The Walker Cup: USA Leads, 6.5 to 5.5
13 Aug 2005
see also: The Walker Cup, Royal Liverpool Golf Club


By David Shefter, USGA

Wheaton, Ill. (August 13, 2005) -– The United States of America is back in a familiar position. It just hopes it doesn’t repeat its last three Sunday performances.

The USA has taken a lead into the Sunday session of the last three Walker Cup Matches only to see Great Britain and Ireland rally for victories. Two years ago at Ganton (England) Golf Club, the USA owned a 7-5 lead after Day 1 and lost, 12½-11½.

This year at Chicago Golf Club, the USA will take a slightly smaller edge into the final 12 matches (four morning foursomes and eight afternoon singles) and captain Bob Lewis fully understands that his squad still has plenty of work left if it wants to regain the Walker Cup, something the American side hasn’t possessed since the 1997 Match at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.

Lee Williams and Jeff Overton each won two points on Saturday to help the USA grab a 6½-5½ edge. The Americans need 12½ points to recapture the Cup, while GB&I needs 12 points to retain it.

“I don’t have to say a lot with this team,” said Lewis. “I’ve gotten to know these guys more as friends and players, and I think they respect me for that.

“These guys are loose, they’re not tight. They’re going to play loose tomorrow. I know they are, and we’ll see if we come back in the old tradition of the United States and play solid singles. We’ll find out tomorrow.”

Lewis definitely got stellar play from the lone holdover from the 2003 team. Williams, 23, of Alexander City, Ala., who went a disappointing 0-1-2 in the ’03 Match, posted a pair of victories, defeating reigning British Amateur champion Brian McElhinney of Ireland, 2 and 1, in his afternoon singles match, and teaming with Matt Every for a 1-up foursomes victory over Gary Lockerbie and Robert Dinwiddie in the morning. Williams holed a clutch 6-foot par putt at 18 to seal that victory.

“We call him the Gov, and he’s a great kid,” Lewis said of Williams, who played on the victorious 2004 USA World Amateur Team in Puerto Rico last October. “He works extremely hard on his game. He puts a lot of time into his putting. I know I was standing there on the 18th hole and he had a 6-footer … and someone asked me, ‘Do you think he’ll make it.’ I didn’t hesitate a second. Absolutely, he’ll make that putt.

“I’ve watched him spend time on the putting greens in the practice sessions. He does that for those moments. That’s what good players do.”

In his singles match, Williams saw a 3-up lead dwindle to 1 up after McElhinney birdied holes 10 and 11, but a winning birdie at 16 closed the door on any GB&I rally. Williams went 0-1-2 two years ago, so the 2-0 start to 2005 has given him much better feelings.

“That putt he made on 18 [in the morning] was not only a huge putt because of what it did for the team,” added Lewis. “It was also a huge putt for his confidence and with all the work he’s put into his putting. Those are the ones that stick with you and help you in the end.”

Overton, 22, of Evansville, Ind., who was a semifinalist at the 2004 U.S. Amateur, registered six birdies in defeating one of GB&I’s veterans, 37-year-old Nigel Edwards of Wales, 5 and 4 in singles. He teamed with Michael Putnam in the morning for a 2-and-1 foursomes win over Oliver Fisher and Matthew Richardson.

“My putter felt really good today,” said Overton, a recent graduate of Indiana University, where he earned second-team All-America honors this past season. “We traded some holes in the beginning and the next thing I know, I started making birdies. The turning point was making a 50-footer on six.”

Anthony Kim was the only other USA player to play both sessions on Day 1 and go undefeated. The 20-year-old from La Quinta, Calif., who was the stroke-play medalist at the 2005 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, registered six birdies over 13 holes to soundly defeat Gary Lockerbie of England, 6 and 5.

“It seemed as though once I got him down a little early, I took a little wind out of his sail,” said Kim, a first-team All-America this past season at the University of Oklahoma. “I took a little wind out of his sail, and by me making a couple more birdies late, I think that pretty much sealed the deal.”

Someone asked GB&I captain Garth McGimpsey if he thought Lockerbie struggled after going 0-2 on Day 1.

“I think he played slightly better in the afternoon but ran up against it,” said McGimpsey. “The American guy was something like six or seven under par. Maybe his golf didn’t look as good as it was. Gary is a class player and I have a lot of faith in him for tomorrow.”

Earlier Kim teamed with the USA’s youngest player, 18-year-old Brian Harman, to earn a half-point in their foursomes match against Rhys Davies and Edwards. The two rallied from a 3-down deficit over the final eight holes, squaring the match at 16 before halving the final two holes of the match.

