All square after opening session in 47th Walker Cup

Alex Fitzpatrick gets the lowdown on a putt during the first session in the 47th Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool. Picture: PA
Alex Fitzpatrick gets the lowdown on a putt during the first session in the 47th Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool. Picture: PA
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Scottish duo Sandy Scott and Euan Walker tasted defeat as the spoils were shared in the opening session of the 47th Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool.

The tartan twosome started brightly, covering the first six holes in three-under, before a scrappy run led to them losing 2&1 to John Pak and Isaiah Salinda.

US duo John Pak, right, and Isaiah Salinda celebrate after beating Sandy Scott and Euan Walker on Merseyside. Picture: AP

US duo John Pak, right, and Isaiah Salinda celebrate after beating Sandy Scott and Euan Walker on Merseyside. Picture: AP

That was the score in all four matches on a lovely morning on the Wirral as the teams headed into eight afternoon singles ties locked together on 2-2.

Captain Craig Watson’s decision to pair compatriots Scott and Walker looked promising as they birdied the third, fourth and fifth in the second game to be one up on the seventh tee.

But, after two concessions in the next three holes, the tide turned and, though Walker rolled in a 20-foot downhill birdie putt to win the tenth, it became a losing battle for the home pair.

As their opponents missed fairways and greens, the Americans won three holes in a row from the 11th and could also have taken the 14th and 15th as well but for slackness on the greens.

After a brilliant approach from Nairn man Scott at the 16th, Barassie’s Walker rolled in 20-footer for an eagle to keep the match alive but not for long as Scott’s birdie attempt agonisingly stayed out at the next.

While it wasn’t the start they’d been looking for, the Scottish duo found themselves up against a formidable pairing in world 19 Pak and 20th-ranked Salinda.

The Americans were two-under for 17 holes, with a solitary dropped shot coming at the 15th following a missed short putt.

Watched by older brother Matt, Englishman Alex Fitzpatrick joined forces with Irishman Conor Purcell to put the first point on the board with a win over John Augenstein and Andy Ogletree in the top match.

The Americans had been paired by captain Nathaniel Crosby after fighting out the final of the US Amateur Championship at Pinehurst last month, but it was an uphill fight after a second shot from Ogletree went out of bounds at the first.

Conor Gough, who, at 17, is the second-youngest GB&I player to compete in the event, and fellow Englishman Harry Hall were the home team’s other morning winners.

They were helped by two early birdies but also an erratic display from Stewart Hagestad and Akshay Bhatia, who, in addition to a couple of concessions, were a woeful six-over-par.

The best golf of the morning was produced in the bottom match by Brandon Wu, whogot into this year’s Open Championship by winning the final qualifier at Fairmont St Andrews, and Alex Smalley.

They were two-under and bogey-free in beating another all-English pairing of Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb to set up an exciting second session.

Walker and Scott were both involved in that, facing world No 10 Steven Fisk and Ogletree respectively near the top of the order.

After being left out in the morning, world No 1 Cole Hammer was sent out first by Crosby against Fitzpatrick while there was also a first taste of action for Amateur champion James Sugrue against Pak.

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