GB&I seal famous Walker Cup win
The GB&I team pulled off an unlikely win against the Americans in the 2011 Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen on Sunday.
Despite coming up against six of the world’s top 10 amateurs, the GB&I team pulled off an unlikely Walker Cup win against the Americans at Royal Aberdeen on Sunday.
Welshman Nigel Edwards, the captain of the GB&I team, had a simple message for his players on Sunday in the face of their opponents’ superiority in the rankings: “It’s not played on paper”.
The United States were big favourites heading into this year’s event, but ended up losing 14 points to 12 after all was said and done on Sunday evening.
It ends a run of three successive defeats for the Great Britain and Ireland side, and was their biggest margin of victory since the comprehensive 15-9 drubbing in 2001, when the side featured the likes of Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell among its ranks.
After taking a 7-5 lead overnight, the GB&I side came out firing in Sunday’s morning Foursomes, winning three of the matches and halving the other. It gave them an incredible five-point lead, which would have been even better had the team of Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart not let a four-up advantage with six holes left against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers end in a half.
Lewis is the name some might remember from this year’s Open Championship, where he opened with a superb 65 to grab some of the early headlines at Sandwich. Though he ended up not having the greatest Walker Cup, losing both his singles matches, as things turned out he was not even needed.
In fact, most of the GB&I team struggled in the afternoon singles matches, which the USA ended up winning convincingly 6½ to 3½.
Russel Henley beat Tom Lewis convincingly by 4&2 in the opening game, while Jordan Spieth took care of Andy Sullivan by 3&2.
Nathan Smith and Jack Senior then shared their match before Michael Stewart secured another point towards the crucial three points the GB&I side needed from the 10 single matches when he beat Patrick Rodgers 3&2.
Peter Uhlein then kept the USA in the game with a 2&1 win over Stiggy Hodgson, before Steven Brown netted another half point against American Blayne Barber.
Only one point was needed now by GB&I and they got it in the next match as Rhys Pugh, the youngest of the players participating at 17, beat Kelly Kraft 2&1, securing an unbeaten record for the event in the process.
Chris Williams and Harris English then earned two more points for the US team against Allen Dunbar and James Byrne respectively, before the final match of the day between Patrick Cantlay and Paul Cutler was halved.
Pugh was understandably elated with the win and his performance across the two days.
“I couldn’t have dreamt of better – I’ve never felt anything like this before,” he said.
Michael Stewart said: “I knew what I had to do and it meant a lot.”
Playing with his father as his caddie, he added: “He knows exactly what to say at the right time and keeps me cool.”
Jack Senior, the player involved in Saturday’s controversy when his brother, a pro golfer who should not have been allowed to carry his bag, helped him to a win that the Americans agreed to let stand, said of his final putt in Sunday’s single match: “The emotions were seriously high when it went in – I’d not really made anything.”
Captain Edwards summed it all up: “Fantastic. They are a very special bunch of guys and have a lot of passion and desire to be successful.”
(Gbr names first, all times BST):
Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart halved with Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers
Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan bt Peter Uihlein and Harris English 3 & 2
Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar bt Kelly Kraft and Blayne Barber 2 & 1
James Byrne and Rhys Pugh bt Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams 5 & 3
Tom Lewis lost to Russell Henley 4 & 2
Andy Sullivan lost to Jordan Spieth 3 & 2
Jack Senior halved with Nathan Smith
Michael Stewart bt Patrick Rodgers 3 & 2
Stiggy Hodgson lost to Peter Uihlein 2 & 1
Steven Brown halved with Blayne Barber
Rhys Pugh bt Kelly Kraft 2 & 1
Alan Dunbar lost to Chris Williams 1 hole
James Byrne lost to Harris English 2 & 1
Paul Cutler halved with Patrick Cantlay
Great Britain 14 United States 12
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