GB&I win Walker Cup

11/09/2011 18:43:12
The victorious Great Britian and Ireland team with the Walker Cup  (Getty Images)
The victorious Great Britian and Ireland team with the Walker Cup (Getty Images)

One simple message from captain Nigel Edwards paid handsome dividends as Britain and Ireland's amateurs defied the odds to take the Walker Cup back off America at Royal Aberdeen.

Against a line-up containing six of the world's top ten amateurs, Edwards told his side: "It's not played on paper".

With his fellow Welshman Rhys Pugh - at 17 easily the baby of the team - and Northern Ireland's Paul Cutler unbeaten, the strongly-fancied United States were beaten 14-12.

It ended a run of three successive defeats for Britain and Ireland and was their biggest margin since the 15-9 victory in 2001, when the team included current World Number one Luke Donald and last year's US Open champion Graeme McDowell.

What this team will go onto achieve remains to be seen, but they can be pretty sure they had got the better of some future stars - amateur world number one Patrick Cantlay has already had a 60 on the US PGA Tour and Harris English has won a 'second tier' Nationwide Tour title.

After taking a 7-5 overnight lead, the gap became five with another outstanding performance in the four morning foursomes.

Having dropped just one point in the opening session, Edwards's men did even better and would have completed a whitewash if only Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart had not halved from four up with six to play against Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers.

Lewis, of course, is the 20-year-old from Welwyn Garden who created Open Championship history with his 65 at Sandwich in July.

Many thought he had to be in similar form for the home team to win, yet he lost both his singles and they still triumphed.

A mere three points were needed from the ten concluding games, but when Lewis lost to Russell Henley and Andy Sullivan to teenager Jordan Spieth there was still work to be done.

Stewart, one of the two Scots, beat world number three Patrick Rodgers 3&2, then Lancashire's Jack Senior, who two weeks ago reached the semi-finals of the US Amateur, sank a 35-foot putt on the final green for a half with Nathan Smith.

Pugh, who beat Rodgers on the first day, added the scalp of American champion Kelly Kraft and the celebrations started when English champion Steven Brown won his final hole for a half against Blayne Barber.

Cutler could argue he was the one who secured the win because he was already four up with four to play in the bottom game, but, spared the need to go through the agonies that compatriot McDowell did in last year's Ryder Cup, he lost them all to give Cantlay a half.

Pugh said: "I couldn't have dreamt of better - I've never felt anything like this before."

Stewart commented: "I knew what I had to do and it meant a lot."

He had his father as his caddie and added: "He knows exactly what to say at the right time and keeps me cool."

Senior was the player involved in controversy on the first day. His brother, a professional golfer, should not have been allowed to carry his bag as he won in the foursomes, but the Americans agreed for the result to stand.

On his closing putt he stated: "The emotions were seriously high when it went in - I'd not really made anything."

Edwards summed it all up by saying: "Fantastic. They are a very special bunch of guys and have a lot of passion and desire to be successful."

Results on the second day of the Walker Cup Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, Aberdeen, Scotland

(Gbr names first):

Foursomes

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

 

OFFICIAL WALKER CUP SITE AND RESULTS