This is the first Walker Cup I’ve ever covered or attended, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen National Golf Links of America, which, as longtime readers know is my favorite course, and I highly encourage anyone in the area to attend on Sunday — no ropes, great golf, amazing course, the up-and-coming young stars, etc.
Let’s just get right into the top five because I’m hungry, it’s late and there are probably about five people who are going to read this since it’s Saturday night.
*For those unfamiliar with the Walker Cup format: It’s a two-day competition with 4 foursomes matches on Saturday morning, followed by eight singles matches Saturday afternoon, and then on Sunday, four foursomes again in the morning and 10 singles matches in the afternoon.
The tally after Saturday foursomes was: GB&I 2.5, USA 1.5, and then Americans dominated the singles matches 6.5 to 1.5, so the final total is USA 8, GBI 4.
But, as we all know, THERE’S STILL A LOT OF GOLF LEFT. (<eye roll>) And don’t forget what happened at Medinah last year at the Ryder Cup, of course. How could you, though? I don’t want to jinx anything, but I think the Americans are the stronger team and even if they don’t do so well in the morning foursomes on Sunday, they’ll make up for it again in the singles matches.
*Michael Weaver vs. Matt Fitzpatrick. This was probably the marquee match of the afternoon. I watched them play about 14 holes and I have tons of notes on how every hole played out, but I’m not going to bore you with all that (unless you would like the play-by-play, I can always update, so let me know in the comments). Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S. Amateur a few weeks ago at Brookline, had the momentum early and it switched a couple of times, but after they made the turn, Weaver took over and won with ease 3&1.
I was impressed with Fitzpatrick’s pace of play — Brandt Snedeker has slowed down his pre-shot routine, but it reminds me of Brandt 2-3 years ago when he was so fast that you’d miss him hit shots or didn’t realize he had already hit. Meanwhile, Weaver — who was runner-up at last year’s U.S. Am and was a fifth-year senior at UC Berkley — well, let’s just say he’s a bit deliberate and it’s obvious he’s a product of NCAA college golf. (AJGA an especially does great job with pace of play, but it all goes downhill when they get to the NCAA, where they don’t instill the fear of God in you like they did in junior golf.)
Weaver’s game was very “American” bomber style. I was very impressed with his ballstriking. The kid absolutely *bombs* it. On the 8th, my friend Scott, an NGLA member, said he’d never seen anyone drive it *that* far from the back tee against a stiff breeze (15-20 is my guess, gusts of 25mph). Weaver drove it approximately 295 yards (again, into the wind) there.
*The Redan, par-3 no. 4: This famed hole (the most copied in golf architecture with the original being at North Berwick, which I actually got to play last month at the Open) is extremely difficult and the conditions made it even tougher. (I mean, after I parred nos. 3 and 4 the last time I played here in June, I was ready to walk off the course because it wasn’t going to get any better.)
Many guys made quite a mess of it. You need to land it short to the front right of the green and let it trickle down to the left or just hit a good lag putt to that back-left pin (which was borderline this afternoon) and hope to two-putt. Weaver and Fitzpatrick both took too much club and ended up in the back bunker.
Weaver was first to hit and he caught it a little thin and it went over the green into the rough (didn’t roll down to the bunker in front of the green). Fitzpatrick chunked his and it landed on the green and if you don’t get it far enough up on the ridge, it’ll roll back down to a collection area off the green, which is what happened. Next, Weaver chipped it to where Fitzpatrick’s second shot landed and then hit another mediocre chip. Fitzpatrick holed a 10-footer for bogey, which wasn’t so bad all things considered, to win the hole.
Sorry, but I have to include this cringe-worthy yet hilarious part of the transcript from the press conference Captain Jim Holtgrieve (and Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett):
Q. And just one last thing. The 4th hole was playing very difficult today. I talked to some of your players, as they’re laughing. You didn’t get you got a chance to get to the green, I think, once during the 4th, but didn’t get to the tee to give them any kind of advice. Do you think in hindsight that you wish you’d had the opportunity to be up there to kind of help them with club selection?
JIM HOLTGRIEVE: Well, Alex, we have a thing called communications today. And so I was able to tell everybody on the first tee since the second group played that hole about what was going on with that particular hole location, and the way I instructed or not instructed, but the way I told them that they need to be playing that hole.
And even after we had told a number of people, they still were not able to just play it the way that we were telling them, just hit it in the very, very front part of that green. Maybe not even hit the green. Hit it short of that green. And it just the hole was just a very difficult hole and caused a lot of problems. I think Bobby, you had a little issue with it, too, didn’t you?
But no, we tried to tell everybody, and interesting enough, I talked more to players today than I have ever talked to anybody in 2011. Because of these irons and these tee shots, a lot of times I saw a lot of things, a lot of two utilities and 3woods going through the fairway.
So I advised a number of players about those situations. We advised a number of players about No. 6, how that was playing, after watching some of the players play. So first time I’ve really ever talked to players about advice, and I’m sure I’m going to do a little bit more tomorrow.
