Americans rally to take Walker Cup lead


Erik Compton battled back from an early deficit and so did the Americans, winning five of the eight singles matches Saturday afternoon to take a one-point lead over Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup. By the end of a sweltering day on the Ocean Forest Golf Club, the United States held a 6 1/2-5 1/2 lead at the halfway point in the amateur version of the Ryder Cup. For a while, momentum favored GB&I. David Eger muffed a 4-iron from an awkward lie in the rough and advanced the ball a mere 10 feet (3 meters), costing the Americans the final hole and allowing GB&I to lead after the four alternate-shot matches in the morning. Compton was the leadoff match in the afternoon and promptly lost the first three holes to Gary Wostenholme. But Compton, who had a heart transplant at age 12, refused to buckle. “I never give up,” he said. “That’s the attitude I’ve had all my life.” He won three of the next five holes to square the match against Wostenholme, a 40-year-old Englishman known for beating Tiger Woods in the ’95 Walker Cup. That even got Bryce Molder’s attention when he saw the board during his match. “Compton caught him,” Molder told his caddie. “When he gets going, he’s tough.” Compton won six of seven holes at one point, including the first four on the back nine, hit every green in regulation and went on to a 3 and 2 victory. “I knew this match was going to be hard,” said Compton, who belted his drives 40 yards (35 meters) past his opponent. “I’m proud of myself for hanging in there.” The Americans didn’t take the lead until Lucas Glover returned from a storm delay to defeat British Amateur champion Michael Hoey, 1-up. Glover and Nick Cassini, the nephew of fashion designer Oleg Cassini, were the only two Americans to win both their matches. The cup will be decided after 12 more games Sunday — four alternate-shot matches in the morning followed by eight singles matches — and the American would do well to recall what happened at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland two years ago. They led 7-5 going into the last day and were crushed by a GB&I team that won 10 of the final 12 matches to win the Walker Cup for only the fifth time since it began in 1922. GB&I at least is in striking distance. The Americans led seven of the eight singles matches at one point. The exception was 49-year-old John Harris, who wound up losing 5 and 4 to Marc Warren of Scotland.