View Article
Current ArticlesArchive
« Back Post Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Rampant Team USA see off early jitters to regain Simpson Cup on thrilling day of singles
Team USA put on a fine display in the Wednesday singles to pull off a tremendous 12-6 victory and regain the Simpson Cup.

Much to the delight of the sizeable Oak Hill galleries, another enthralling day golf reached its climax with Team USA eventually regaining the Simpson Cup by a scoreline of 12-6 after a hard-fought series of singles matches at Oak Hill's iconic East Course on Wednesday.

Just under 21 years ago, the Rochester faithful had witnessed their Ryder Cup team surrender a two-point lead in the singles en route to a shock defeat, and when Team GB began to build some significant momentum mid morning, it looked as though history was set to repeat itself.

However, the host nation found the strength to get over the line in some nerve-shredding matches in the middle of the field, and eventually it was Dave Romanowsky who sealed matters after winning his game against Pete Wood 2 up on the last.

"This feels pretty overwhelming," said an emotional Romanowsky after it sunk in that he'd been the one to clinch it. "We wanted this thing so bad, so it means everything to us to have got it done. It's just been an incredible week, and to be standing here as a team of winners is a great honor."

For USA captain Steve Ogletree, winning had been the only thing on his mind for the last year, but, having lost his close friend and former teammate Dave Bagby to cancer recently, bringing home the trophy carried extra significance.

"I'm overcome with pride and joy right about now," the skipper beamed. "This has been 12 months in the making, but to actually get over the line is pretty special. I said to my guys from the start that we were playing for Dave this week, and he inspired every one of us."

He continued: "I hope we've made him proud with the way we've played. To lead this team of players has been the ultimate privilege, and I'll remember this week for the rest of my life. We're just going to savor every minute of it tonight."

For Team GB captain Paul Swain, the result may have been a disappointing one, but his charges gave it everything, and he cut an upbeat figure given a scoreline which belied the narrow margins of a contest in which all but four singles matches went at least 17 holes.

"We'd like to say a huge congratulations to Steve and the American team," Swain lauded. "It's been a terrific battle over the last two days, and we've enjoyed it from start to finish. We're disappointed it didn't go our way today, but I'm so proud of the lads, and the courage they showed to keep fighting until the end. We'll leave here with great memories from what's been a truly outstanding Simpson Cup here at Oak Hill, and we're already looking forward to next year."

Oak Hill's greenkeepers had set the pin placements in the same positions as they were for the final round of the aforementioned Ryder Cup at Oak Hill in 1995, and, with shades of that incredible day in their minds, it was Team GB who came out strongest this morning.

Team USA's Chris Hall was too strong for GB vice-captain Paul Skivington in the opening match, taking a 5&4 victory. However, behind them, Mike Browne romped to a 6&4 win over Andrew Bachelder courtesy of a superb sand save on 13, and by the time his putt rolled in, a sea of blue had engulfed the scoreboard such that the projected final score was at 9-9 at that stage.

Yet with many of the games on a knife edge, it was the Americans who began to turn the screw. Chad Pfeifer snuck home 1 up against Welshman Dave Hughes, Jake Nelson managed to hang on for a crucial half despite finishing with a bogey and a double bogey against Rob Hansen, while the experienced Jonathan James pulled off an impressive 7&5 victory over Greig Phillips.

But it was Jason Leap's game which really seemed to turn the tide. Having been dormie three to the good against Liverpool's John Devlin, the latter seemed on course for an unexpected half after winning 16, 17 and then seeing Leap find trouble short left of the 18th green. However, with Devlin safely aboard in two, Leap hit a miraculous chip to six feet, and buried the putt to hang on for a dramatic victory.

It was then left to Romanowsky to close things out, although he had to give a stroke to Wood on the last hole. However, the Texan capitalised on some good fortune from a loose tee shot, and coolly made the par that clinched the Simpson Cup - much to the delirium of his teammates who were there to embrace him around the green.

With the destination of the Cup having now been decided, the tension levels dropped off somewhat. But huge credit must go to Team GB's Alex Hiles (3&1) for taking his game against Ogletree, while Andy Stevens, the man who sank the winning putt at Royal St George's Golf Club in 2015, also got the better of Chris Bowers 2&1.

For Team USA, the final points came courtesy of Brian Stewart (3&2) and Todd Tongue (2&1), while next year's captain Shawn Whitmore put the icing on the cake by putting it close at the 18th to claim an unlikely half against Tony Lownds.

  Yet it was Ogletree who put it best in a moving closing speech when he said that the winning or losing was secondary, and that it was all about "the camaraderie among brothers in arms from both sides of the pond". That was on display in spades this week, and made for a truly unique spectacle.

A word too on Oak Hill, who've really raised the bar for future Simpson Cup hosts. Jim Magee, Cheol Kessler, Jason Ballard and the entire staff and Board cannot be thanked enough for their hard work in putting together a truly unforgettable Simpson Cup 2016. 

Fittingly, Ogletree had vowed to Magee that he would bring the Cup back onto American soil, and his team have delivered on that pledge. And with the overall score now at 3-2, the 2017 event at Royal Birkdale promises to be one for the ages.