Great Britain and Ireland survived a “rollercoaster” second session to take a two-point lead into Sunday’s final day of the 45th Walker Cup at Royal Lytham.
Leading 3-1 after the morning foursomes, the home side were pegged back when NCAA and US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau scrambled a half against Ashley Chesters, before Hunter Stewart and Scott Harvey beat Paul Dunne and Grant Forrest respectively.
However, England’s Jimmy Mullen and Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson both held their nerve to win on the 18th and Ireland’s Gavin Moynihan cruised to an easy win over Open Championship silver medallist Jordan Niebrugge to give Nigel Edwards’ side a great chance of regaining the trophy.
“We got off to a great start in the foursomes and the singles was a bit of a rollercoaster really,” said 47-year-old Welshman Edwards, whose side led in five of the eight matches and were all square in two others at one point. “It was up down, up down, up down but we got four points and I think we deserved it.”
Asked if he was confident of securing a second victory from his third term as captain, Edwards added: “Why not? Let’s go and do it. It’s a great opportunity we have given ourselves now.
“We have more foursomes tomorrow morning, the boys have been great all week and I don’t see that changing.”
Edwards felt Mullen deserved to be higher than 93rd in the world amateur rankings after the 21-year-old claimed his second point of the day by hitting his approach to the last to two feet to seal victory over Denny McCarthy, before Ferguson - a late replacement after Sam Horsfield withdrew - defeated world number two Maverick McNealy.
“I was thinking to myself ‘Leave him alone’ because I probably disappointed him by not picking him initially,” Edwards said. “He is a great player so I was willing him to win this afternoon and I was over the moon when he holed that putt on 18.”
Ferguson, 19, was three up after seven but eventually had to hole from four feet on the last after having two putts to win from 25 feet.
“I don’t know what I was doing with that putt on the 18th,” he admitted. “I guess the adrenalin got the better of me but I holed the one back.
“Not being in the team originally I was upset obviously. I just wanted to show everyone but that I am good enough. I was disappointed to be left out of the foursomes but went out to watch and it was electrifying. I am so delighted to get a point for Nigel and Great Britain and Ireland.”
United States captain John Miller was satisfied with his side’s position, adding: “Given our start I am pleased with where we are. Our guys played hard, dug down and won some matches when they needed to.
“We did not make some putts we would have liked to have made but hopefully we will make them tomorrow.”
Chesters and Mullen had led from the front in the opening foursomes, defeating McNealy and Stewart 3&2. Northern Ireland’s Cormac Sharvin and Scotland’s Jack McDonald - watched by his grandfather Gordon Cosh, who played in the 1965 contest - then eased to a 5&4 victory over Niebrugge and Shelton, with the Irish pair of Moynihan and Jack Hume beating Lee and Mike McCoy 3&2.
Only Dunne - who shared the lead after 54 holes in the Open at St Andrews - and Gary Hurley slipped to defeat despite recovering from an early two-hole deficit to Beau Hossler and McCarthy, the Irish pair crucially making three bogeys in succession from the 13th.