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Americans Regain Walker Cup in Resounding Fashion
After entering the final day with an 8-4 lead over Great Britain and Ireland, the USA won two of the four foursome matches Sunday morning and then took seven of the 10 singles matches in the afternoon to win the 44th Walker Cup by a wide 17-9 margin.
The biennial match that pits the top amateurs assembled in 10-man teams took place at the historic National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.
The Americans, who lost two years ago to GB&I at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland 14-12, now lead the overall series 35-8-1.
Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett got the Yanks off to a good start in foursomes, beating Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin 2 and 1. But the pairing of 2013 U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond edged Michael Weaver and Todd White 3 and 2 to gain a point for GB&I.
The Americans bounced right back in the third match as Max Homa and Michael Kim - two California Bears - eked out a 1-up win over Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh. Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan of GB&I closed out foursomes with a 2-up victory over Patrick Rodgers and Jordan Niebrugge, giving the teams a 2-2 split in the morning.
Like they did Saturday afternoon with wins in the first five singles that changed the complexion of the 2013 Walker Cup, the Americans started out hot in Sunday's 10 singles matches, as Wyatt beat Raymond 4 and 3 and Justin Thomas forged an impressive 6 and 4 victory over Orrin.
Fitzpatrick - who led GB&I with a 3-1 record in four matches - continued to impress, beating Weaver 3 and 2 in the third match. But 45-year-old Todd White and 35-year-old Nathan Smith - the two mid-amateurs on the American squad - edged Rhys Pugh and Kimsey, respectively, each by a 4 and 3 score. The win by Smith gave the Americans the decisive point.
"This ranks at the top of the list," said Smith of his clinching point. "I never wanted a point so much in my life. This (Match) means the most. I'm happy for Jim (Holtgrieve). Nobody deserves it more than him and loves the game of golf and put more hard work into a team than him."
In the remaining matches, GB&I's Callum Shinkwin got past Whitsett 2-up, but Kim took Porteous 4 and 2. After Phelan beat Homa 2 and 1, the Americans went out in style as 2013 U.S. Public Links Amateur champion Niebrugge routed Jordan Smith 6 and 5 and Rodgers closed out the scoring with a tight 1-up win over Moynihan.
"It's something I have been wanting for a long, long time, particularly after we lost in 2011," said USA captain Jim Holtgrieve of winning the Walker Cup, which returned to the course that hosted the first event in 1922. "I was hoping I would get a mulligan for '13 and when I knew it was going to be at National Golf Links, which is where it all started, I wanted so bad to come here. Yes. I wanted to win but I wanted to do something good for golf and this, to me, was truly good for golf."
"They adapted to conditions a little bit better - the greens changed and there were very, very severe pin positions," GB&I captain Nigel Edwards said of the USA. "They holed-out a little bit better and I would say the short shots into the green, the distance control, that's where they outdid us. When they did hit it over the back they got up and down and we didn't."
For full scoring details, visit http://www.usga.org/WalkerCup/ChampEventScoringIndex.aspx?eid=2147495184&year=2013&id=21474859152.