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Winning and Losing at The Walker Cup

Southampton, New York | They are sentiments you heard a lot if you were at the Walker Cup at the National Golf Links, high above the still blue water of Peconic Bay. There was a great deal of talk of the amateur ethos, of the importance of the Walker Cup in the grand scheme of things golfing, of good manners and etiquette, of friendships being made that could last a lifetime. Such utterances fell gently onto the ears of visitors from Britain, where cries of “play up and play the game” rang out over the playing fields of the 19th century. The idea of lauding victors in laurel wreaths may have originated in Greece but it is recognised in Britain and come to that. How often has one heard the words that it matters not so much whether you won or lost as how you played the game? Enter Jim Holtgrieve, the U.S. team captain, who had not cut a commanding figure as captain of the Walker Cup team at Royal Aberdeen in 2011, where his much fancied players fell to defeat by two points. There were moments in Scotland when Holtgrieve looked less like a captain and more like a friendly uncle in from Omaha trying to make a good impression on his young relatives. Last week, Holtgrieve still resembled a favourite uncle, round, cuddly and solid, but this time he didn’t look as distant from his 2013 players as he had from the 2011 team.


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