Walker Cup: US edge GB&I to retain trophy at Seminole Golf Club, Florida

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Austin Eckroat (right) set the tone for the American in with a 7&6 victory over GB&I’s Mark Power in the singles

The United States retained the Walker Cup with a 14-12 victory over Great Britain and Ireland at Seminole Golf Club, Florida.

GB&I trailed 7-5 overnight but won Sunday’s foursomes 2½-1½ to narrow the gap before the final 10 singles.

Austin Eckroat demolished Mark Power 7&6 and Pierceson Coody beat Alex Fitzpatrick 3&1 to extend the US lead.

Joe Long and Matty Lamb won to give GB&I hope but Cole Hammer secured the 13th US point to retain the trophy.

And Stewart Hagestad, playing in his third Walker Cup, won five holes in succession from the ninth to help him beat Ben Jones 4&2 and record the match-winning 14th point.

GB&I were huge underdogs for the 48th staging of the biennial amateur team competition. They have won just twice on American soil in an event that was first contested in 1922, and all 10 Americans were ranked inside the top 30 amateurs in the world, while the visitors had just two.

Players from both teams were struck down by “gastrointestinal issues” on the eve of the contest but Covid-19 was quickly ruled out given all the testing that has taken place.

Long was one of the GB&I players to be affected and he was only fit enough to play in the final singles session but he won his match on the 18th hole, and when Lamb followed suit moments later, GB&I needed four points from the remaining six matches, with momentum shifting in their favour.

However, GB&I’s Barclay Brown made a mess of the last to gift Quade Cummins a half, and Ricky Castillo and Hammer added decisive points as the US took control.

“This is the pinnacle of amateur golf and to be part of a winning Walker Cup team is pretty special,” said Castillo, who beat Ireland’s John Murphy 2&1 to win all four of his matches.

Angus Flanagan holed a 30-foot putt on the last to win his singles match, while Jack Dyer, a late replacement for the injured Sandy Scott who would have been the visitor’s highest-ranked player at seventh in the world, also won his match on the 18th.

“It’s been a good weekend,” said GB&I captain Stuart Wilson. “We’ve let the Americans off with a few slack shots but credit to them.”

Wilson’s US counterpart Nathaniel Crosby said: “It was such an evenly matched contest. I thought the windy conditions with firm, fast greens might suit GB&I but we’ve got enormous talent. Many of these lads are turning professional next week so the PGA Tour is going to be well served.”

It was the first of four team events scheduled to be played in 2021 with the women’s amateur equivalent, the Curtis Cup, taking place from 26-28 August in Conwy, Wales. The Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup follow in September, with both being hosted in the US.

Saturday foursomes (US first)

Cole Hammer & Davis Thompson beat Alex Fitzpatrick & Barclay Brown 1UP

Quade Cummins & Austin Eckroat lost to Mark Power & John Murphy 1UP

Mac Meissner & Ricky Castillo beat Jack Dyer & Matty Lamb 2UP

Stewart Hagestad & William Mouw lost to Angus Flanagan & Jack Bolton 1UP

Score: US 2-2 GB&I

Saturday singles

Pierceson Coodybeat Alex Fitzpatrick 2UP

Davis Thompson lost to Mark Power 3&2

Ricky Castillo beat Ben Schmidt 5&3

William Mouw beat Ben Jones 4&3

Quade Cummins lost to Matty Lamb 2&1

Austin Eckroat beat Angus Flanagan 1UP

John Pak lost to Barclay Brown 2&1

Cole Hammer beat John Murphy 3&1

Score: US 7-5 GB&I

Sunday foursomes

Pierceson Coody & John Pak lost to Mark Power & John Murphy 1UP

Ricky Castillo & William Mouw beat Alex Fitzpatrick & Barclay Brown 1UP

Davis Thompson & Cole Hammer tied with Angus Flanagan & Ben Schmidt

Stewart Hagestad & Tyler Strafaci lost to Matty Lamb & Jack Dyer 6&5

Score: US 8½-7½ GB&I

Sunday singles

Austin Eckroat beat Mark Power 7&6

Pierceson Coody beat Alex Fitzpatrick 3&1

John Pak lost to Joe Long 1UP

Davis Thompson lost to Matty Lamb 2UP

Quade Cummins tied with Barclay Brown

William Mouw lost to Angus Flanagan 1UP

Ricky Castillo beat John Murphy 2&1

Tyler Strafaci lost to Jack Dyer 1UP

Cole Hammer beat Ben Schmidt 4&3

Stewart Hagestad beat Ben Jones 4&2

Final score: US 14-12 GB&I

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