136. 2021 Walker Cup – Day 1 Results

Saturday 8th May 2021

Play on Saturday took place in near perfect conditions with temperatures quickly rising to 80°. Winds speeds were relatively modest for Seminole rising from 5mph to 15mph as play progressed throughout the day.

DAY 1 SCORE: USA 7 – GB&I 5

Day 1 Foursomes (USA Team first)
Par 72 – 7,272 yards

Game 1 – 8.20am
Cole Hammer / Davis Thompson beat Alex Fitzpatrick / Barclay Brown by 1 Hole

Amazingly after halving the first two holes the following 15 were all won outright in what became a see-saw game. Having won the 8th and 9th the GB&I pair turned 1Up but three bogeys on the first four holes of the back nine saw the advantage quickly handed back to Hammer and Thompson. However, just when it looked like the game may peter out Yorkshire’s Brown and Fitzpatrick got on a roll themselves winning the next three holes. However, Thompson then found the difficult 17th green and, despite a superb fairway bunker shot from Fitzpatrick on the last, Hammer holed out for birdie from 25 feet to secure an opening win for the home team.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 2 – 8.35am
Quade Cummins / Austin Eckroat lost to Mark Power / John Murphy by 1 Hole

The Irish pairing of Mark Power and John Murphy showed great resilience to come back from 3 Down after 10 holes to secure GB&I’s first point at Seminole. 1-under for their last 8 holes proved too much of an ask for the Americans. Power was quick to praise Murphy afterwards: “The old head in the group, he calmed me down and just said, look, just hit the fairways, hit greens and we’ll wear these guys down, and that’s what we did.”

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 3 – 8.50am
Mac Meissner / Ricky Castillo beat Jack Dyer / Matty Lamb by 2 Holes

Due to the virus USA called upon their first alternate Mac Meissner in the Saturday foursomes. Paired with University of Florida debutant Ricky Castillo the pair secured a second point helped in no small part by three birdies in their last five holes. A delighted Meissner said after the match: “I was so nervous on that first tee ball that I hit it on to the second hole, but after that we both calmed down and we played some awesome golf coming in.”

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 4 – 9.05am
Stewart Hagestad / William Mouw lost to Angus Flanagan / Jake Bolton by 1 Hole

This was the fourth foursomes game that required the full 18 holes to reach a result. However, it proved to be a much tighter affair than those that had proceeded it with just 7 holes changing hands. In the end the difference proved to be the determined GB&I 1st reserve Jake Bolton. His clutch left-to-right swinging 30 foot par putt on 17 and towering iron into the 18th to 8 feet from the adjacent driving range secured the point that enabled GB&I to head into lunch level in the match at 2-2.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Players Rested
USA – Pierceson Coody, John Pak, Tyler Strafaci
GB&I – Ben Jones, Joe Long, Ben Schmidt

Day 1 Foursomes Score: USA 2 – GB&I 2

The Saturday Foursomes was the first time in the history of the match that reserves or alternates had been used during a Walker Cup match. Interestingly they both contributed to their respective sides winning a point in the opening session.

With such tight matches Captain Wilson was frustrated with some of his team’s course management: “Three of our guys knocked it in the water at No. 10 and all the matches went up the last. That may have changed the outcome.”

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Day 1 Singles (USA Team first)
Par 72 – 7,188 yards

Game 1 – 2.30pm
Pierceson Coody beat Alex Fitzpatrick by 2 Holes

In a competitive opening match Alex Fitzpatrick made a great start before being reeled in by Pierceson Coody, one of the strongest players on the American team. The key hole proved to be the par 3 17th where Coody pulled his tee shot into one of the left hand green side bunkers. With the players all square and the door ajar Fitzpatrick failed to find the green and after two bunker shots his double bogey five was never going to be good enough. A wild tee shot from Coody on the home hole briefly offered some hope before a superb recovery closed the door on the Sheffield man.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 2 – 2.41pm
Davis Thompson lost to Mark Power 3&2

An outstanding result from Mark Power who took down the current WAGR #3 and former #1 to record his second win of the day. Power played beautifully, hitting fairways and greens and holing numerous long putts. Having created a 3Up lead after birdies on 10 and 11 the Wake Forest sophomore ultimately saw out the match comfortably.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 3 – 2.52pm
Ricky Castillo beat Ben Schmidt by 5&3

Ricky Castillo recorded his second win of the day against a clearly under the weather Ben Schmidt. The 18 year old Yorkshireman struggled to get anything going and was easily taken down by the Californian by the biggest score of the match so far.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 4 – 3.03pm
William Mouw beat Ben Jones by 4&3

