A’ games’
Buoyed by strong home support, with over 14,000 spectators in attendance, Stuart Wilson’s GB & Ireland team punched above its underdog status from the outset, building a 7.5 – 4.5 Saturday lead despite the visitors boasting eight of the world’s top 10 amateur golfers.
At world No. 14, England’s John Gough was the host’s best-ranked player – a position that would have put him second from bottom on the US roster.
The Americans’ quality shone through on the deciding day, with amateur world No. 1 Gordon Sargent and US amateur champion Nick Dunlap both playing starring roles.
Sargent finished the tournament with a flawless 4-0 record, while Dunlap overturned a three-stroke deficit against Barclay Brown to clinch a crucial half point in the singles matches.
“It was a great performance from the boys yesterday to get those three points ahead and then still have a slight advantage going into the singles. We were all still quite optimistic,” Scotland’s Wilson told reporters.
“But I think the Americans just handled the conditions slightly better than us, and to be fair to the boys, without being too harsh or that, I’m sure they’ll be quite disappointed in the way they played themselves.
“They tried their hardest, but they didn’t turn up with their ‘A’ games this afternoon I would say in some matches. They’ll be the ones that will feel it and hurt tomorrow, but the good thing is for them is they’ve got the future. They’ve got tomorrow. I’m sure they can start focusing on the next thing.”
First blow landed
It’s a boost for American golf ahead as it seeks to avenge defeats in a Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup doubleheader later this month.
Typically staged in alternative years, the postponement of the 2020 Ryder Cup due to the coronavirus pandemic means both the women’s and men’s events will be played across a two-week period.
Finca Cortesin in Spain will host the Solheim Cup between September 22 to 24 before Italy’s Marco Simone Golf & Country Club hosts the Ryder Cup from September 29 to October 1.
Team USA will hold home advantage in its bid to make it five in a row at the 50th Walker Cup at Cypress Point, California, in September 2025.