Day 1 Foursomes: Here's What Happened
September 9, 2017 | LOS ANGELES, CALIF.
The first session is in the books at the 46th Walker Cup Match, and it was a morning that didn’t disappoint in terms of action at The Los Angeles Country Club. A large assembly of fans were out in full force from the start of foursomes (alternate-shot) matches at 7:15 a.m., and they saw the USA and GB&I teams earn two points each. Here’s a summary of the action.
Collin Morikawa/Norman Xiong def. Harry Ellis/Alfie Plant, 8 & 7
Morikawa and Xiong, two southern California kids who play for rival Pac-12 schools, won the first five holes, including the opening four with birdies. Their winning margin established a new record for an 18-hole match in foursomes (7 and 6 was the previous mark).
Key Moments: Morikawa hit a 187-yard, 6-iron to within 7 feet on the par-4 second hole; Xiong nearly holed his 98-yard, 56-degree wedge approach shot at the par-4 third; Morikawa made a 16-foot birdie putt on the par-3 fourth hole.
Quotable: “It's match play, you never know what's going to happen,” said Morikawa. “Those guys can come out hot, we can come out hot, we can all be making bogeys and tying the hole for even. So you don't really know what to expect, other than it’s one hole. It’s match play. So I think we came out with a good mindset and bring it on for the rest of the week.”
Connor Syme/Paul McBride def. Will Zalatoris/Doc Redman, 3 & 2
The GB&I side was in control throughout, losing only one hole during the second foursomes match of the morning. Nerves got the better of both on the first tee, with McBride overshooting to the right and Zalatoris finding the left fairway bunker.
Key Moments: Syme and McBride struck first by winning the fourth hole, and then extended their lead at No. 7 after Zalatoris lipped out a short putt. After two poor holes by the USA put them 4 down through 11, Redman holed out on the 14th hole to trim the lead and give the growing crowds hope of a comeback. On the par-4 16th hole, the GB&I side looked to be in trouble after McBride, in the bunker from the tee, failed to escape the sand. However, Syme held his nerve to hole a tricky 15-foot downhill putt to secure the victory.
Quotable: “It was the only real mistake we made,” Syme said about the bunker shot at the 16th. “They won one hole and that shows how solid we played.
“It’s good to get off to a winning start for us after Harry and Alfie lost early … it definitely inspired us to get the job done for the team.”
McBride added, “The atmosphere was different to anything I have played in front of. There were hundreds of people watching, especially on the 15. It was two deep all the way around the green.”
Scott Gregory/Jack Singh Brar def. Scottie Scheffler/Cameron Champ, 3 & 2
These four talented players were each a bit off their games in the morning; the GB&I side was the equivalent of 2 over par, while the USA side was the equivalent of 5 over par. Gregory and Singh Brar built a 2-up lead after 10 holes, despite a distinct disadvantage off the tee, especially with Champ hitting driver.
Key Moments: The USA returned the match to all square with winning pars on Nos. 11 and 13. Scheffler holed a 10-footer for par on 11, while GB&I failed to get up and down for par on 13 (Singh Brar missed 12-footer for par). A turning point came on par-5 14th hole: After a 371-yard drive by Champ, Scheffler was undecided for his 231-yard approach and blocked the shot to the right and out of bounds. The GB&I side made a conceded par and re-took a 1-up lead. On par-3 15th hole, Champ’s 11-foot birdie putt went 4 ½ feet by and Scheffler missed the come-backer on the low side. Singh-Brar missed his birdie putt from 6 feet, but Gregory converted for par to give GB&I 2-up advantage. They secured the victory on the next hole.
Quotable: When asked about playing against a long hitter such as Champ and being at a distance disadvantage, Gregory said with a laugh, “We were just holding back on them … I think you just try and hit it close. You are going to be hitting first, so you are just trying to hit it closer. If you can hit the shot and put the pressure on, it makes the 50-degree wedge coming in a little bit harder. You’ve just got to stick at it and not worry that he is 100 yards in front of you.”
Singh Brar added his thoughts about the teams being tied 2-2 following the first foursomes: “It’s huge going into the singles. Obviously, we’re still in it. We are the underdogs, but I have a special feeling about this [Match]. I think we can take them.”
Doug Ghim/Maverick McNealy def. David Boote/Jack Davidson, 5 & 4
McNealy and Ghim got off to a quick start against GB&I’s Boote and Davidson on Saturday morning, winning five of their first seven holes, four of them with birdies, and never saw their lead fall below 3 up on the back nine. The duo worked out that Ghim would tee off on odd holes and McNealy on the evens, as they were several shots better during their practice rounds with that sequence than when they tried the reverse.
Key Moments: Doug Ghim made an 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 3 after a nice approach by McNealy to move to 2 up; Ghim made a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 fifth hole, a putt that would have run several feet by had it missed; Ghim hit a wedge shot to 6 feet on the par-4 sixth hole that led to a McNealy birdie putt to move them to 4 up; with the deficit down to 3, Jack Davidson missed a 6-foot par putt on the par-4 12th hole that put Ghim and McNealy back to 4 up.
Quotable: “Doug and I had a really good plan coming into this week,” said McNealy. “We did our homework on the golf course and figured out that the odds and evens setup that we had worked really well and kept us in rhythm. Doug made some big putts early. We made all the momentum putts we needed to and built up a nice lead.”