Great Britain and Ireland are unlikely to roll out the welcome mat to the United States at the Home of Golf, but on the 100th anniversary of the Old Course first hosting the Walker Cupthe Americans marched over the Saints ranks for their fourth straight victory.
Credit to Stuart Wilson’s home team. They were the ranked outsiders – with their average world amateur rating of 88.6 to their opponents’ 8.6 – but led in three of the four sessions and only succumbed in the final hour of a thrilling contest.
Still, as is their wont, Starred and Striped came on strong on the second day, “winning” the morning four 3-1 to close the deficit to one point and then romped the singles 7-3 to reclaim what must be one of the biggest trophies in all sports 14½-11½.
“No one in this team likes to lose. Everyone is extremely competitive, really good,” said Nick Dunlap, the US amateur champion who earned a crucial half point against Yorkshireman Barclay Brown, before explaining the first day GB&I took their biggest half way guide for 34 years.
“We just kind of had an off day and they played great. That’s golf. They’re allowed to play well, make birdies and win games. You know, we all had a game plan. We knew if we came out and executed , we might like the end result.”
In truth, GB&I should have been fine with the strong winds off the Fife coast, but maybe that’s a cliché that should be consigned to the bin. One that shouldn’t is that some of the American celebrations were over-the-top in a game that tries to remain separate from the jingoism of the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cupboth of which follow later this month.
It wasn’t Dunlap’s fault, but after he holed a four-footer to win the 18th and deny Brown the full point, a member of the American entourage ran over to the famous green and high-fived Dunlap (see below) before had a chance to shake hands with his opponent. Rude and unnecessary. Especially since it was a halved point and the second match on the links.
But the USA clearly deserved it, and in Gordon Sargent they boasted the top-ranked amateur who won four out of four. England’s John Gough pushed the 20-year-old all the way but drove it into the hotel garden on the 17th Road Hole and any hope effectively vanished at the infamous golf graveyard.
“The American team is unbelievably talented,” said Mark Power, one of only two GB&I winners who saw off Ben James as one-up. “We all knew how highly ranked they were and we just tried to block it. But they really showed their class this afternoon. We gave it our all.”