Pressure is on, says GB&I Walker Cup captain Craig Watson

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Great Britain & Ireland captain Craig Watson says the “pressure is on” heading into this weekend’s 47th Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool.

The East Renfrewshire member is bidding to win back the trophy at the Merseyside venue in his first stint in the firing line in the biennial event.

Watson, who played in the 1997 match at Quaker Ridge after winning the Amateur Championship that year, had been due to captain the GB&I side in Los Angeles two years ago.

But he stepped down from the role on that occasion due to a family bereavement, watching from a far as a side including Bob MacIntyre and Connor Syme lost 19-7.

That was the fifth match running that the home team had come out on top and Watson is hoping to extend that run with a side that includes two of his compatriots, Sandy Scott and Euan Walker.

“I’ve been a losing captain at St Andrews Trophy team. I’ve drawn my other St Andrews Trophy team,” he said ahead of Saturday’s opening session, the first of four over two days at Hoylake. “The pressure is on!”

In the first of those St Andrews Trophy contests, Watson’s side recovered from losing the opening foursomes 4-0 to earn that tie with Continent of Europe at Prince’s in Kent.

But he is looking for his side to be on the front foot from the off on this occasion against an American line up that includes world No 1 Cole Hammer and four others in the top 10.

“The opening foursomes is very important because it sets the tone,” admitted Watson. “It’s not disastrous if you lose 4-0 because there’s two days and a lot of golf to be played.

“But I don’t think we’re going to be going into lunch behind and, if you could win all the sessions, it would be brilliant.”

As has been the case all week on England’s north west coast, a strong wind was blowing for the final practice day, though that it is set to ease a bit over the weekend.

“I think we would prefer a wee bit of wind as it would probably suit us a wee bit and hopefully be to our advantage,” admitted Watson.

“But you want it to be half decent for the spectators because they don’t want to be watching people hack it out of rough every hole or looking for balls every second hole.”

Royal Liverpool staged an informal match between British and American teams in 1921 that led to the Walker Cup being introduced the following year.

The event paid its first visit to Hoylake in 1983, when the winning US side included Nathaniel Crosby, who is back as captain this time around.

“There’s not any bad holes on it,” said Watson of the course where Rory McIlroy won The Open in 2014. “They’re all very fair and you can see everything in front of you.”

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