GB&I takes lead following Saturday Foursomes

The 44th Walker Cup Match began at 7:15 on Saturday morning under clear blue skies and comfortable temperatures at the National Golf Links of America. Great Britain and Ireland holds a 2½ to 1½ lead following the foursomes session.

Match 1

Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt (USA) halved Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin (GB&I)

How They Halved: Whitsett and Wyatt never led in this close match, and Kimsey and Orrin never led by more than 1 up. The GB&I duo held that margin six different times, but the USA came back to tie each time, including on the 18th hole.

First Blood: Kimsey and Orrin won the second hole after Whitsett hit his second shot over the green, leading to bogey.

Turning Point: With a 1-up lead on the final hole, Orrin hit his eagle putt 12 feet past the hole. Kimsey could not make the one coming back, and GB&I lost the hole and a chance to win the match.

Clinching Moment: Wyatt sank a 2-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to win the hole and halve the match.

Best Shot: Whitsett’s winning 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole to tie the match.

Best Team Effort: After Whitsett hit approach shots over the green to lose both the 15th and 17th holes, he apologized to Wyatt, who replied, “Dude, let’s get half a point.” The team won the 16th hole and on the 18th, Whitsett hit a good drive, Wyatt hit the green with a hybrid, and Whitsett lagged the 40-footer to 2 feet for a birdie that halved the match.

Winning Words: “It was a real dogfight. It was pretty nerve-racking there toward the end. It’s unfortunate that we gave away some shots, but we made a lot of birdies to come back from those and keep the match even.” –Bobby Wyatt

Match 2

Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond (GB&I) def. Jordan Niebrugge and Nathan Smith (USA), 1 up

How They Won: Fitzpatrick and Raymond rarely got into trouble and recovered quickly when they did. They held an advantage from the fifth through 15th holes, never allowing the USA to take a lead.

First Blood: Following four halved holes, all with pars, Fitzpatrick and Raymond won the par-4 fifth hole with a par after Niebrugge and Smith needed two shots to escape from the grass face of a greenside bunker.

Turning Point: All square on the par-5 18th hole, both teams went for the green in two. Niebrugge’s shot finished short and left of the green, while Fitzpatrick striped a 3-wood from just over 250 yards, into the wind, that settled on the back fringe.

Clinching Moment: Raymond hit GB&I’s eagle attempt on No. 18 to 3 feet, and Fitzpatrick calmly rolled in the short tester to secure the birdie, and the win, after the USA had to settle for a par.

Best Shot: On the par-5 seventh hole, Matt Fitzpatrick failed to escape from the deep greenside pot bunker. Raymond stepped in and hit a bunker shot to 3 feet, setting up a par that halved the hole and maintained their 2-up lead.

Best Team Effort: On the par-4 16th hole, Niebrugge’s approach caromed off the hill to the left of the green – below the famous windmill – to 12 feet from the hole. Smith sank the birdie putt in front of a large crowd to pull the USA to all square for the first time since the fourth hole.

Winning Words: “To go out in foursomes over here and get the first solid point on the board was very important. I was just really happy to get it done. I believe in my ability, and obviously believe in the World No. 1 [Fitzpatrick] over here.” – Neil Raymond

Match 3

Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh def. Michael Weaver and Todd White, 3 and 1

How They Won: Porteous and Pugh were the equivalent of six under par for the 17 holes, with the usual match-play concessions. They had three conceded birdies, including a 35-footer at the par-4 15th hole when the Americans made a double-bogey 6.

First Blood: Porteous, of England, nearly holed a 20-yard pitch shot from behind the green at the 309-yard second hole. The 2-foot birdie putt was conceded by the Americans, and Weaver missed an 18-foot birdie try.

Turning Point: GB&I holed clutch par putts on Nos. 6 and 12 to keep its momentum going. Porteous drained an 8-footer on No. 12. Earlier on the par-3 sixth, Porteous blasted out from a greenside bunker to 10 feet and Pugh made the comebacker for par. White had a chance to win the hole, but missed a 7-foot birdie putt and GB&I remained 1-up in the match.

Clinching Moment: At the 372-yard, 17th hole, Pugh, of Wales, stuffed his wedge approach shot to 4 feet. Weaver also hit a fine wedge approach to 7 feet, but White missed the birdie attempt. Porteous’ birdie was conceded and GB&I claimed a 3-and-1 victory.

Best Shot: Despite coming up short in the match, Weaver knocked his approach to the par-4 11th hole to 4 feet to set up a birdie for White that trimmed GB&I’s lead to 2 up.

Best Team Effort: The 165-yard 13th hole produced two great tee shots and two solid putts. After Pugh made a 17-foot birdie putt for a 2, Weaver answered by making a 15-footer for birdie.

Winning words: “It gets my [competitive] juices flowing playing for Great Britain and Ireland. It’s an honor and brings the best out of me.” – Pugh on improving his overall Walker Cup record to 4-0.

Match 4

Patrick Rodgers and Justin Thomas (USA) def. Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan (GB&I), 2 and 1

How They Won: The USA took the lead for good in the see-saw match when Patrick Rodgers hit a 47-yard lob wedge to 18 inches for a conceded par on No. 15 and the GB&I side failed to get up and down after Moynihan bunkered his approach to the left of the green. Justin Thomas then set Rodgers up for the match-clinching birdie on No. 17, hitting a 111-yard wedge to 6 feet.

First Blood: The USA won hole No. 2 when Rodgers made a short par putt and the GB&I side made bogey from just to the left of the green on the short par 4.

Turning Point: Rodgers gave the USA the lead for good with a 60-degree wedge shot to 18 inches for a conceded par on No. 15. Each side had earlier held a 2-up lead and quickly lost it.

Clinching Moment: Rodgers sank a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 17 after Phelan missed his birdie try from 14 feet.

Best Shot: Thomas’ shot from the fairway bunker on No. 17 set up Rodgers for the match-clinching birdie.

Best Team Effort: Thomas bunkered his approach on No. 11, but Rodgers blasted out to 5 feet and Thomas made the par-saving putt; when Moynihan missed a 4-foot par putt, the USA squared the match.

Winning Words: “I just wanted to get him on the green because I feel really solid about him making a putt.” – Justin Thomas, on his 111-yard bunker shot on No. 17 that set up the clinching birdie by Rodgers.

For live scoring from the event, regular updates, reports and images please visit the Official Match Site.