John Holmes of Campbellsville, Ky., who sat out the morning foursomes, birdied 15 and 17 to eke out a 1-up victory over six-time GB&I Walker Cupper Gary Wolstenholme of England. The point was huge for the Americans, who had seen GB&I momentarily take a 5½-4½ lead after Lloyd Saltman, the low amateur at the 2005 British Open, and 16-year-old Oliver Fisher, the youngest to ever compete in a Walker Cup for either side, pulled out narrow wins over Billy Hurley (1 up) and Michael Putnam (2 up), respectively.

Holmes made a 25-foot birdie putt at 17 to take the lead for good after Wolstenholme squared the match with a long eagle putt from just off the green at 16. Wolstenholme also broke his 3-wood hitting his second shot into 17, but McGimpsey said the implement would be repaired in time for his afternoon singles match on Sunday. Wolstenholme is not playing in morning foursomes.

“I made some putts coming down the stretch that really helped,” said Holmes, who routinely out-drove Wolstenholme by 70 to 80 yards and is the longest hitter on the USA side. “We were up early and then let things slide a little. It was a tough match. He’s played in six Walker Cups, so he is good. I think that’s why they put him in the late rounds because he’s been there so often.”

“It was hard to sit out this morning, but everyone has to sit and wait their turn. I was ready to go. It’s the first time I ever got to the course seven hours before my tee time.”

Saltman went 2-0 for the GB&I side, while Davies went 1-0-1. They are the only two undefeated players for GB&I. Saltman teamed with Richie Ramsay for a 4-and-3 foursomes win over Kyle Reifers and Hurley.

Fisher said he was able to control his first-tee jitters and he added that it was good to get a match under his belt in the morning before going out and playing the 2005 NCAA Division I runner-up. He birdied holes 14, 15, 16 and 18 to close out Putnam, who shot the equivalent of 3-under-par 67 with the usual match-play concessions to Fisher’s 66. Fisher wound up with seven birdies to Putnam’s five.

The turning point was the par-5 16th when Putnam knocked it on the green in two, but three-putted, missing a 6-footer for birdie. Fisher blasted from the greenside bunker to 20 feet and holed his birdie putt.

“Coming down (hole) 17, I was real nervous, but I just managed to hang in there,” said Fisher. “This is a proud moment for me. This is real fun. I can’t explain how much fun it is.”

In a match-up of 2004-05 NCAA Division I first-team All-Americas, Davies, a junior-to-be at East Tennessee State, won four consecutive holes with birdies starting at 12 to defeat Every, a University of Florida senior-to-be, 4 and 3. It was the second time the two had met in match play, with Davies also defeating Every at the 2004 Palmer Cup.

“I felt in control all day, but I didn’t pull away,” said Davies. “I good putts at holes 12 and 13 and then hit a really good wedge into 15 to finish it off (5-footer). I’ve been playing quite nicely.”

Matthew Richardson of England also had little trouble downing Nicholas Thompson, a recent Georgia Tech graduate from Coral Gables, Fla., 5 and 4. Thompson sat out the morning foursomes along with Holmes.

Harman and Reifers sat out the afternoon singles for the USA. Harman and Kim teamed up quite nicely in the morning. The left-handed Harman holed a birdie putt at 11 and Kim followed with another at 12 to trim the deficit to 1 up. The two had trailed, 3 down, after 10 holes. Kim and Edwards each made birdie putts at 14, the former from 25 feet and the latter from 10 feet, to halve the hole, but Harman squared the match with a birdie at the par-5 16th.

On 18, Harman sent his approach over the green. Kim recovered beautifully with a pitch shot that stopped 3 feet from the flag. Harman converted the par putt just after the GB&I team missed a birdie chance.

“That was the most fun I’ve ever had on a golf course,” said the fiery Harman, the 2003 U.S. Junior champion. “I can’t think of anything that was more thrilling than that. This was incredible; so much back and forth drama.”

And past history dictates that Sunday should create equal theatre.

David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.

