USA show their class on Sunday to win fourth successive Walker Cup

Ronan MacNamara

The United States team celebrates victory (Photo by Oisin Keniry/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Rónán MacNamara at the Old Course        .                                                            Great Britain and Ireland 11.5 – USA 14.5

The United States of America became just the fourth team to come from behind after three sessions to win a fourth successive Walker Cup as they showed their class with a dominant Sunday performance at St Andrews.

It’s only the second time a team has come from behind after three sessions away from home to win the Walker Cup – the USA achieved that feat in 2019 in Royal Liverpool.


Mike McCoy’s side’s superiority in the world rankings proved little on Saturday as Great Britain and Ireland won both sessions to take a three point lead into Sunday but saw that whittled down to the minimum as the Stars and Stripes won the Sunday foursomes 3-1 which proved crucial.

USA arrived at the Old Course with every player ranked inside the top-20 in the world including eight of the top ten. The cream came to the top and Great Britain and Ireland were simply outclassed in the Sunday singles losing the session 7-3 while picking up just four points on day two.

World number one Gordon Sargent top scored this week with four wins from four.

“They just played hard, right to the bitter end. We had those two Tar Heels in those last two spots. I had a lot of confidence in them. Nick Dunlap fighting through to get that half point was huge, and of course Caleb led us off. They all played great,” said McCoy.

“Last night I was pretty concerned. The mornings historically are not our strong suit. The guys played great. Really the morning I think was the thing that made the day.

“This one is going to be a great ride home. These are the guys who did it. I just drove the sunscreen around. Who thought we were going to need it? It’s pretty special. It’s certainly the pinnacle of my golfing life.”

From an Irish point of view, while they couldn’t replicate the Famous Five of 2015, they more than played their part. Mark Power top scored for the hosts with three points including a win on 18 over Ben James in a fitting ending to his amateur career. Liam Nolan won two from three, Matthew McClean won one and halved one and Alex Maguire also won a point.

Ireland’s Fab Four stole the show on day one, particularly in the afternoon singles and that prompted Stuart Wilson to put them in four of the last five singles matches while the USA went top heavy with US Amateur champion Nick Dunlap,  Sargent and now four-time Walker Cup winner Stewart Hagestad.

GB&I needed some early points on the board but crucial losses from Barclay Brown and their highest ranked player John Gough left the hosts with too much to do despite a bright picture in the anchor matches.

A half point from the first five singles matches proved fatal and the wait for a first Walker Cup win since 2015 goes on for another two years.

First blood in the afternoon went to the Americans as Caleb Surratt eased by local hero Calum Scott 3&2 to level the match at 8.5 apiece.

Barclay Brown ended the week winless after a calamitous finish saw him cough up a three hole lead with four to play and finish with a gut wrenching half match against US Amateur champion Nick Dunlap in what was a serious turning point in the afternoon.

The Englishman embarked on a disastrous run of bogey, double bogey, bogey before three-putting for par on the 18th despite still being 1UP. Dunlap to his credit, drained a six footer for his birdie and a deserved half point in a match GB&I simply had to win to stand a chance of stemming a Stars and Stripes tide.

At the same time, Welshman James Ashfield was trounced 4&3 by Preston Summerhays with the damage done after a disastrous start where he found himself five down after seven. Stewart Hagestad proved age is just a number as he beat Connor Graham (16) who is half his age 3&2 as the away side took two of the first three singles and hit the for the first time since the opening foursomes match at 11-9.

Projected to lose 14-12 at this stage, Stuart Wilson’s charges were dealt a double whammy when John Gough carved his drive into the Jigger Inn on 17 with his tie all square with world number one Gordon Sargent.

He would take a six and go 1DN heading up the last before losing.

Amidst all the chaos Ireland’s Fab Four were battling valiantly with Liam Nolan 1DN to Austin Greaser and Alex Maguire 2DN to David Ford while Matthew McClean was AS through 15 against Dylan Menante and Mark Power 1UP through 13 on Ben James.

With GB&I hopes fading Bigham did bring a bit of cheer to the situation with a fine 3&2 win over Nick Gabrelcik to reduce the deficit to 12-10.

McClean birdied the 18th to win the hole and claim a share of the spoils with Menante.

“Yeah I needed to win obviously I had chances to get it in there, a bit disappointed a bit annoyed but happy that I could get a birdie putt to half the match, not ideal but the way it goes.

“It was an unbelievable experience, not great to hear the USA chants right now but yeah no negatives over the week at all, it’s been unbelievable, the best week of golf I’ve ever had. Slightly annoyed the last few holes I could have pushed it down the last few.

A few minutes later Kilkenny’s Power also birdied the last to beat James and cap a glorious amateur career with a hat trick of wins following a Saturday morning foursomes loss.

The 23-year-old, making his second Walker Cup appearance cut a tearful figure surrounded by friends and family as the emotion of closing the door on one part of his life on golf’s most famous turf hit him.

“It was a complete release of emotion, I’ve had a really good amateur career and to finish it off here is special I really wanted to get it done for the lads. I have mixed emotions, happy to finish with a win and three points but sad because I wanted to win this so much. Tough to take but really excited for what’s ahead and a really special way to finish my amateur career.”

Power now sits joint second for GB&I in Highest Winning Percentage, Foursomes (minimum of four matches) and joint third for GB&I in Highest Winning Percentage, Singles (minimum of four matches).

Power’s foursomes record is 3-1-0 (75%) and his singles record is 3-1-0 (75%) over his two appearances in the Walker Cup in 2021 and 2023. Power has been the highest points scorer for GB&I in both of his appearances in the Walker Cup (joint with Matty Lamb in 2021).

Nolan and Maguire were beaten 3&1 and 3&2 respectively in the bottom two matches with cries of ‘USA, USA, USA’ ringing around the Home of Golf.

Final Score: GB&I 11.5 USA 14.5

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