Underdog Britain-Ireland has 7-5 lead over USA on Day 1 of Walker Cup

Jack Senior, Andy Sullivan
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Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan of the Britain-Ireland team celebrated a successful shot on Saturday at Royal Aberdeen.
By
PA Sport

Series: Other Tour

A great start and then a storming finish on Saturday gave underdogs Britain and Ireland a 7-5 lead over the star-studded Americans after the first day of the Walker Cup at Royal Aberdeen.

The home side, beaten in the last three matches, took the first three of the four foursomes matches in the morning.

2011 WALKER CUP

The U.S. Walker Cup team is going for its fourth win a row after breaking a three-match winning streak by Britain-Ireland.

There was then an American comeback to lead 4-3. But after some torrential rain, 17-year-old Welshman Rhys Pugh, English champion Steven Brown, Scotland’s James Byrne and Irishman Paul Cutler all won singles that went at least to the 17th.

Cutler was the only double winner of the day, but perhaps pride of place went to Pugh. The baby of Nigel Edwards' side beat amateur world No. 3 Patrick Rodgers 2&1.

"It was like playing in a dream," he said. "He was 5 under after five (and three ahead), but I stayed patient and came back in the end."

The day was not without controversy, however.

Jack Senior teamed up with fellow Englishman Andy Sullivan to beat newly crowned U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft and Russell Henley, but it then emerged that his caddie, his brother Joe, is a professional golfer -- not allowed under Walker Cup rules.

That could have turned a 3-1 lunchtime lead into 2-2 if the game had been awarded to the visitors, but it was decided that because it came to light after the completion of the match the result would stand. Senior played the afternoon singles with a different caddie.

"We are quite satisfied there was no advantage gained and the U.S. captain (Jim Holtgrieve) was the first to say that,” said Royal and Ancient Club Chief Executive Peter Dawson. "It's been in the rules of the competition for a long, long time, but Jack was unaware."

Edwards stated: "I asked Jack a long time ago who he was having as caddie. We knew Joe was a professional and knew it was okay -- but apparently it's not!"

Senior then lost to Texan Jordan Spieth, the teenager he defeated in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur two weeks ago, while Britain and Ireland's leading light Tom Lewis went down to Peter Uihlein in the top singles.

That was revenge for Uihlein -- not just for losing the silver medal as leading amateur at the British Open in July, but also for a morning defeat when Lewis and Scotland’s Michael Stewart beat Uihlein and Nationwide Tour winner Harris English.

Sullivan looked all set to get the scalp of English in the singles, but from 4 up after seven he lost 2&1.

There was an obvious key moment. Sullivan, three ahead, hit his tee shot to two feet on the 11th, but English sank a 75-footer from off the green for a half in two.

"It's the longest putt I've hit in a while," he said.

The last point of the day went to the Americans, amateur world No. 1 Patrick Cantlay of UCLA getting the better of Stewart.

There are 14 points to play for on the final day -- four foursomes again, but 10 singles rather than eight.

Saturday foursomes:
Tom Lewis/Michael Stewart, BI, def. Peter Uihlein/Harris, USA, 2&1
Jack Senior/Andy Sullivan, BI, def. Russell Henley/Kelly Kraft, USA, 2&1
Pal Cutler/Alan Dunbar, BI, def. Nathan Smith/Blayne Barber, USA, 5&4
Patrick Cantlay/Chris Williams, USA, def. Steven Brown/Stigy Hodgson, BI, 5&3

Saturday singles:
Peter Uihlein, USA, def. Tom Lewis, BI, 2&1
Jordan Spieth, USA, def. Jack Senior, BI, 3&2
Harris English, USA, def. Andy Sullivan, BI 2&1
Rhys Pugh, BI, def. Patrick Rodgers, USA, 2&1
Steven Brown, BI, def. Russell Henley, USA, 1-up
James Byrne, BI, def. Nathan Smith, USA, 2&1
Paul Cutler, BI, def. Kelly Kraft, USA, 2&1
Patrick Cantlay, USA, def. Michael Stewart, BI, 2&1