A critical half hour at the Walker Cup
NEWCASTLE, Northern Ireland--Ever hear the axiom if you don't like the weather in the United Kingdom, just wait a half hour. Well if you're a backer of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team, the same saying applies. Just when it looked like the GB&I squad was going to trail by two if not three points after the first day of competition in the 41st Walker Cup Match, the home side pulled out three singles wins on Royal County Down's 18th green within 30 minutes to deadlock the event at 6-6 and set-up an exciting Sunday finale (click here for the pairings).
"These last three games were crucial because if we didn't get these, it was just going to be a long, long way back," said GB&I captain Colin Dalgleish, after watching Nigel Edwards, Jamie Moul and David Horsey come to the final hole all square in their matches only to beat Kyle Stanley, Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson, respectively, with two birdies and a par. "Everybody is going to be so inspired with what happened today that I think we are all going to feel great tomorrow."
"It seems like these matches the last 10, 15 years come down to that last hole and who is making the putts," noted a slightly stunned U.S. captain Buddy Marucci. "I think we'll see more of that too."
The two sides split the morning foursomes matches 2-2 before halving the afternoon singles 4-4. Leading the way for the Americans were Rickie Fowler, one of the final two picks to the squad, and Billy Horschel. The pair won their foursomes match 4 and 3 over GB&I Walker Cup veterans Lloyd Saltman and Rhys Davies. Fowler then won his afternoon singles tilt with a 5-and-4 drubbing of Saltman, while Horschel knocked off local favorite Rory McIlroy, 1 up.
Suffice it to say, Marucci was happy with the way his guys handled the day's conditions, playing in front of roughly 10,000 spectators, mostly supporting the other side, on a links course that prior to a week ago most had never experienced.
Still, he believes that the day's experience, finally playing live matches after five days of practice, likely will bring a new perspective on the team.
"I think tonight they're going to have a different appreciation of the matches than they did last night. We had a great day of golf, but I'm sure they're a bit wiser. They'll be a little more inspired after feeling the emotions of today."