Great Britain & Ireland Holds Three-Point Advantage Over the USA Team after Day One of the 49th Walker Cup

Sept. 2-3, 2023, Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland | #WalkerCup |
What Happened
Great Britain and Ireland lead the United States of America 7½-4½ after day one of the 49th Walker Cup at St. Andrews.
Stuart Wilson’s side is bidding to win the trophy back after three consecutive defeats in the biennial encounter and take a three-point lead into tomorrow’s second day at the home of golf.
In glorious conditions in front of large crowds, John Gough and Calum Scott were the stand-out performers for GB&I after delivering two points each from the first day of play.
The morning foursomes saw GB&I build a 3-1 lead after coming out on top in some tight matches.
While the USA began strong and put the opening point on the board, the hosts gradually clawed their way back.
Gordon Sargent and Dylan Menante birdied two of the first three holes yet it remained a close tussle with Mark Power and Barclay Brown until the 12th. Power pulled his tee shot at the short par-4 into a gorse bush and a lost ball allowed the USA to edge one up. A bogey from GB&I at the next and a winning seven-foot birdie putt from Sargent on the 16th sealed a 3&2 triumph.
Scott and Connor Graham were also down early against Caleb Surratt and Ben James but then found their groove, especially on the greens. Cheered on by a strong home crowd, they were ahead after a birdie at the par-5 5th and made four more birdies in seven holes from the 9th before the USA found trouble at the 16th to concede for a 3&2 loss.
There was little action in the meeting between Gough and Matthew McClean against Preston Summerhays and David Ford before Gough’s five-foot birdie putt at the 16th edged GB&I ahead. Ford’s save from the Road Hole bunker took the match up the last, but Summerhays missed a short birdie putt to hand GB&I a one-hole win.
Alex Maguire and James Ashfield were never behind and had moved three up after the 7th before being pulled back to tied after 15. Maguire then holed two clutch putts on the 17th and 18th to the delight of the fans packed round the green for another vital one-hole victory.
Surratt provided the ideal response for the visitors in the top match of the singles draw, taking care of Brown in a commanding 4&3 victory in which the American was never behind in the contest.
Scott found himself two up through nine holes in the second singles but was dragged back to tied by Nick Gabrelcik after birdies won him the 10th and 14th holes. The Nairn native delivered in style shortly after though, delighting the home fans on the way to closing out the match 2&1 with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th.
Sargent, the world’s leading men’s amateur golfer, then sealed a narrow one-hole win against Jack Bigham in a nip-and-tuck affair which saw both players lead for periods of the match. The contest was decided on the 18th after a monster drive from Sargent led to a birdie, while the Englishman could only par.
The most impressive display of the singles came from Gough in the bottom match of the draw after he defeated US Amateur champion Nick Dunlap 6&5. The Englishman never looked back after winning five holes in a row from the outset and despite losing the 7th hole, responded with a birdie on the 10th and sealed the win on the 13th after Dunlap could only manage a bogey.
GB&I went further ahead after Liam Nolan recovered from being two down through 13 holes to beat Austin Greaser by one hole. The Irishman made two birdies on the 14th and 15th to return to tied and then secured a point at the last with Greaser unable to match his birdie 3.
Three-time Walker Cup winner Stewart Hagestad underlined his experience with a convincing 4&3 success against Maguire for the United States, before Power extended the home side’s lead with a brilliant comeback in his match against Ford to prevail by one hole.
The Irishman claimed four holes in a row from the 12th to turn a three-hole deficit into a winning position at the 15th hole with the duo matching each other hole for hole in the remainder of the encounter.
McClean and Summerhays also had a close meeting with the American winning the 11th and 12th to return the match to tied. Both made birdies at the last for a halved match and give GB&I their three-point overnight lead.
The 7.5-4.5 GB&I lead at the end of the first day’s play is their biggest lead at this point in the match since 1989 at Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. when they led by the same margin.
A lead of 3 points is the biggest first day lead since 2017 at The Los Angeles Country Club when the USA led by 4.
This is the tenth time GB&I have been in the lead after the first day since the Walker Cup began and the fourth consecutive time they have led after the first day in a Walker Cup at home (2011, 2015, 2019, 2023).
“Yeah, Captain has a lot of trust in me, even more than I have in myself sometimes. For him to do that and for me to step up and capitalize on that is big for not only me and our team but our country.” – Caleb Surratt, on the trust Captain McCoy has in his play
“I think we know that if we go do what we’re supposed to do and what we want to do, we’re going to be right where we want to be, and we didn’t necessarily do that this morning, but if we can just kind of get out of today just anywhere near, I think we’ll be in a good spot.” – Gordon Sargent, on preparing for tomorrow
“The home crowd is such an advantage. I mean, from early this morning, we had massive roars until the evening, and they stay with you on every hole and really cheer you on in good times and in bad, and that’s when you need them the most, I suppose.” – Liam Nolan, on the St. Andrews atmosphere
“Regardless of how the rest of the week goes, raising that flag in front of the Old Course or in front of the clubhouse, it’s just an unbelievable feeling. Almost lost for words. I’m on such a buzz after that. This place is special. Just these last few holes having a chance to win a match is just unbelievable. Yeah, just going to try to let it sink, but obviously we have a job to do tomorrow, so focus will need to be kind of regained.” – Mark Power, on the emotional flag raising ceremony
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