WALKER CUP

USA Mounts Impressive Comeback To Win 49th Walker Cup Match

By Julia Pine, USGA

| Sep 04, 2023 | St. Andrews, Scotland

USA Mounts Impressive Comeback To Win 49th Walker Cup Match

What Happened

The expectations were high before the USA Walker Cup Team was fully assembled. Boasting eight of the top 10 players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking®, Captain Mike McCoy brought one of the best American Walker Cup sides to the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland for the 49th edition of the biennial competition.

It was all but expected that his group would secure the USA its fourth consecutive victory against its Great Britain and Ireland counterparts.

But Day 1 on Saturday didn’t go as planned. The gritty, underdog GB&I squad came out fighting, jumping out to a three-point lead after four foursomes (alternate-shot) matches and eight singles matches.

“It wasn't the day we were looking for,” said McCoy afterward.

But Sunday brought a new day, and the USA, which historically struggles in foursomes given the format is rarely played on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, began to quickly show why the expectations were so strong to start the week. Jumping out to a lead in all four of the morning matches, the visitors secured three of the four available points in the session, closing GB&I’s advantage to just one point heading into the 10 afternoon singles matches.

“Our connection and our positivity towards each other really drove us to get on top in this Match, and I think that's how we ended up coming out with a victory,” said Nick Gabrelcik, who partnered with 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion Preston Summerhays for one of the three new foursomes partnerships McCoy put out Sunday morning.

With the pressure now squarely back on the home team’s shoulders to stop the American tidal wave of momentum, the USA’s Caleb Surratt drew first blood for the USA in the afternoon. The 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur runner-up and All-American in his freshman season at Tennessee (2022-23) defeated Calum Scott, 3 and 2, to even the Walker Cup for the first time since Saturday morning. The red points on the board would continue, with 32-year-old Stewart Hagestad, a two-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion competing in his fourth consecutive Walker Cup, , earning another point for the USA, and Summerhays quickly following with a dominant, 4-and-3 win of his own.

That trend would continue the rest of the afternoon, with the Americans eventually posting a 6-2-2 margin in the competition’s final session. Gordon Sargent, the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world, watched his opponent, John Gough, hit his tee shot out of bounds on the famous Road Hole to win the 17 th hole, and then drove the green on No. 18 with a 3-wood to earn a critical 1-up victory over GB&I’s highest-ranked player. It capped off an undefeated, 4-0 weekend for the 2023 McCormack Medal recipient for being the top-ranked male amateur.

“To go 4-0 is really special, and it definitely means a lot,” said Sargent, who joined the like of Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler to have a perfect record in a single Match for the USA. “Getting four points for your country means a lot, and obviously you've seen just how much it means to all the guys on the team. I think you don't really focus on those four points. You more so focus on the fact that we won the Walker Cup.”

The USA now leads the series 39-9-1. The 50th Walker Cup Match will be held at Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, Calif., on Sept. 5-6, 2025.

The USA's Gordon Sargent backed up his world No. 1 ranking by becoming the only player on either side to post a perfect 4-0-0 record. (USGA/Chris Keane)

The USA's Gordon Sargent backed up his world No. 1 ranking by becoming the only player on either side to post a perfect 4-0-0 record. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Notable

  • Stewart Hagestad is the first player since Jay Sigel (1977-87) to be on four consecutive winning Walker Cup teams, and the 16th player overall to play on four winning teams.

  • World No. 1 Gordon Sargent was the only player to go 4-0-0.

  • The USA trailed by 3 points after Day 1, marking the largest second-day comeback since 1965 when the Match was contested at Baltimore (Md.) Country Club.

Quotable

“To have the trust from Captain to go out there three times in a row as the first player off and try and get us off on the right foot was just an opportunity you dream of since you were a kid. It is something that I have been dreaming of. So thank you. And I'm very happy to capitalize off of that.” – Caleb Surratt on Captain Mike McCoy’s lineup decision

“I think we both kind of embraced the GB&I crowd a little bit. Just kind of using it as motivation. Obviously, it was kind of cool to see the number of people out there, and 90 percent of them weren't rooting for the USA and they were cheering pretty loudly when the GB&I did something good, so you could kind of tell what happened in the match in front of you or behind you. I think for me especially, it gave me motivation. -- Gordon Sargent on the large number of fans

“They tried their hardest, but they didn't turn up with their ‘A’ games this afternoon I would say in some matches. They'll be the ones that will feel it and hurt tomorrow, but the good thing is for them is they've got the future. They've got tomorrow. I'm sure they can start focusing on the next thing. – GB&I captain Stuart Wilson

"That U.S. Team is unbelievably talented. We all knew how highly ranked they were, and we tried to block it out, but I think they really showed their class this afternoon. We gave it everything. I've never been a part as a team – I say this a lot, but I feel like this week the team was just buzzing. Everyone wanted to do it for each other.” – Mark Power