U.S. storms back on final day to retain Walker Cup over GB&I

The U.S. wins the 2023 Walker Cup.

The U.S. team won its fourth-straight Walker Cup Sunday.

Graphic Darren Riehl

After one day of play at the Walker Cup, a heavily favored U.S. team was on the ropes.

The Americans started the final day of the two-day, four-session team matches at St. Andrews against their opponents from Great Britain and Ireland down three points, losing both the foursomes and singles sessions on Saturday.

But captain Mike McCoy took a gamble, sending out his two best players, top-ranked amateur Gordan Sargent and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Nick Dunlap together in Sunday morning foursomes.

It paid off as Sargent and Dunlap secured a 1-up victory, and the U.S. won two of the other four matches to close the gap to just one point entering Sunday’s final singles session.

Sargent and Dunlap came up clutch again in the afternoon.

Dunlap climbed back from three down with four to play and made a birdie putt on 18 to grind out a crucial half-point against Barclay Brown while Sargent also birdied the Old Course’s famous finisher to beat John Gough 1 up.

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“Nobody on this team likes losing. Everybody is extremely competitive, really good,” Dunlap said of the team’s rally. “We just kind of had an off day and they played great. That’s golf. They’re allowed to play good, make birdies and win matches.

“We all had a game plan. We knew if we came out and executed, that we may like the end result.”

That set up David Ford to secure the clinching point by defeating Alex Maguire 3 and 2 in the anchor match for the U.S. to retain the Walker Cup. It’s the fourth-straight victory in the biennial matches for the Americans, who came in with eight of the top 10 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. The U.S. now leads the overall series 39-8-1.

The final total was 14.5 to 11.5 as the GB&I team managed just two wins in the 10 matches Sunday afternoon to the U.S.’s six victories.

The final day did not pass without controversy.

In Sargent’s match, Gough ran a mid-range birdie putt about four feet by the hole on the 16th with the match tied. Sargent had about the same distance left for par and looked at Gough briefly before the pair picked up their marks and proceeded to the next tee.

“We were just having a friendly match,” Sargent told NBC after the match. “We felt like we both were gonna make it so we were kinda like let’s just take it to 17 and hopefully put on a show for the fans.”

On the next tee, Gough blocked his drive out of bounds into the courtyard of the nearby Old Course Hotel, allowing Sargent to win the hole with an easy bogey. Sargent secured the full point by driving the 18th green with a 3-wood and two-putting for birdie.

The win completed a perfect 4-0 week for the Vanderbilt junior.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.