USA Win The 2019 Walker Cup 15.5-10.5

8th September 2019

RESULT: GB&I 10.5 – USA 15

A strong final day performance propelled USA to a comfortable 15.5 – 10.5 victory at Royal Liverpool G.C. in the 47th Walker Cup match.

Throughout the first three sessions the match had been very competitive and finely balanced. It was therefore a disappointment that GB&I fell away badly coming down the home stretch and with it any chance of a grandstand finish for the large crowds was lost.

The USA Team Celebrate Their Win (Photo: GolfBible)

GB&I came into Day 2 with a promising two point advantage but after the USA had reduced that to 1-point at lunch by winning the second foursomes series 2.5 – 1.5 a rare away win seemed increasingly likely. It could have been even better for the USA with Scottish duo Euan Walker and Sandy Scott doing well to secure a half in their match.

With all 10 members of each team exposed in the final singles the additional strength in depth possessed by the USA was always likely to prove match defining.

As in Los Angeles two years ago USA won the Day 2 singles 8-2 to retain the trophy and bolster their already one sided Walker Cup record to P47 W37 L9 H1.

No USA team had won away since 2007 when the likes of Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Kyle Stanley prevailed at Royal County Down G.C. Before that USA’s previous away win was at Portmarnock in 1991 so every credit must be afforded to this class of 2019 for their achievement at Hoylake.

It was also the first time that a USA side had trailed after Day 1 and gone on to win, home or away, since 1963 at Turnberry.

After strong winds had buffeted the northwest coast of England in the build up to the match making practice more often a hindrance than a benefit the weekend turned out beautifully. Whilst GB&I lost any perceived advantage from the weather the sunny days and modest breeze added to the spectacle with around 11,000 supporters coming out to follow the match over the two days.

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Day 2 Foursomes – play started at 8.00am.

Conditions were again ideal. The sun was shining and the breeze modest at it’s peak.

GB&I captain Craig Watson sent out the same foursomes pairings in the same order as he had done on Day 1.

Captain Nathanial Crosby introduced Cole Hammer and Steven Fisk to the USA line up at the expense of John Pak and Isaiah Salinda, one of his two winning pairings on Day 1.

The pairing of Alex Fitzpatrick and Conor Purcell made a strong start to the opening game; birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes giving them a 2Up advantage. Sadly having got themselves to 1Up with 5 to play they lost their way conceding three of the next four holes to effectively hand the match to the American’s.

I had great hopes for the Scottish pairing of Euan Walker and Sandy Scott so it was a disappointment to see them only collect a half point from their two foursomes games. Whilst their solid back nine and finish deserves credit, where they were 2 Down with four holes to play, they were nevertheless a little fortunate to be in a position to secure a half after their bogey ridden start.

Harry Hall and Conor Gough were drawn against Stewart Hagestad and Akshay Bhatia for the second time in foursomes. Having got the better of them yesterday the GB&I pair unfortunately gave the early initiative away and were never able to recover it despite scoring relatively well.

For the second day running the Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb pairing played well. However, on Day 2 they were rewarded. They ran out easy 5&3 winners against Cole Hammer and Steven Fisk with an under par score.

Not Selected
Caolan Rafferty & James Sugrue (GB&I)
John Pak & Isaiah Salinda (USA)

Day 2 Foursomes Score: GB&I 1.5 – USA 2.5

By winning the session 2.5-1.5 USA had reduced GB&I’s lead to just one 1-point at lunch on the final day.

The USA had talked up their foursomes preparation before the match with long time USA team manager Robbie Zalzneck attributed the credit with focussing minds in this regard. Zalzneck, attending his ninth Walker Cup, was said to be fed up with seeing his team frequently handing GB&I a daily head start in the morning foursomes. Captain Crosby worked hard on pairings, which he retained throughout, and strategy and his team notably ended up 4.5-3.5 winners in the foursomes segment of the match.

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Day 2 Singles – play started at 1.15pm.

