Aberdeen, Scotland – In the windiest conditions yet of the competition, Great Britain and Ireland won three matches and tied a fourth in the morning foursomes on Sunday to increase its lead to 10½-5½ midway through Day 2 of the 2011 Walker Cup Match at the par-70, 6,863-yard Royal Aberdeen Golf Club.
The home side added to its 7-5 lead after Day 1 with victories by the tandems of Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan; Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar and James Byrne and Rhys Pugh.
GB&I needs just three points in the 10 afternoon singles matches to win the Match for the first time since 2003.
With winds gusting to 30-35 mph and the outward nine playing downwind, GB&I jumped out to substantial leads in three matches over that stretch.
“A tremendous job again by the lads,” said GB&I captain Nigel Edwards. “As I’ve said all week, I’ve got a lot of faith in them and they are enjoying it and that’s the way it should be. The Americans can play and we’ve got to keep on it. We’ve got to finish the job.”
The disrupting winds seemed to give an edge to GB&I, according to Cutler.
“We’re in a good position but the Americans can still win this match,” the Irishman said. We’ve got to keep firing on all cylinders in the last session. Looking forward to the wind keeping up, that’s definitely in our favor.”
“Obviously, they are used to playing the wind,” USA captain Jim Holtgrieve said of his opponents. “I was talking to Captain (Nigel) Edwards and he said: ‘Can you imagine playing 72 holes in this?’
“Does it give them an advantage? Maybe a little bit. I watched them play and they were missing the fairways and missing the greens, too. I think in regards to chipping that trying to make some of your shots happen with the wind, they outperformed us this morning. Their putting has been exceptional for a day and half. We have to see what we can do.”
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers, the youngest members of the USA team, rebounded from a four-down deficit with six holes to play. They steadily made pars to win holes and earned a halve of the match when the 18-year-old Spieth, a two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champion, holed an uphill 18-foot putt to defeat Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart.
“We believed it the whole time,” Spieth said of their comeback. “The reason we believed it the whole time was because the way the conditions made the course play. This whole back nine is into a 45 mph wind, so everyone’s going to spray it. All we wanted to do was stay patient and stay smooth. I still don’t know how we won that last hole. It was a team effort. we both encouraged each other and that’s how we came back.”
Meanwhile, Holtgrieve knew the task ahead was formidable.
“Is our back really against the door? It is,” he said. “But am I going to say anything different? What do you say to 10 talented young men who know how to play the game? The feeling that I’ve been trying to instill in them all week is just never give up, always fight, and have a good time enjoying it. Do we want to win? Sure we do. But it’s not all about that. They want to win. I have not heard one negative comment so far. They just said we have to go out and win a bunch of singles matches. I’m going to try to give them encouragement and just never give up.”
The USA holds a 9-3 lead in Walker Cup matches played in Scotland, but GB&I claimed the last Match held here at Nairn in 1999, 15-9.
The Walker Cup is a biennial amateur contest between 10-player teams from Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America.
Pete Kowalski is a director of championship communications. E-mail him at email@example.com.