September 11, 2009

Commanding Lead For The U.S.

With Rickie Fowler's 7 and 6 morning victory and a decisive 2 and 1 win by Peter Uihlein, the U.S. team leads GB&I 8-4 after day one

After his 7 and 6 win in the morning, Fowler teamed with Bud Cauley for a 6-and-5 afternoon win in foursomes.

After his 7 and 6 win in the morning, Fowler teamed with Bud Cauley for a 6-and-5 afternoon win in foursomes.

ARDMORE, Pa. -- Ask Buddy Marucci if he would have been good with an 8-4 lead after Day 1 of the 42nd Walker Cup before play began Saturday and the U.S. captain admits he would stayed in bed and waited for Sunday to arrive.

As the morning and afternoon sessions unfolded at Merion GC, though, it appeared as if the Americans were on their way to staking their captain to a greater advantage. At one point during singles play, the Americans were ahead in seven matches with the eighth being all square, leaving some to wonder if Sunday's action would mean anything at all.

Still, for the home side not to win the cup for a third-straight playing of the biennial competition will require one of two things: a monumental Sunday comeback from the Great Britain & Ireland side or an unsightly U.S. collapse. Suffice it to say, the later is something the Americans simply can't envision.

"I couldn't be happier right now," said Marucci, who team went 3-1-4 in afternoon singles play after posting a 3-1 mark during morning foursomes. "I think we're in great shape."

If Marucci was looking for someone to thank for the Americans' current lead, he had two worthy candidates in Rickie Fowler and Peter Uihlein.

Walker Cup - Sunday pairings MORNING FOURSOMES

7:30 a.m.--Gavin Dear/Matt Haines (GB&I) vs. Brian Harman/Adam Mitchell (U.S.)

7:40 a.m.--Stiggy Hodgson/Niall Kearney (GB&I) vs. Rickie Fowler/Bud Cauley (U.S.)

7:50 a.m.--Wallace Booth/Sam Hutsby (GB&I) vs. Drew Weaver/Brendan Gielow (U.S.)

8 a.m.--Chris Paisley/Dale Whitnell (GB&I) vs. Nathan Smith/Peter Uihlein (U.S.)

AFTERNOON SINGLES

1 p.m.--Gavin Dear (GB&I) vs. Brian Harman (U.S.)

1:10 p.m.--Matt Haines (GB&I) vs. Rickie Fowler (U.S.)

1:20 p.m.--Stiggy Hodgson (GB&I) vs. Peter Uihlein (U.S.)

1:30 p.m.--Wallace Booth (GB&I) vs. Morgan Hoffmann (U.S.)

1:40 p.m.--Chris Paisley (GB&I) vs. Bud Cauley (U.S.)

1:50 p.m.--Sam Hutsby (GB&I) vs. Adam Mitchell (U.S.)

2 p.m.--Tommy Fleetwood (GB&I) vs. Drew Weaver (U.S.)

2:10 p.m.--Luke Goddard (GB&I) vs. Cameron Tringale (U.S.)

2:20 p.m.--Niall Kearney (GB&I) vs. Nathan Smith (U.S.)

2:30 p.m.--Dale Whitnell (GB&I) vs. Brendan Gielow (U.S.)

One of two Americans with previous Walker Cup experience, Fowler secured two points on the day, including a decisive 7-and-6 victory in singles over Sam Hutsby.

"That's the reason why I sent him out there early," said Marucci, knowing that Fowler could get off to a quick start and help set the tone for the rest of the U.S. squad. "Rickie has been an incredible teammate to everybody on this team. He's a leader and he's just played brilliantly for us."

Uihlein, who holed a clutch 18-foot par putt to win his morning foursomes match, came back out in the afternoon and knocked off Tommy Fleetwood in singles, 2 and 1.

To be certain that the seemingly inevitable Sunday outcome does play itself out, there are some things for the Americans to tidy up. For starters, they must do a better job of staying focused all the way to their matches' conclusions. Consider that in three of the four halved singles matches, the GB&I side won the 18th hole to gain the half point.

"There was a while this afternoon that things didn't look very good at all," said GB&I captain Colin Dalgleish. "But the guys fought back very well, and I think we played the 18th particularly well."

"I think what happened this afternoon [with the GB&I turning a few matches around] will actually help us tomorrow, help us stay focused," noted Marucci.

Moreover, the Americans would be well-served to continue to put the early pressure on the GB&I squad, a point Marucci is likely to make with his team when they meet Saturday night after dinner.

"I think it's wonderful the way GB&I was able to hang in there," Marucci said. "But I also think it was wonderful the way we were able to jump off to such a great start. Our guys played brilliantly. So I think you certainly don't like to see those leads diminish but you certainly don't like to see them from the beginning."