And I hope and these guys are so good. What am I going to tell them? But boy, when you see what goes on at National Golf Links with the wind and the firmness of the greens, it was a big education for me, and I think it helped out a lot with some of our shots today.
*The random Alabama connection between Bobby Wyatt and his NGLA caddie Kurt Sohn: Basically, Bobby, a member of the 2013 NCAA National Championship-winning team at the University of Alabama, and Kurt have mutual friends. The way they assigned the local caddies to the players was through a blind draw. They pull names out of hats randomly. So, that’s what makes it kind of a fun, random coincidence.
Kurt played for the New York Jets in the 80s and his quarterback for the first two years was Richard Todd. Bobby knows Todd’s son and daughter very well because Gator Todd played on the Alabama golf team.
“We’ve talked a little about football, which is a passion of mine,” said Wyatt. “I love it, especially Alabama football. His quarterback at the Jets was also the quarterback at Alabama. Somehow, I know the son and daughter of the quarterback he knows really well. We’ve had a lot of fun out there for sure.”
Added Kurt: “He started talking football one day and I said I used to play some ball myself for the Jets. He said he was friends with Richard Todd’s daughter and son, Gator, who had played golf at Alabama. That was the connection.”
*Bobby Wyatt’s comeback win against Neil Raymond. Wyatt was 2-down early, but then he birdied nos. 7, 8 and 9 to go 1-up. He should have won no. 10, too, but he incurred an unfortunate one-shot penalty and had to settle with halving the hole.
“It was a little bit of unfortunate timing,” said Wyatt. “I felt like I had it a little bit on the ropes, but I went to replace my ball and accidentally dropped it about half an inch above the ground and it forced my ball marker to move about half an inch backwards, and unfortunately that’s a penalty.
“I was able to make the bogey putt then (five-footer) and halve the hole. So you know, I just told myself that’s something that really I can’t control and just keep trying to execute my game plan as best I could, and fortunately I got it done.”
*Finally, here are the match results
Southampton, N.Y — Results from Saturday’s foursomes and singles matches at the 44th Walker Cup Match at the National Golf Links of America (6,995 yards, par 72):
Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin, GB&I, halved with Cory Whitsett and Bobby Wyatt, USA
Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond, GB&I, def. Jordan Niebrugge and Nathan Smith, USA, 1 up
Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh, GB&I, def. Michael Weaver and Todd White, USA, 3 and 1
Patrick Rodgers and Justin Thomas, USA, def. Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan, GB&I, 2 and 1
Bobby Wyatt, USA, def. Neil Raymond, GB&I, 2 up
Max Homa, USA, def. Max Orrin, GB&I, 5 and 3
Michael Kim, USA, def. Callum Shinkwin, GB&I, 2 and 1
Cory Whitsett, USA, def. Jordan Smith, GB&I, 1 up
Michael Weaver, USA, def. Matthew Fitzpatrick, GB&I, 3 and 1
Jordan Niebrugge, USA, def. Garrick Porteous, GB&I, 1 up
Nathan Kimsey, GB&I, halved with Justin Thomas, USA
Gavin Moynihan, GB&I, def. Patrick Rodgers, USA, 2 and 1
Southampton, N.Y. – Pairings for Sunday’s foursomes and singles matches at the 2013 Walker Cup Match at The National Golf Links of America (6,995 yards, par 72):
7:15 a.m. – Nathan Kimsey and Max Orrin, GB&I vs. Bobby Wyatt and Cory Whitsett, USA
7:30 a.m. – Matthew Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond, GB&I vs. Michael Weaver and Todd White, USA
7:45 a.m. – Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh, GB&I vs. Max Homa and Michael Kim, USA
8 a.m. – Gavin Moynihan and Kevin Phelan, GB&I vs. Patrick Rodgers and Jordan Niebrugge, USA
12:30 p.m. – Neil Raymond, GB&I vs. Bobby Wyatt, USA
12:42 p.m. – Max Orrin, GB&I vs. Justin Thomas, USA
12:54 p.m. – Matthew Fitzpatrick, GB&I vs. Michael Weaver, USA
1:06 p.m. – Rhys Pugh, GB&I vs. Todd White, USA
1:18 p.m. – Nathan Kimsey, GB&I vs. Nathan Smith, USA
1:30 p.m. – Callum Shinkwin, GB&I vs. Cory Whitsett, USA
1:42 p.m. – Garrick Porteous, GB&I vs. Michael Kim, USA
1:54 p.m. – Kevin Phelan, GB&I vs. Max Homa, USA
2:06 p.m. – Jordan Smith, GB&I vs. Jordan Niebrugge, USA
2:18 p.m. – Gavin Moynihan, GB&I vs. Patrick Rodgers, USA
And some pictures…
(Top two: AP Photos/Kathy Kmonicek; all other photos: My iPhone)