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Curry Kirkpatrick
June 07, 1971
Some gifted newcomers who didn't fear the Americans gave Great Britain its second Walker Cup in 50 years
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June 07, 1971

Young Britons Win An Old Cup

Some gifted newcomers who didn't fear the Americans gave Great Britain its second Walker Cup in 50 years

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The U.S. remained unworried. It needed only 3� more points (three wins and a half) for victory.

In the first match Wadkins—cheered on by a planeload of yellow-hatted supporters who flew all the way from Winston-Salem, N.C.—played overpowering two-under-par golf as he beat Bonallack 3 and 1. His match was over long before anything else was settled, but behind him the U.S. was in deep trouble. Only young Tom Kite from Texas had his match well in hand for a sure second point. Giles, Miller, Hyndman and Jim Simons were all losing, Jim Gabrielsen was barely hanging on and Melnyk was unable to shake Humphreys.

As Stuart closed out Giles on 17, the Melnyk-Humphreys duel turned into a classic. Big Steve drove the green at the 312-yard 12th but three-putted. On 14, just after a squall raced across the course, Humphreys dropped a 40-foot putt; Melnyk covered it with a 15-footer to remain even. At 15 Humphreys dropped a 45-footer. Melnyk faltered. One down. At 16 Melnyk wedged from 90 yards to within inches for a half, and they came to 17 with Melnyk still 1 down. He had an eight-iron to the green, but he left it short behind a bunker and had a delicate wedge left. Humphreys calmly chipped his third shot to five feet. Melnyk, gambling now, couldn't get his soft wedge over the bank; the ball fell back into the sand, and Humphreys, his teeth going wild, was the winner, 2 and 1.

The British, behind now by only two points, kept coming. Miller caught Green at 17 but then bladed his approach over the 18th and lost 1 up. Simons, playing Carr, also won the 17th, but he was still 1 down, and the Irishman knocked in a 30-foot putt on 18 to make sure of his victory.

With the matches tied, it was left to Hyndman, who had got even with David Marsh, and Gabrielsen, also even with George Macgregor, to retain the cup. But Marsh never wilted, and when Hyndman hit into Wig Bunker, cutting into the 16th green, the 37-year-old English doctor was ahead to stay. Moments later Gabrielsen hit a long iron that curled nicely onto the 17th green, then teased along the edge before falling off short behind a bunker. With almost the same shot that Melnyk had been faced with earlier, Gabrielsen got his ball over the bunker all right and up to the pin, but the ball kept going, across and off the green, through the high grass and onto the gravel path. Now he was faced with duplicating Giles" earlier shot, but he could not pull it off, and Macgregor won the hole with bogey and held his lead till the end. Hyndman and Marsh had yet to finish, but Hyndman could not win, and when he conceded a short putt to Marsh at the 17th, the Walker Cup was gone.

Bonallack, who had paced the 18th tee all this time watching with fists clenched, wept openly at the presentation ceremonies and said his team won "in spite of their captain." They did that, but over the years they had learned from him the meaning of spirit and tenacity, and he should be proud.

"I'm always a bit trembly in these affairs," said the new idol, Humphreys, who played with Nicklaus at the British Open last year. "I never looked at Jack on his drives and I never looked at Steve Melnyk, either." Last week changed all of that. From now on the Walker Cuppers from Great Britain can look anyone in the eye.

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