Day 2 saw a new set of games drawn save for Caolan Rafferty and Alex Smalley who played each other for a second time.

USA made their intentions clear from the start in most of the Day 2 singles matches, winning the first hole in six of the games.

Only Sandy Scott and Tom Sloman managed to secure winning points for GB&I as ultimately USA were allowed to run out convincing winners.

Isaiah Salinda beat Alex Fitzpatrick by 2 Holes in the opening match after he wore down his English opponent who had led on numerous occasions in the middle of their match.

John Pak, surprisingly left out of the morning foursomes given his play on Day 1, got the ball rolling for the USA. He beat Scotland’s Euan Walker 2&1 to secure a 100% winning match record – P3 W3. In his final amateur appearance Walker started poorly before fighting back well. However, Pak was equal to the challenge.

Sandy Scott highlighted his growing status by beating the previously unbeaten Brandon Wu 4&3. “I played very well today,” Scott said after his match, “I started well and made a few birdies and just had a rough patch in the middle but managed to hold on for the win.”

Having won his two foursomes Alex Smalley added a singles win to his Walker Cup resume on the final afternoon. Whilst Rafferty produced five birdies to keep the match competitive he was always going to struggle with eight bogeys also featuring on his scorecard.

Stewart Hagestad enjoyed a surprisingly easy 5&3 win against Harry Hall who struggled to apply any pressure to the tall Californian mid-amateur.

Andy Ogletree produced his best display of a largely disappointing competition to overcome the always combative Conor Gough who gave the U.S. Amateur champion plenty to think about. Two late birdies saw off Gough, 17 last Thursday, who clearly enjoyed playing in front of the large crowds.

John Augenstein hit the first tee shot of the match at 8.30am on Saturday and secured the trophy with his winning putt on the 15th green as he beat Thomas Plumb 4&3. “It really doesn’t matter who clinches it,” said Augenstein when interviewed afterwards, “The fact is that we’re a team and we won the Walker Cup for each other and for the United States and whoever else that we’re representing. It was really cool, and it was a special moment, but I did not know exactly that I had clinched it.”

Akshay Bhatia won his second point in three starts on Sunday against Amateur champion James Sugrue. With both players having been rested in the morning they were clearly ready to play come their 2.25pm tee time. Bhatia quickly moved in to a 4 Up lead after five holes and despite pockets of resistance from the Mallow man saw the game out with relative ease.

Cole Hammer, who looked anything but the best amateur in the world for most of the weekend, finally came good in his Sunday singles although Ireland’s Conor Purcell was far from his best in this 6&5 defeat.

Tom Sloman secured his second win of the day taking out Steven Fisk by 2 Holes. Whilst the trophy had long been won it is fair to say these two players were still giving it everything. The affable Sloman had become frustrated with the slow play of Fisk and his approach to concessions whilst Fisk was in no mood to leave Hoylake with three losses to his name. Fisk said afterwards “It’s hard to beat someone who holes everything and gets all the lucky bounces.” Having watched every shot of this game I certainly couldn’t argue with the former where the Somerset man holed putt after putt in a very impressive 8 birdie performance.

Walker Cup 2019 Score Reports (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

Day 2 Singles Score: GB&I 2 – USA 8

Match Result: GB&I 10.5 – USA 15.5

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John Pak was the only player to emerge from the competition unbeaten, winning all three of his matches. 

This was clearly a team effort from the USA with nine of their ten players contributing a point.  Steven Fisk was the exception but he was unfortunate to be paired with an inspired Tom Sloman twice on Sunday.

Sandy Scott, with two wins and a half from his four matches, was the best point scorer for GB&I. Alex Fitzpatrick, Conor Gough and Tom Sloman can also be pleased with their contributions. Amateur champion James Sugrue, who played just the two singles was the only home player to leave Merseyside empty handed.

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“I let them just go play. They are very talented guys who believe in themselves. Their talent came to the surface. I could not be more excited for them and me – I’ve not won anything in about 38 years !” said a jubilant U.S. captain Nathaniel Crosby. “These guys are inseparable and they’ve got a great memory now. This Walker Cup experience is going to be a memory, and a winning memory at that.”

