LOS ANGELES – Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup captain Andrew Ingram needs to borrow some inspiration from Sam Torrance if the GB&I side is to successfully defend the Walker Cup.
Ingram needs heroes. Ten of them.
“Out of the shadows come heroes,” Torrance famously said when his underdog European team won the 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry.
Ingram’s 10-man team were already underdogs before this match began. They’re now serious underdogs after losing the first singles session 6-2 to a rampant U.S. team.
The visitors trail 8-4 heading into the second and final day at Los Angeles Country Club. The omens don’t look good: the last two U.S. victories have been built on 8-4 leads. GB&I trailed by that score in 2009 at Merion and in 2013 at the National Golf Links on Long Island.
There were no miracles on those occasions and, frankly, a miracle seems far-fetched on the evidence of the first singles session. Even nearby Hollywood scriptwriters would struggle to write a GB&I comeback against such a strong American team led by the likes of Collin Morikawa, Norman Xiong, Maverick McNealy and Doug Ghim, all of whom went undefeated on Day 1.
“The feeling in the camp is one of disappointment,” Ingram said. “Although we’re disappointed, we still think we can win. We seriously do. The feeling is strong in the camp and we’re going to go out with all guns blazing.
“We need 13 points and we’ve got four. We only need nine. There’s plenty of points available tomorrow, so that’s why we think we can win.”
England’s Jack Singh Brar and Robert MacIntyre of Scotland were the only two GB&I players to win singles matches. MacIntyre defeated Cameron Champ, 6 and 4, while Singh Brar took down hometown boy Stewart Hagestad. The Englishman had to overcome a partisan gallery and a little gamesmanship from the reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion.
Singh Brar was 6 up after 11 holes when Hagestad said: “I’m coming for you, Jack.”
Singh Brar was up for the challenge: “I thought, ‘All right, I’ll prove him wrong.’ I did in the end. I was like, ‘All right then, let’s go.’”
The Englishman ran out a 3-and-2 winner.
Ingram somehow must try to get his players emulate MacIntyre and Singh Brar and turn leads into wins.
Things looked good for GB&I at various points in the singles. They looked like they would post a 5-3 session win at one point before crashing when the pressure was on.
Connor Syme was 3 up through five holes against Xiong but lost, 2 and 1. Harry Ellis and Scott Gregory were 2 up in their respective matches to Braden Thornberry and McNealy and also lost.
“All I’ve said to them is that where we made mistakes we need to look at our match, think of where they went wrong and just remember it for tomorrow,” Ingram said. “Simple as that. I just have to tell them to go out there and play their own games. These guys know how to play. They’re good and I’ve still got great confidence that they will do well.”
He has to hope they have great confidence in themselves. He needs them to be heroes.