LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England (Sept. 12) -- Great Britain and Ireland leads the USA, 7-5, after the first day of the 45th Walker Cup Match at Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club, writes the USGA.
The home team got off to an excellent start in its bid to win back the trophy from the USA, who won the 2013 Match at the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.
GB&I took a 3-1 lead after the morning foursomes and followed that up by splitting the afternoon singles matches 4-4, winning three and halving two.
“We'll carry on doing what we're doing and look after ourselves,” said GB&I captain Nigel Edwards. “We won't worry about anyone else. If we play as well in the foursomes tomorrow morning as we have done this morning, then the lads will do just fine.”
Earlier, speaking to the BBC, Edwards said: "It's a great opportunity we have given ourselves now. So we are really looking forward to it. The boys have been great all week and I don't see that changing for tomorrow."
“It’s great to get the lead,” said Gavin Moynihan of GB&I. “There’s 14 points still tomorrow so it's not even near over. So, staying again in the same foursomes and getting at it tomorrow morning and kicking on from there. I can't wait for tomorrow to perform.”
In the opening singles match, England’s Ashley Chesters and the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau were locked in a close struggle with neither having more than a one-hole lead. The 21-year-old DeChambeau, who sat out the morning foursomes, bounced back from losing the 15th hole to go one down by winning the next with a birdie and then bravely holing a 12-foot par putt on the last to halve the match.
“It felt like I won the match, honestly, the half-point there was pretty big,” said DeChambeau, who also won the 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I individual title. “I probably should have hit driver off the tee box but, unfortunately, I didn’t hit my best hybrid. I was fortunate to get it out (of the fairway bunker) and get it up and down from 140 yards.”
Chesters said: "It was a really good game, there was all sorts going on really but I don’t think anyone was ever any more than one up. I think a half is a pretty fair outcome in the end, neither of us really deserved to lose.”
The USA took the next two matches as Hunter Stewart defeated Ireland’s Paul Dunne, 2 up, and Scott Harvey overcame Scotland’s Grant Forrest, 2 and 1.
“Given our start, I'm pleased where we are at this point after one day's play,” said USA captain John “Spider” Miller. “Our guys played hard. They reached down; they delivered on some matches when they needed to, so I'm very proud of them all.”
Stewart remarkably holed his 113-yard 9-iron approach for an eagle on the par-4 11th hole and then chipped in from the side of the green on the 14th for a birdie to win both holes. Dunne, the 54-hole joint leader in The Open Championship at St Andrews, responded by holing out from a greenside bunker on the 13th but his birdie putt lipped out on the 18th to seal Stewart’s win.
“It was a tough fought match this afternoon,” said Stewart. “It feels nice to win a point and grab some momentum for us. We needed that point badly and to win the 16th and 17th to go one up was big.”
England’s Jimmy Mullen performed strongly on the back nine, winning three consecutive holes from the 11th, to win his match with Denny McCarthy, 2 up, and notch his second point of the day. Ireland’s Gary Hurley, who was three down at one stage, halved with Robby Shelton before Beau Hossler clinched a 1-up win over Ireland’s Jack Hume with the Naas man lipping out with a bunker shot at the last.
Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson secured a 1-up victory against Maverick McNealy. The 19-year-old Ferguson sat out the morning foursomes and started in determined fashion to lead by two after four holes. The Scot led throughout the match but McNealy fought back strongly to take the match down the last and force Ferguson to hole a five-foot par putt to complete his win.
“I couldn't wait to get going,” Ferguson said. “I went out to watch this morning and it was electrifying and I just couldn't wait to get out. Then it was just a great atmosphere. It was awesome.”
GB&I secured another point when Ireland’s Moynihan defeated Jordan Niebrugge, the winner of the Silver Medal at The Open, 4 and 2. The 20-year-old Moynihan, who played in the 2013 Match, won the 7th, 8th and 10th holes to take control.
In the morning foursomes, GB&I won three matches. The English pairing of Chesters and Mullen never trailed in their match with McNealy and Stewart and won 3 and 2. They were quickly followed by Cormac Sharvin and his University of Stirling room-mate Jack McDonald, who enjoyed an emphatic 5-and-4 victory over Niebrugge and Shelton.
"We've lived together for two years," said Sharvin, who was sensational. "We play and practice a lot together but maybe not to that level we played at today. It was nice. We both putted really good and never gave them a chance.
"Apart from a little blip on six, where we made six, we didn't drop a shot, so it was going to be very hard to beat us today."
On the emotion and excitement of the day, Sharvin added: "I think the goosebumps are still going down the back of my neck. It's incredible. I don't know what it must be like playing in an Open Championship. It was just unbelievable."
Hossler and McCarthy put the first point on the board for the USA with a 3-and-1 win over the Irish pairing of Dunne and Hurley but their compatriots Hume and Moynihan rounded off a good session for GB&I with a 3-and-1 win over Mike McCoy and Lee McCoy.
The five-man Irish contingent contributed half the GB&I total and might have added another point of two with a little more luck on the greens.
Dunne and Hurley were particularly unlucky on the greens as a foursome and in the singles and it's a sign of the strength of the GB&I side and the confidence they have in each other that Edwards has opted to leave his foursomes pairing, and the order, unchanged.
