By David Shefter, USGA
WHEATON, IL (August 14, 2005) -– John Holmes and Nick Thompson provided a huge lift for the United States of America, winning their Sunday morning foursomes match, 2 and 1, over Great Britain and Ireland’s Oliver Fisher and Matthew Richardson to keep the Americans one point ahead going into the final eight singles matches of the 40th Walker Cup Match at Chicago Golf Club.
“We got the win,” said Thompson, “and to keep us going into the afternoon with a one-point lead is just huge for us.”
Thompson, who lost his lone match on Saturday 5and 4 to Richardson, and Holmes, who is now 2-0 in the 2005 Match, never trailed against the 16-year-old phenom Fisher and Richardson. Holmes holed a birdie putt at the par-4 15th to give the team a 2-up advantage, only to see GB&I come back with a 10-foot birdie at 16.
Then at the par-4 17th, both teams reached the green in regulation, but after Holmes lagged his 22-foot birdie attempt just 2 feet past the hole, Richardson got a bid bold with his 20-footer, running the putt 5 feet by. Fisher then failed to convert the par putt and Thompson holed his to give the USA the victory.
The USA and GB&I split the four foursomes (alternate shot) contests, 2-2, meaning the USA has an 8½-7½ lead. The USA needs 12½ points to recapture the Cup, while GB&I, winners of the last three Walker Cups, needs only 12 points to retain it.
Anthony Kim and Brian Harman earned the USA’s other point with a thorough 4-and-2 victory over Lloyd Saltman and Richie Ramsay.
GB&I countered with a 2-and-1 victory from Rhys Davies and Nigel Edwards over the American duo of Matt Every and Lee Williams. It was Williams’ first defeat of this Match after going 2-0 on Saturday. Gary Lockerbie and Robert Dinwiddie of GB&I made seven birdies over 15 holes in a 5-and-3 victory over Jeff Overton and Michael Putnam.
Kim and Harman, who rallied from a 3-down deficit in Saturday’s foursome match to earn a half-point, wasted no time jumping on their GB&I counterparts, winning the first two holes with pars. At the par-4 fifth hole, Harman drove the ball 50 yards from the flag. Kim stepped up and knocked a 60-degree wedge into the hole for an eagle-2 and a 3-up lead.
“I was just trying to get it close,” said Kim, now 2-0-1 in this Match. “I hit a similar shot on the hole before (par-5 fourth to set up a birdie) and almost made that one, so I just tried to make the same swing, and it happened to go in.”
Harman holed a clutch 8-foot par putt to halve the seventh hole, but mistakes at the eighth and ninth holes led to bogeys and wins for GB&I. With momentum starting to slip away, Kim drilled his tee shot at the par-3 10th to 6 feet. Facing a sliding left-to-right downhill putt, Harman found the center of the hole for a birdie and a 2-up lead. The Americans took 11 and 13 with pars to increase the advantage to 4 up.
GB&I got one back with a birdie on 14, but Harman stepped up on the par-5 16th with one of the best shots of the Match. He drilled a 245-yard, 3-wood approach to within a foot of the hole for a conceded eagle and when GB&I fail to hole out from the fairway with its third shot, the match was over.
“Anthony said I should hit it to the middle of the green,” said Harman, at 18, the youngest USA player and a freshman-to-be at the University of Georgia. “I told him, I can’t do that, I have to go right at it.”
Kim, a first-team All-America this past season at the University of Oklahoma, and Harman were the equivalent of 4 under par through 16 holes, with two eagles and two birdies. Harman, who sat out afternoon singles on Saturday, is now 1-0-1.
“We knew it was going to be important to play well early,” said Kim. “We just tried to come out here and make as many birdies as we could early. We didn’t want to make any stupid mistakes and give away holes.”
Davies and Edwards also never trailed, grabbing a 2-up lead with a birdie at the fifth. But Every and Williams squared the match with pars at six and seven. The match turned, however, at 14 when the 37-year-old Edwards, competing in his third Walker Cup, holed a 12-foot birdie putt for a 1-up lead.
Two holes later, Williams knocked his second shot from the fairway on the green, but some 40 feet away. Edwards, meanwhile, faced a tricky pitch over a bunker for his third shot. He landed the ball perfectly, leaving Davies with a 6-footer for birdie. The Americans three-putted as Williams missed an 8-footer for birdie and Davies knocked his in for a commanding 2-up advantage.
“As long as I got [the pitch] to the slope, it was going to be about 10 feet or so … and Rhys was going to hole it,” said Edwards. “We were under a lot of pressure. They came back at us, but we got our noses in front again.”
Added Davies: “I didn’t hit a great shot [from the fairway at 16], but Nigel’s [pitch] shot was tremendous and I was lucky enough to follow it in.”
Lockerbie and Dinwiddie slowly pulled away in their match, as they handed Overton (2-1) his first defeat of the Match. Putnam is now 1-2. The GB&I duo birdied four of the first seven holes to grab a 3-up lead. They went 4 up at 11 and then closed out the match with another birdie on the par-5 16th.
“This is just fantastic,” said Dinwiddie, whose team was the equivalent of 6 under par over 16 holes with the usual match-play concessions. “Yesterday, Gary and I were just trying to fight back, and today we played really, really well. We didn’t make any mistakes to speak of and didn’t open the door for them at all. That will carry us into singles this afternoon.”
Kim and Harman lead off for the USA in singles, with Kim facing GB&I stalwart Gary Wolstenholme at 12:30 p.m. and Harman meeting Davies at 12:40 p.m. Davies remains the only undefeated player for GB&I at 2-0-1. Lockerbie and Williams play the final match at 1:40 p.m.
“We just have to go out there and have fun,” said Holmes, a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky. “It’s been so much fun this week and I am playing well. I think we are going to go out there [this afternoon] and take it home.”