When it comes to the Walker Cup, Peter McEvoy is held in such high esteem, you half expect his house to be a sacred site of pilgrimage for disciples of amateur golf.

It’s 20 years since McEvoy’s so-called dream team won the Walker Cup on American territory. And no GB&I side has managed it since. “Oh God, I’d love that record to go,” he said ahead of this weekend’s transatlantic tussle at Seminole in Florida.

That celebrated success at Sea Island in 2001, just the second away win by GB&I in the biennial bout’s history, was achieved by a side featuring the likes of Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty, as well as the Scottish duo of Marc Warren and Steven O’Hara.

Leading by a point heading into the final singles, the visitors routed the session to claim a shimmering 15-9 victory. “I always remember standing with my radio earpiece in and listening to each referee with each match record the score,” reflected McEvoy of GB&I’s singles surge. “I stood for an hour and I just heard us winning hole after hole after hole.

“You can never relax in matchplay golf. But we put ourselves in such a position that we couldn’t be beaten. The immediate feeling was more relief than elation.”


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As one of Britain’s most decorated amateur golfers, the Walker Cup has been such a part of McEvoy’s sporting life it just about appears on his family tree. The 68-year-old Englishman, who spent his early days in Scotland, played on four losing GB&I teams before being part of the historic 1989 side which won in the USA for the first time ever.

His experiences as a player shaped his captaincy and his leadership was hailed for its man-management and motivational gusto. McEvoy captained the GB&I side to victory at Nairn in 1999 before savouring that famed conquest in the US two years later. As part of the backroom team at Ganton in 2003, the two-time Amateur champion enjoyed an unprecedented triple whammy of GB&I wins.

“The best moment in my Walker Cup career was learning that the USGA, after our third win in a row in 2003, had set up a committee to try to fathom out why the Americans were doing so badly,” said McEvoy with a proud chuckle. “I thought that was fantastic.

“I played in a lot of teams and under a lot of different captains. I’d observed things and tried to pick the good and discard the not so good. I took it very seriously. I spent a lot of time in airports with work and would pass the time in shops looking at motivational books.

“I read an awful lot of stuff about skills in upgrading people. When I look back to the Walker Cups I played in, if we’d known how average the opposition had been before we started it could have gone a totally different way.

“It was the days when you didn’t really know the opposition. The Americans were winning everything in golf. Even at an amateur level you almost assumed all American players were gods. But when you played them it dawned on you that they weren’t that special at all.


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“So my big thing as a captain was to change the expectations of the team and champion the successes each player had enjoyed. We got a video made by Saatchi & Saatchi which was a kind of showreel of individual achievements. I think that was very successful for motivation.”

Having been involved in the Walker Cup cut-and-thrust for so long, peering on from a distance is never easy for McEvoy.

“I’ll follow it very closely but all I’ll be wishing is that I was still involved,” he said wistfully. “It’s the same with The Open. I played in several as an amateur but if I go to watch it now, there’s a disappointment because you’re not involved. You become a bit more dispassionate.”

McEvoy remains the last amateur golfer from the UK to make the cut in The Masters. That was back in 1978 and he protects that record with a miser’s care. “I don’t want to wish ill on any British amateur who goes there but it’s gone on so long now I’d quite like to keep it,” he said. “The Walker Cup record is different though. I definitely don’t want to be the last GB&I captain to win in the US. If they can do it this weekend, it would be quite something.”