Great Britain & Ireland win Walker Cup for first time since 2003
Great Britain & Ireland, bolstered by the undefeated records of Paul Cutler and Rhys Pugh, won the Walker Cup for the first time since 2003 at Royal Aberdeen with a 14-12 victory over the United States.
Welshman Pugh, the youngest competitor on either side at 17, won all three of his matches. He won the 2011 Irish Amateur Open and will attend East Tennessee State University this autumn. Cutler, 22, of Portstewart, Northern Ireland, finished with three wins and one defeat. GB&I has now claimed four of the last five Walker Cups played on home soil, dating to 1995 at Royal Porthcawl in Wales.
“I don’t know what to think at the moment, it’s just fantastic,” A delighted Captain Nigel Edwards said afterwards. “The boys have been awesome all week. They’ve got a fantastic team spirit. We were not given much chance but I was not going to let them think that they didn’t have a chance.
“We always knew that this match wasn’t going to be played on paper but around this golf course. I felt that we had a really good group of guys who would do the job.”
“I said to the boys at lunchtime that we haven’t done it yet,” said GB&I captain Nigel Edwards. “We had to get on with it because the Americans are great players. I had a lot of faith in these boys as I’ve said all week. They are a great bunch. They want to win. They have a lot of passion and desire.”
In the windiest conditions yet of the two-day biennial competition in Sunday morning’s foursomes, GB&I won three matches and tied a fourth to increase its lead to 10½-5½. With winds gusting to 30-35 mph and the outward nine playing downwind, GB&I jumped out to substantial leads in three matches and gained three points to just a half point for the US, thanks to the victories of the pairings of Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan; Cutler and Alan Dunbar and James Byrne and Pugh.
The lone US half-point came from Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers. Spieth holed an 18-foot par putt at the 18th hole to halve the match against Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart.
The US won the first two matches of the afternoon singles sessions to cut into the GB&I lead, but Steven Brown’s halve with the USA’s Blayne Barber in the sixth match earned the necessary 13½ points to win the Match for the first time since GB&I prevailed at Ganton Golf Club in England in 2003.
The USA’s 6½-3½ margin in singles was its only session victory among the four played. The teams split four singles matches on Saturday.
“I told them they were very special people and they deserve to be here,” Edwards explained. “And all they have to do is go out and perform and look after their ball because it’s not played on paper.”
The GB&I victory breaks a string of three consecutive wins by the US in the match.
“Oh, gosh, these guys, they played so hard, and with so much heart,” said US Captain Jim Holtgrieve, himself a three-time Walker Cup player. “They went out and did exactly what got them on this team; because they know exactly how to play in competition and that's what they showed this afternoon.”
To commemorate 10 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the USA wore commemorative hats with the words, “Never Forget” inscribed on the side along with the years 2001 and 2011. Holtgrieve also read a letter prior to play from former President George W. Bush and a brief moment of silence was held at the closing ceremony.
The USA now holds a 9-4 lead in Walker Cup matches played in Scotland. The USA still leads the overall series, 34-8-1.
A victory in each match scores one point. In the event a match is tied after 18 holes, one-half point is awarded to each side. In the event of a tie in team score, the team that won the previous competition retains the trophy.
The Walker Cup is a biennial amateur contest between 10-player teams from Great Britain and Ireland and the United States. The next competition is scheduled for Sept. 7-8, 2013 at The National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.