The American Team entered the final day of play in the Walker Cup in need of strong performances. They trailed the Great Britain and Ireland side by three points at the historic St. Andrews Golf Club.
The U.S. Team cut the deficit to a single point in the morning, going 3-1 in four-ball matches. That left it up to the 10 singles matches in the afternoon. After winning the first couple of matches, the Americans held a slim 11-9 lead.
Gordon Sargent, the No. 1-ranker player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was locked in a tight battle with England’s John Gaugh.
Both players found themselves on the 16th green tied. The European side was in control of a the majority of the other matches at the time. If Gaugh could win his match, they might have been able to steal the cup back.
But that’s when things got weird.
Gaugh missed a lengthy birdie putt to win the hole. His ball missed low and rolled past about four feet, nestling right next to Sargent’s.
Both players were seen approaching their ball, with both probably trying to figure out who was away. After a moment, they both picked up their marks and headed to the Road Hole at St. Andrews.
Here’s the wild “good-good” concession by John Gough and WGAR No. 1 Gordon Sargent in their Walker Cup singles match.
Gough knocked it OB on the road hole minutes later and Sargent just birdied 18 to win the match.
US now 1 point from retaining the cup pic.twitter.com/WcszXgUWwi
— Jack Hirsh (@JR_HIRSHey) September 3, 2023
The announcers were shocked by the development.
“I’m amazed at that,” said one announcer. “When you need the points, just say no.”
NBC Analyst Brad Faxon later revealed a text from former Ryder Cup caddie John Wood. “These kids don’t know how to play match play,” Wood said in his text.
Just minutes after the surprising development, Gaugh hit his tee shot on 17 out of bounds, essentially ending his chances of earning his team a point. Sargent, a junior at Vanderbilt University, would go on to win the match going bogey-birdie the final two holes.
That momentum helped push the American side to yet another Walker Cup victory. They went on to retain the cup, 14.5-11.5. In doing so, Team USA improved to 39-9-1 all-time in the Walker Cup.