With Chicago GC getting another Walker Cup, let’s look back on 2005 match
After captaining the U.S. to a one-point victory at the 2005 Walker Cup at Chicago Golf Club, Bob Lewis proclaimed the match “the greatest Walker Cup ever played.”
There is an argument to be made, of course, and such debate now must include the match that took place two years later at Royal County Down, where the Americans led by Dustin Johnson and a cast of future major winners and PGA Tour stars edged Rory McIlroy and Co. by a point.
But regardless of where you rank 2005, it’s at least up there.
Entering the match at Chicago Golf Club, the Americans had lost three straight Walker Cups and hadn’t lifted the hardware since 1997 at Quaker Ridge. Tasked with helping turn the tide was Lewis, a four-time Walker Cup player who had also captained the 2003 American side in one-point loss at Ganton Golf Club in England. He was chief operating officer of a welded steel tubing manufacturing company, and the USGA assembled a strong team for him.
Most notably, the 10-man U.S. squad featured Anthony Kim, then a junior at Oklahoma and the reigning Big 12 champion, and Brian Harman, an incoming freshman at Georgia who two years prior won the U.S. Junior Amateur. The other eight Americans all went on to play at least one season on the PGA Tour: J.B. Holmes, Jeff Overton, Matt Every, Billy Hurley III, Michael Putnam, Kyle Reifers, Nicholas Thompson and Lee Williams.
The Great Britain and Ireland squad looked like this: Oliver Fisher, who at 16 still remains the youngest competitor in match history, plus Gary Wolstenholme, Nigel Edwards, Rhys Davies, Richie Ramsay, Robert Dinwiddie, Matthew Richardson, Lloyd Saltman, Gary Lockerbie and Brian McElhinney.
Though the U.S. never trailed at Chicago Golf Club, it also never was comfortable. The Americans took the opening foursomes session, 2.5-1.5, before each of the final three sessions were halved.
Needing to win four of the eight singles matches that Sunday to win back the cup, the home team got a leadoff point from Harman, who delivered a 6-and-5 beatdown of Davies, a first-team All-American at East Tennessee State.
Wolstenholme, who won 10 matches in six Walker Cup appearances and once beat Tiger Woods in singles in 1995, held off Kim, 1 up. AK had been 2-0-1 that week before digging a 4-down hole through 11 holes to Wolstenholme.
Last year, Harman went on Golf.com’s Subpar Podcast and explained that he actually had to calm Kim, his foursomes partner for both sessions, down that week.
“We get out there the first day, and he’s like super nervous, and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I have to calm this guy down,’” Harman said. “I’m like, ‘Anthony, you are so much better than anyone here. All you have to do is just keep breathing and we are going to wax these guys.’” (They halved the first match with Davies and Edwards before beating Saltman and Ramsay, 4 and 2.)
The visitors also got points from Richardson over Holmes and Saltman over Reifers, though two half-points were crucial in making things interesting at the end. Fisher drained a long birdie putt on the last hole to tie Putnam and Dinwiddie chipped in against Every to earn his halve.
“Every time I walked up to the 18th hole, they would hole a 20-footer or chip a ball in, it got to be crazy,” Lewis told Golfweek at the time. “I kept saying to myself, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’”
With Williams defeating Lockerbie, 4 and 3, and Saltman’s match just finishing to tie the overall score, that left one match on the golf course, the decider between Overton and Edwards.
A legend has it, with Edwards, 1 down, and walking up to hit a 25-foot birdie putt on the final green, Every turned to Overton and said, “If he makes that putt, I’m quitting golf.”
Edwards nearly canned it, missing by an inch. That meant that Overton had two putts from 18 feet to win the cup.
“I wanted to make it, to hear the roar of the crow,” Overton admitted afterward.
But he smartly lagged it close and sealed victory for the U.S.
The Americans also won at Chicago Golf Club in 1928, and will have a chance to win a third after the club was announced as host of the 2036 Walker Cup.