SI Vault
Tim Rosaforte
September 18, 1995
Walker Whipping
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September 18, 1995


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Walker Whipping

If U.S. players learned anything during the drubbing they took at last week's Walker Cup in Porthcawl, Wales, it was this: Golf the American way is not the only way. How else to explain the 14-10 loss handed to 10 neatly coiffed, college-groomed American country-clubbers by a mostly unheralded Great Britain and Ireland team that included a bricklayer, an undertaker and a 42-year-old unemployed recovering alcoholic?

"It's a dream come true, an absolute dream. To win this cup is just unbelievable," said Clive Brown, the GBI captain.

Unbelievable is a perfect way to describe what happened on the Royal Porthcawl links. For openers, the GBI victory was just its fourth (there was also one tie) in the 35 Walker Cups dating back to 1922, a record so dismal that some British tabloids had renamed the event the Walkover Cup. Also, the American team almost didn't make it to the starting gate. On the eve of the matches, Tiger Woods and Jerry Courville Jr. had to be taken from the course during practice after falling ill with food poisoning. Earlier Alan Bratton had made an emergency trip to a dentist to get medication for a gum infection.

Things got worse on Saturday when the matches started. The U.S. was up by a point after the morning's four foursomes matches, but went 2-5-1 in the afternoon singles. Gordon Sherry, the 21-year-old British Amateur champion, led the charge with a 3 and 2 win over recent Stanford graduate Notah Begay. "This was the start of something big," Sherry predicted after his match. "Come this time tomorrow, we'll be holding that Walker Cup."

Move over, Seve. No sooner had Sherry spoken than little-known Gary Wolstenholme, a 35-year-old British insurance salesman, ended the day by beating Woods one up in the most stunning upset of the event. The two were all square coming to the par-4 18th where the short-hitting Wolstenholme put a three-wood approach just over the green. Woods, who with John Harris split his foursome matches, snap-hooked his short-iron out of bounds. End of match. End of day. Score: GBI 7, U.S. 5.

After Saturday's calm and sun, violent wind and sideways rain greeted everybody on Sunday. The GBI team played with delight in the home-cooked conditions, splitting the morning foursomes and then, led by Sherry's second win, taking the first four afternoon singles matches to wrap up the victory.

The winning putt was holed by Jody Fanagan, 30, who knows how to put a nail in a coffin. He does it for a living in Dublin. "I'll guarantee you, there was no walkover this year," said a beaming Fanagan as he clutched the Walker Cup at the rainy awards ceremony.

World News

The irony of the Federal Trade Commission's decision to discontinue its five-year investigation of possible anticompetitive practices by the PGA Tour is that instead of driving a stake through the heart of a world tour, it brings the concept closer to reality.

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