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As was generally expected, the U.S. retained the Ryder Cup on the links of the Royal Lytham and St. Annes Club in Lancashire, England, where Bobby Jones won a historic Open Championship in 1926. Having led by 6-2 on the foursomes, the American team captured the singles by 8� to 7�.
This was a very fine match, an exposition of golf at its best, both in play and in spirit. It was the first international competition in which two 18-hole matches were played each day, against different opponents in morning and afternoon. We were thus treated to 24 finishes, no fewer than 10 of which went to the last green. One's immediate reaction to this innovation was, "Why did we not think of it before?" As a matter of fact, Francis Ouimet, member or captain of so many U.S. Walker Cup teams, did. He suggested it, without success, for the Walker Cup more than 10 years ago. Experience at Lytham has shown that it should certainly be reconsidered. More than 10,000 people paid for admission on each day, and the taller among them saw golf that became progressively more exciting as the series wore on.
The British drew first blood when Peter Alliss and Christy O'Connor, after a modest start, beat Doug Ford and Gene Littler, but the U.S. won the next three to lead 3-1. With this pattern repeated in the afternoon, they led by 6-2 on the day. Two British pairs, however, could have been forgiven for uttering the time-honored lament of the boxing managers: "We was robbed." In the afternoon Alliss and O'Connor had squared with Art Wall and Jay Hebert on the 17th and were "robbed" by an exquisitely struck 20-footer by Hebert that rolled gently into the very center of the hole for a birdie 3 on the 379-yard 18th.
Later Jerry Barber and Dow Finsterwald came to the same hole 1 up on Neil Coles and Tom Haliburton. Here Barber struck the kind of high slice that is perpetrated by thousands of golfers on the first tee every Sunday morning. The truth is he could not have complained if he had found it unplayable in the gorse. His partner, however, was able to hack it to within 60 yards of the green, still in the rough. Barber pitched up rather moderately, and Finsterwald then robbed the luckless British with another 20-footer.
The singles were, as the Duke of Wellington remarked of Waterloo, a "damned close-run thing" and the Americans, by common consent one of the strongest teams ever sent to Britain, had to pull out all they knew to prevail by a single point. Indeed, at one time during the afternoon they were leading in only a single match. A morning lead of 5-3, however, meant that this was all they needed in order to tie, at least.
In the morning Harry Weetman missed a very short putt to lose to Ford on the last green—which was a pity from the point of view of hope for a close finish to the match as a whole. Ralph Moffitt opened his Ryder Cup career with a 2 at the 208-yard first and at this stage it could hardly have entered his head, or that of his opponent, Mike Souchak, that only seven holes later he would be 5 down. Souchak played magnificently all day and made a great impression in Britain. He was five under par in beating Moffitt at the 14th and in the afternoon seven under in beating Bernard Hunt at the 17th. Twelve under par for the day! Souchak was the only American to win both his singles matches.
Alliss vs. Arnold Palmer was a "natural"—two grand players in full fighting trim, the one a stylist with the old classical swing, the other the principal exponent of the modern square, punching method. The match ended, fairly enough, in a half but was decided by a piece of real daylight robbery by Palmer. He had already chipped in twice from just off the green, and now at the long 15th a roar of the nonpartisan crowd that could be heard a mile away signified that he had pitched into the hole, first bounce, from a bunker beside the green.
Much more will be heard in British golf of Coles, who had won his first major tournament the week before with a final round of 65. In the morning he was 2 up with two to play on the U.S. Open champion, Gene Littler. A poor drive lost him the 17th bat he had a cinch 4 at the 18th, only to have Littler pitch up within six feet and hole the birdie putt to save the match. In the afternoon Coles, playing like a veteran, beat Finsterwald by one hole.
Weetman reached the turn in 33 in his second round, only to find himself 2 down to Wall, who had got there in an incredible 31—3-4-4-3-3-5-4-3-2. They had a desperate battle to the last green, both in 68, where Wall won by a single hole.
Every member of the American team, not least the two whom he beat—Hebert and Ford—joined in congratulating Dai Rees, the British captain, who at 48 has been beaten only once in a Ryder Cup single in Britain, a record more remarkable for the fact that he first played in the match in a team containing Peter Alliss' father.