Southampton, N.Y. – The Cal trio of Max Homa, Michael Kim and Michael Weaver swept their singles matches on the opening day of the 44th Walker Cup to lead Team USA to an 8-4 advantage over Great Britain and Ireland.
The event is being played at the National Golf Links of America, which is hosting the match for the first time since it was home to the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922.
Homa was a 5 & 3 winner over Max Orrin, while Kim won 2 & 1 against Callum Shinkwin and Weaver notched a 3 & 1 victory against Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Homa trailed only once in his victory when Orrin birdied the par-four first hole. Homa squared the match immediately when he made a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-four second hole.
“I chipped in at the U.S. Open and that was the best moment of my life,” Homa said. “But I think this one kind of topped it. I made a bomb for eagle on two. It settled my nerves and got my excited. I want to hear the roars. I want to be a part of it. That really helped out quite a bit.”
Homa took a lead he would never relinquish when Orrin bogeyed the par-four fifth hole. He extended his advantage to two holes with a birdie on the par-three sixth and then to four with back-to-back birdies on the par-four eighth and par-four ninth. Orrin got one hole back with a birdie on the par-four 12th but Homa iced the match by winning the par-four 14th on an Orrin bogey and the par-four 15th with his own birdie.
Kim never trailed in his win and gained control of a previously all-square match when he took the first three holes of the back nine on a pair of Shinkwin bogeys on the par-four 10th and 12th holes, and his own birdie on the 11th, all par-fours. Shinkwin got to within two shots twice when Kim bogeyed both the par-four 14th and 16th holes, but Kim was able to take advantage of a Shinkwin bogey on the 15th hole to briefly go back up three again and halved the par-four 17th hole with a par to end the match. On the front nine, Kim had twice taken one-hole advantages on a Shinkwin bogey on the par-four third and his own birdie on the par-five seventh. But on both occasions, he allowed Shinkwin to tie the match on the next hole with a double bogey on the par-four third and a bogey on the eighth.
Weaver took the lead for good in a match that was all square when Fitzgerald bogeyed the 12th hole. He would gain another hole when Fitzgerald bogeyed the 15th and clinched the match with his own birdie on 17. Weaver trailed by one hole twice early in his match after a Fitzpatrick birdie on the opening hole and his own double bogey on the par-three fourth. Both times he trailed Weaver came back to square the match with a birdie to win the third and fifth holes. He took his first lead with another birdie on the sixth and kept the single-hole lead until Fitzpatrick squared the match with a birdie on the 10th.
“Matt struggled a little bit and I was able to take advantage,” Weaver said. “I thought my way around this course pretty well.”
Weaver also played in a foursomes match Saturday with American teammate Todd White, falling 3 & 1 to Garrick Porteous and Rhys Pugh. Weaver and White never led in the match but trailed by only one hole after 14 holes before a Porteous/Pugh birdie on 15 and another on 17 clinched the match. Weaver/White won three holes, capturing the third on a Porteous/Pugh bogey, as well as the 11th and 14th with their own birdies. Porteous/Pugh captured six holes all with their own birdies, winning the second, fourth, seventh and 10th in addition to the 15th and 17th.
Homa and Kim will play together Sunday and tee off at 4:45 a.m. PT against Porteous and Pugh in the third of four matches of foursomes that begins the day’s schedule. Weaver will play again with White against Fitzpatrick and Neil Raymond in the second match starting at 4:30 a.m. PT.
All 10 golfers on each team will play singles matches Sunday with Weaver facing Fitzpatrick (9:54 a.m. PT), Kim squaring off against Porteous (10:42 a.m. PT) and Homa going against Kevin Phelan (10:45 a.m. PT).
Golf Channel will televise two hours of Sunday’s action live from 1-3 p.m. PT.
All three Cal golfers playing on the 2013 USA Walker Cup team were instrumental in a 2012-13 Cal season that is considered by many as one of the finest in the history of college golf when the Bears won 12 of 14 stroke-play tournaments to set a modern-era NCAA single-season record previously established with the 10 victories recorded by the 1985-86 Oklahoma State team. Cal was ranked No. 1 in the final 2012-13 team rankings by both Golfweek and Golfstat despite losing to Illinois in the match-play semifinals of the NCAA Championship.
Homa completed his collegiate eligibility after winning both NCAA and Pac-12 individual medalist honors as a senior at Cal in 2012-13. Weaver is a senior and Kim a junior on the 2013-14 Cal team that is Golfweek’s top-ranked squad heading into its season-opener on Sunday at the Gopher Invitational to be played at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn. Weaver and Kim will both miss the two-day event that concludes Monday. Head coach Steve Desimone is at the Walker Cup in support of the Cal players and will join his collegiate team Monday for the final 18 holes of their season-opening event.
The prestigious Walker Cup is a biennial 10-man amateur team competition between the USA and a team composed of players from Great Britain and Ireland. It is played over two days with 18 singles matches and eight foursomes (alternate-shot) matches. The USA leads the overall series 34-8-1, and has not lost on American soil since the 2001 match at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Ga.
Many of the game’s greatest players have taken part in Walker Cup competition, including U.S. Open champions Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods for the USA and Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose for Great Britain and Ireland.
The first USA Walker Cup Team in 1922, which defeated the Great Britain and Ireland team, 8-4, at the National Golf Links of America, is considered among the best teams ever comprised and included Ouimet, Jones, Charles “Chick” Evans and Jess Sweetser.