__ABERDEEN, Scotland--I'm no sports psychologist, but I do know what I'd be telling the 10 members of American Walker Cup team at some point before tomorrow's matches begin at Royal Aberdeen GC if I was U.S. captain__Jim Holtgrieve.
Finish strong on the 18th hole.
Despite the U.S. team having won the last three matches, the Americans' problems on the home hole have made their victories far more "interesting" then they needed to be.
__*Chicago GC 2005 -- *__During Sunday singles, the GB&I's Oliver Fisher and Lloyd Saltman made birdie putts on 18 and Robert Dinwiddie holed a birdie chip to steal three half-points from Michael Putnam,Kyle Reifers and Matt Every.Nigel Edwards, this year's GB&I captain, then just missed a 35-foot birdie try that would have halved the overall match and allowed the visitors to hang on to the Cup for another two years. When Jeff Overton lagged his 15-foot birdie to inches, he closed out a 1-up victory that gave the U.S. 12.5-11.5 win and end the GB&I's three-time victory streak.
Royal County Down 2007 -- In Saturday singles, the U.S. side struggled over the last 45 minutes, Kyle Stanley,Chris Kirk and Webb Simpson losing the final three matches on the 18th hole to end the day tied a 6-6. It paved the way for a nerve-wracking final day when the U.S. pulled out another 12.5-11.5 win.
Merion 2009 --*__ In three Saturday singles matches, the U.S. held 1-up leads on the 18th tee, only to lose the hole each time. Granted the U.S. still posted a 3-1-4 record in the singles matches, and cruised the next day to a 16.5-9.5 victory, but you get the idea.
Ironically--or make that noteworthy--it was the one U.S. match at Merion where the Americans pulled things out on the home hole that proved to be their inspiration for the weekend. After the team of Peter Uihlein and Nathan Smith won the 17th hole with a par to halve their Saturday morning foursomes match with Gavin Dear and Matt Haines, Uihlein proceeded to make an 18-foot par putt on the 18th to pick off a 1-up victory that gave the U.S. a 3-1 edge and energized the entire team.
Uihlein and Smith would be well served to tell their new mates about the import of that match reversal and how the final hole can't be overlooked.