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LOS ANGELES – Nothing in golf is more predictable than recent Walker Cup matches. The home team almost always wins.
The match at Los Angeles Country Club was further proof. Home teams have won eleven of the last 13 matches. You have to go back to 2007 to find the last away win, when the United States beat a Rory McIlroy-led Great Britain & Ireland team at Royal County Down. Sixteen years ago was GB&I’s last away win, just their second in the match’s history.
On both occasions it took fantastic sides to win.
Before I’m inundated with hate mail, I’m not taking anything away from this U.S. team. It was by far the better side, and I fully salute its superior victory.
As we say on my side of the pond, “well played.” And to further avert hate mail, I said that personally to U.S. captain Spider Miller and the 4-0 boys Maverick McNealy, Doug Ghim and Collin Morikawa. They and the rest of the team did their country proud and deserve all the credit that comes their way. McNealy was as humble in victory as he was in defeat two years ago. I’m glad he won this time. He’s a class act.
However, the 19-7 score line isn’t reflective of the strength of the two teams. This GB&I team wasn’t a bad team, just as the 2015 U.S. team wasn’t a bad team. The GB&I boys just couldn’t get to grips with the conditions at Los Angeles Country Club. Neither could the 2015 U.S. team handle Royal Lytham. Lytham is one of the toughest tracks in the British Isles, one the GB&I players compete on every year in the Lytham Trophy. No wonder they felt at home.
Unfortunately, they looked like range balls amid a basket of brand new balatas at LA CC.
“It is quite a shock to the system when they come and play on a course like this,” GB&I captain Andy Ingram said.
Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre earned one and a half points of three playing competitive golf in the U.S. for the first time.
“It’s a completely different style of golf from back home,” MacIntyre said. “You don’t run the ball in here; it’s impossible. You have to change your style. A lot of guys back home play a lot of links golf. It’s almost Tour golf over here. Tour golf’s not played along the ground anymore, you have to get the ball airborne.”
David Boote was the only player to win a singles match on Sunday, but then he spent four years playing college golf for Stanford.
“The style of golf is totally different back home,” Boote said. “You’ve got to have really good ball control into the greens. The greens are so quick and undulating and firm you’ve got to leave it below the hole. Back home you can sort of get away with missing greens and having fairly simple up-and-downs.”
Ingram wants to see the R&A make a radical move and get potential players to U.S. venues in advance of the match.
“I was asked what advice would I give back to the R&A,” Ingram said. “I would say any chance of us getting our squad to America to let them see what it’s like, come to the venue, and play some golf here and so they can get a feel of it.”
That’s advice both teams would do well to take on board.
Expect GB&I to put up a better performance at Royal Liverpool in 2019, when the result will probably be just as predictable as this year.