The Walker Cup has always been big on pomp and circumstance. What this amateur contest lacked for decades was anything approaching a contest in between the band striking up at the opening and closing ceremonies. Yet times change and should Great Britain and Ireland achieve a third successive victory at the Ganton Club this weekend, the old "Walkover Cup" tag will be appropriate again for a different reason.
It was an historic moment when Britain and Ireland defended the Cup successfully for the first time at Sea Island, Georgia two years ago. It was also their third win in four matches and neither side's teenager, Michael Skelton for the home team and America's Casey Wittenberg, would remember when transatlantic cups, Walker or Ryder, were more about turning up than competing.
Bob Lewis, the American captain, has been showing his team of youngsters, plus the 50-year-old debutant George Zahringer, a video to give them "more of an appreciation of what the Walker Cup is all about".
If both sides have contained a number of players in an unseemly rush to turn professional in recent years at least the likes of Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Nick Dougherty and Graeme McDowell delivered two stunning victories at Nairn in 1999 and Sea Island. While they have moved on, Gary Wolstenholme remains the rock on which the home team is built.
Wolstenholme is the only player for Britain and Ireland to have appeared on three winning teams. He won the Amateur Championship at the age of 43 this summer after winning it for the first time at Ganton 12 years ago. For those who have time to listen Wolstenholme is never happier than talking about his win over Tiger Woods in the 1985 match or about his "look them in the eye" attitude to matchplay. This apparently has rattled the American team.
So might the weather, which after a week of calm conditions is likely to get rougher on the fast-running heathland course with links-like qualities. "The course will change if the wind gets up and that helps us because we've played in those conditions in our squad sessions," said Ulsterman and captain Garth McGimpsey.
"We are only trying to win one Walker Cup," McGimpsey added. "This is now. The fact that it would be three in a row is only the icing on the cake." McGimpsey, who played in the first winning team on US soil in 1989, has Peter McEvoy, the inspirational captain of the last two matches, by his side.
"Peter loves to be involved and if his influence scares the Americans I don't mind," McGimpsey said. The Americans include Bill Haas, the son of Jay Hass, and Trip Kuehne, the brother of professionals Hank and Kelli. They play in the top foursome this morning against Wolstenholme and Skelton, a match that alone ensures there will be a competitive element before the Kings Division Normandy Military Band strike up again tomorrow evening.
Order of play
Foursomes (GB and Irl first)
0800 G Wolstenholme and M Skelton v B Haas and T Kuehne
0815 S Wilson and D Inglis v L Williams and G Zahringer
0830 N Edwards and S Manley v C Nallen and R Moore
0845 N Fox and C Moriarty v A Rubinson and C Wittenberg
1250 Wolstenholme v Haas
1300 Oliver Wilson v Kuehne
1310 Inglis v Brock Mackenzie
1320 S Wilson v Matt Hendrix
1335 Edwards v Zahringer
1345 Moriarty v Nallen
1355 Fox v Rubinson
1405 Graham Gordon v WittenbergReuse content