US fight back in style to win Walker Cup

James Corrigan
The Telegraph
The US team hold aloft the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Sunday - 2019 R&A
The US team hold aloft the Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on Sunday - 2019 R&A

It is, of course, a misconception that Americans struggle to play links golf and as evidence one only needs to look at the names on the Claret Jug. Still, the inexorable march of the Starred and the Striped to retain the Walker Cup at the Royal Liverpool on Sunday did come as a shock to the sizeable home galleries.

Granted, the conditions were perfect and Nate Crosby, the US captain, was quick to thank the weather gods that he feared would blow his youngsters off course. Instead, they trampled their hosts into the seaside turf, coming back from an overnight 7-5 deficit to cruise to a 15½-10½ success. Having pulled back in the morning foursomes, the visitors “won” the singles 8-2. It was like the bad old days when they would routinely travel over for a waltz.

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This was just America’s second away win in 24 years and their first on the British mainland since 1987. Indeed, you had to go back to Sunningdale 32 years ago to the last time Great Britain and Ireland were handed such a comprehensive walloping in their own backyard.

However, the likes of world No 1 amateur Cole Hammer and Brandon Wu might have found more inspiration from the last team to win overseas at Royal County Down in 2007. They included two future major winners in Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson, as well as PGA Tour winners of the calibre of Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel.

“I let them just go play,” Crosby, the 1983 US Amateur champion, said. “They are very talented guys who believe in themselves and that came to the surface. 

“We were a crazy mix of personalities, but all blended well. It was almost too much fun, but after yesterday we sobered up and really focused and it was an amazing afternoon.”

Craig Watson, the GB&I captain, pointed to the switch in momentum as key. The US looked almost certain to trail 8-4 at the end of the first day, until John Pak won the final two holes of his singles match over Ireland’s James Sugrue, the amateur champion. That was to prove crucial, because when the US took the foursomes 2½-1½ there was only one in it.

“The lads will learn a lot from this,” Watson said. “It was a tough course the way it was set up. If you were ahead early, pars were enough to stay ahead because birdies were going to be few and far between, and the American boys did that very well. ”

Indeed, they did, quickly covering the singles leaderboard in red and never looking back thereafter. Scotland’s Sandy Scott fared well in beating Wu 4&3, so stopping the ultra-impressive 22-year-old from winning four out of four, while in the bottom match Somerset’s Tom Sloman grasped a little consolation, defeating Steve Fisk by two holes.

However, by then it was all over as a contest with Alex Fitzpatrick, the brother of European Tour winner Matt, suffering his second loss of the day in his two-hole reversal to Isaiah Salinda.

In Hamburg, Paul Casey won his first European Tour title in five years when overhauling Scotland’s Robert Macintyre in the final round of the Porsche European Open.

Casey will rise to 14th in the world, courtesy of a bogey-less 66 that took him to 14 under and gave him a one-stroke win over Macintyre and home hope Bernd Ritthammer.

This was Casey’s second title of the season and establishes the 42-year-old as one of the favourites for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in two weeks. 

He dedicated the title to Gordon Brand Jnr, the former Ryder Cup player who died suddenly, aged 60, last month and whose funeral takes place in Bristol on Monday.

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