It was red on the board early and often for Team USA in the Sunday singles matches at the 44th Walker Cup.
After the morning foursomes ended in favor of the United States, 10-6, the Alabama duo of Bobby Wyatt and Justin Thomas led the charge in the afternoon matches, which allowed the Americans to reclaim the Cup after its 2011 loss.
Wyatt, who played GB&I’s Neil Raymond in singles for the second straight day, earned a 4-and-3 victory.
Wyatt, possibly the MVP of the Walker Cup, was sent out first in each of the four sessions to set the tone for the U.S. He and partner Cory Whitsett, also of Alabama, rallied during the first foursomes session to secure a half point – which proved to be a huge moment boost for the Americans heading into Saturday’s afternoon singles.
He and Whitsett again set the tone Sunday morning and took down Max Orrin and Nathan Kimsey – again – after – again – rallying to win the match, 2 and 1.
In the afternoon, Wyatt never allowed Raymond to lead at any point in the match. Wyatt took the lead for good on No. 11.
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“It’s something I really enjoy,” Wyatt said about match play. “You’re playing your opponent rather than the golf course or just yourself really. And I really enjoy that aspect of it.”
Thomas, who had a bad back all weekend, said his back didn’t hurt “very bad” on the first six or seven holes, but after an errant tee shot on eight, it really hurt.
“I mean it hurt, but it was tolerable,” Thomas said. “If I just played a couple more holes with the pain, it wouldn’t matter and it would be over. I just tried to take one for the team and get it done.”
Thomas won 6 and 4 over Max Orrin. Orrin, who went 0-3-1 in the two-day event, never seemed to bounce back after losing his first match on the 18th hole at National Golf Links of America after a three-putt with his partner, Nathan Kimsey.
By winning big, Thomas and Wyatt set up mid-amateurs Todd White and Nathan Smith, in the role of clean-up hitters, to earn the two clinching points for the Americans to win back the Cup.
White, just ahead of Smith, won his match against Rhys Pugh 4 and 3. About the same time, Nathan Smith tapped in for par at 14 to at least secure the last half point needed to win the cup.
“I was feeling the pressure,” added Smith, a three-time Walker Cup participant. “I never wanted a point so much in my life.”
No. 15 was halved with bogeys – and the Walker Cup was staying where it originated back in 1922 when the Americans won.
The U.S. has won four of the last five Walker Cups and leads the series 35-8-1.
Michael Kim, Jordan Niebrugge and Patrick Rodgers also won matches for the U.S. The final score was 17-9, the largest margin of victory since 1997.
“It’s probably one of my more gratifying days in my 65?year golfing career,” captain Jim Holtgrieve said. “And to me it’s like I said that I’ve been saying all along: It’s all about what the Walker Cup is all about.”
It’s full circle for the Americans. They won where it all began 91 years ago, and they did so with 10 guys playing as one and winning the thing these players dreamed most of: the Walker Cup.