Golf

Americans retain Concession Cup comfortably

EAST MANATEE -- Before Saturday's clinching match concluded and long before the event kicked off Thursday, U.S. captain Vinny Giles contacted players who would represent the United States at this week's Concession Cup.

What followed was a conversation about who each golfer wanted to play with during the first two days.

Getting that level of insight provided Giles with a blueprint on meshing the right personalities together to form some stout chemistry.

Of course, it didn't hurt that Team USA's talent produced some top-level golf en route to retaining the biennial Concession Cup after a 29-7 destruction of Great Britain and Ireland over three days at The Concession Golf Club.

"It was like going through the motions (Saturday)," said Giles, who won his singles match 2-and-1 on Saturday. "And again, if you've won two days as well as we did in team competition then you've got to assume in the individual competition you're going to be equally as strong."

The U.S. ran roughshod for a third straight day, amassing 10 singles victories. Americans also tied six matches,

losing just twice.

Tim Jackson, of Germantown, Tenn., clinched the decisive point in an early match on Saturday after a 4-and-3 victory over Scotland's Barry Hume.

"As a 57 year old playing in the (mid)-amateur division, it's a big challenge," Jackson said. "So I kind of got myself nearly ready to go, and I worked hard on my game over the last couple weeks. And it paid off. I had a really good week, and played well. To clinch for something like this, it's pretty amazing."

Jackson was one of six Americans to win their singles match without needing to play the final three holes at The Concession.

Giles and several U.S. team members reiterated all week how tough the timing of the event was for the GB&I squad, due to them coming off their winter weather while the U.S. players are much sharper with competitive golf in April.

"I think this match needs to come across to the other side of the world ... but we need to pick our strongest team," said GB&I captain Garth McGimpsey, who was one of two GB&I players to win Saturday after a 2-up victory over Jack Hall. "Vinny said that was his strongest team by far. That wasn't our strongest team. ... We've got to get our strongest team together and at our home venue."

But the key factors over the three-day event, which saw America build a gigantic 16-2 lead through back-to-back eight-point sessions, was the talent and chemistry Giles assembled through his phone calls to the players months in advance.

Five of the U.S. team members ranked in the top 225 in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings, while GB&I only has three in the top 1,000 with Hume (No. 267) ranking the highest.

"We invited 16 guys based on merit this time," Giles said. "The first time, we went off of past history."

That meant the inaugural squad in 2014 was chosen off Walker Cup participation and other accolades.

The United States won that event by seven points.

This time around, players were chosen through the Amateur Golf Alliance and Giles.

"We took four right off the world rankings and then four captain's picks, but they were all off of record," Giles said.

And dominance occurred. Jim Holtgrieve, Giles, Jackson, Scott Harvey, Patrick Christovich, Brady Exber, Doug Hanzel, Mike McCoy and Chip Lutz won all three matches they participated in.

During his pre-tournament conversations months ago with the team, Giles said some players mentioned they could play with anyone, while other guys wished to play with a style that meshed with their game.

Jackson fell in the former as it didn't matter who he was paired up with and for the two days of team competition, and he partnered with Christovich, of New Orleans. The duo won 6-and-5 and 6-and-4 in the alternate shot and best ball sessions, respectively.

"I'm a pretty good alternate shot player and with Patrick, he likes to put the pedal down and go," Jackson said. "It worked out great."

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at jdill@bradenton.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill and like his Facebook page at Jason Dill Bradenton Herald.

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