Aberdeen, Scotland – The best foursomes pairings are comprised of players who complement each other.
That being the case with the USA’s Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams, they couldn’t help but compliment each other after their 5-and-3 victory Saturday morning in the 43rd Walker Cup Match at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
Cantlay and Williams, college rivals at Pacific-12 Conference schools UCLA and Washington, respectively, never trailed in turning back Steven Brown and Stiggy Hodgson in the last of the four foursomes (alternate-shot) contests. It was a win badly needed after Great Britain & Ireland won the first three points of the day, the team’s best first-session performance since 2003 at Ganton Golf Club.
About the only thing the two Americans couldn’t decide on together was who should get the lion’s share of the credit for the lopsided win.
“Chris and I played well together, no doubt,” said Cantlay, 19, of Los Alamitos, Calif. “But Chris made a bunch of putts and was the rock out there for us all day. He really made the difference for us.”
“I would say he was the man of the match,” continued the 20-year-old Williams from Moscow, Idaho. “I guess we fed off each other. Yeah, I made some good putts, but he hit all the shots in there so that I could make the putts.
“We’re a good team. We get along really well together. We haven’t known each other for that long, but once we met and got to know each other, we knew we would be a good team and it was kind of a given after a while that we would play together.”
The duo was never in trouble, taking a 5-up lead through nine holes and then running out the clock, closing the proceedings with a par to a GB&I bogey.
That was how the match turned in USA’s favor when Hodgson and Brown bogeyed the third. But from there it was the Americans’ efforts that were the difference as Williams holed a series of birdie putts. The team birdied Nos. 5, 7, 8, and 9 to forge its huge advantage.
In the three-birdie run starting at the seventh, Cantlay, the low amateur at this year’s U.S. Open, hit a wedge to 15 feet and watched Williams convert it for a 3-up advantage. Williams followed with a 25-footer at No. 8 and a 12-footer at No. 9.
“He was just cruising them in,” said Cantlay, who entered the Match as the world’s top-ranked amateur, according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking supported by the USGA and The R&A. “That was a lot of fun to watch.”
“I felt good. I’ve been putting well and they were a little slower, so you could be aggressive, and that was my thought. I was aggressive today, and just about every putt I had was up the hill. He left me in good spots.”
Three consecutive bogeys on the inward nine starting at the 12th did little to alter the status of the match as Hodgson and Brown bogeyed two holes themselves. In fact, the GB&I duo never registered a birdie.
Not that it mattered. The Americans got on top and rode their momentum to the first point for the three-time defending champions.
“We got off to a good, solid start. Hit the fairway, he hit it on, and I just barely missed the birdie. I felt like it was going to be a good day for us,” said Williams, winner of this summer’s Pacific Coast Amateur who was sitting out the afternoon singles session. “It turned out it was. Now we have to go out this afternoon and get a few more points. We’re down, but there’s a long way to go.”
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose material has previously appeared on USGA websites