Senior's moment steadies British nerves to seal Walker Cup victory

 

Royal Aberdeen

Just when it seems things cannot get much healthier for Great Britain and Ireland in the professional game, so emerges a new crop promising their own rich future. The Walker Cup was regained here yesterday for the first time in eight years as the mighty American amateurs were toppled.

Just like Ryder Cups past, a United States team who were seemingly unbeatable on paper were conquered on grass. All credit to them, they made a brave fight of it in yesterday afternoon's singles, before which they appeared all but down and out. But the home guard held strong, eventually prevailing by 14-12.

"Well, that was an afternoon wasn't it?" said Nigel Edwards, the victorious and extremely relieved captain. "These are a bunch of special guys with a huge desire to win. The Americans are great players but I had a lot of faith in my guys."

The Welshman picked out Jack Senior's monstrous putt on the 18th as "the special moment". It was from off the green and earned him a half against Nathan Smith. By then, the scoreboard was highlighting a dramatic US fightback. GB&Ire had only needed three and a half points in the 10 singles, but this proved anything but a formality. Senior's grandstand moment granted them that bit of breathing room and it was little wonder Edwards ran over to give the Englishman a celebratory chest-bump.

There were a few others who deserved one of those, not least Paul Cutler, the 22-year-old from Royal Portstewart who won three and a half points out of four and would almost certainly have won all four if his anchor match with Patrick Cantlay had meant anything. He was four up with four to go, when Steven Brown holed the winning putt. Cutler's concession of the 18th as he rushed to join the party meant the extraordinary teenager Rhys Pugh was the only player who won every game they played.

"Wales has a special one in Rhys," said Edwards. Indeed, they do. This shy lad from Pontypridd is only 17 and what a prospect he is. He won all three of his matches, remaining impervious to the pressure all the way through. His 2&1 win over Kelly Kraft, the US Amateur champion, was one of the day's critical moments. "I couldn't have dreamed of better," he said as the cheers rang out all around him.

So Tom Lewis can end his amateur career as a winner, but his own personal tally was only one and half points out of four and the home crowd expected rather more from the 20-year-old who shot a 65 in the first round of the Open in July. Lewis's last match in the non-paid ranks finished with a 4&2 loss to Russell Henley.

Lewis will turn pro immediately, sign up with the IMG agency and make his pro debut at the Austrian Open next week. Eight of his team-mates here will be trying to earn their cards at Tour school. The pros should look out.

Their glory was essentially forged in the two morning foursomes sessions. They "won" these by the staggering scoreline of 61/2 – 11/2, with yesterday's 31/2 – 1/2 rout the vital session. The alternate shot format has traditionally been the undoing of the American Ryder Cup side and, considering the scoreline in the two singles sessions was 101/2 - 71/2 to the Starred and Striped, the curse has struck again.

But then, this was the first time in four Walker Cups they have tasted defeat and perhaps it was inevitable in the awful Scottish weather. This was the fourth time in the last five matches hosted by GB & Ire where the home nations' flags have flown proudest. To think, this match used to be known as the Walkover Cup. No longer. In the first 31 contests GB & Ire won but twice. From the last 12 matches the scoreline has been 6-6. Rather incredible, considering the respective sizes of the countries.

With the professionals monopolising the top of the rankings – the top three ranked players in the world hail from the United Kingdom – confidence is so high. Edwards tapped into this belief. "I told them they were great players as well as the Americans," he said. "I told them the match is not played on paper. They proved how good they are."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada