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September 3, 2023

Sargent, Dunlap help US to Walker Cup win

By Alabama Golf News Staff
Walker cup winners

The two Alabamians are clutch on Day 2

With a pair of Alabamians on the team, the United States won the 49th Walker Cup, defeating Great Britain and Ireland 14½-11½ at St Andrews on Sunday

The Americans rekindled memories of their last win as visitors at Royal Liverpool in 2019 with another stunning second-day singles display to reverse a three-point overnight deficit and secure victory at the Old Course. Mike McCoy’s team trailed 7½-4½ going into day two, but handled the windy conditions over the links superbly to triumph against Stuart Wilson’s GB&I side.

It was the fourth consecutive win for the USA in the biennial international match and they now lead the overall series 39-9-1. A total of 14,320 fans attended the weekend’s match at the home of golf.

“They just played hard, right to the bitter end,” said a delighted McCoy. “I had a lot of confidence in them. (Huntsville’s) Nick Dunlap fighting through to get that half point was huge and, of course, Caleb (Surratt) led us off. They all played great. All the credit to Stuart and his team, they really fought hard as well. It was, I think, an epic Walker Cup.”

Dunlap, the sophomore at the University of Alabama, finished his four matches with a 1-2-1 record.

Morning matches set the tone at the Walker Cup

It was a morning that belonged to the visitors in the foursomes.

McCoy’s side were desperate for a fast start and they achieved it in the sunny and breezy conditions. At one point over the opening nine holes, they were up in all four matches.

The U.S. eventually secured the session 3-1, with only the Irish duo of Liam Nolan and Mark Power victorious for GB&I after their 4&3 triumph included four birdies in their last five holes against Dylan Menante and Austin Greaser.

In the opening match, Caleb Surratt and Ben James triumphed 2&1 against John Gough and Matthew McClean.

A key moment came at the 12th when Gough found a gorse bush with his drive and the lost ball saw GB&I trail by two holes.

When the U.S. duo birdied the next, they stood firm to close out the tie.

Preston Summerhays and Nick Gabrelcik were also 2&1 victors against James Ashfield and Alex Maguire, helped by a 3-up lead established in the opening six holes as the home team struggled. GB&I were back to one down after the USA bogeyed the par-5 14th, but their birdie at the 16th proved decisive.

Sargent provided key wins

Walker Cup Gordon Sargent
Gordon Sargent, sizing up a long putt on No. 18 in his afternoon singles match, provided the U.S. team a key wins on Sunday. (Photo: Golf Channel screen grab)

Birmingham’s Gordon Sargent was vital to the one-hole win for the Americans in match two, inflicting a first defeat on Calum Scott and Connor Graham. He secured his third win of the weekend to highlight why he is the world’s number one male amateur golfer. The 20-year-old holed vital six-foot putts at the 16th and 18th as he and U.S. Amateur champion Dunlap celebrated in front of a huge crowd on the final hole.

“After the morning session, I felt a lot better, McCoy said. “I felt like we really were back in the tournament. We held on during the morning match and we had a chance to win this thing. Last night I was pretty concerned. The mornings historically are not our strong suit. The guys played great. Really the morning,I think, was the thing that made the day.”

Surratt drew the U.S. level at 8 1/2 after defeating Scott 3&2 in the first singles match. Stewart Hagestad nudged the U.S, ahead for the first time in the afternoon session after beating Graham 3&2. The Walker Cup veteran held off the advances of the Scottish player to close out the encounter with wins on the 15th and 16th holes to give the USA a 9½- 8½ lead.

The U.S. then turned up the heat t shortly after as Dunlap fought back from being three down through 14 holes to take Barclay Brown down at the the last after winning the 15th and 16th, before securing a dramatic half-point with a birdie on the 18th.

Summerhays secured a full point after a convincing 4&3 performance against Ashfield to put his side 11-9 ahead overall.

Sargent and Gough slugged it out in a close contest that swung back and forth with both players holding narrow leads throughout – the highlight coming on the 6th when the Englishman holed out from the fairway for an eagle two.

Gough going OB on 17 was a turning point

The match crucially swung the American’s way again on the 17th after Gough went out of bounds into the lawn of the Jigger Inn left of the road that gives the Road Hole its name. He lost the hole after a double bogey. The two players then matched each other with birdies at the 18th to give Sargent a one-hole win and ensure a perfect 4-0 record in the match overall.

“Just to get off to a good start individually and just kind of keep the momentum rolling was huge,” Sargent said. “Then yeah, obviously the difference between one half point and one full point is a big deal. To go 4-0 is really special, and it definitely means a lot.”

Jack Bigham hauled GB&I back to within two points at 12-10 after an impressive 3&2 victory against Gabrelcik, before McClean and Menante halved their match to give both sides a share of the spoils. It was left to David Ford to win the match overall for the U.S., draining a birdie putt on the 16th to seal a 3&2 win against Maguire to give his side an unassailable 13½-10½ lead.

For McCoy, he will always look back on a special week.

“These are the guys who did it,” said the Iowa native. “I just drove the sunscreen around. Who thought we were going to need it?  It’s pretty special. It’s certainly the pinnacle of my golfing life.”

The 50th Walker Cup Match is being held at Cypress Point, California in 2025, with Lahinch in Ireland staging the 2026 contest.

Have a story idea or a news item to report to Alabama Golf News? Email gregg@alabamagolfnews.com

All photos courtesy of the R&A.

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