GB&I Grabs 7-5 Lead After Day 1 Of Walker Cup


Harris English's singles rally was one of the bright spots for the Americans, who enter the final day of the Walker Cup trailing their Great Britain and Ireland counterparts by two points. (David Cannon/The R&A)
By Pete Kowalski, USGA
September 10, 2011

Aberdeen, Scotland – Great Britain and Ireland, enduring a variety of weather conditions, maintained its advantage following the morning foursomes matches by splitting the eight afternoon singles matches Saturday for a 7-5 lead over the United States of America at the 2011 Walker Cup Match at the par-70, 6,863-yard Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.

“I have got a lot of faith in them,” Great Britain and Ireland captain Nigel Edwards said of his team. “They are good players and they have been playing in tough conditions all year. They have been battered all year by the elements and they have risen to the challenge today. [A] great performance.”

The home side held a 3-1 lead after the morning alternate-shot matches, thanks to three consecutive victories. It was the best GB&I first-session effort since 2003 when it defeated the USA at Ganton Golf Club by one point. The first-day lead was also the first by a GB&I side since 1995 at Royal Porthcawl in Wales. GB&I is seeking to end a three-Match losing streak to the USA.

The USA holds a 9-3 lead in Walker Cup matches played in Scotland, but GB&I won the last Match contested there in 1999 at Nairn.

Each side won four of the eight singles matches in the afternoon, but the USA gained some momentum by taking the first three before GB&I’s Rhys Pugh, the Match’s youngest competitor at 17, overcame a 3-down deficit to beat Patrick Rodgers, 2 and 1. Rodgers started the match by making six birdies over the first seven holes.

“He's a great lad, Rhys,” said Edwards. “And dealing with that barrage that came at him, five birdies [in a row to start] and then Patrick chipped in for birdie on seven, but I saw Rhys come in off the 10th green, and I knew he was okay.  I played foursomes with him myself for Wales, and he's got me out of trouble lots of times.”

Following Pugh’s victory, Great Britain and Ireland won three more consecutive singles matches.

Paul Cutler of GB&I and Patrick Cantlay of the USA were the only players to go 2-0 on the first day of this biennial amateur team competition, which began in 1922.

Cutler combined with fellow Ulsterman Alan Dunbar to win their foursomes match, and he followed that with a 2-and-1 singles defeat of 2011 U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft.

Cantlay, the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open, won the USA’s sole point of the morning with Chris Williams. He followed with a 2-and-1 victory over Scotland’s Michael Stewart in singles to break the GB&I run of three consecutive wins.

“But, obviously they putted really strongly today and made a lot of putts,” USA captain Jim Holtgrieve said of GB&I. “So putting is the name of the game. I think our guys will sleep well tonight [and] come fired up for tomorrow. 

“We had a little team meeting and we are okay. We are at peace with everything that happened today. We had some matches that we were done; they fired, came back, and some other matches where we were up that went the other way. But you know, that's what Walker Cup golf's all about.”

Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart of Great Britain and Ireland were 2 down through seven holes in the morning’s first foursomes match against Peter Uihlein and Harris English, but birdied the eighth, 10th and 11th holes en route to a 2-and-1 win.

In the second foursomes match Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan of GB&I defeated Russell Henley and Kraft, 2 and 1.

Senior and Sullivan’s match was under review because it was revealed after the match was declared official that Senior used a prohibited caddie. Senior’s brother, Joe, caddied and is a professional, which is not allowed under the Conditions of the Competition. But because it was learned after the result was official, the result stood, a decision that Holtgrieve, Edwards and The R&A Rules staff all agreed was the right one.

The day started with rain and wind. The skies then cleared briefly before another dose of heavy rain and wind in the afternoon came in from the North Sea. Eventually that gave way to more sunshine.

The Walker Cup concludes Sunday with four foursomes (alternate shot) and 10 singles matches. A victory in each match scores one point. In the event a match is tied after 18 holes, one-half point is awarded to each side. In the event of a tie in team score, the team that won the previous competition retains the trophy.

The Walker Cup is a biennial amateur contest between 10-player teams from Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America.

Aberdeen, Scotland – Saturday’s results from foursomes (alternate-shot) and singles matches on Day 1 of the 43rd Walker Cup Match, being contested at the 6,873-yard, par-70 Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.  

Foursomes (GB&I, 3-1) 

Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart (GB&I) d. Peter Uihlein and Harris English (USA), 2 and 1

Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan (GB&I) d. Russell Henley and Kelly Kraft (USA), 2 and 1

Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar (GB&I) d. Nathan Smith and Blayne Barber (USA), 5 and 4

Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams (USA) d. Steven Brown and Stiggy Hodgson (GB&I), 5 and 3

Singles (GB&I and USA, 4-4) 

Peter Uihlein (USA) d. Tom Lewis (GB&I), 2 and 1

Jordan Spieth (USA) d. Jack Senior (GB&I), 3 and 2

Harris English (USA) d. Andy Sullivan (GB&I), 2 and 1

Rhys Pugh (GB&I) d. Patrick Rodgers (USA), 2 and 1

Steven Brown (GB&I) d. Russell Henley (USA), 1 up

James Byrne (GB&I) d. Nathan Smith (USA), 2 and 1

Paul Cutler (GB&I) d. Kelly Kraft (USA), 2 and 1

Patrick Cantlay (USA) d. Michael Stewart (GB&I), 2 and 1

Total (GB&I leads 7-5) 

Aberdeen, Scotland – Sunday’s pairings and starting times for foursomes (alternate-shot) and singles matches on Day 2 of the 43rd Walker Cup Match, being contested at the 6,873-yard, par-70 Royal Aberdeen Golf Club. (All times GMT, minus 5 hours for EDT) 

Foursomes 

8:30 a.m.: Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers (USA) vs. Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart (GB&I)

8:40 a.m.: Peter Uihlein and Harris English (USA) vs. Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan (GB&I)

8:50 a.m.: Kelly Kraft and Blayne Barber (USA) vs. Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar (GB&I)

9 a.m.: Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams (USA) vs. James Byrne and Rhys Pugh (GB&I)

Singles  

1:15 p.m.: Russell Henley (USA) vs. Tom Lewis (GB&I)

1:25 p.m.: Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Andy Sullivan (GB&I)

1:35 p.m.: Nathan Smith (USA) vs. Jack Senior (GB&I)

1:45 p.m.: Patrick Rodgers (USA) vs. Michael Stewart (GB&I)

1:55 p.m.: Peter Uihlein (USA) vs. Stiggy Hodgson (GB&I)

2:05 p.m.: Blayne Barber (USA) vs. Steven Brown (GB&I)

2:15 p.m.: Kelly Kraft (USA) vs. Rhys Pugh (GB&I)

2:25 p.m.: Chris Williams (USA) vs. Alan Dunbar (GB&I)

2:35 p.m.: Harris English (USA) vs. James Byrne (GB&I)

2:45 p.m.: Patrick Cantlay (USA) vs. Paul Cutler (GB&I)