Americans move closer toward Walker Cup triumph at LACC

USGA

Americans move closer toward Walker Cup triumph at LACC

Amateur

Americans move closer toward Walker Cup triumph at LACC

LOS ANGELES – Ten singles matches are all that’s left in the 46th Walker Cup. And entering Sunday’s final session at Los Angeles Country Club, the U.S., leading 11-5, knows the math: the Americans need just two-and-a-half points to recapture the Walker Cup.

After leading 8-4 after the first day, the U.S. won three of four foursomes matches on Sunday morning to move closer to redemption. Two years after being routed by Great Britain and Ireland at Royal Lytham, the Americans are on the verge of completing a drubbing of their own.

“It’s the start we talked about and it was the start that this team prepared for … and they executed,” said U.S. captain Spider Miller.

The biggest U.S. victory Sunday morning came at the hands of Will Zalatoris and Cameron Champ, who beat David Boote and Jack Davidson, 6 and 5. Champ was coming off a disappointing first day in which he lost two matches. Zalatoris lost in foursomes on Saturday, but rallied against Matthew Jordan to win 2 up in singles.

“Obviously yesterday was really frustrating, all around just wasn’t doing anything good,” Champ said. “To get this point was huge.”

Said Zalatoris: “I was an annoying little gnat in his ear for the first like six holes, just kind of kept telling him how good he was. I’m sure he got tired of it. It was really fun having 70 yards in on 10 today, that’s for sure. He played so good.”

Champ made impressive birdies at Nos. 1 and 6, and he and Zalatoris built a 5-up lead on David Boote and Jack Davidson through seven holes. Even though the Americans made just those two birdies, they only lost two holes, and closed out the match with a bogey at the par-4 13th.

“When you’re hitting a bunch of greens it just wears on opponents like this,” Zalatoris said, “especially when you only have one ball in play.”

The other two U.S. points came from four players who have still yet to lose this week – Collin Morikawa, Norman Xiong, Maverick McNealy and Doug Ghim. The Americans have never had more than two players in a single year go 4-0. The last time a U.S. player went 4-0 was in 2009, when Rickie Fowler and Peter Uihlein did it. Jimmy Mullen went 4-0 two years ago for GB&I.

Morikawa and Xiong continued their rolls, though Sunday morning’s point was tougher to earn. Connor Syme and Paul McBride won two of the first three holes before Xiong and Morikawa won three straight, at Nos. 4-6, to take a 2-up lead. Syme drained a big birdie putt at the par-3 seventh, and two holes later both teams carded birdie with impressive shots into the par-3 ninth green.

On the back nine, though, the mistakes started to pile up. The GB&I pair got a bad lie in a greenside bunker on the 10th hole and lost the hole to go 2 down. Then on the 15th, Xiong missed a par putt to allow the match to go back to all square.

On the par-4 16th, Xiong gave he and Morikawa the lead for good with a crucial birdie make, which was followed by a powerful fist pump by the 18-year-old Guam native. A missed par putt by McBride on the 18th gave the U.S. duo a 2-up win.

McNealy had a fist pump of his own in his match with Ghim against Robert MacIntyre and Matthew Jordan. On the back fringe at the par-4 12th, McNealy drained a 65-footer for birdie. Jordan matched, but it was for he and MacIntyre to stay 3 down.

That was the story of that match. The Americans never trailed as Jordan missed a couple of putts on the front nine to lose holes, including a bad miss on the par-3 ninth that allowed McNealy to halve the hole with a bogey putt.

Ghim later closed out the match with a par make at the par-4 16th to give he and McNealy the 3-and-2 victory.

The only GB&I point came in a 2-up victory by Jack Singh Brar and Scott Gegory over Doc Redman and Braden Thornberry.

For GB&I to retain the Walker Cup, it needs to win eight of the 10 matches Sunday afternoon. There are better odds of there being no traffic on the 405 during rush hour in Los Angeles. But the Americans aren’t going to let up.

“Just keep on plugging,” Zalatoris said. “You have to get 13 1/2. I don’t care what it is, you just have to get 12 1/2. We;re not letting our guard down until we get to 12 1/2.”

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