US and GB&I battle to a tie in opening session of Walker Cup

JUNO BEACH, Fla. — Cole Hammer and Davis Thompson won a foursomes match so wild that only three holes were halved, giving the Americans a tight win in an opening session that ended in a 2-2 tie with Great Britain & Ireland.

All four matches went to the 18th hole at Seminole Golf Club.

Two of the matches included alternates, one on each team, because of a stomach virus that derailed players and captains from both sides in the days leading up to the start.

Eight singles matches were scheduled for Saturday afternoon, and British Amateur champion Joe Long was sitting out for the second time. He was a late scratch in the afternoon.

The USGA and R&A agreed to tweak the rules because of the stomach virus — COVID-19 was ruled out as a cause through testing — allowing teams to use alternates provided it’s for a player too sick to compete.

Hammer and Thompson had a 3-up lead through 13 holes when Alex Fitzpatrick and Barclay Brown of GB&I rallied to win the next three holes, two of them with pars. The Americans regained the lead with a par on the par-3 17th along the ocean, and both teams birdied the 18th to give the U.S. side a point.

The 18th hole was the first time a hole was halved since the opening two holes.

It was like that all morning.

Mark Power and John Murphy of GB&I were 3 down with six holes to play when they won three of the next four holes to square the match, and they took a 1-up lead with a par on the 17th. The American side of Quade Cummins and Austin Eckroat couldn’t make birdie on the 18th that would have halved the matches.

Alternates played a role for both teams in the other two matches.

Mac Meissner, an alternate, joined Ricky Castillo in going from 1 down to 1 up with birdies on the 14th and 15th holes and holding on for a 2-up victory. In the anchor foursomes match, GB&I alternate Jake Bolton joined Angus Flanagan to win the 17th hole with a par in a 1-up victory.

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