Walker Cup recaps: Day 1

The Golfweek staff recaps all the afternoon singles matches from Day 1 of the Walker Cup.

• • •

MATCH 5: Gavin Dear (GB&I) halves Brian Harman (U.S.)

After being part of a side that surrendered what seemed to be a commanding lead in morning foursomes, Dear staged a come-from-behind effort of his own. Down three holes with five to play, he battled back to seize a key half-point, knotting the match with an uphill 10-footer for par on the closing hole. Harman played well in the middle of the match, knocking in a 15-footer for birdie to go 3 up after 13. But he missed a short putt at 14 and it led to a sloppy finish, as bogeys at the last two holes cost him a full point.

“I played those last two holes conservatively,” Harman said, “and I got burnt twice.”

– Jeff Babineau

MATCH 6: Rickie Fowler (U.S.) def. Sam Hutsby, 7 and 6

A thorough drumming, as Hutsby simply was no match for one of the most experienced forces on the U.S. team. Despite making only one birdie in his first 11 holes, Fowler kept gaining ground and winning holes with pars. A birdie at the 13th hole gave him one of the most lopsided singles victories in the history of the matches.

“The biggest thing in match play is not to give your opponent anything, so you keep away from making bogeys and doubles,” said Fowler. “I played solid and Sam struggled a bit, and we had a great time out there. We got along great.”

Too bad it didn’t last very long.

– Jeff Babineau

MATCH 7: Cameron Tringale (U.S.) halved Wallace Booth

Cameron Tringale (U.S.) is still wondering how he halved his afternoon singles match against Wallace Booth (GB&I). Over the 18-hole match, Tringale lead in 12 of the 18 holes and trailed only after the first hole when Booth made birdie.

Each time Tringale seemed to have the match in control he either made a misstep with a bogey or Booth made a birdie to stop the bleeding.

Much longer than Tringale throughout the match, Booth had only 169 yards left into the 18th from the middle of the fairway as Tringale was left with 209 to the hole from the first cut. Tringale was in line with the Hogan plaque – that marks the place that Hogan hit his 1-iron to win the 1950 U.S. Open – and hit a 4-iron that ran through the green and stopped in the first cut.

Booth who had the advantage, had a hanging lie that he tried to hold off and found a difficult lie in the rough that fronted the greenside bunker on the right.

Neither player could keep their third shots on the green and would eventually halve the hole – and the match – with bogeys.

– Alex Miceli

• • •

MATCH 8: Morgan Hoffmann (U.S.) halved Matt Haines

Morgan Hoffmann (U.S.) struggled the entire afternoon to gain control of his singles match against Matt Haines (GB&I) and when he finally got the upper hand on the par-3 17th hole he let it slip away and halved the match.

After halving five consecutive holes, Hoffmann took his first lead of the match with a par on the 17th. Hoffmann, however, found the rough off the tee and then left his approach just short of the green at the 18th.

Haines also hit his second shot just short of the green, but a false front rejected his ball down the hill past Hoffmann’s ball. With the match in the balance, Haines hit a chip to within three feet and watched as Hoffmann tried to hit a 64-degree wedge off a tight, uphill lie. His shot landed on the green, checked up and rolled back past where a steamed Hoffman stood.

Haines made par and Hoffmann made bogey.

It was one of four halved matches in the afternoon singles.

– Alex Miceli

• • •

MATCH 9: Peter Uihlein (U.S.) def. Tommy Fleetwood, 2 and 1

After being one of the final two players named to the U.S. Walker Cup team, Uihlein went out on Day 1 and brought home two points for the U.S.

“That’s a pretty good day,” said Uihlein, who holed an 18-foot putt on the 18th hole to win his morning foursome match with partner Nathan Smith. “I just have to go out again and do it tomorrow.”

Carrying the momentum from his morning fireworks, Uihlein made birdie on the par-5 second hole and built a 4-up lead over the next eight holes. Fleetwood rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on No. 12 and grinded out a par on No. 16 to cut Uihlein’s lead to 1 up. But Uihlein answered with another clutch shot on the treacherous par-3 17th to close out the match.

His 5-iron from “201 or 210, I can’t remember” drew into the overcast sky and over a lot of danger on the right side of the green and landed to 7 feet.

“It felt good,” said Uihlein. “I felt good over it and just took dead aim, and made a nice putt.”

– Eric Soderstrom

• • •

MATCH 10: Drew Weaver (U.S.) halved Chris Paisley

After being named an alternate to the 2007 U.S. Walker Cup team, Drew Weaver had to wait until Saturday afternoon singles to get his first taste of a Walker Cup match. He was rewarded with a duel to the finish that ended in a halve with Tennessee star Chris Paisley.

“The way that match went, that’s the way it should have ended,” said Weaver.

Weaver made three birdies on the front nine to take a 3-up lead, but Paisely answered with birdies on three of the next four holes to square the match.

A bogey by Weaver on the par-4 14th gave Paisley the lead for the first time, and a miraculous up-and-down by Weaver from behind a TV tower on No. 15 kept it that way. “Jacked up” from all the adrenaline, Weaver rolled in a birdie putt on No. 16 and then hit 4-iron on 17 to a foot to retake the lead after captain Buddy Marucci gave him a little massage and some calming words.

“I was pretty nervous from all the adrenaline,” said Weaver. “I needed it.”

Weaver hit the fairway on No. 18, but caught a mud ball and hit his approach into the right bunker where he was left “with the worst plug of my career.” He made bogey, and Paisley chipped to 6 feet and made his putt for par to halve the match.

– Eric Soderstrom

• • •

MATCH 11: Bud Cauley (U.S.) def. Niall Kearney, 2 and 1

Ireland’s Niall Kearney left Merion after the singles feeling depressed and deflated. The Irish amateur will feel as if he should have got at least a half point out of his match.

Three down after six holes, Kearney battled back to all square after 11 before making a rookie mistake on the 12th hole that turned the tide.

Kearney faced a 20-foot uphill birdie putt on the hole, but a rush of blood cost him dearly. He hammered his first putt past the hole and missed the return par attempt to give Cauley the hole.

That proved the turning point in the match as Cauley won, 2 and 1.

– Alistair Tait

• • •

MATCH 12: Stiggy Hodgson (GB&I) def. Brendan Gielow, 2 and 1

Stiggy Hodgson is turning into the surprise package of this Walker Cup.

The pint-sized English player is the only GB&I player to have won two points out of two matches.

Hodgson won his second point of the day in some style. Two down after nine holes to Brendan Gielow, Hodgson reeled off four birdies in six holes to take a two-hole lead he converted into a 2-and-1 victory.

“My head is the strongest part of my game,” Hodgson said. “I knew there was a lot of birdies to be had on the back nine. I knew I wasn’t out of it.”

– Alistair Tait

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