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GOLF ROUNDUP : U.S. Beats Britain-Ireland, Regains Walker Cup

September 07, 1991|From Associated Press

The United States regained the Walker Cup, the top team prize in amateur golf, by winning five singles matches and beating Britain-Ireland, 14-10, Friday at Portmarnock, Ireland.

U.S. Amateur champion Mitch Voges, former champion Phil Mickelson, Franklyn Langham, Bob May and David Eger won their second-day matches after the European team had cut the Americans' lead to 9-7 with three victories in doubles.

Of 33 Walker Cup competitions since 1922, the Americans have won 29, with one tied. Britain-Ireland took the trophy with a victory at Atlanta two years ago.

"This was an exciting day for me and for my team," U.S. non-playing captain Jim Gabrielsen said. "It was not an easy day at all, and I'm so proud of the way they came back in the singles. We had a rough time and we needed someone to go out early in the singles.

"That turned out to be Franklyn Langham, who went out and got three birdies in a row and that helped us.

Langham, 23, of Thomson, Ga., had lost his singles and foursomes matches. But he halted the British-Irish challenge with a 4 and 2 victory over Gary Evans.

Mickelson, who won the Tucson Open on the PGA Tour, edged Scotsman Jim Milligan at the last hole to maintain the Americans' lead.

May beat Northern Ireland's Garth McGimpsey, 4 and 3, as the U.S. team widened its lead. It clinched the trophy when Ireland's Padraig Harrington, already two behind with two holes to play, failed to chip anywhere near the 16th pin and surrendered the match to Eger.

Jim Benepe, who has struggled throughout most of his pro career, birdied four of the last six holes for a 67 and the lead in the Canadian Open at Oakville.

Benepe, 27, completed 36 holes over the Glen Abbey Golf Club course in 13-under-par 131. He has not made a bogey and has one five on his scorecard.

Benepe has been on a downward spiral since winning the Western Open in his rookie season of 1988. He lost his playing rights on the PGA Tour for lack of performance last season and, after missing the cut in 18 of 23 previous starts this year, again faces the possibility of returning to Qualifying School.

He ranks 193rd on the season's money-winning list with $22,373 and needs about four times that amount to retain his place on the tour for next year.

Brian Kamm, who also had a 67 Friday, is one stroke behind Benepe at 132.

D.A. Weibring came back from a double bogey on his first hole with 10 birdies--including one string of four in a row--and shot a 64 that lifted him to 133.

Craig Stadler, who shared the first-round lead with Benepe, was next at 134 after a 70.

Rocky Thompson putted his way to a five-under-par 66 and took the lead after the first round of a Seniors tournament at Grand Rapids, Mich.

Thompson, who skipped dinner Thursday to spend extra time on the putting green, reaped the benefits immediately. He made birdie putts of 25 and 30 feet on the first two holes and finished the front nine with only 12 putts.

Larry Laoretti and Gene Littler were one stroke back, and six players, including Lee Trevino and Walt Zembriski, were tied at 68.

Thompson, who uses the long putter that is gaining popularity among senior players, probably was more surprised than anyone with his putting success.

At the practice green Thursday night, he challenged himself to make three out of five putts from 11-12 feet away before leaving. He was there an hour.

Vicki Fergon, who forgot to sign up and got into the field as a last-minute alternate, shot a four-under-par 68 to share the lead of the Ping-Cellular One golf championship with Danielle Ammaccapane and Missie Berteotti.

Kris Tschetter, Dee Dee Lasker, Laurel Kean, Michelle Estill, Karen Davies and Marta Figueras-Dotti shot 69, and six other were on the 6,261-yard Columbia-Edgewater Country Club course at Portland, Ore.

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