Shortly after the announcement that Joe Long would not be able to take part in Game 5 it became clear that Tyler Strafaci was also not feeling well enough to play this afternoon. William Mouw was drafted in as his late replacement. Mouw bounced back well from his morning foursomes defeat and as Jones unwound on the back nine he pulled away to record an impressive 4&3 win.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 5 – 3.14pm
Quade Cummins lost to Matty Lamb by 2&1

Joe Long was initially selected for GB&I for this game but due to continued illness he was deemed unfit to play. Matty Lamb, who had lost his foursome earlier, was called up and after Quade Cummins got off to a slow start he went about earning a notable victory. A 12 foot par putt on the 17th saw him home.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 6 – 3.25pm
Austin Eckroat beat Angus Flanagan by 1 Hole

Angus Flanagan did exactly what Alex Fitzpatrick had done on the 17th an hour or so before him. Followed his opponent into a bunker on the par 3 and then found it impossible to get the ball back on the green. After a nervous start which saw him bogey three of his first four holes Flanagan settled well and a string of pars got him back into the match. He fought all the way to the end but GB&I’s nemesis, the 17th, proved too much for him.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 7 – 3.36pm
John Pak lost to Barclay Brown by 2&1

Barclay Brown beat John Pak with some great play this afternoon. Pak, who won all three of his games at Hoylake in 2019, was clearly not 100% but nevertheless this was a notable scalp for the Stanford sophomore. What was particularly impressive was his ability to come back again over the closing holes having lost a 3Up lead early on the back nine.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Game 8 – 3.47pm
John Murphy lost to Cole Hammer by 3&1

Starting with two birdies out the gate Cole Hammer built up a 5Up lead by the turn against Kinsale’s John Murphy who had enjoyed foursomes success earlier in the day. Murphy battled back well on the back nine reducing the deficit to 2Up before once again the 17th hole struck.

Walker Cup 2021 Score Report (Photo: USGA)

Players Rested
USA – Stewart Hagestad, Mac Meissner (Reserve), Tyler Strafaci
GB&I – Jake Bolton (Reserve), Jack Dyer, Joe Long

Day 1 Singles Score: USA 5 – GB&I 3

One can’t help feeling that the match just started to slip away from the GB&I team this afternoon. A 5-3 Singles loss is by no means disastrous against a strong USA team but it could have been better. The defeats of Fitzpatrick and Flanagan in tight games may prove to be the difference between having a chance and having no chance. I expect USA to get stronger tomorrow so the challenge for GB&I is only going to get tougher. It will be interesting to see who is up for the fight.

Day 1 Score: USA 7 – GB&I 5

ME.

Copyright © 2015-2021, Mark Eley. All rights reserved.

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109. USA Selects First 3 Players For 2019 Walker Cup Team

24th July 2019

Cole HAMMER (aged 19), Akshay BHATIA (17) and Stewart HAGESTAD (28) have today earned berths on the 2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup team.

In July 2018 the USGA announced that with regard to the 2019 U.S.A. Walker Cup team three players would be selected earlier than normal based on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR).

On 2nd July 2019 the USGA tweeted that they would be using the WAGR update as at today for this purpose.

The WAGR has ranked Cole Hammer 1st, Akshay Bhatia 4th and Stewart Hagestad 5th today and they are the three leading U.S. players on the list.

My views on the accuracy of the WAGR are well known and as such I am not convinced that this was a sensible idea by the USGA. Yes, by all means announce some players early but don’t use the WAGR (alone) to determine who they are would have been my advice.

All three players attended the December 2018 USGA practice session in Florida so were clearly in the mix already.

As an advocate of the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking (SPWAR) my immediate response to these selections is to view where these players sit in this alternative and better ranking, particularly in the U.S. players-only list. Here is the answer (as at 12 noon on 24th July): –

Cole Hammer #2 (1st in the U.S.A.)
Akshay Bhatia #67 (37th in the U.S.A.)
Stewart Hagestad #33 (16th in the U.S.A.)

Whilst I would certainly not suggest that either Bhatia or Hagestad are weak players I imagine many of their peers, certainly those ranked well above them in the SPWAR, are questioning what is going on however transparent the policy may have been.

Stewart Hagestad is of course a mid-amateur and therefore his early inclusion fulfils the USGA’s commitment to include one player aged over 25 on the U.S.A. team.

The seven remaining players will be selected by the USGA’s International Team Selection Committee on or shortly after 18th August 2019, the day the U.S. Amateur Championship finishes.

The Committee will gain additional selections if one of the above three players wins the 2019 U.S. Amateur Championship or wins the 2019 Mark H. McCormack Medal winner (Men’s WAGR No. 1). Should another U.S. player secure either of these honours they will be automatically selected to the team.

The 47th Walker Cup match will take place at Royal Liverpool G.C. on 7th-8th September 2019.

ME.

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

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