Great Britain & Ireland extend lead through Day 1 at Walker Cup
After claiming three of the four available points in the morning foursomes session at St. Andrews, Great Britain & Ireland kept the pedal to the metal in the Saturday afternoon singles matches, taking 4.5 of the available eight points to extend their advantage to three points heading into Sunday’s final day of play at the 2023 Walker Cup.
The score through Day 1: 7.5 to 3.5 to GB&I. The challenge for the Americans: hefty.
Team USA’s prospects looked brighter at the beginning of the 8-match singles session, with American Caleb Surratt claiming a stress-free 3&2 victory over Barclay Brown. But Surratt and Walker Cup veteran Stewart Hagestad (4&3) were the only U.S. players to claim big-margin victories. Top-ranked amateur Gordon Sargent delivered a 1-up win, and Preston Summerhays earned a half-point in his tied match against Matthew McClean.
The most lopsided match of the day came in the last one out, which featured newly-crowned U.S. Amateur champ Nick Dunlap against John Gough. With birdies on three of the first five holes, Gough was 5-up through 5, and clinched the match for GB&I 6&5 on the 13th hole.
Now, Team USA will be forced to mount an epic charge on Sunday, where there will be 14 points up for grabs; four in the morning team foursomes matches, and 10 points in afternoon singles. Team USA needs to reach 13 points to retain the Cup, while GB&I must reach 13.5 points to re-claim it.
Despite the seemingly long odds of success, at the end of play on Saturday, U.S. captain Mike McCoy remained optimistic.
“It wasn’t the day we were looking for, but saw a lot of good golf,” he said. “The afternoon kind of started the way we were hoping, and we just didn’t close some of those matches we were — we had a couple 1-up, 2-up leads, and we just — they kind of slipped away, and we didn’t flip any of the all squares.
“But we’ll regroup, and we’ll have a plan for tomorrow, and we’ll be ready to go.”