Crosby stated early in the week that all of his players would play at least three games in the four session match. At every opportunity he reminded us that he had been benched twice at Royal Liverpool in 1983 by his then captain, Jay Sigel, and it was clear he didn’t want to leave any of his players feeling disappointed as he did back then despite being on a winning team.

“Obviously the boys are disappointed. It didn’t go quite to plan but they can be proud of their achievements to get in the team first of all and of their performance this weekend,” GB&I captain Craig Watson said. “I’m proud of all of them.”

“It was a tough course the way it was set up.” Watson explained (presumably forgetting that he was partially responsible for it – and if he wasn’t he should have been). “If you were ahead, early pars were enough to stay ahead because birdies were going to be few and far between, and the American boys did that very well. It’s been a fantastic week. The lads will probably learn a lot from this disappointment today.”

Signed 2019 Walker Cup Flag (Photo: GolfBible)

It is of course easy to be critical after the event. A winning captain and team inevitably receive all the plaudits whilst losing ones are always open to attack.

At the end of the day GB&I lost because they were out played in the final singles series. The USA team collectively played the better shots and holed more putts than their opponents.

That’s not to say that there aren’t lessons to be learned for The R&A selectors from this loss. Did we pick the right team – players on form with good links records ?, were our foursomes partnerships right ?, was our preparation right – we had three on site training sessions and a week of pre-match practice ?, why was our scoring generally poor ? and could / should we have set the course up differently ? are all questions that spring to mind.

Craig Watson also needs to review his own performance. This was his third match in charge of GB&I and he is yet to win one. He had previously drawn the 2016 St. Andrews Trophy match, played at Prince’s G.C., 12.5-12.5 against Continent of Europe and then suffered a record 15.5-9.5 loss in Finland in the same event in 2018.

Watson is expected to retain the GB&I captain’s role for the Seminole match in May 2021. Just like Spider Miller had to after USA’s 2015 loss at Royal Lytham he needs to reflect on what went well and what didn’t this week. Spider learned a few lessons and we saw a very different U.S. captain two years later in Los Angeles.

The difference in personality with his opposite number was stark this weekend. Watson seemed a quiet man, happier in the shadows than out front, whilst Crosby struck the bystander as a more inspirational character; somebody you would want to spend time with and play for.

Watson will in all likelihood come up against Nathaniel Crosby again but this time at the American’s home Club – that will be a much tougher assignment. I’m not looking for high fives or poetry in his speeches but just a little more enthusiasm and leadership.

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From the USA team Akshay Bhatia, Steven Fisk, Isaiah Salinda, Alex Smalley and Brandon Wu are all turning Pro in the coming days.

Euan Walker and Tom Sloman are expected to do likewise before playing in the 2019 European Tour Qualifying School in the coming weeks. Other GB&I players are keeping their options open why they determine their own playing exemptions for 2020.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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GB&I Lead 7-5 After Day 1 Of The 2019 Walker Cup

7th September 2019

DAY 1 SCORE: GB&I 7 – USA 5

The opening day of the 47th Walker Cup match proved to be a positive one for the GB&I team who left Royal Liverpool G.C. pleased with their start but conscious that they had left points on the table which they may live to regret tomorrow.

Day 1 Foursomes (GB&I players first) – play started at 8.30am.

The Day 1 matches were played in near perfect conditions. The sun shone for most of the day with a gentle north westerly breeze barely affecting ball flights.

Alex Fitzpatrick and Conor Purcell delivered for GB&I in Game 1. Some outstanding putting and chipping from Purcell in particular led to a notable victory over the two recent U.S. Amateur Championship finalists.

In Game 2 John Pak and Isaiah Salinda made few mistakes in their win against the strong Scottish pairing of Sandy Scott and Euan Walker who let this game get away from them around the turn.

