U.S. builds 8-4 lead in 46th Walker Cup

Californians Maverick McNealy, Collin Morikawa and Norman Xiong each scored two points as the United States rolled to an 8-4 lead over Great Britain and Ireland after the first day of the 46th Ryder Cup on the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club.

All three were winners with teammates in the morning foursomes and then won singles matches in the afternoon, when the Americans captured six of eight head-to-head matches.

McNealy (pictured), from Portola Valley and Stanford, won five of the last six holes to defeat Scott Gregory of England, 3 and 1, while Morikawa, of La Canada and Cal, beat Paul McBride of Ireland, 3 and 2, and Xiong, of Canyon Lake and the University of Oregon downed Connor Syme of Scotland, 2 and 1.

“This is big for me,” said McNealy, who went 0-2-1 as GB&I beat the Americans two years ago at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England. “I really, really wanted to play well this week, for my teammates, for my country, for Captain (John “Spider”) Miller.

“And it’s a great start today, but there’s a lot of golf left and those guys are playing awesome so we got to keep the pedal down.”

In other U.S. singles victories, Braden Thornberry of Olive Brand, Miss., beat Harry Ellis of England, 2 and 1; Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, took down Matthew Jordan of England, 2 up, and Doug Ghim of Arlington, Ill., got past David Boote of England and Stanford, 2 and 1.

Great Britain and Ireland got on the board when Jack Singh Brar of England defeated Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach, 3 and 2, and Robert McIntyre of Scotland routed Cameron Champ of Sacramento, 6 and 4.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Miller said. “Braden flipped his match, Mav flipped his match, Norman Xiong flipped his. Yeah, I’m very pleased. It was a huge momentum change for us. We were down, 5 to 3, at one point.”

The matches wrap up on Sunday with four foursomes matches in the morning and 10 singles matches in the afternoon, with McNealy in the anchor match to end the day against Alfie Plant of England.

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