NORMAN, Okla. University of Oklahoma junior Anthony Kim and the rest of the United States Walker Cup team did Sunday what American golfers haven’t been able to do in eight years celebrate.
Kim and the USA defeated Great Britain and Ireland by one point, 12 -11 , on their home turf at the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill., to regain possession of the Walker Cup for the first time since 1997.
In what USA captain Bob Lewis called perhaps the best Walker Cup Match ever, the fight for the final point went down to the 18th hole of the final singles match.
Jeff Overton’s 1-up victory over Nigel Edwards sealed the win for the USA after GB&I rallied on the 18th in three matches, halving two and winning another, to square the contest for the final pair.
"I'm so proud of my players," Lewis said. "It was just a phenomenal victory."
GB&I’s Oliver Fisher sank an 18-foot birdie putt to halve his match with Michael Putnam. That was followed by Robert Dinwiddie’s chip-in from 30 feet to score another half-point against Matt Every. Dramatics continued as Lloyd Saltman holed a 20-footer for birdie to defeat Kyle Reifers, 1 up, and place the pressure on Overton and Edwards.
Kim, who went 2-1-1 in his first Walker Cup, lost his only match of the weekend during the Sunday singles, 1 down, to 44-year-old Gary Wolstenholme.
The La Quinta, Calif., native’s rally from 4 down after 11 against Great Britain’s most decorated amateur golfer fell just short when Wolstenholme made his par putt on 18 to become GB&I’s all-time Walker Cup points winner.
The USA and GB&I split the morning’s four foursomes, 2-2, maintaining the Americans’ one-point lead at 8 -7 .
Anthony Kim and Brian Harman, the USA’s two youngest players at 20- and 18-years-old, respectively, earned a point with a thorough 4-and-2 victory over Lloyd Saltman and Richie Ramsay during their Sunday morning match.
Kim and Harman, who rallied from a 3-down deficit in Saturday’s foursome match to earn a half-point, wasted no time jumping on their GB&I counterparts, winning the first two holes with pars. At the par-4 fifth hole, Harman drove the ball 50 yards from the flag. Kim stepped up and knocked a 60-degree wedge into the hole for an eagle-2 and a 3-up lead.
“I was just trying to get it close,” Kim said. “I hit a similar shot on the hole before (par-5 fourth to set up a birdie) and almost made that one, so I just tried to make the same swing, and it happened to go in.”
Harman holed a clutch 8-foot par putt to halve the seventh hole, but mistakes at the eighth and ninth holes led to bogeys and wins for GB&I. With momentum starting to slip away, Kim drilled his tee shot at the par-3 10th to six feet. Facing a sliding left-to-right downhill putt, Harman found the center of the hole for a birdie and a 2-up lead. The Americans took 11 and 13 with pars to increase the advantage to 4 up.
GB&I got one back with a birdie on 14, but Harman stepped up on the par-5 16th with one of the best shots of the Match. He drilled a 245-yard, 3-wood approach to within a foot of the hole for a conceded eagle and when GB&I failed to hole out from the fairway with its third shot, the match was over.
“Anthony said I should hit it to the middle of the green,” Harman said. “I told him, I can’t do that, I have to go right at it.”
Kim, a first-team All-American, and Harman were the equivalent of 4 under par through 16 holes, with two eagles and two birdies.
“We knew it was going to be important to play well early,” Kim said. “We just tried to come out here and make as many birdies as we could early. We didn’t want to make any stupid mistakes and give away holes.”
The United States now leads the all-time series with Great Britain and Ireland 32-5-1.