HOYLAKE, England – For all the talk among the Americans about a focus on foursomes, the outcome of the 47th Walker Cup came down to Sunday’s singles.
The U.S. amateurs rallied from a 7-5 overnight deficit to win 10½ of a possible 14 points Sunday and post a stunning 15½-10½ victory against Great Britain and Ireland at Royal Liverpool Golf Club (scoring). The five-point margin was the most decisive victory for a visiting U.S. team since a 16½-7½ triumph in 1987 at Sunningdale in England.
© USGA/CHRIS KEANE
The winning U.S. team gathers around the Walker Cup: (front row, from left) Alex Smalley, Andy Ogletree, Akshay Bhatia and Stewart Hagestad; (back row, from left) Brandon Wu, John Pak, John Augenstein, captain Nathaniel Crosby, Alex Smalley, Isaiah Salinda and Cole Hammer.
U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby called the singles, in which the Americans won eight of 10 matches, “amazing,” adding: “The guys played great.”
It was the first U.S. victory overseas in the biennial series since 2007 at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. The Americans lead the series, 37-9-1.
American John Augenstein, a Vanderbilt senior from Owensboro, Ky., secured the clinching point with a 4-and-3 victory against Thomas Plumb.
John Pak, a Florida State junior from Scotch Plains, N.J., went 3-0 to lead the Americans. He provided a key point Saturday, winning the last two holes against James Sugrue, the reigning British Amateur champion, to steal a 1-up victory and keep the Americans from falling more than two points behind entering the final day.
“Yesterday afternoon with John Pak, that was a really pivotal match,” said Crosby, a former U.S. Amateur champion who played on the Americans’ winning Walker Cup team in 1983 at Royal Liverpool. “I think that really made a big difference in our psychology. We could have been two points or even worse down going into today.
“The overconfidence thing went away after yesterday where we were kind of fortunate to be as close as we were.”
Said Pak: “There was a huge difference between four points and two points. I knew that we needed that, and you could see by my emotions on 18 green that I also really wanted it, too.”
© USGA/JOHN MUMMERT
American Isaiah Salinda chip to the 11th hole Sunday at Royal Liverpool, where he posted a 2-up victory in the day’s first singles match and helped get the U.S. rout started.
Americans Brandon Wu and Alex Smalley played in all four sessions and delivered three points apiece.
Cole Hammer, a Texas sophomore from Houston and the recent Mark H. McCormack Medal winner, salvaged his weekend with a 6-and-5 singles victory against Conor Purcell after the American lost his first two matches.
Crosby said he was happy that he stuck with his pre-match strategy for the daily foursomes sessions (“U.S. focuses on foursomes for Walker Cup,” Sept. 6).
“I really wanted to keep the partners in alternate shot playing together, and that was a decision that I made before the week started,” Crosby said. “So, everybody knew who was playing on Friday afternoon on Saturday, as well as Sunday. I was very comfortable and very happy that I stayed with that decision. Not everybody was comfortable with it, but not everybody is going to be comfortable about sitting anyway.
“I honestly thought that these guys would let their talent come to the surface.”
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli