US wins Walker Cup, beating GB&I 14-12 at Seminole

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Stewart Hagestad, of the USA team, celebrates after a putt on the 15th hole in the singles matches during the Walker Cup golf tournament at the Seminole Golf Club on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Juno Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

JUNO BEACH, Fla. – Austin Eckroat and Pierceson Coody got the United States off to a fast start, and Cole Hammer and Stewart Hagestad finished off Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup.

Ricky Castillo won again, too, and the Americans took five of the 10 afternoon singles matches and tied another Sunday at Seminole Golf Club for a 14-12 victory.

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The Americans won for the third straight time to take a 38-9-1 lead in the biennial event first played in 1922.

Nathaniel Crosby, the son of late crooner Bing Crosby, became the first U.S. captain with back-to-back victories since Buddy Marucci in 2007 and 2009.

“It was such an evenly matched contest and our guys were really fired up,” Crosby said. “I’ve been blessed to be part of their lives here for a few years and it’s been so great.”

Eckroat overwhelmed Mark Power 7 and 6 in the opening match, and Coody beat Alex Fitzpatrick 3 and 1 in the second. Castillo topped John Murphy 2 and 1 to become the sixth U.S. player and seventh overall to go 4-0.

“It’s incredible,” the Florida sophomore said. “I mean, this is the pinnacle of amateur golf, and to be a part of this team and be a part of a winning Walker Cup team is pretty special, especially going 4-0. I couldn’t be more excited right now.”

Hammer beat Ben Schmidt 4 and 3 in the second-to-last match, and Hagestad put the Americans over the top when he was 4 up with four to play in a 4-and-2 victory over Ben Jones.

Hammer was 3-0-1 in his second Ryder Cup. The Texas junior earned the clinching 13th point.

“It means the world. I had no idea that my match was going to be the clinching point, but it is really special,” Hammer said. “It’s so much more than just the 10 guys playing, too. Everyone at the USGA and R&A, and our team leaders, sacrificed so much for us to be successful this week. I owe them a huge thank you, and I just love my teammates.”

Quade Cummins gave the U.S. a half-point, winning the 18th with a par to pull even with Barclay Brown.

British Amateur champion Long, Matty Lamb, Angus Flanagan and Jack Dyer won matches for GB&I. Long beat John Pak 1 up, Lamb topped Davis Thompson 2 up, Flanagan beat William Mouw 1 up, and Dyer edged U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci 1 up.

Long played Sunday afternoon after missing the first three sessions because of a stomach virus that affected both teams and their captains. Strafaci sat out Saturday.

“It was quite tough sitting in bed most of the week. I just wanted to play one match,” Long said. “Come out this afternoon, just give it my best shot.”

GB&I took 2 1/2 of the four points in the morning foursomes to pull within a half-point.

Power and Murphy beat Coody and Pak 1 up, Lamb and Dyer routed Hagestad and Strafaci 6 and 5, and Flanagan and Schmidt halved with Hammer and Thompson. Ricky Castillo and Mouw topped Fitzpatrick and Brown 1 up.

GB&I last won on American soil in 2001 at Ocean Forest in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

“It’s been a great weekend of golf,” GB&I captain Stuart Wilson said. “It’s the Walker Cup after all. The guys have come out fighting and tried to acquit themselves as best they can. But hats off to the USA Team and Nathaniel for pulling the victory off.”

The 2023 event is set for the Old Course at St. Andrews.