Saturday 19 October 2019

US bounce back to seal Walker Cup in impressive style

United States celebrate their victory with the Walker Cup Trophy. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
United States celebrate their victory with the Walker Cup Trophy. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Brian Keogh

Portmarnock's Conor Purcell hailed the next generation of PGA Tour stars as the United States retained the Walker Cup with ease at Royal Liverpool.

The Americans trailed 7-5 after the opening day but took ten and a half points from 14 yesterday - including eight of the ten singles - to run out 15.5-10.5 winners.

Nathaniel Crosby's troops became the first American team to win away from home since Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson gave the US a one-point win over a side led by Rory McIlroy at Royal County Down in 2007.

"There are a few on that team that we will see again on the PGA Tour," Purcell said after losing 6&5 to number one Cole Hammer and ending his week with one point from four.

"Guys like Brandon Wu, Ashkay [Bhatia], Cole, Isaiah Salinda, they are strong players and we will look back in a few years and there will be a lot to be proud of."

GB&I lost the foursomes 2.5-1.5 with Purcell and Alex Fitzpatrick falling 2&1 to Wu and Smalley.

The session left Craig Watson's charges needing five points from the ten singles to win back the trophy.

But the USA won the first hole in six of the ten matches to turn the board red, and only Sandy Scott and Thomas Sloman prevented a clean sweep by winning in the afternoon.

Dundalk's Caolan Rafferty (26) made five birdies but fell 2&1 to Smalley, the player he beat by the same margin on Saturday afternoon.

"I did everything you need to do to dog out a tough match," Rafferty lamented after holing a chip and a bunker shot in a battling performance.

"It was still a great week. The captain said that win or lose, it's the best weekend of your life and he was right."

Mallow's James Sugrue was suffering from a bad back and while he sat out the two foursomes sessions, the Amateur champion could not win either of his singles.

After losing the last two holes to fall by one hole to John Pak on Saturday, he lost 4&2 yesterday to the left-handed wonderkid Akshay Bhatia, who made just one bogey.

"It was a good week, and I enjoyed it, but I didn't play great all week," Sugrue said. "I just wasn't comfortable with my game, and I was pretty sore yesterday and a couple of times today."

Former Irish international Pádraig Hogan, who was one of the R&A selectors for the matches, said: "Their ball control was far better than ours."

On the European Tour, Pádraig Harrington recorded his best finish since last May when he tied for 12th behind Paul Casey in the Porsche European Open in Hamburg.

Europe's Ryder Cup captain has suffered on the greens and failed to take advantage of some of the best ball-striking of his career this year.

But he found a way at Green Eagle, closing with a three-under 69 to tie for 12th on six-under-par.

Gavin Moynihan was 56th on three-over after a 74, with Michael Hoey joint 66th as he signed for a 77.

Ryder Cup star Casey (42) closed with a bogey-free 66 to capture his 14th European Tour title by one stroke from Austria's Matthias Schwab, Germany's Bernd Ritthammer and the up-and-coming Scottish left-hander Robert Macintyre on 14-under.

Irish Independent

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