Rude and unnecessary US celebrations overshadow Walker Cup fightback

Caleb Surratt (left) and Nick Dunlap - Rude and unnecessary US celebrations overshadow Walker Cup fightback

Nick Dunlap (right) holed a four-footer on the 18th after which a team-mate ran on to the green to celebrate before the customary handshakes had taken place – Getty Images/Oisin Keniry

Great Britain and Ireland hardly put out the welcome mat for the United States at the Home of Golf, but on the 100th anniversary of the Old Course first hosting the Walker Cup, the Americans marched across the hallowed links for their fourth win in succession.

Credit to Stuart Wilson’s home side. They were the rank outsiders – with their average world amateur ranking 88.6 to the 8.6 of their opponents – but led for three of the four sessions and only succumbed in the last hour of an enthralling contest.

Yet, as they tend to, the Starred and Striped came on strong on the second day, “winning” the morning foursomes 3-1 to close the deficit to a point and then romping the singles by 7-3 to reclaim what must be one of the biggest trophies in all sport 14½-11½.

“Nobody on this team likes losing. Everybody is extremely competitive, really good,” said Nick Dunlap, the US Amateur champion who earned a decisive half point against Yorkshireman Barclay Brown, before explaining the first day, when GB&I took their biggest halfway lead in 34 years.

“We just kind of had an off day and they played great. That’s golf. They’re allowed to play good, make birdies and win matches. You know, we all had a game plan. We knew if we came out and executed, that we may like the end result.”

In truth, GB&I should have been in their element with the strong winds gusting off the Fife coast, but maybe that is a cliché that should be consigned to the bin. One that should not is that some of the American celebrations were over-the-top in a match that tries to remain separate from the the jingoism of the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup, both of which are to follow later this month.

It was not Dunlap’s fault, but after he holed a four-footer to win the 18th and deny Brown the full point, a member of the US entourage ran on to the famous green and high-fived Dunlap (see below) before he had the chance to shake the hand of his opponent. Rude and unnecessary. Particularly as it was a halved point and the second match on the links.

But the US clearly were deserving and in Gordon Sargent they boasted the top-ranked amateur who won four out of four. England’s John Gough pushed the 20-year-old all the way but drove it into the hotel garden on the Road Hole 17th and any hopes effectively disappeared in that notorious golfing graveyard.

“That US team is unbelievably talented,” said Mark Power, one of only two GB& I winners, who saw off Ben James, one-up. “We all knew how highly ranked they were, and we just tried to block it out. But they really showed their class this afternoon. We gave it everything.”

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