Without playing particularly well Harry Hall and Conor Gough were able to come through for GB&I in their match against Stewart Hagestad and Akshay Bhatia who started and finished the game poorly.

Brandon Wu and Alex Smalley played very well to overcome English pair Tom Sloman and Thomas Plumb in Game 4. The English pairing did little wrong but just came up against an inspired USA foursomes performance.

Not Selected
Caolan Rafferty & James Sugrue (GB&I)
Cole Hammer & Steven Fisk (USA)

Day 1 Foursomes Score: GB&I 2 – USA 2

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Day 1 Singles – play started at 1.45pm.

Alex Fitzpatrick had a notable victory against WAGR ranked world No. 1 Cole Hammer in a game of mixed quality. Hammer, who was not included in the morning foursomes, has struggled a little this summer and is clearly not at the same level as he was in 2018 when he was all conquering.

Euan Walker led Steven Fisk from the 2nd hole of their game and saw the match out but not without some nervous moments on the back nine. Again the above scorecard suggests that both players struggled on the links despite the near perfect conditions.

U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree and in form Sandy Scott played a higher quality match in game 3. The tough start to the back nine along the coastline nearly derailed the Scotsman but he battled hard down the stretch to secure his first point.

In a game of few birdies John Augenstein took some revenge for his morning foursomes loss against Conor Purcell who was unable to repeat his earlier heroics on and around the greens.

John Pak won the final two holes against James Sugrue, who had been struggling with a sore back, to steal a point that had looked like being GB&I’s for much of the afternoon. His superb approach and birdie putt on the last certainly got him and the American supporters excited. Pak’s win was certainly a late confidence builder for the U.S. party. A 7-5 overnight deficit certainly felt a lot better than the 8-4 one they appeared to be on course for.

Conor Gough secured his second win of the day with a consistent front nine and thankfully a solid par finish on the 18th after it looked like he was perhaps going to gift a half to Isaiah Salinda.

Caolan Rafferty will be pleased to pick up a win in his opening contribution. Alex Smalley didn’t appear to push him too hard and rarely looked comfortable on the greens this afternoon.

Walker Cup 2019 Score Reports (Photo: The R&A / Golfbox)

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Tom Sloman who ended Day 1 with two losses but who arguably played better than anyone else on the GB&I team. Wu was unbeatable, completely in control of himself and his game, this afternoon. His scoring, even allowing was a conceded birdie on 12, was simply exceptional.

Not Selected
Harry Hall & Tom Plumb (GB&I)
Akshay Bhatia & Stewart Hagestad (USA)

Day 1 Singles Score: GB&I 5 – USA 3

Day 1 Final Score: GB&I 7 – USA 5

GB&I Captain Craig Watson said “It was a pretty good day. It could have been better, but we all knew the Americans were going to come back at us. I think the fact the Americans came in so close at the end could work in our advantage because we’ll be a bit more ready for the fight tomorrow. Everybody is well and looking forward to it.”

USA Captain Nathanial Crosby said: “I think we were a little slow in getting started this morning. But we fought hard to get back to all square going in to lunch. This afternoon I could not believe the amount of putts GB&I made in the first 45 minutes. I think John Pak winning his match maybe a turning point. We were pretty lucky to be 5-3 down when it looked like we could be 6-2 or even 7-1 down.”

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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108. GB&I Squad Reduced To 16 For Latest Practice Session

23rd July 2019

The R&A today formally announced a revised GB&I squad of 16 players for September’s Walker Cup match against USA.

The players selected are:-
Jake BURNAGE, Saunton, 23
Alex FITZPATRICK, Hallamshire, 20
Bailey GILL, Lindrick, 21
Harry HALL, West Cornwall, 21
Benjamin JONES, Northamptonshire County, 19
Matty LAMB, Hexham, 21
David LANGLEY, Castle Royle, 25
Joshua MCMAHON, Wallasey, 23
Thomas PLUMB, Yeovil, 20
Mark POWER, Kilkenny, 18
Conor PURCELL, Portmarnock, 21
Caolan RAFFERTY, Dundalk, 26
Sandy SCOTT, Nairn, 20
Tom SLOMAN, Taunton & Pickeridge, 22
James SUGRUE, Mallow, 22
Euan WALKER, Kilmarnock (Barassie), 24

The players were invited to attend a practice session taking place today and tomorrow on Monday 15th July following a selection meeting immediately following the European Men’s and Boys’ Team Championships.

