U.S. on cusp of Walker Cup win in Sunday singles


SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – The Americans need only 3 1/2 points to win the 44th Walker Cup after splitting the Sunday morning foursomes session.

The U.S. leads, 10-6, heading into the 10 singles matches that are slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. ET. The team that led after Sunday foursomes has gone on to win eight of the last nine Walker Cups.

Taking an 8-4 lead into the final day of competition at National Golf Links, the U.S. team of Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt – teammates at NCAA champion Alabama – put the first point on the board with a 2-and-1 victory over GB&I’s Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin.

The visitors came back strong in the second match, however, as Matt Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond never trailed in knocking off Americans Michael Weaver and Todd White, 3 and 2.

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Both teams split the final two matches, but in rather unlikely fashion.

In a back-and-forth match, Rhys Pugh missed a 4-foot par putt on 17 that would have secured at least a half point for Team GB&I. Then, on the final hole, Garrick Porteous stubbed a chip shot and Pugh missed a 12-footer for par. Max Homa sank his 5-footer for par to give him and former Cal teammate Michael Kim a 1-up victory, the only time they led all morning.

“We were down the whole match,” Kim said, “but we had a pretty optimistic view. We never thought that we would lose.”

GB&I then produced an improbable comeback of its own.

Four down through seven holes against Americans Patrick Rodgers and Jordan Niebrugge, GB&I’s Kevin Phelan and Gavin Moynihan won the last three holes for a 2-up victory.

“It at least gives us a bit of hope,” Phelan said afterward.

What will likely be a familiar talking point now is the fact that the Americans won 6 1/2 of the possible eight points in Saturday singles. Team GB&I needs a similar rally to have any chance of retaining the cup.

“We did it to them yesterday,” Whitsett said. “They could easily turn the tables and do it today. So we’ve got to stay focused and keep pushing ahead.”

The Americans lead the overall series, 34-8-1, but they have split the last 12 matches, including a 14-12 loss in 2011.