"There is a great atmosphere in the team and we will hopefully kick on now in the singles," Hume said after his foursomes win with Moynihan in the morning."
At one stage in the afternoon singles, GB&I led in six and were halving another of the eight matches. But the USA boasts a strong side and DeChambeau's halved match with Chesters was huge and may have inspired Stewart to win the 16th and 17th to turn around his match with Dunne.
Hume was three up after 10 against Hossler, who was probably wondering what he had done so poorly to fall so far behind. The Naas man played the next six holes in two over to Hossler's three under to find himself behind and two closing pars locked him out.
Just as a late three putt left Dunne with an empty feeling, Hurley was also left to wonder what might have been had Shelton not played some sensational shots and holed some key putts down the stretch.
Three down after seven, the West Waterford man won the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th to go one up, then lost the 13th and 14th to birdies to go one down again before winning the 16th with a super up and down from sand for birdie.
Shelton would not go away, however, and saved a tremendous half in par at the 17th, getting up and down from a bunker some 35 yards out.
"I went down early and Robbie let me back in." Hurley said. "Then I went one ahead and let him back in and he then made two great birdies. It was real touch and go for both of us for a while.... It was a good day for us today. We went out and played well but there is still all day tomorrow, with four foursome sand 10 singles and we'll turn our attention to that and focus on that."
Tomorrow’s morning foursomes starts at 8.30 a.m. local time. For the draw for the foursomes and afternoon singles and the full results from day one visit www.walkercup.org.
All five Irishmen played in the foursomes and they will all be involved in both sessions on Sunday with some fascinating match ups in store.
In the foursomes, Dunne and Hurley are off second against Mike McCoy and Scott Harvey with Sharvin and McDonald taking on Hunter Stewart and Lee McCoy. The anchor match promises to be a cracker with the massively impressive Moynihan and the ice cool Hume taking on two superstars in DeChambeau and Shelton.
All 10 players tee it up in the singles and it's hard to call it either way. If GB&I win the foursomes session, they will take some stopping in the singles.
With Hume facing Shelton at No 9 and Moynihan v DeChambeau bringing up the rear, an epic final day could be on the cards if the Americans find a way of doing some damage in foursomes.
Leaving out DeChambeau, the NCAA and US Amateur champion, was possibly a big mistake and with the US skipper changing three of his foursomes pairings and leaving only Hossler and McCarthy intact, the winner of the first point of the day could set the tone.
Chesters and Mullen are charged with stopping the Americans and they showed on Saturday that they have the game and the guts to get the job done.
The Walker Cup Match is a biennial ten-man amateur team competition between a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland and the USA. It is played over two days with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes matches. The USA leads the overall series 35-8-1.
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England – Results from the first day of the 2015 Walker Cup Match at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club:
Great Britain and Ireland 7, United States 5
- Ashley Chesters/Jimmy Mullen (GB&I) bt Maverick McNealy/Hunter Stewart (USA), 3 and 2
- Paul Dunne/Gary Hurley (GB&I) lost to Beau Hossler/Denny McCarthy (USA), 3 and 1
- Cormac Sharvin/Jack McDonald (GB&I) bt Jordan Niebrugge/Robby Shelton (USA), 5 and 4
- Jack Hume/Gavin Moynihan (GB&I) bt Lee McCoy/Mike McCoy (USA), 3 and 2
(GB&I 3, USA 1)
- Ashley Chesters (GB&I) halved with Bryson DeChambeau (USA)
- Paul Dunne (GB&I) lost to Hunter Stewart (USA) 2 up
- Grant Forrest (GB&I) lost to Scott Harvey (USA) 2 and 1
- Jimmy Mullen (GB&I) bt Denny McCarthy (USA), 2 up
- Ewen Ferguson (GB&I) bt Maverick McNealy (USA), 1 up
- Gary Hurley (GB&I) halved with Robby Shelton (USA)
- Jack Hume (GB&I) lost to Beau Hossler (USA) 1 up
- Gavin Moynihan (GB&I) bt Jordan Niebrugge (USA), 4 and 2
(GB&I 4, USA 4).
- 8:30 am Ashley Chesters / Jimmy Mullen vs Beau Hossler / Denny McCarthy
- 8:40 am Paul Dunne / Gary Hurley vs Mike McCoy / Scott Harvey
- 8:50 am Cormac Sharvin / Jack McDonald vs Hunter Stewart / Lee McCoy
- 9:00 am Gavin Moynihan / Jack Hume vs Bryson DeChambeau / Robby Shelton
- 1:15 pm Ashley Chesters vs Jordan Niebrugge
- 1:25 pm Paul Dunne vs Maverick McNealy
- 1:35 pm Jimmy Mullen vs Denny McCarthy
- 1:45 pm Cormac Sharvin vs Mike McCoy
- 1:55 pm Ewen Ferguson vs Beau Hossler
- 2:05 pm Grant Forrest vs Scott Harvey
- 2:15 pm Gary Hurley vs Hunter Stewart
- 2:25 pm Jack McDonald vs Lee McCoy
- 2:35 pm Jack Hume vs Robby Shelton
- 2:45 pm Gavin Moynihan vs Bryson DeChambeau