The Squad Practicing Today At Hoylake (Photo: Royal Liverpool G.C.)

There are 10 players from England, 4 from Ireland, 2 from Scotland and 0 from Wales.

This new squad includes three players not included in the initial panel of 26 selected in April; namely Matty LAMB, David LANGLEY and Joshua MCMAHON.

GB&I captain Craig Watson said “We have monitored results of the players originally selected since we last got together as a squad, while also keeping an eye on the performances of other players not included. We have brought in three new players who have had encouraging results in recent events and we look forward to working with them and the other players when we meet up at Royal Liverpool this week.”

The following 13 players have in effect been dropped from the squad –
Kieran CANTLEY – Scotland
Ben CHAMBERLAIN – Wales
Archie DAVIES – Wales
Conor GOUGH – England
David HAGUE – England
Jake HAPGOOD – Wales
Ryan LUMSDEN – Scotland
Euan MCINTOSH – Scotland
John MURPHY – Ireland
Joseph PAGDIN – England
Jamie STEWART – Scotland
Tom THURLOWAY – England
Robin WILLIAMS – England

It is hard to argue with this new squad selection particularly as it was made before Joe PAGDIN‘s run to the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship semi-finals last week.

No one can be written off yet but the probability is the final 10-man GB&I team will come from these newly selected 16 players.

When I picked my latest squad on 14th July (107. Learnings From The European Team Championships ) I also reduced it to 16 players and included all of the above players except for Matty Lamb and Alex Fitzpatrick. I chose Ben HUTCHINSON and Ben SCHMIDT instead, although I did acknowledge Schmidt had entered the Carris Trophy at Moor Park and therefore would probably be replaced by Fitzpatrick.

The only sour note is the timing of this latest practice session even accepting the packed amateur golf calendar at this time of year. The South of Ireland Amateur Championship has had to issue byes to the match play stage for the Irish players who are competing at Lahinch this week and the Walton Heath Trophy has had to accept the late withdrawals of Messrs. Langley, Plumb and Sloman from its field.

I think we have the makings of a very competitive Walker Cup team and am increasingly looking forward to this being tested in 6 weeks time.

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2019, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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83. Nathaniel Crosby Will Captain The U.S.A. Team In 2019

13th December 2017

The U.S.G.A. today announced that 56 year old Nathaniel CROSBY had been selected to captain the U.S.A. team at the 2019 Walker Cup match.

Stuart Francis, U.S.G.A. Championship Committee chairman, said “Nathaniel Crosby has proven experience as an amateur player at the highest levels in both individual and team competition, and this will lend itself well to providing leadership for the USA Walker Cup team in 2019”. He has the key attributes of “sportsmanship, patriotism and a competitive spirit, that will assist him as captain.”

Crosby played in the 1983 Walker Cup match at Royal Liverpool GC. His appointment therefore has a nice symmetry with the 2019 contest also being staged at the historic links in Hoylake, England.

Nowadays he plays much of his golf at Seminole G.C. where the Walker Cup is being staged in 2021. Whilst there are other candidates with links to this exclusive Florida Club it does seem likely that his appointment will be for the now standard two match term.

In the USGA announcement Crosby said: “I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain. It will again be a privilege to be a part of the Walker Cup competition. Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities.”

Former U.S. captains Jim Holtgrieve, Bob Lewis Jr and Jay Sigel were all teammates of Crosby’s in 1983.

Nathaniel Crosby (Photo: USGA / Simon Dale)

Nathaniel Crosby – Golf Biography

Nathaniel (‘Nate’) Crosby was introduced to golf by his famous father, Bing. Bing was often described as a golfer that liked to sing given his obsession with the game.

