United States tied with Great Britain & Ireland in Concession Cup

jdill@bradenton.comMay 2, 2014 

EAST MANATEE -- Nathan Smith has four United States Mid-Amateur titles under his belt, and he clinched the Walker Cup last September for the U.S.

So the Pittsburgh native knows a little about match play golf.

And in Thursday's first day of the inaugural Concession Cup at The Concession Golf Club in East Manatee, Smith teamed with George Zahringer to post a 5-and-3 victory.

The margin tied teammates Mike McCoy and Chip Lutz for the largest triumphs on Team USA.

And it's a key reason why the team left the foursome (alternate shot) format tied with Great Britain & Ireland, leaving each team at 4 ½.

"We really play solid and had a good birdie on 10," Smith said. "Then all of a sudden we're 6-up with six to go and match play can go like that. The other team played well, too. We just made some putts to kind of keep the momentum. Next thing you know, we finished it 5-and-3."

United States playing captain Vinny Giles reiterated that if his team plays well, then they'll hoist the trophy at the end of the three-day event and if GB&I captain Garth McGimpsey's guys play better, then they will win the event.

Overall, though, it's a solid start for both sides. American golfers typically don't fare as well in the alternate shot format, so Giles was pleased with the start his team gave.

"I think it's a good result," Giles said. "You want the matches to be good and you want them to be close. It's really more about promoting the game, anyway. … But I think it's going to be really competitive all the way through."

Meanwhile, McGimpsey said he was really pleased with the result.

"Even though foursomes (are supposed) to be our strong point, America's got such a strong team," McGimpsey said. "So we're just really glad to keep it level and (we're) looking forward to (Friday)."

Friday's session will use the fourball (best ball) format and will start at 8 a.m. The first pairing was originally set to tee off at 9 a.m., but was moved up an hour due to the possibility of inclement weather.

The singles portion is slated for Saturday to conclude the action.

"It'll be a dream if we can be level going into singles," McGimpsey said.

A key to GB&I's ability to keep things even was the super senior team of Peter Hedges and Ian Hutcheon.

The duo fell 4-down through seven holes to Jim Holtgrieve and Robert Lewis.

Then they promptly won the next eight holes to earn a 4-and-3 victory.

"That made all the difference, because that got us to 4 ½ (points)," McGimpsey said.

Martin West III and Patrick Christovich joined Paul Simson and Scott Harvey to wrap up wins for the Americans, while McGimpsey and Ben Westgate, Adrian Morrow and Robbie Cannon and Maurise Kelly and James Bunch added full points for GB&I.

The lone match to finish all square was between America's Doug Hanzel and Todd White and GB&I's Arthur Pierse and Eoghan O'Connell.

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