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USA needs a Brookline-style miracle at Walker Cup

by Alistair Tait

ABERDEEN, Scotland (Sept. 11, 2011) -- Great Britain & Ireland have one hand on the 43rd Walker Cup.

Another three points and they will hold George Herbert Walker’s cup firmly in their grasp for the first time since 2003.

GB&I lead the United States 10.5–5.5 heading into the final singles session after winning the second foursomes matches 3.5–.5.

GB&I captain Nigel Edwards entered the second-day foursomes confident that he had the right mix of personnel.

“I’m pretty clear what I’m doing with my foursomes,” Edwards said.

So it proved.

Edwards stuck with three of the pairs that had given him a 3-1 advantage in the first foursomes session, and put them out in the same order. He made just one change, benching Stiggy Hodgson and Steven Brown and replacing them with Rhys Pugh and James Byrne in the last match out on the course.

Pugh and Byrne were impressive in winning their opening singles matches. They showed the same form in combining to defeat world number one Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams 5 and 3 in the anchor match of the second foursomes.

Ahead of them, Irish duo Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar defeated Kelly Kraft and Blayne Barber 2 and 1. Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan bettered Peter Uihlein and Harris English 3 and 2.

The only ray of light for U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve was Jordan Spieth and Patrick Rodgers’ brilliant comeback to earn a half against lead GB&I pair Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart. Spieth and Rodgers were four down after 12 holes, but won four of the next six holes to earn what could turn out to be a vital half. On the other hand, it could just be a source of pride for the U.S. pair.

There was no rain when the matches teed off at 8:30 a.m. However, the wind was stronger than it was the day before, with gusts of up to 25 mph.

The sea breezes that ripped over the ancient Balgownie Links played right into GB&I hands. The home team has been playing in strong winds all year.

It showed. The U.S. side was simply blown away by the conditions.

With 10 points to play for in the last singles session, the U.S. has its work cut out to win the Walker Cup for a fourth consecutive time. They need eight points from the final singles to win it outright. They need to win seven and a half points this afternoon halve the match and retain the cup.

Stranger things have happened, but Nigel Edwards looks like he’ll get both hands on this Walker Cup.

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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.

The USA leads the overall series 35-8-1.

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