He started playing golf when he was 4, taking lessons from Maurice Ver Brugge at the family’s home club, Burlinghame C.C., near San Francisco, and went on to become a very accomplished golfer.

His biggest achievement was his victory, aged 19, in the 1981 US Amateur Championship at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Playing number 3 for the University of Miami during the year and having showed little form beforehand his win was something of a surprise. He did however have the benefit of sleeping in his own bed at his parent’s house during the event. Huge crowds, drawn by the Crosby name, saw Nathaniel beat Brian Lindley on the 37th hole of the final. He staged a great comeback having been both 4 Down with 10 holes to play and 2 Down with 3 to play.

Sadly his father was unable to witness his achievement. Bing had died four years earlier on 14th October 1977, collapsing from a heart attack after playing 18 holes at La Moraleja G.C. near Madrid. His last words being “That was a great game of golf, fellas.” However, Nathaniel later revealed he wore Bing’s 1941 US Amateur competitor badge around his neck all week rubbing it occasionally when seeking inspiration or calmness. “It was a something to relax me. It was a way of keeping positive thoughts in my mind. I knew he was up there and he was on my side.”

In 1982 Nathaniel achieved low amateur honours at the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach, finishing 59th, won the prestigious Porter Cup and helped the USA win that year’s World Amateur Team Championship title in Switzerland.

The USA won the 1983 Walker Cup match 13.5 – 10.5 at Royal Liverpool. Captained by Jay Sigel (who also played himself), Crosby lost his Day 1 Singles 6&4 to Phil Parkin before he and William Hoffer beat George Macgregor and Philip Walton by 2 holes in their Day 2 Foursomes game. He sat out both the Day 1 Foursomes and Day 2 Singles.

Crosby graduated from the University of Miami in 1984 with a degree in politics and public administration. He then turned professional, playing briefly in the U.S. before trying his hand on the European Tour. With little success he ‘retired’ after three years, moving into the business world in 1988.

He regained his amateur status in 1994. This was initially so that he could play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a tournament that had grown out of his father’s Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur (also known as the Crosby Clambake). After Bing’s death in 1977, the tournament was hosted by the Crosby family for eight years, before the association was finally ended in 1985. Nathaniel had also planned to compete in Senior amateur events but this doesn’t appear to have come to anything in recent years.

Nathaniel Crosby – Personal Biography

Nathaniel Patrick Crosby was born on 29th October 1961 in Hillsborough, California but now lives in Jupiter, Florida.

He is the seventh child of Bing Crosby and the youngest of his three children with his second wife, the entertainer Kathryn Grant. Grant was 31 years Bing’s junior when they married.

His four half brothers are now all dead. He has an elder brother Harry and a sister Mary. Mary famously played Kristin Shepard, the mistress responsible for shooting J.R. Ewing in the hit television series ‘Dallas’. Nathaniel also performed on stage and screen many times with various family members when he was a child.

Nathaniel has four children of his own, all from his first marriage – Nathaniel Jr (27), Brendan (25), Bridget (23) and Claire (21). He is now remarried to another divorcee, Sheila (Biggs), who has two children of her own – Turner (26) and Courtney (24).

When his playing career came to an end he moved into the golf equipment business working firstly for Toney Penna (a touring pro. who had been Nathaniel’s teacher), then The Nicklaus Equipment Company and finally Orlimar Golf. He is currently chairman of AppleTree Golf Society, a membership programme that is tied to around 30 premier golf clubs in vacation and second-home destinations.

In 2016 he released a book, written with the assistance of golf journalist John Strege, entitled ’18 Holes With Bing: Golf, Life and Lessons From Dad’, where he talked about his relationship with his father through their shared love of golf.

Additional information

In June 2008 Michael Bamberger wrote an interesting profile of Nathaniel Crosby for Golf.com. Read it here – http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/why-nathaniel-crosby-holds-special-place-game

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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