Star-studded US side turn on style in singles to win 49th Walker Cup

The United States team celebrate victory in the 49th Walker Cup at St Andrews. Picture: Ross Parker/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.The United States team celebrate victory in the 49th Walker Cup at St Andrews. Picture: Ross Parker/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.
The United States team celebrate victory in the 49th Walker Cup at St Andrews. Picture: Ross Parker/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.
The World Amateur Golf Ranking doesn’t lie, after all. They may have needed a day to warm up - Great Britain & Ireland held a three-point lead at the halfway point - but a star-studded United States side boasting eight of the current top ten amateurs on the planet turned on the style when it mattered most in the 49th Walker Cup at St Andrews.

As was the case four years earlier at Royal Liverpool, the home team held a narrow 8.5-7.5 advantage heading into the concluding singles session and only needed five points from ten encounters to come out on top in the biennial contest only for the Americans to dominate them once again.

Having performed admirably for their captain, Forfar man Stuart Wilson, up to that point, the GB&I players seemed to run of gas at the end of a sun-kissed weekend for the 100th anniversary of the event being staged at the home of golf, though, in fairness, it was mainly down to the golf produced by their opponents that it eventually ended in a comfortable 14.5-11.5 win for the visitors after taking the last session 7-3.

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It was a fourth straight success for the US and a second dose of disappointment for Wilson, the 2004 Amateur champion having also been at the GB&I helm for a two-point defeat at Seminole in 2021. ”Obviously disappointed,” he said. “We had a nice lead this morning that we kind of let slide quite a bit in the foursomes, but I think the guys will be hurting the most because they haven't turned up this afternoon in the way we know they can.”

World No 1 Gordon Sargent, right, celebrates with his caddie Alan Tulleth from St Andrews. Picture: Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.World No 1 Gordon Sargent, right, celebrates with his caddie Alan Tulleth from St Andrews. Picture: Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.
World No 1 Gordon Sargent, right, celebrates with his caddie Alan Tulleth from St Andrews. Picture: Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images.

Star of the show for Mike McCoy’s US side was Gordon Sargent, who underlined why he’s the world No 1 by winning all four of his games. The 20-year-old holed putts on the final three holes – two of them for birdies – to earn a morning foursomes win over Scottish duo Connor Graham and Calum Scott alongside Nick Dunlap before capping a brilliant display by coming out on top in a terrific tussle against Englishman John Gough – he raised a huge roar by holing out for an eagle-2 at the sixth – in the afternoon.

That came after Caleb Surratt and Stewart Hagestad had also delivered points in their matches against Scott and Graham respectively, as well as Preston Summerhays coasting to victory over Welshman James Ashfield. The writing was on the wall for GB&I, unfortunately, when Englishman Barclay Brown had to settle for a half point after being three up with four to play against Nick Dunlap, leaving subsequent successes from Brown’s compatriot, Jack Bigham, and Irishman Mark Power as a meagre return for the home side on an afternoon when the majority fans in the huge crowds - the total attendance for the weekend was an impressive 14,320 - walking the fairways with the players were hoping they might witness a first GB&I victory since 2015 at Royal Lytham.

David Ford’s victory over Irishman Alex Maguire, winner of the St Andrews Links Trophy earlier in the year, sealed matters before Liam Greaser added some icing to the American cake by accounting for Liam Nolan in the final match to finish and, boy, did those flying the Stars and Stripes enjoy it, though you could hardly blame them because, no matter whether its individually or part of a team, there’s simply nowhere better in golf than its birthplace to taste victory.

Through support from The R&A, no stone was left unturned by Wilson and his team of selectors in preparing the home players for the first clash on the Old Course since 1975 and, even though it ultimately ended in disappointment, those wearing the GB&I lion on their clothing and bags can head away from here feeling proud of themselves.

On Saturday, they helped deliver a day that will be long remembered by the thousands of people who enjoyed seeing Wilson’s warriors win the opening session 3-1 before then showing grit and determination to turn a potential 6-2 defeat in the afternoon into something less damaging.

In truth, though, the tide had started to turn as the Americans came out on top 3-1 in the second foursomes session on Sunday morning, with Irish pair Liam Nolan and Mark Power producing a gritty effort in the anchor match to prevent that from being a whitewash.

For McCoy, it was a weekend to cherish, especially after he’d been part of a losing side - it also included Bryson DeChambeau - in Lancashire eight years ago. “This one is going to be a great ride home,” admitted the Des Moines man. “It's pretty special. It's certainly the pinnacle of my golfing life. They (the US players) just played hard, right to the bitter end. I just drove the sunscreen around. Who thought we were going to need it? All credit to Stuart and his team; they really fought hard, as well. It was, I think, an epic Walker Cup.”

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The next contest is at Cypress Point in 2025, when it will be interesting to see if The R&A, having already broken with tradition by appointing a professional, Catriona Matthew, for next year’s Curtis Cup at Sunningdale, does likewise for this event, with the likes of Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington and Stephen Gallacher all potential contenders.

Foursomes (US names first)

Caleb Surratt/Ben James bt Matthew MacLean/John Gough 2&1

Gordon Sargent/Nick Dunlap bt Calum Scott/Conor Graham 1 hole

Preston Summerhays/Nick Gabrelcik bt Alex Maguire/James Ashfield 2&1

Dylan Menante/Austin Graser lost to Liam Nolan/Mark Power 4&3

Singles

Caleb Surratt bt Calum Scott 3&2

Nick Dunlap halved with Barclay Brown

Stewart Hagestad bt Connor Graham 3&2

Gordon Sargent bt John Gough 1 hole

Preston Summerhays bt James Ashfield 4&3

Dylan Menante halved with Matthew MacLean

Nick Gabrelcik ,lost to Jack Bigham 3&2

Ben James lost to Mark Power 1 hole

Austin Greaser bt Liam Nolan 3&1

David Ford bt Alex Maguire 3&2

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