U.S. maintains 4-point lead entering Sunday singles
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y.—Great Britain & Ireland captain Nigel Edwards got just the kind of momentum-swinging victory he was looking for when Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan turned around a 4-down deficit to beat Americans Patrick Rodgers and Jordan Niebrugge, 2 up, in final match of the Sunday morning foursomes at the 44th Walker Cup.
But Edwards' optimism about a spirited final-day comeback at National GL of America was muted by the disappointment of giving away a point in the preceding match and thus failing to pick up any ground entering the afternoon singles session.
Garrick Porteous, the reigning British Amateur champion, and Rhys Pugh never trailed in their match with former Cal-Berkeley teammates Max Homa and Michael Kim, holding a 1-up lead with two holes to play. But Pugh missed a six-foot par putt on the 17th to let the Americans square the match. Then, after Porteous stubbed a chip from behind the green on the par-5 18th, leaving his partner a 12-foot par putt, Pugh couldn't convert, allowing Homa's four-foot par putt to clinch the hole and the match.
With that, the morning session was split 2-2 and the Americans clung to the same four-point advantage (10-6 overall) they held at the start of the day, with 10 Sunday afternoon singles matches remaining.
"You know we were down the whole match but for some reason we had just a really optimistic view about it," Kim said. "We knew we could comeback. It wasn't pretty but we got the job done."
The morning began with Alabama teammates Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt defeating Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin, 2 and 1, in the lead match while Matt Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond knocked out the U.S. duo of Michael Weaver and Todd White, 3 and 2.
With GB&I unable to make a dent in the U.S. lead, the Americans now only need to claim 3.5 of the 10 available points in the afternoon to win back the cup and improve its record in the last four editions of the biennial event to 3-1.
There was some solace for Edwards' charges from the Moynihan-Phelan comeback. The duo birdied the eighth and ninth holes to quickly cut the deficit to 2 up at the turn. They then won the par-3 13th with a conceded birdie and the par-4 16th with a par to square the match, before taking the lead with a birdie on the 17th hole.
On 18, the GB&I side hit the green on the par-5 home hole in 2 and had their birdie putt conceded when Niebrugge missed his birdie attempt.
"We were just trying to put as much pressure on them as possible," Phelan said.
While GB&I is down, they're certainly not out. And if the squad needs any inspiration, all it need to do is recall what transpired in Sunday singles at last year's Ryder Cup. The European side faced a similar four-point deficit (albeit with 12 matches to play) yet stormed back to win at Medinah.
It might be a long-shot but it's the only bit of hope the visitors can cling to now.