View Article
Current ArticlesArchive
« Back Post Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Brave GB fightback not enough as USA clinches thrilling victory at Maidstone
The 5-1 overnight deficit proved too much for a courageous GB team, as the hosts lifted the Simpson Cup for the third year in a row at Maidstone.

After an enthralling finale to the seventh annual Simpson Cup, it was Team USA who held off the Brits to seal a third successive win in the series with a final scoreline of 11-8 at the Maidstone Club in East Hampton on Wednesday.

Victory had seemed the most likely outcome for the home team after an impressive display in the Tuesday fourballs saw them establish a 5-1 overnight lead. However, the rain-delayed start to the Wednesday singles - with a shift to the drier East course as a result - seemed to wrong-foot the Americans. Indeed, Team GB - who had front-loaded their lineup with some of their more experienced players - saw each of their first four players win the opening hole.

The sluggish start for the USA meant the scoreboard was predominantly blue for much of the day, and two hours into the piece, the projected final result had both teams heading for deadlock. Nevertheless, it was former US captain Shawn Whitmore who registered the first point of the afternoon with a 5&3 win over Alex Hiles in the third group.

The top two games were on a knife-edge throughout, with the former decided on hole 17, after Tony Lownds from GB produced five birdies to see off the challenge of Long Island-born Alex Happer 2&1. Crucially, America captain Chad Pfeifer won the 18th hole to secure a 1-up win over double-amputee Ian Bishop, although his opposite number in GB skipper Mike Browne returned the favour with a 1-up triumph over Chris Hall (shooting a fine 67 to do so).

The Brits then had a period of momentum, as both John Devlin and Simon Bankes won the 18th hole to halve their matches, while Dave Ward recorded an emphatic 4&3 win over Mike Stafford. However, it was always going to be a tall order to close such a significant deficit, and the Americans began to turn the screw. Debutant Kevin McCloskey had the better of the inspirational Gurkha Hari Budha-Magar in the bottom match (5&3), which meant that Texan Andrew Bachelder had the chance to be the man to hole the winning putt for a second year in a row. He duly obliged, making a nerveless par at the 18th to see off Neil Flynn by a one-hole margin.

Celebrations ensued, as the USA revelled in Simpson Cup glory for a third consecutive year, and despite gutsy victories from the British trio of Pete Hayes, Andy Stevens and Sam Stoddart thereafter, the visitors will head back across the pond contemplating a contest which narrowly got away from them. 

"What a feeling, and what an amazing performance by my guys," a delighted USA captain Pfeifer beamed afterwards. "We knew that even with yesterday's lead, this thing was a long way from being over, and that the UK guys would come at us hard. They didn't disappoint, and we had to play like heck today to get the job done.

"But we got over the line, and the guys showed great character today. What a place to do it too - I couldn't be more proud of my team."

For his counterpart Browne, there were plenty of positives to take. A remarkable seven singles matches went up the 18th hole. Furthermore, GB backed up their proud singles record coming into the event (cumulatively 40-32 since 2012) by shading matters on the day seven points to six.

"We're obviously disappointed with the result, but the lads have been tremendous today," Browne commented. "We can certainly hold our heads high. There was a point where we really looked like we could do it. Unfortunately, a couple of close matches didn't go our way, and I guess we left ourselves a bit too much to do from day one. 

"I'd just like to say congratulations to Chad and his lads. They were the better team overall this week, and deserved the victory. But we'll come back strong next year at St Andrews, that I can assure you."

And what a spectacle it promises to be at the Old Course next May, with the Americans now boasting a narrow 4-3 lead in the overall series. It's been a week to remember at an extraordinary golf club; one whose members have embraced this special tournament with everything they have. For that, we say a huge thank you, and look forward to all of your company at the Home of Golf for Simpson Cup VIII in eight short months.