The United States drew first blood in a month of international golf battles, battling to defeat Great Britain and Ireland in the 49th Walker Cup on Sunday.
Team USA’s top amateur players were trailing by three points going into the final day at Windy St. Andrews in Scotland, but they came back strong to claim a 14.5-11.5 win at the famous Old Course.
The Americans, led by Mike McCoy, won three of Sunday’s four foursomes matches and seven of their 10 singles matches to claim their fourth consecutive Walker Cup win and extend their dominant overall record to 39 wins, nine losses, and one tie.
“It’s very special. It’s definitely the pinnacle of my golf life,” McCoy, who suffered a bruising 16.5-9.5 in his only Walker Cup appearance in 2015, told reporters.
“2015 was tough. We felt bad for our team, we felt bad for the captain. We were just outclassed.
“It’s a great feeling. I tried to put a lot of effort into this for two years and tried to do anything I could to help make the team a success… I learned a little bit about what makes each one of them special, and it just worked.
Buoyed by strong domestic support, and with over 14,000 spectators in attendance, GB & Ireland’s Stuart Wilson side have overcome their poor standing from the start, building a 7.5 – 4.5 lead on Saturday despite visitors including eight of the world’s top 10 amateur golfers.
At world No. 14, England’s John Goff was the host nation’s top-ranked player – a position that would have put them second from the bottom of the US list.
The quality of the Americans shone on the decisive day, with both World No. 1 Amateur Gordon Sargent and American Amateur Champion Nick Dunlap playing the starring roles.
Sargent finished the tournament with an impeccable 4-0 record, while Dunlap came from a three-game deficit against Barclay Brown to snatch half a decisive point in the singles matches.
“It was a great performance from the guys yesterday to get those three points up front and then still have a slight advantage going into the individual matches. We were all still very optimistic,” the Scot’s Wilson told reporters.
“But I think the Americans handled the circumstances a little better than we did, and to be fair to the players, without being too harsh or that, I’m sure they’d be very disappointed in the way they played themselves.
“They did their best, but they didn’t show up for their ‘A’ games this afternoon in some matches. They’ll be the ones to feel it and hurt tomorrow, but the good thing for them is they have the future. They have tomorrow. I’m sure they can start to focus.” On to the next thing.
The first blow landed
It’s a boost for American golf ahead of the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup matches later this month.
The 2020 Ryder Cup is normally run on alternate years, and the postponement of the 2020 Ryder Cup due to the coronavirus pandemic means both the women’s and men’s events will be played over two weeks.
Spain’s Finca Cortesin will host the Solheim Cup from September 22-24, before the Marco Simone Golf Club and Italian club host the Ryder Cup from September 29-October 1.
Team USA will enjoy home advantage as they bid for their fifth consecutive 50th Walker Cup in Cypress Point, California, in September 2025.