Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course
It’s been a season where Liam Nolan has come of age and he proved it again by staging a stunning Walker Cup comeback to clinch a crucial point for Great Britain and Ireland in a dramatic singles session at St Andrews.
Not selected to start the Saturday morning foursomes, Nolan had to bide his time and wait until the afternoon for his debut and in truth, it could not have started much worse. Two nervy opening shots were followed by an equally sketchy three-putt to fall one behind to world number ten Austin Greaser, ranked 140 places above Nolan.
But this is matchplay. Anything can happen over eighteen holes and as they say, two up with five to play never wins. That statement would remain true forever if the player behind played the last five holes of the Old Course like Nolan.
The Galway man, roared on by a boisterous Irish crowd played the closing five holes in a superb three-under-par including birdies on 14, 15 and 18 – the last putting him ahead for the first and last time in the match to pip Greaser who three-putted from the Valley of Sin.
“The home crowd is such an advantage. I mean, from early this morning, we had massive roars until the evening, and they stay with you on every hole and really cheer you on in good times and in bad, and that’s when you need them the most, I suppose.
“I went a bit crazy on 15. I had all my friends and family kind of lined up behind the hole and made about a 12-footer up the hole, and I just gave it a big fist bump and tried to really shift the momentum as much as I could,” said Nolan who drove it into the heart of the 18th green to set up a lengthy eagle try.
“Then again, just the last hole, my caddie gave me a great line and told me to hit the low and it’ll chase rather than trying to fly it all the way there. Yeah, I’m just glad I could get a point for Great Britain & Ireland.”
The 23-year-old was delighted to overcome some early nerves and there wasn’t a player who enjoyed playing at the Home of Golf more than him as the afternoon wore on.
A few years ago he couldn’t have even dreamed of playing in a Walker Cup, but to do it on the holy grail of golf made it everything he couch have imagined and more at the start of the week.
“Yeah, I played a few holes this morning in support of the guys, but I was just walking around. I was just always buzzing to get out there.
“I was very nervous on the first hole. I made a really bad bogey. But then as soon as that happened, all the nerves just kind of left, and I settled into it. It’s absolutely everything I hoped it would be. The most special golf venue you can ask for and an amazing Walker Cup debut.
“Oh, get me out tomorrow. I will not be able to sleep tonight. I cannot wait to get out there again tomorrow.”