SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Say sorry?
Oh, no. Not in Walker Cup foursomes. Because it’s bound to happen at some point: One partner will rip a beautiful drive down the middle, then the other will block an approach. One partner will stuff an iron shot inside 5 feet, then the other will miss the tiddler.
“It’s all a mental thing,” said Cal’s Michael Weaver. “You’ve gotta get over the fact that you’re probably going to get screwed a couple of times. But you can’t let it get to you.”
Alternate shot is popular overseas but the U.S. players have very little experience with the format, save for the Wyndham and Palmer cups. The Walker Cup format is two 36-hole days – foursomes and singles sessions.
Despite their relative inexperience, the Americans have actually performed reasonably well in the format. In the last six matches, dating to 2001, the U.S. is 23 1/2 to 24 1/2 against Team GB&I in the foursomes sessions. In the last four matches, the U.S. is 18-14, which includes a 1 1/2-to-6 1/2 loss two years ago at Royal Aberdeen.
“Everyone says (Team GB&I) plays it more overseas, but in the end, if you play good golf, it doesn’t matter,” said Justin Thomas, who has played with his foursomes partner, Patrick Rodgers, on at least four other occasions. “Maybe they’re a little more comfortable with it, but in the end good golf is rewarded.”
Oftentimes, the most difficult aspect is preparation – not putting for a few holes, for instance, and then facing a 40-footer.
“That’s not something you can be ready for,” Max Homa said. “I don’t think I’ll hit my first drive until the 10th hole. You can get caught by surprise and get a little bit stiff on some shots.
“But it just comes down to the quality of the player. If you’re playing good golf, you’re going to play well in alternate shot.”
Cory Whitsett actually prefers this format over fourballs (best ball), in which “you can kind of freewheel it a little bit.”
“Foursomes you really have to play the shot at hand,” he said. “They call it the ‘I’m sorry’ format. You really have to be focused so you don’t have to say that all day.”