* * * * *

Wheaton, Ill. – Results from the first day of action at the 40 th Walker Cup Match being played at the 6,782-yard, par-70 Chicago Golf Club:

Morning Foursomes (Alternate Shot)
Anthony Kim and Brian Harman (USA) halved with Nigel Edwards and Rhys Davies (GB&I)
Lee Williams and Matt Every (USA) def. Gary Lockerbie and Robert Dinwiddie (GB&I), 1 up
Jeff Overton and Michael Putnam (USA) def. Oliver Fisher and Matthew Richardson (GB&I), 2 and 1
Richie Ramsay and Lloyd Saltman (GB&I) def. Billy Hurley and Kyle Reifers (USA), 4 and 3
Totals: USA 2½, Great Britain and Ireland 1½

Afternoon Singles
Rhys Davies (GB&I) def. Matthew Every, 4 and 3
Anthony Kim (USA) def. Gary Lockerbie (GB&I), 6 and 5
Jeff Overton (USA) def. Nigel Edwards (GB&I), 5 and 4
Oliver Fisher (GB&I) def. Michael Putnam (USA), 2 up
Matthew Richardson (GB&I) def. Nick Thompson (USA), 5 and 4
Lloyd Saltman (GB&I) def. Billy Hurley (USA), 1 up
John Holmes (USA) def. Gary Wolstenholme (GB&I), 1 up
Lee Williams (USA) def. Brian McElhinney (GB&I), 2 and 1

Singles Totals: USA 4, Great Britain and Ireland 4

Day 1 Total: USA 6½, Great Britain and Ireland 5½

Note: Great Britain and Ireland needs 12 points to retain the Cup; USA needs 12½ points to regain the Cup.

* * *

Pairings and starting times for the second day of the 40th Walker Cup Match being played at the 6,782-yard, par-70 Chicago Golf Club.

Sunday Morning Foursomes (Alternate Shot)
7:30 a.m. – Lloyd Saltman and Richie Ramsay (GB&I) vs. Anthony Kim and Brian Harman (USA)
7:40 a.m. – Rhys Davies and Nigel Edwards (GB&I) vs. Matthew Every and Lee Williams (USA)
7:50 a.m. – Oliver Fisher and Matthew Richardson (GB&I) vs. Nick Thompson and John Holmes (USA)
8:00 a.m. – Gary Lockerbie and Robert Dinwiddie (GB&I) vs. Michael Putnam and Jeff Overton

Afternoon Singles
12:30 p.m. – Gary Wolstenholme (GB&I) vs. Anthony Kim (USA)
12:40 p.m. – Rhys Davies (GB&I) vs. Brian Harman (USA)
12:50 p.m. – Oliver Fisher (GB&I) vs. Michael Putnam (USA)
1:00 p.m. – Robert Dinwiddie (GB&I) vs. Matthew Every (USA)
1:10 p.m. – Matthew Richardson (GB&I) vs. John Holmes (USA)
1:20 p.m. – Lloyd Saltman (GB&I) vs. Kyle Reifers (USA)
1:30 p.m. – Nigel Edwards (GB&I) vs. Jeff Overton (USA)
1:40 p.m. – Gary Lockerbie (GB&I) vs. Lee Williams (USA)


Saturday morning story:

Buoyed by a furious back-nine comeback from Anthony Kim and Brian Harman, the United States of America grabbed a 2½ -1½ advantage over Great Britain and Ireland after the four Saturday morning foursomes matches of the 40th Walker Cup Match being held at Chicago Golf Club.

It is the first time the USA has owned a lead after the Saturday foursomes matches since 1997 at Quaker Ridge when the Americans won all four matches en route to an 18-6 victory. That also is the last time the USA defeated GB&I, winners of the last three Matches.

Matt Every and Lee Williams of the USA produced the first full point when they defeated Gary Lockerbie and Robert Dinwiddie, 1 up. Jeff Overton and Michael Putnam added another point with a 2-and-1 decision over Oliver Fisher and Matthew Richardson. Fisher, at 16 years, 11 months, is the youngest competitor in the history of the Walker Cup. GB&I earned its lone full point when Richie Ramsay and Lloyd Saltman handed Kyle Reifers and Billy Hurley a 4-and-3 setback.

Kim and Harman, who hit just three greens in regulation over the first 10 holes, won the opening hole with an up-and-down par after their opponents three-putted, but that was the only bogey Edwards and Davies made in the match. They squared the match at the second hole, then won holes 4, 5 and 10. As the Americans walked down the 11th fairway, Harman offered some inspiration to his older teammate.

“I hit a really good tee shot and I said, ‘Come on man, lets make three birdies right here,’ ” said Harman. “We birdied the next two holes and turned the whole match around.”

Harman followed with a 7-foot birdie on 11 and Kim returned the favor at 12 with a 6-footer. Harman added another birdie on 16 as the Americans shot the equivalent of 3-under-par 32 over the last nine holes with the usual match-play concessions.

