Golf: Donald keeps Americans in sight

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The Independent Online
ENGLISHMAN LUKE Donald lived up to his pre-match billing by leading the Great Britain & Ireland cause against the United States in the Walker Cup at Nairn yesterday. Not far behind him was Paul Casey.

Great Britain and Ireland head into today's play trailing by two points, but it could have been worse had it not been for the English duo. The pair drew first blood by winning their morning foursomes match 5 and 3 over Jonathan Byrd and Steve Scott. Then the two proved in the afternoon singles that their earlier play was no fluke. Donald got the home side's first point of the second session by defeating Tom McKnight 4 and 3. Casey added to that tally when he defeated Steve Scott by a similar score.

GB & I captain Peter McEvoy was all over the course, offering encouragement to his side. It worked in the morning as the home team managed to share the points at two apiece.

After Graham Rankin and Graeme Storm lost their match one down to Hunter Haas and John Miller, and Paddy Gribben andLorne Kelly went down 3 and 1 to David Gossett and Tim Jackson, the 20-year-old Philip Rowe, the youngest member of the home team, holed a 15ft birdie putt on the last hole to give him and Gary Wolstenholme a one-up victory over Bryce Molder and Matt Kuchar. "Strangely enough, even though we're level I think the way it's happened leaves us upbeat," said McEvoy as his team headed into the afternoon session. Not upbeat enough, though. At one point in the afternoon the home side led five of the eight singles matches, but the Americans kept their nerve to win the session by five points to three, and the day by seven points to five. Donald and Casey earned four of those points.

It should come as no surprise that these two have emerged as the stars ofthe home side. Donald attends Northwestern University in Chicago, while Casey plays golf for Arizona State. Donald is the current NCAA champion, and the highest-ranked amateur player in the United States, while Casey won this year's English Amateur Championship and is 16th best amateur golfer in America.

Despite the match being played in Scotland, not one of the three Scots on the 10-man side managed to win a point. Rankin, playing in his third Walker Cup, also lost his singles, going down 4 and 3 to Edward Loar. Kelly lost his singles 3 and 1 to Tim Jackson, despite being two up after 12 holes. David Patrick didn't play in the morning, and then went eight over par through 13 holes to lose 6 and 5 to Jonathan Byrd.

McEvoy has been positive about his side's chance of winning the 37th Walker Cup since the team arrived in Nairn. However, he was unhappy with the play of the home side in the singles. "I'm disappointed,"he said. "I think we've had the best of the day and we haven't finished them off."

If he is to lift the Walker Cup at the close of play today, he will need the rest of his team to follow the examples set by Donald and Casey.