Walker Cup: USA Dominates In Saturday Singles
09 Sep 2017
by Yianni Gogonas of AmateurGolf.com

see also: View results for The Walker Cup, St. Andrews - Old Course

Collin Morikawa with Doc Redman (L) and Scottie Scheffler (R)<br>after Morikawa's 3&2 singles win Saturday (USGA photo)
Collin Morikawa with Doc Redman (L) and Scottie Scheffler (R)
after Morikawa's 3&2 singles win Saturday (USGA photo)

LOS ANGELES, California (September 9, 2017) -- After splitting the morning foursomes matches with GB&I, 2-2, the USA team dominated the afternoon singles matches, 6-2, giving the home team an 8-4 lead heading into the final day of the Walker Cup.

For much of the afternoon, the matches evenly split, but players like Braden Thornberry — who came back from 2-down to defeat Harry Ellis on the last hole, and Norman Xiong, who after going down three holes early on, was able to come back and defeat Connor Syme 2-up — were able to turn key points for the Americans.

Thornberry, who was the first to post his score playing in the lead match, trailed Ellis on the 14th tee. Ellis would have some trouble on the 14th, making a double that seemed to rattle the 2017 British Amateur Champion as much as ignite Braden Thornberry’s comeback.

“I hit a good wedge in there on 14,” recounted Thornberry, “but Captain ‘Spider’ came up to me a little bit, gave me a pat on the back, and told me I could do it, and I kind of took that and rode it.”

It must have been a very meaningful exchange for Thornberry, because he rolled in his first birdie putt of event just after, followed by three pars on Nos 15, 16, and 17 that would be good enough to win two holes as Ellis continued to struggle off the tee.

The NCAA champ was able to end his afternoon in style, sticking a 6-iron to 10-feet and converting for the birdie to win his match 2-up.

Eighteen year old Oregon Sophomore Norman Xiong is already having a strong showing in his maiden Walker Cup appearance, first effectively annihilating his opponents Harry Ellis and Alfie Plant with his partner Collin Morikawa in the morning’s foursomes, then winning his afternoon match 2-up against Scottish Golfer Connor Syme despite getting down three early.

Maverick McNealy and Will Zalatoris make up the last of four comebacks. Zalatoris was never in grave danger, only trailing on the 13th which he would quickly take back with consecutive pars on Nos. 13 and 14 as Matthew Jordan began to struggle down the stretch.

McNealy, the number two ranked player in the WAGR had some trouble with 2016 British Amateur Champion Scott Gregory, trailing by two holes after No. 11. McNealy, who plans to turn pro next month at the Safeway Open, showed why he is moving up to the professional ranks. He played the next six holes at 1-under-par and ultimately getting the better of Gregory, who, like Ellis and Jordan, could not get the pieces to fall into place late in the match.

Even Stewart Hagestad looked like he might fight back to win in a match that most would have considered over after losing the 10th to go 6-down to English golfer Jack Singh Brar.

The Newport Beach native didn’t tumble over in front of what might have been the biggest gallery on the golf course, clawing back to win on Nos. 11, 12, 13, and 14 before finding the bunker with his tee shot on the tricky 78-yard 15th hole. The 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion would make bogey to Singh Brar’s par, thinning his chances of a comeback. Their match ended on the 16th, where bogey would be good enough for a halved hole and a GB&I win.

Doug Ghim and Collin Morikawa rounding out the USA team's six afternoon victories, both going up early in their matches and not looking back en route to 2&1 and 3&2 victories, respectively.

The GB&I were able to put two points on the board to keep themselves within reach of retaining the Walker Cup. In addition to the Singh Brar’s win over Stewart Hagestad, Irish golfer Paul McBride displayed dominance with a 6&4 victory over Cameron Champ.

Play will begin on Sunday morning with foursomes beginning at 7:30 AM, followed by afternoon singles matches beginning at 12:30.

Saturday Singles Highlights

View results for The Walker Cup
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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