LOS ANGELES – Mark down 4:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time as the moment the United States won the 46th Walker Cup. All that remained to be seen was how big the margin of victory would be.
It turned out to be huge, 19-7 to be precise to match a Walker Cup record. The USA’s 19 points matches the 19 points recorded in 1993 at Interlachen in a 19-5 victory over Great Britain & Ireland. The 12-point margin of victory this week equals the largest in the Walker Cup since 1997 (when the U.S. won, 18-6).
Spider Miller’s U.S. team was so dominant Collin Morikawa, Doug Ghim and Maverick McNealy set a Walker Cup record by becoming the first three players to win four points out of four in a match.
The coup de grace came when Los Angeles Country Club member Stewart Hagestad beat England’s Jack Singh Brar, 2 and 1, in the opening singles match. With Braden Thornberry already hammering Paul McBride, 6 and 5, to take the U.S. to 12 points and Norman Xiong dormie 1 up against Scott Gregory, it meant the USA had effectively reached 13 and a half points and won the biennial contest.
The outcome was inevitable but it came in strange circumstances. Singh Brar was one down playing the 17th when he duffed his greenside bunker shot, leaving the ball in the sand. He then handed the hole to Hagestad when he touched the sand several times with his wedge. Under Rule 13-4, that meant automatic loss of hole and a 2-and-1 loss.
“It’s never the way that you want to end a match but, that aside, it’s a win for us,” Hagestad said. “No pictures on the scorecard, as they say, so I’m pretty happy with the win.”
Fifteen minutes later, Xiong lost the 18th hole to Scott Gregory, but recorded a half point to take the USA to the magic 13.5 points needed to win the 46th biennial contest.
“Stu’s match, I felt, was critical,” Miller said. “When you send your first match out, it’s all about momentum. Along with Braden Thornberry closing his man out early, Stewart proved the momentum I was looking for.
“I’m so proud of these players. They have conducted themselves great this week. They have done everything I’ve asked.”
Great Britain & Ireland captain Andrew Ingram was magnanimous in defeat.
“The Americans were amazing,” he said. “I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They have been superb all week and good luck to them.
“We just couldn’t get going, we couldn’t get anything moving forward.
“The big advantage here has been the length of the course,” Ingram added. “Our guys aren’t used to courses this long. A couple of them said to me, ‘I need to hit it longer, I’m going to work on that this winter.’ If that makes them better golfers it’s got to be good.
“We have worked hard. I asked the team when I came for 100 percent and they gave me 100 percent. I can’t ask for anything more.”
Scottie Scheffler, Morikawa, Ghim, Will Zalatoris and McNealy followed with singles wins and the rout was on. Robert MacIntyre matched Gregory by halving his match with Cameron Champ. Only David Boote managed to record a singles win. He beat U.S. Amateur champion Doc Redman, 1 up, as the U.S. won the final session 8-2.
This was a strong U.S. team, but it wasn’t a poor GB&I team. The 10 visiting players just couldn’t get to grips with Los Angeles Country Club. That wasn’t surprising. Home teams have now won 11 of the last 13.
Rest assured, GB&I can’t wait to get to Royal Liverpool for the 2019 match.