Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gavin Dear looks back on 2009 Walker Cup match

for benefit of 2011 team captain Nigel Edwards

A few days ago on Scottishgolfview.com I quoted Nigel Edwards, Great Britain and Ireland's team captain for next September's Walker Cup match at Royal Aberdeen as saying he would like to know why GB and I were something like a combined 64 over par in losing the 2009 Walker Cup match by a big margin at Merion. Edwards was not at the match. Scroll down a bit if you missed the Welshman's comments.
Since then, I have been in touch with Gavin Dear, the Murrayshall, Perthshire man who was a leading member of the team skippered by Colin Dalgleish in the States two years ago.
I put Nigel Edwards' question to Gavin: "Why were GB and I so many over par over a two-day match?"
Here is Gavin's answer:

64 over par? Yes, Merion course was 'the most

penal' for 2009 Walker Cup match

By GAVIN DEARWith regards to the 2009 Walker Cup, I will give it my best go and if Nigel can take anything to help the boys next time at Royal Aberdeen in 2011, that would be great.

I would say the Merion course was extremely tough. Probably a better judge of par would be the Americans' score and the difference. The greens were as fast as some of the boys had ever played on.
With regards to Colin Dalgleish, he was tremendous as team captain. The preparation was first class - equal to our prep for the Eisenhower. But I think all the GB and I players would agree that we didn't perform as well as we should have.
With regards to what Nigel Edwards didn't see: The first morning, Matt  Haines and I were one up with two to play. Peter Uihilen hit his par-3 tee shot 50 yards wide but it stayed on the women's 18th tee. Without this piece of good luck for the Americans, it was game over in our favour.
Matt hit it 20 feet away. I pitched to 5 feet and he missed.
On the 18th the Americans holed from about 45 feet and we missed from 6 feet. If Matt and I had won, it would have been  2-2 overall at the end of the first morning session. The worst part for me was we were the last game on the course and all the boys watched it happen. It gave them (the Americans) a lot of momentum.
A couple of things struck me. We were told that you had to be straight at the Merion course, and we had a lot of shorter hitters, but the course was so tight that you were going to end up in the rough at some time.
Problem was a lot of our guys found themselves in positions 200 yards from the green, playing out of thick rough instead of their guys being 160 yards from the green playing out of the rough.
It's difficult to be competitive with that disadvantage.
I think United States had some world-class players, and we lost one in Shane (Lowry) during the year.
It's quite shocking to see 64 over par listed as a team total for two days, and I told my dad who was there. He thought that looked high, but then he said it was one of the most penal course he had ever seen.
Hopefully that gives Nigel Edwards a few thoughts.

Interesting how history can be re-written by poor or selective memory.
Perhaps I can suggest your readers, and Gavin, read a full account of the match presented on http://www.walkercuphistory.com/, and in particular the 'facts' concerning the closing holes (16-18) of the first foursomes' match Gavin (correctly) describes as having a significant impact on morale and, possibly also, the overall match.
Gavin and Matt Haines were one up after 15 holes. They three-putted the 16th, when a two-putt would have won the hole and made them 'dormie'. Haines then forced a long-iron off the par-3 17th tee, rather than using his (normally) trusty 5-wood.
Missing left, as he did, was fatal and gave Dear 'no-shot'. The Americans (in the form of Peter Uihlein - 2010 US Amateur champion) blocked their tee shot well right of target and got lucky, as Gavin described, though missing anywhere right was probably better than missing it where Haines had.
Nathan Smith, for America, pitched to about 6 feet below the hole.
Gavin, so far as I could see from my vantage point on the 17th tee, left it in the rough, Haines pitched on in three, still well outside the American marker. After Haines missed, the hole was duly conceded.
On the very difficult and long par 4 18th, both pairs took three to reach the putting surface, GB and I (after a superb bunker shot by Dear) sitting only 6ft from the hole and the Americans not more than 25ft (probably nearer 20ft). Sadly (for GB and I), Peter Uihlein holed and Haines, for the second time in three holes, missed a short putt; admittedly under the most severe pressure.Of course, it was match play, but interesting to note that the American pair scored an estimated 76 (6-over par) and GB and I about 78.
In the same series of foursomes, Goddard and Whitnell were only four-over par when losing 6 and 5 to Fowler and Cauley; such are the vagaries of match play draws.
The reference to an estimated 64 over par cumulative score for the GB and I team appears to be nearly correct, according to the numbers recorded by the USGA. GB and I players were a cumulative (estimated) 63 over par.
Gordon G. Simmonds LLB DLP


You are completely right. I think I mistook the 17th with another hole. To be honest what I meant was that we lost a game we shouldn't have through a couple of missed putts and a very fortunate break.
Would it be possible to have the American score calculated? That would be very interesting to see. As with playing international match-play for a number of years, our first morning game was very scrappy from both sides. It's not always like that and I felt Matt and I played very well the next morning in comparison yet still were beaten.
I am also trying to convey that even though our total score doesn't look very good, it's not like we intended to be that. Everybody in that team gave their all, and we simply came up short.






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