Day 2 of Walker Cup: 5 Things to Watch For
September 10, 2017 | Los Angeles
By David Shefter, USGA
The USA’s impressive 6-2 showing in singles on Saturday afternoon in the 46th Walker Cup Match at The Los Angeles Country Club has given the side an 8-4 advantage over its counterparts from Great Britain and Ireland. That leaves GB&I with a big mountain to climb on the final day of the biennial competition – three times in the last 20 years, the team has faced a deficit of four or greater after Day 1, and all three have ended in lopsided USA victories. But in a match-play competition with so many ebbs and flows, anything is possible.
Here are five things to watch for as we gear up for what should be a momentous Sunday of golf:
In Good Spirits: While disappointed with the outcome on Saturday afternoon, GB&I captain Andy Ingram said his charges aren’t crestfallen about the four-point deficit.
“We still think we can win,” said Ingram. “We seriously do. The feeling is strong in the camp and we’re going to go out with all guns blazing.
“I trust the players. They’re a great bunch of guys. They’re talented players, they have had a great season [and] they have won many championships.”
Lineup Tweaks: While three of the GB&I foursomes pairings remained the same from Saturday, Ingram did substitute the English team of Alfie Plant and Harry Ellis with Matthew Jordan, of England, and Robert MacIntyre, of Scotland. USA captain John “Spider” Miller changed two of his foursomes pairings. He kept Norman Xiong and Collin Morikawa, and Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy intact. They had the two victories on Saturday. But Will Zalatoris is now paired with Cameron Champ, while Braden Thornberry will play with Doc Redman.
All 10 players from each team will take part in afternoon singles. Two matches will be repeats from Saturday: Jack Singh Brar against Hagestad, and MacIntyre against Champ.
Tough Shorty: Very few times will elite golfers play a hole less than 100 yards. But the par-3 15th hole measured 78 yards during the afternoon singles matches after measuring 133 yards during foursomes. Ghim said he hasn’t played a hole that short since he was “maybe six years old, and I probably used a 7-iron.” Nevertheless, the hole location that was six paces from the front presented a difficult challenge for the competitors.
“You’re hitting a little pitch shot over a bunker with like eight yards to land it,” said Collin Morikawa. “I don’t think I can remember a hole, especially in college golf or amateur golf, where we’re hitting it this short and creates so much havoc because of the rough [around the green].”
It’s unknown if the USGA will move the tee up during any of the Sunday sessions. Just don’t ask MacIntyre for his philosophy on the hole.
“I don’t know what to say,” said the left-hander who won 6 and 4 over Champ. “I didn’t get to that hole.”
A Perfect Four: Four members of the USA Team and one GB&I golfer have a chance to join an exclusive club of competitors to go 4-0-0 in a single Walker Cup. Americans Norman Xiong, Collin Morikawa, Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy each produced two points on Saturday. Ten previous USA players have produced 4-0-0 marks, the last being Peter Uihlein in 2009. Jack Singh Brar is the lone GB&I player to have gone 2-0 on Day 1. Jimmy Mullen went 4-0 in 2015, joining Luke Donald (1999) and Andrew Oldcorn (1983) in that fraternity.
Birthday Boy: Harry Ellis, of England, the reigning British Amateur champion turns 22 on Sunday. Ellis shares a birthday with the late Arnold Palmer, who would have been 88. While Ellis won’t be involved in morning foursomes, he will have a 1 p.m. PDT tee time against Morikawa. So let the serenading begin.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.