Team USA has won the 49th Walker Cup after defeating Great Britain & Ireland 14½-11½ over two days of intense competition at St Andrews watched by a crowd of over 14,000 fans.
America’s best amateur talent rekindled memories of its last away win at Royal Liverpool in 2019 with another stunning second day singles display to reverse a three-point overnight deficit and secure victory at the Old Course.
USA captain Mike McCoy’s team trailed 7½-4½ going into day two, but handled the windy conditions over the links superbly to triumph against Stuart Wilson’s GB&I side. It was the fourth consecutive win for the USA in the biennial international match and they now lead the overall series 39-9-1.
It was a morning that belonged to the visitors in the foursomes. McCoy’s side were desperate for a fast start and they achieved it in the sunny and breezy conditions. At one point over the opening nine holes, they were up in all four matches.
The USA eventually secured the session 3-1, with only the Irish duo of Liam Nolan and Mark Power victorious for GB&I after their 4&3 triumph included four birdies in their last five holes against Dylan Menante and Austin Greaser.
In the opening match, Caleb Surratt and Ben James triumphed 2&1 against John Gough and Matthew McClean. A key moment came at the 12th when Gough found a gorse bush with his drive and the lost ball saw GB&I trail by two holes. When the USA duo birdied the next, they stood firm to close out the tie.
Preston Summerhays and Nick Gabrelcik were also 2&1 victors against James Ashfield and Alex Maguire, helped by a three-up lead established in the opening six holes as the home team struggled. GB&I were back to one down after the USA bogeyed the par-5 14th, but their bridie at the 16th proved decisive.
Gordon Sargent was vital to the one-hole win for the Americans in match two, inflicting a first defeat on Calum Scott and Connor Graham. He secured his third win of the weekend to highlight why he is the world’s number one male amateur golfer. The 20-year-old holed vital six feet putts at 16 and 18 as he and US Amateur champion Dunlap celebrated in front of a huge crowd on the final hole.
Surratt drew the USA level at 8½-8½ after defeating Scott 3&2 in the first singles match. The American edged ahead early in the match, winning the 2nd hole and was three -up by the 14th after clinching it with a birdie. Despite dropping a hole back with a bogey on 15, Surratt showed his class to see the match out with another birdie at the next hole.
Stewart Hagestad nudged the away team ahead for the first time in the afternoon session after beating Graham 3&2. The Walker Cup veteran held off the advances of the Scottish debutant to close out the encounter with wins on 15 and 16 holes to give the USA a 9½-8½ lead.
The USA then turned up the heat shortly after as Dunlap fought back from being three down through 14 holes to take Barclay Brown down the last after winning 15 and 16, before securing a dramatic half point with a birdie on 18.
Summerhays secured a full point after a convincing 4&3 performance against Ashfield to put his side 11-9 ahead overall. Sargent and Gough slugged it out in a close contest than swung back and forth with both players holding narrow leads throughout – the highlight coming on the 6th hole when the Englishman holed out from the fairway for an eagle two.
The match crucially swung the American’s way again on 17 after Gough went out of bounds and lost the hole after a double bogey. The two players then matched each other with birdies at 18 to give Sargent a narrow one-hole win and ensure a perfect 4-0 record in the match overall. Jack Bigham hauled GB&I back to within two points at 12-10 after an impressive 3&2 victory against Gabrelcik, before McClean and Menante halved their match to give both sides a share of the spoils.
It was left to David Ford to win the match overall for the USA, draining a birdie putt on the 16th to seal a 3&2 win against Maguire to give his side an unassailable 13½-10½ lead. Power restored pride for the home side after coming out on top against James by one hole, but it was left to Greaser to put the icing on the cake with a 3&1 victory over Nolan. The USA won the singles 7-3 leave the final score 14½-11½.
US captain Mike McCoy said: “It’s a pretty good feeling to have won the Walker Cup. We had a great day, and it was these fantastic players, they’re the ones who did it.Last night we kind of mixed the pairings up a little bit, and we knew we needed a strong morning. Our goal was to sweep the morning. We didn’t quite sweep it, but we got the points we needed. Then as far as lunchtime team talk went it was ‘one shot at a time, guys, just play one shot at a time’.
“I put a lot of effort into this for two years and tried to do anything I could that would help make the team successful. We had a lot of support. Ben Albert, a friend of mine, he knows amateur golf in America better than anybody, and he was a sounding board for me in terms of the players, and he knew their parents, he knew their coaches, and through that, I was able to get to know them better, as well. I learned a little bit about what made each of them tick, and it just worked out, but there was a lot of effort by a lot of people to make this happen.”
GB& I captain Stuart Wilson said: “It was a great performance from the boys yesterday to get those three points ahead and then still have a slight advantage going into the singles. We were all still quite optimistic. But I think the Americans just handled the conditions slightly better than us, and to be fair to the boys, without being too harsh or that, I’m sure they’ll be quite disappointed in the way they played. They tried their hardest, but they didn’t turn up with their ‘A’ games this afternoon in some of the matches. They’ll be the ones that will feel it and hurt tomorrow, but the good thing is for them is they’ve got the future. They’ve got tomorrow. I’m sure they can start focusing on the next thing.”
Day 1 – 4 x Foursomes (GB&I players first)
Barclay Brown / Mark Power lost to Gordon Sargent / Dylan Menante 3&2
Calum Scott / Connor Graham beat Caleb Surratt / Ben James 3&2
Matthew McClean / John Gough beat Preston Summerhays / David Ford 1 Hole
Alex Maguire / James Ashfield beat Nick Dunlap / Stewart Hagestad 1 Hole
GB&I 3 – USA 1
Day 1 – 8 x Singles
Barclay Brown lost to Caleb Surratt 4&3
Calum Scott beat Nick Gabrelcik 2&1
Jack Bigham lost to Gordon Sargent 1 Hole
Liam Nolan beat Austin Greaser 1 Hole
Mark Power beat David Ford 1 Hole
Matthew McClean halved with Preston Summerhays
Alex Maguire lost to Stewart Hagestad
John Gough beat Nick Dunlap 6&5
GB&I 4.5 – USA 3.5
Day 2 – 4 x Foursomes
Matthew McClean / John Gough lost to Caleb Surratt / Ben James 2&1
Connor Graham / Calum Scott lost to Nick Dunlap / Gordon Sargent 1 Hole
James Ashfield / Alex Maguire lost to Preston Summerhays / Nick Gabrelcik 2&1
Liam Nolan / Mark Power beat Dylan Menante / Austin Greaser 4&3
GB&I 1 – USA 3
Day 2 Singles – 10 x singles
Calum Scott lost to Caleb Surratt 3&2
Barclay Brown halved with Nick Dunlap
Connor Graham lost to Stewart Hagestad 3&2
John Gough lost to Gordon Sargent 1 Hole
James Ashfield lost to Preston Summerhays 4&3
Matthew McClean halved with Dylan Menante
Jack Bigham beat Nick Gabrelcik 3&2
Mark Power beat Ben James 1 Hole
Liam Nolan lost to Austin Greaser 3&1
Alex Maguire lost to David Ford 3&2
GB&I 3 – USA 7
Match Result: GB&I 11.5 – USA 14.5