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US wins Walker Cup 12.5 - 11.5

Jeff Overton gave the United States its first Walker Cup victory since 1997, beating Nigel Edwards 1-up in the deciding match in the Americans' 12 1/2 -11 1/2 triumph over Britain and Ireland on Sunday at historic Chicago Golf Club.

``I'm so proud of my team,'' U.S. captain Bob Lewis said. ``The players acted like a team. It's the way you want to dream about going out as a captain.''

Overton, the Big Ten champion this year as senior at Indiana, two-putted from 20 feet on the 18th hole to secure the title after Edwards missed a 25-foot birdie try.

``I don't even know what to think yet,'' Overton said. ``Michael Putnam and I waited all summer to turn pro to play in this. Man, it was worth it.''

Britain and Ireland had won the last three matches in the biennial competition, topping the United States 12 1/2 -11 1/2 in 2003 at Ganton Golf Club in England.

Overton, 3-1 in the two-day competition, sealed the victory after Britain halved two matches and won a third at the 18th hole to stay alive.

Oliver Fisher, the youngest player in Walker Cup history at 16, made an 18-foot birdie putt to halve his match with Putnam, and Robert Dinwiddie holed a 25-foot birdie chip to earn another half-point against Matt Every. Lloyd Saltman then made a 20-footer for birdie to beat Kyle Reifers 1-up.

``To make that putt shows some guts,'' Putnam said. ``I had two really good matches with him. For a 16-year-old, he's pretty good.''

Overton was watching the scoreboard closely.

``You start thinking about it a little bit,'' said Overton, who lost the first three holes against Edwards before rallying for the victory.

Brian Harman and Lee Williams also won singles matches for the United States. The 18-year-old Harman, the youngest player in U.S. team history, routed Rhys Davies 6 and 5, and Williams beat Gary Lockerbie 4 and 3.

``I'm a gamer. I will always be there,'' Harman said. ``I played my heart out and that's what can happen.''

In the other singles matches, six-time Walker Cup player Gary Wolstenholme beat Anthony Kim 1-up, and Matthew Richardson topped John Holmes 5 and 4.

The teams split the morning alternate-shot matches.

Kim and Harman beat Saltman and Richie Ramsay 4 and 2, and Holmes and Nicolas Thompson edged Fisher and Richardson 2 and 1.

Harman hit the shot of the day in the morning matches, a 245-yard 3-wood that stopped within a foot on the par-5 16th hole.

``Anthony said I should hit it to the middle of the green,'' Harman said. ``I told him I have to go right at it. As soon as I hit it, I said, 'Go in.'''

For Britain and Ireland, Davies and Edwards beat Every and Williams 2 and 1, and Lockerbie and Dinwiddie defeated Overton and Putnam 5 and 3.

The 44-year-old Wolstenholme broke the British and Ireland scoring record with his singles victory. He has scored 10 points, one more than Michael Bonallack.

``It crossed my mind as I stood over that last putt,'' Wolstenholme said. ``Fortunately, despite the jitters, I managed to pull through. Being the point leader was an ambition of mine, but hopefully that's not the end of it.''

 

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