At the final hole, Harman’s approach sailed beyond the green, leaving Kim a tricky pitch shot. A newly sodded area just before the green made the shot more challenging, knowing that if it landed there, the ball might go 25 feet past the flag.

“I wanted to keep him on the top ridge,” said Kim of Harman’s par putt. “I just tried to bump it into the fringe and it turned out perfect.”

That rally certainly sent a message to the remaining three USA groups on the course. It certainly was noticed by the other players on the American side.

“That’s about the time Jeff and I decided to bury them,” said Putnam, who made a back-nine run of his own with Overton.

Oliver Fisher (front) and GB&I teammate Matthew Richardson discuss strategy during their Saturday foursomes match. (John Mummert/USGA)
The Kim/Harman match ended around the time Overton and Putnam kicked into high gear. Fisher and Richardson, who trailed 2 down after six holes, rallied to win three holes in a four-hole stretch, starting with a chip-in birdie at No. 7 to take a 1-up lead. GB&I rolled in a 30-footer for birdie at 8 and added another birdie at 10 with a 40-footer. A GB&I bogey at 11 squared the match and Putnam and Overton took the lead for good with four consecutive birdies from 13 through 16, the former two for wins.

“Jeff and I really like the back nine and we were just waiting to get to the back nine,” said Putnam, a recent graduate of Pepperdine University and the runner-up at the 2005 NCAA Division I Championship. “It was good to get the juices going. We have great crowds out here.”

Added Overton: “We have played a lot of tournament golf together and we really enjoy each other’s company. On hole 11, we said we can’t keep this up, we’ve got to make some birdies. It was sweet.”

Every and Williams, the lone holdover from the 2003 USA team, didn’t make a lot of birdies, but the one they did make, got them off to a lead they never relinquished. Williams rolled in a 60-foot birdie at the first hole and the duo managed to play steady golf the entire round.

For Williams, the win was redemption for going 0-1-2 in his three matches at Ganton (England) Golf Club two years ago as the USA dropped a 12½-11½ decision.

Holding a precious 1-up lead at 18, Williams struggled with club selection for his 136-yard approach shot. He wound up going with an 8-iron and eased off of it too much, leaving Every with a 60-footer for birdie, while Dinwiddie’s approach stopped 15 feet of the flag. Every lagged his putt to 6 feet before Lockerbie just missed his birdie attempt.

“Standing over the putt, I was nervous,” said Williams, a recent Auburn University graduate. “To make the putt, makes me feel great. It makes the guys real happy.”

Added Every, who will be a senior this fall at the University of Florida: “When Lee made that putt, I was ready to jump over that flag [pole].”

Every and Williams owned a 2-up lead going into the par-5 16th and it looked like they would end the match there after Every smashed a drive. Williams followed by what he called a “pretty bad” 4-iron shot. GB&I won the hole with a birdie, but Lockerbie and Dinwiddie could not muster up another birdie over the final two holes.

“Matt says he would have like to have won on 16, but I don’t think his legs are as strong as mine,” said Williams, offering a fun jab at the loquacious Every. “It always makes you feel great to win on the last hole. It adds so much more excitement. If it came down to winning it on 16 or 18, I would much rather win it on 18 just because of the crowd and the guys hanging out there by the green to give you a hug and all that. It was awesome.”

Saltman, the low amateur at the 2005 British Open, and partner Ramsay won the first three holes and built as much as a 5-up lead before settling for the morning’s most-lopsided victory. The two were the equivalent of 2 under par with the usual match-play concessions.

“I made one mistake all day,” said Ramsay. “The key is to deal with them (mistakes) properly, and we both did. Lloyd had some shots that were just brilliant. We were just trying to get points on the board for the team.”

Ramsay and Dinwiddie sat out the afternoon singles matches for GB&I as six-time Walker Cupper Gary Wolstenholme and Brian McElhinney were inserted into the lineup. Nick Thompson and John Holmes joined the USA lineup, with Harman and Reifers taking a seat.

“I’ll be the best darn nine-man ever,” said Harman.

ABOUT THE The Walker Cup

The Walker Cup Match is a biennial 10-man amateur team competition between the USA and a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland and selected by The R&A. It is played over two days with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes (alternate-shot) matches.

The first United States Walker Cup Team, which in 1922 defeated the GB&I side, 8-4, at the National Golf Links of America, is considered among the best teams ever and included Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones, Charles “Chick” Evans and Jess Sweetser. Many of the game’s greatest players have taken part in Walker Cup competition, including U.S. Open champions Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth for the USA and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose for Great Britain and Ireland.

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