The United States takes a 7-5 lead over Great Britain and Ireland on Sunday’s final day of the 48th Walker Cup after an intriguing opening day at Seminole Golf Club in Florida.
The morning foursomes ended 2-2, with Irish couple Mark Power and John Murphy picking up GB&I’s first point after a sensational fight.
Angus Flanagan and Jake Bolton won a second point in another close game.
Power, Matty Lamb and Barclay Brown recorded singles wins in the afternoon.
GB&I are huge outsiders for the biennial amateur team competition. They have only won twice on American soil in an event which was first contested in 1922, and the 10 Americans are ranked among the top 30 amateurs in the world, while the visitors have only two. .
Players from both teams were stricken with “gastrointestinal problems” on the eve of the competition but Covid was quickly ruled out given all the tests that have taken place.
All four matches of the morning quartet went to the 18th hole.
Power and Murphy had three goals after 12 but won the next three holes to tie their game with Quade Cummins and Austin Eckroat.
They then won the 17th par-threesome to take the lead for the first time in the game and cut the last one in half to claim the point.
Flanagan and Bolton were two in place with four to play, but lost the 15th and 16th holes. However, Bolton put in a superb par putt to win the 17th and they too cut the last one in half.
In Game 1, Alex Fitzpatrick and Barclay Brown won three straight holes from the 14th to tie their game with Cole Hammer and Davis Thompson, but Hammer landed a 20-foot bird putt on the last to win 1UP.
Jack Dyer and Matty Lamb lost three of the last five holes being beaten 2UP by Mac Meissner and Ricky Castillo.
There were eight singles matches in the afternoon session.
Fitzpatrick, the younger brother of England professional Matt, lost the last two holes of his match against Pierceson Coody, while Hammer beat Murphy 3 & 1 and Castillo took a 5 & 3 victory over Ben Schmidt.
William Mouw saw Ben Jones 4 & 3 and Eckroat won two of the last three holes to sneak past Flanagan.
But Power was never late in his match and he earned a 3 & 2 victory on 16. Lamb was also dominant in his 2 & 1 victory. Brown won by the same margin, although his match with John Pak was not that easy.
Pak won three holes in the 11th to tie the game, but Brown took the next two before wrapping up the win with a par on the 17th.
Sunday will see another round of foursome, with 10 singles matches to follow. As the defending champions, USA need 13 points to keep the trophy, while GB&I need 13½ to get it back.
United States 7-5 GB&I
Saturday quartet (US first)
Cole Hammer and Davis Thompson beat Alex Fitzpatrick and Barclay Brown 1UP
Quade Cummins and Austin Eckroat lost to Mark Power and John Murphy 1UP
Mac Meissner and Ricky Castillo beat Jack Dyer and Matty Lamb 2UP
Stewart Hagestad and William Mouw lost to Angus Flanagan and Jack Bolton 1UP
Pierceson Coodybeat Alex Fitzpatrick 2UP
Davis Thompson lost to Mark Power 3 and 2
Ricky castillo beat Ben Schmidt 5 & 3
William Mouw beat Ben Jones 4 & 3
Quade Cummins lost to Matty lamb 2 and 1
Austin Eckroat beat Angus Flanagan 1UP
John Pak lost to Barclay brown 2 and 1
Cole’s Hammer beat John Murphy 3 & 1