2001: Cassini fashions himself as a Southerner
Sea Island, Ga.
After Lucas Glover and Nick Cassini dispatched Luke Donald and Nick Dougherty, 4 and 3, in the first foursomes session, Glover advised: “Just keep us Southern boys together.”
Captain Danny Yates did, sending them out against Graeme McDowell and Michael Hoey (Glover’s former college teammate at Clemson) on Sunday morning. McDowell and Hoey won, 2 and 1.
Glover, who grew up in Greenville, S.C., is a legitimate, snuff-pinching Southerner. Cassini’s Dixie pedigree is iffy at best. He was born in Malaga, Spain, and lived in Florence, Italy, until he was 12, then moved with his family to Athens, Ga. He was a first-team All-American as a senior at the University of Georgia last year.
“I’ve become accustomed to this kind of weather and this lifestyle,” said Cassini. “I consider myself a Southerner.”
Cassini’s father, Igor, competed in tennis for Georgia and played at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, French Open and Davis Cup as a pro. Nick’s uncle is Oleg Cassini, the fashion designer.
Quinney sidelined: After a losing first-day showing, Yates chose to sit Jeff Quinney for both Sunday sessions. So Quinney watched, which wasn’t easy.
“I’m a little frustrated,” said Quinney, who will turn pro after defending his U.S. Amateur title. “No one wants to go winless. He (Yates) took the wind out of my sails. I felt my game was steady enough to play these guys.
“I’ll get through it, but it’s not the way I want to remember my only Walker Cup. But I can’t really question it because I’ve got to believe in his decision.”
Tour sponsor exemptions can be tough to come by, especially late in the year when stars out of college are competing. But Quinney will play the Air Canada Championship Aug. 30 and hopes to land more invites. He also plans to play on the Buy.com Tour, at least the stop in his hometown of Eugene, Ore. And, of course, he will enter the Tour’s three-stage Qualifying Tournament.
Unforeseen start: The opening round of foursomes Saturday was highlighted – or lowlighted, as it were – by the collapse of David Eger and Bryce Molder.
It appeared the team match would be even at 2 points apiece at the lunchtime break until the Americans, playing in the third match but the last to end, squandered a 3-up lead through 12 holes and ended up halving Jamie Elson and Richard McEvoy.
Eger and Molder rebounded Sunday with the only U.S. point in the morning foursomes, waxing Scotsmen Steven O’Hara and Marc Warren, 7 and 6. It was their halve, however, that portended the final outcome of the 38th Walker Cup Match.
“That was a very important match,” GB&I captain Peter McEvoy said of the gift-wrapped half-point. “All the other matches had quite an established lead or quite an established deficit. That’s the one that puts us in the lead a lunchtime.”
The U.S. appeared in control when it went 3 up at the 10th, where Molder hit his approach to 10 feet and Eger drained the putt. But GB&I won No. 13 (Elson sinking a 12-footer for birdie) and the 14th (conceded birdie after Molder hit his approach shot in the water).
“They played well, especially on the back nine,” said Eger. “They never laid down, even when we were 3 up. We played well, but they just ground it out on the back and made the big putts when they needed to.”
The key hole may have been No. 15, which was halved with pars. Elson holed a clutch 16-footer for GB&I.
The visitors squared the match at the 16th when Eger and Molder failed to get up and down from the back fringe. The Americans took the lead again at the 17th, where Elson missed a 4-footer for par.
At the 18th, Molder drove into the right rough, leaving Eger with a difficult shot and an awkward stance. Trying not to whiff the ball in the fluffy grass, Eger topped it and advanced the shot only 10 yards. Molder, also in the rough with an odd stance, followed with a nifty, low-flying shot that came to rest 10 feet above the hole.
Meanwhile, McEvoy’s tee shot found the fairway and Elson hit the approach to 10 feet. After McEvoy, no relation to the captain, ran the birdie try past the hole, Eger just missed the point-clinching par. Elson came back and drained the short putt.
“That was a huge half-point,” said Elson. “I’ve never been shaking over so many putts in my life. The one on the last hole was only 21⁄2 feet, but it was pretty scary.”
Taking orders: Different players take direction in different ways.
GB&I’s Gary Wolstenholme and O’Hara responded to captain McEvoy’s challenge by making four birdies on the first four holes, good for a 3-up lead en route to a 5-and-3 victory over Danny Green and D.J. Trahan in the opening foursomes match Saturday. The birdie putts came from 4, 12, 4 and 8 feet.
“Peter told us we needed to get off as quickly as possible,” said Wolstenholme, the four-time Walker Cupper known for his straight hitting and his 1995 victory over Tiger Woods. “It was a dream start. They just came up against a brick wall.”
O’Hara, the 2000 Scottish Amateur champion, putted superbly. He made the putts on Nos. 2-3. Their birdie run ended when O’Hara missed a 12-footer at the fifth, but he made downhill par-saving putts from 6 and 10 feet for halves on Nos. 6-7.
“Those were huge,” Green said.
That afternoon, before the opening singles match, Yates told Erik Compton he wanted him to go out against Wolstenholme and set the tone for the rest of the team.
So what did Compton do? He lost the first three holes – three-putting No. 1 from 8 feet and dropping the next two to Wolstenholme birdies.
But the gutsy All-American from the University of Georgia won holes 4 and 7 with pars and No. 8 with a birdie to square the match. Then he really kicked it up a notch. Compton birdied 10 and 11, knocking his approach shots to 5 feet at each hole; won 12 with a par; and took the 13th with another 5-foot birdie putt to go 4 up.
Stopped in singles: John Harris of Minneapolis had entered his fourth Walker Cup with a 10-1 mark, including a record 6-0 in singles, one better than Bobby Jones.
But if Harris felt any extra pressure to extend his unblemished singles mark, he didn’t let on. As it were, the streak ended in a 5-and-4 loss to Warren on the first day. Harris also lost 4 and 3 to O’Hara on Sunday.
“I didn’t think much about it,” Harris said of losing his undefeated status. “It’s not about individual records. This is about team. I was just out of rhythm.”
Harris, 49, the 1993 U.S. Amateur champion, has played in a few Buy.com Tour events to sharpen and gauge his game before a possible attempt at the Senior PGA Tour. At this point he’s undecided.
“I’ll address it this winter,” he said. “I’ll have a lot of time. I’m not leaning either way right now.”
Short shots: Former Georgia Tech teammate Matt Kuchar, now in his first year as a professional, was in the gallery watching Molder on the last few holes of his 2-and-1 victory over McDowell. Molder spotted the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion before he teed off on the 194-yard 17th. “I didn’t want to look at him,” Molder said. “I didn’t want to lose concentration and start laughing.” . . . The team match was tied at 51⁄2 points apiece Saturday afternoon when Glover, leading 2 up in his singles match against Hoey, hit his tee shot at the par-3 17th hole. Hoey was about to hit when play was called because lightning was moving into the area. When the two returned 72 minutes later to conclude the afternoon’s proceedings, Hoey won the 17th with a par (Glover three-putted from 80 feet) and the two halved No. 18 with pars as Glover earned the hard-fought win. . . . To improve the appearance of the 18th hole at Ocean Forest, the Sea Island Co. brought in 475 tons of sand to build a dune by the Atlantic Ocean on the left side of the 18th hole. A crew of 90 men worked around the clock for 48 hours on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Walker Cup week to complete the dressing.
– Dave Seanor, Ron Balicki
and Jeff Rude