The USA Team rebounded from a 7-5 overnight deficit, winning 10 ½ out of a possible 14 points on Sunday to capture the 47th Walker Cup Match over Great Britain & Ireland at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
It was a victory 12 years in the making, as it marks the first USA victory on GB&I soil since 2007 at Royal County Down.
Additionally, the final tally of 15 ½ - 10 ½ is the most decisive winning margin for a visiting USA team since a 16 ½ - 7 ½ victory in 1987 at Sunningdale.
Fans out in force
Nearly 11,000 fans flocked to Hoylake over the two-day match, which was played under sunny, mild conditions with light winds. The USA retains the trophy after their 19-7 win at Los Angeles Country Club two years ago and now leads the overall series 37-9-1.
While the USA team performed well during the morning foursomes matches, securing 2 ½ points to trim the GB&I lead to just one point, it was the afternoon singles that truly made the difference. The Americans won 8 out of 10 singles matches – equalling their Sunday singles performance from two years ago – to turn away any thoughts of a nail-biting finish to the most prestigious team competition in men’s amateur golf.
“The singles were amazing,” said USA captain Nathaniel Crosby. “The guys played great.”
John Augenstein, the 2019 U.S. Amateur runner-up, had a bookend performance of hitting the opening tee shot of the competition on Saturday morning and then securing the clinching point when he won his Sunday afternoon singles match against Thomas Plumb, 4 and 3.
“I did not know that my match this afternoon was the clinching point,” said Augenstein. “I mean, it really doesn't matter who clinches it. The fact is that we're a team and we won the Walker Cup for each other and for the United States.”
John Pak of the USA team was the only player on either side to not lose a match, going 3-0 in his one foursomes and two singles matches. The Florida State junior buoyed the USA side late on Saturday by coming back from a late deficit to James Sugrue, winning the last two holes to defeat the reigning Amateur champion, 1-up.
“Yesterday afternoon with John Pak, that was a really pivotal match,” said Crosby, who also played on the victorious 1983 USA Walker Cup Team 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.
“These guys are inseparable,” added Crosby. “They’ve got a great memory now.”
Other notable performance from the USA team include Brandon Wu and Alex Smalley, each of whom played in all four sessions and earned three points.
The only returning player on either side, Stewart Hagestad, had a sparkling final day, winning two matches. He and foursomes partner Akshay Bhatia – the youngest player in USA Walker Cup history – bounced back from their foursomes defeat to Harry Hall and Conor Gough yesterday, exacting revenge in the rematch with a 3-and-2 victory on Sunday morning. Hagestad and Bhatia then both won their singles matches in convincing fashion, 5 and 3, and 4 and 2, respectively.
“Obviously the boys are disappointed,” said GB&I captain Craig Watson. “It didn't go quite to plan but they can be proud of their achievements to get in the team first of all and of their performance this weekend. I'm proud of all of them.”
Sandy Scott claimed the first point of the afternoon singles for GB&I after an impressive 4-and-3 win over Wu. The 21-year-old from Nairn found himself 5 up after eight holes, only to lose the next three holes to the American. Scott responded with birdies on the 12th and 14th to go 4 up and the match was closed out shortly afterwards when the 15th hole was halved in par.
The other GB&I singles victory came courtesy of Tom Sloman, who salvaged some pride for the home side by beating Steven Fisk, 2 up, to leave the final score at 15½-10½.
After losing his first two matches, world number one and Mark H. McCormack Medal winner Cole Hammer notched the most convincing victory of this Walker Cup, a 6-and-5 victory in Sunday singles against Conor Purcell.
U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree won his singles match over Conor Gough, 2 and 1.
The 48th Walker Cup Match will be held May 8-9 at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida.