CAPTAIN Nigel Edwards praised his Great Britain & Ireland players for pulling off “something special” after they claimed victory in the 45th Walker Cup with a record winning margin at Royal Lytham.
“At the start of the week we talked about how we wanted to do something special – and this is it,” said the Welshman as he celebrated a 16½-9½ victory over the Americans on the Lancashire coast.
It was the fourth time in five matches that GB&I had made home advantage count in the event after also coming out on top at Nairn, Ganton and Royal Aberdeen in the last 16 years.
The biggest previous winning margin for GB&I in the biennial contest had been by six points, achieved at both Nairn in 1999 and Sea Island, Georgia, two years later.
“I felt confident coming into this week despite what the world rankings said,” added Edwards of the American line-up boasting eight players in the top 20 compared to just two in the GB&I ranks.
“I knew I had a great team of competitors who play a lot of match-play. They know how to dig in when things are not going well and they also know how to get over the line.”
Lanky Englishman Jimmy Mullen finished with four points out of four – the first GB&I player to achieve that feat since Paul Casey and Luke Donald in the 1999 match at Nairn.
“It’s obviously great to do that but, even if I’d lost all four of my matches, the winning feeling I’ve got just now would still be the same,” said Mullen – who is making an instant switch to the paid ranks along with compatriot Ashley Chesters as well as Irish trio Paul Dunne, Gary Hurley and Gavin Moynihan – to a round of applause from his team-mates.
Praising the 21-year-old, Edwards commented: “Jimmy has been in the England team for the last three years and is a great competitor. He loves the cut and thrust of match-play and has proved that over the past two days.
“Everyone contributed to this win by scoring a point and I am sure that was important for them personally. It’s been a great week and they produced tremendous performances in every session.
“We had to dig really deep at times and a couple of our wins in this morning’s foursomes were crucial. They gave us a four-point advantage heading into the singles, which was a big cushion.”
Barassie’s Jack McDonald was the top Scottish performer with two-and-a-half points from three games, while Grant Forrest (Craigielaw) and Ewen Ferguson (Bearsden) both mustered a singles success.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Forrest after he turned the tables on Scott Harvey, his conqueror on the opening day, with a 2&1 victory. “Walking down the 15th hole knowing we’d won already was a great feeling and it was nice to then go on and win my match.”
The 22-year-old, who recovered from being two down after eight to record his success, added: “I’ve been struggling with my game this week but I managed to play some better stuff from the turn onwards and it’s a great feeling to have got the job done for Nigel. This is a great team and it’s great to have been part of it. The boys have played some fantastic golf – they were phenomenal.”
US captain John “Spider” Miller was magnanimous in defeat: “It’s not the outcome either me or my players wanted, but credit to Nigel and his team because we were outplayed and I applaud them for their efforts.”
Maverick McNealy, the world No 2, lamented a wind switch on Saturday morning, saying: “We’d practised for five days in a different wind and it felt like a totally different course when it changed direction.”