TEAM GB have regained the Simpson Cup, lost in a painful defeat at Congressional last year, after clinched a thrilling 9. -8.5 victory over Team USA at Royal St George’s Golf Club on Wednesday.
A late rally from Team USA had left matters evenly poised at 3-3 after the Tuesday fourball matches, but an early sea of blue engulfed the visitors in the singles.
Team USA offered an admirable degree of resistance as the day wore on, but the home side continued to edge their way to victory.
It was left to Andy Stevens to close out the contest, burying a putt from five feet to secure a 2&1 victory and a third Simpson Cup triumph for his country in four years.
“We’re all elated, this means so much to us,” beamed GB captain Jason Evans. “For us, this tournament is one of the things we look forward to most throughout the year. But we’re also a competitive bunch, and we wanted to win this thing back.
“I looked in the lads’ eyes this morning and I could see how determined they were. They really earned it, and we’ll no doubt enjoy a hard-earned drink or two tonight.”
Veteran Dave Ward laid down the marker in his revenge match with Shawn Whitmore. The American, who famously sunk the winning putt at Congressional against Ward last year, found himself five down through just six holes. There was to be no stopping Ward as he cruised to a 4&2 win, earning the first point of the day. He now boasts an impressive Simpson Cup record of 6-1-1.
“Whenever you watch the Ryder Cup, you always see how much responsibility there is on the shoulders of the first man out,” Ward said. “I knew how important it was to get off to a fast start, and give us some early momentum. I’m just so pleased that I was able to come through in the end, and it was nice to get the win against Shawn this time around.”
Veteran Dave Bagby offered his team some respite with a 3&2 win over Britain’s captain Evans, while Billy Paul and Tim Lang staged late fightbacks to earn a half point each.
But it merely preceded a tidal wave of blue as emphatic victories ensued for Anthony Lownds (4&3), and the debutant pair of Davey Carroll (3&2) and Nathan Blewer (7&6).
The champagne corks could not quite be popped as Andrew Bachelder got the better of Yorkshire’s Tony Boyd, of Catterick GC, with a resounding 5&3 win, and nerves may have frayed as news filtered through that the USA had seized the advantage in the final two games.
But Stevens, with the spotlight well and truly on in the third-to-last pairing, was nerveless as he marched down the intimidating 17th hole and sealed a crucial 2&1 victory.
His win left the Britons just a half point shy of the 9.5 points required to regain the Cup, and with four-time Simpson Cup star Ian Bishop dormie one up going down the final hole, the trophy was secure for the men on the east of the Atlantic. Bishop’s opponent Ken Gestring made a defiant par at 18 to deny the Southampton player his win, but it was not enough to take the shine off the celebrations as the entire squad embraced and rejoiced.
The jubilant scenes briefly subsided as the popular duo of Jonathan L James (3&1) and Mike Stafford (one up) registered two good wins for the USA in the final two matches.
“To see the way the guys kept fighting today was really heart-warming,” said a disappointed USA team vice-captain Steve Ogletree. “We just didn’t get off to the start we wanted today, but we never gave up. A massive congratulations to the Team GB boys, they deserved it. But we’ll come back strong next year.”
Ogletree’s sentiments will no doubt be echoed by members of both teams after such a hard-fought and memorable week, with all eyes already turning to next year’s proceedings at Oak Hill CC.
The Simpson Cup aims to raise funds and awareness for the On Course Foundation, a charitable organisation which is registered in both the UK and the USA.
All competitors involved are members of the Foundation, which helps men and women who were injured, sick or wounded in the line of duty rebuild their lives; both through the opportunity to play the game and attaining employment in the golf industry.
For more information on the Foundation, click HERE