Walker Cup: U.S. moves to the brink of victory
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Any fears that the U.S. team might be overconfident entering Sunday play at the 42nd Walker Cup quickly disappeared during the morning foursomes at Merion GC. With three wins in four matches, the Americans increased their overall lead to 11-5, leaving them needing just 2 1/2 points from the 10 Sunday singles matches to win the cup for a third straight time.
To get into such a comfortable position heading into the two-day events final session, the U.S. had to watch the duos of Brian Harman/Adam Mitchell and Rickie Fowler/Bud Cauley rally from initial deficits in their foursome matches versus Great Britain and Ireland.
Harman and Mitchell, teammates the past four years at Georgia, were 3 down to Gavin Dear and Matt Haines after three holes, but squared the match three holes later and then won the 12th, 14th and 15th holes to cruise to a 3-and-2 triumph.
"I told Adam after the third hole that we were going to come back and win," Harman said. "I said, 'This is our day and our team. We played too good.' "
The Americans took the lead for good on the 12th hole, when Mitchell rolled in a tricky five foot par putt from above the hole for a par. A par was also good enough to win the 14th when Harman played a nifty flop shot from right of the green, the ball stopping less than two feet for the hole.
Fowler and Cauley lost the first hole in their match versus Stiggy Hodgson and Niall Kearney to a birdie but never trailed after the fourth hole, eventually winning the match on the 18th when Cauley holed a six footer for par after Fowler's 25 foot birdie try went a little farther past the hole than he would have preferred.
"He save my butt," Fowler joked of Cauley.
The Americans' other victory came with a little less tension. Peter Uihlein grabbed his third point of the weekend when he and Nathan Smith easily dispatching Chris Paisley and Dale Whitnell, 5 and 4. The Americans set the tone with birdies on the first and fourth holes.
The lone U.S. loss was Drew Weaver and Brendan Gielow falling to Wallace Booth and Sam Hutsby, 3 and 2.
While the Americans have historically dominated the biennial event, it's been a while since they've had such a large lead entering Sunday singles. In 1997 at Quaker Ridge, the U.S. had a 11 1/2-4 1/2 lead with one session remaining. Still, Marucci says his golfers aren't going to be any less intense than if the overall matches were deadlocked.
"We want to win them all," Marucci said of the singles matches. "We want to win every match. This is not a situation where you can depend on your teammate to make the shot. They have nothing to lose. They can free wheel it."
-- Ryan Herrington