Nigel Edwards hails Great Britain and Ireland team after Walker Cup victory
Published 14/09/2015 | 10:19
G reat Britain and Ireland captain Nigel Edwards hailed his side's special achievement after they regained the Walker Cup in record-breaking fashion, securing an emphatic victory with six matches to spare.
Leading the United States 10-6 after the morning foursomes at Royal Lytham, the home side required just three and a half points from the 10 singles to secure a fifth win in the last six contests on home soil.
And after doing so at the earliest possible opportunity thanks to victories for Ashley Chesters, Cormac Sharvin and Jimmy Mullen - who compiled a perfect 4-0 record - and a half from Paul Dunne in the top four matches, further wins from Grant Forrest and Gary Hurley sealed an emphatic triumph.
The final 16.5 to 9.5 scoreline meant both a record points tally and margin of victory, surpassing the 15-9 wins in 1999 and 2001 by sides featuring the likes of Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and 2015 captain Edwards.
Edwards struggled to put into words what it meant to lead his side to victory for the second time in three attempts.
"Gosh. It's great," said the 47-year-old Welshman, who did not rule out a record fourth spell as captain in Los Angeles in 2017. "At Royal Aberdeen (in 2011) we were up against it until the death but the boys at the top of the order went out fast as we needed them to do.
"There were tremendous performances in every session. There were some matches where the players had to dig really deep and they proved crucial. At the start of the week we wanted to do something very special and this is it."
Eight of the US team were in the top 19 of the amateur world rankings, but Edwards added: "I was confident despite what the rankings said. It's a great team of competitors who play lots of foursomes and singles match play and that came to the fore."
Five of the victorious team - Dunne, Mullen, Chesters, Hurley and Gavin Moynihan - will now turn professional, with Mullen signing off in style as the first GB&I player to win all four matches since Casey and Donald at Nairn in 1999.
" It did not matter as long as the team won, but to win all my matches is the icing on the cake," the 21-year-old from Devon said.
Dunne, who led the Open after 54 holes before fading on the final day, added: "I will take winning over 30th place every day. It's so much better to do it as a team. Nigel has been a fantastic captain and inspired us from start to finish."
United States captain John Miller, who admitted he "acquiesced" to the wish of NCAA and US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau to go out last in the singles, said: "I am very proud of everyone to a man. They played hard and fought hard and lost with grace and dignity, and that's not easy to do.
"Nigel and his boys outplayed us, simple as that. They earned it."
DeChambeau went on to beat Moynihan 6&5, one of just two singles victories for the visitors, but had been on the 10th hole when the contest was decided.
Leading 7-5 overnight, Edwards unsurprisingly sent the same foursomes pairings out in the same order and was rewarded with another 3-1 success.
Chesters was then sent out first once more in the singles and made it three and a half points from four by beating Jordan Niebrugge, who lost all three of his matches just two months after finishing sixth in the Open at St Andrews.
Sharvin then saw off 52-year-old Mike McCoy 4&3 before Mullen, who had partnered Chesters to two foursomes wins, beat Denny McCarthy. That left Dunne to secure a half against world number two Maverick McNealy, who missed from five feet for a birdie on the 18th that would have temporarily kept the contest alive.