U.S. takes early lead at Walker Cup

U.S. takes early lead at Walker Cup

ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — Peter Uihlein teamed with Nathan Smith for a come-from-behind 1-up victory that helped the United States to a 3-1 lead over Great Britain and Ireland after Saturday’s opening alternate-shot matches at the Walker Cup.

The Americans moved out to an early lead at soggy Merion Golf Club in their bid for a third straight title. Later Saturday, the teams will pair off for eight singles matches, followed by four alternate-shot matches and 10 singles Sunday.

The U.S. leads the 87-year-old amateur series 33-7-1.

Americans Rickie Fowler and Bud Cauley made quick work of Luke Goddard and Dale Whitnell 6-and-5, and Brian Harman and Morgan Hoffmann added the other U.S. point, beating Wallace Booth and Sam Hutsby 2-and-1.

Stiggy Hodgson and Niall Kearney delivered GB&I’s only point, a 3-and-1 win over Cameron Tringale and Adam Mitchell.

The only real drama of the morning matches came in the Uihlein-Smith pairing.

Uihlein, a sophomore at Oklahome State, and Smith, the oldest member of the U.S. team at 31, held their only lead over Gavin Dear and Matt Haines after winning the second hole. They cut GB&I’s two-hole lead to one at the 10th and squared the match with a par at the 12th.

Dear and Haines teamed for par at the 13th to go 1-up, and maintained that edge until the Americans squared it with a par at the 246-yard, par-3 17th.

After Uihlein’s approach to the 18th landed short and right of the green, Smith, who was the youngest U.S. Mid-Amateur champion at 25 in 2003, pitched to 15 feet. Uihlein rolled in the putt, and Haines missed a 5-footer for par.

“It was nice to finally get one to roll in,” said Uihlein, one of three U.S. team members from OSU. “It doesn’t matter if you win 6-and-5 or 1-up, we still got the point.

“That was probably the coolest moment of my life.”

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