Given that both the GB&I and USA Walker Cup camps had been floored by a stomach bug in the build-up to the showdown at Seminole, the old Sir Alex Ferguson phrase, “it’s squeaky bum time” may have taken on a new meaning as the biennial battle drew to a finale in Florida last night.

Prior to the 48th staging of this amateur showpiece, Stuart Wilson, the captain of a GB&I side that was seeking just a third win on American soil in the event’s history, had kept a lid on his ambitions. “All we want is to go into the closing singles with everything to play for,” said Wilson. “If it gets like that, then it will be edge of the seat stuff.”

After a spirited showing on the opening day, which led to GB&I trailing 7-5 to their US hosts, Wilson’s team put in another shift of defiant zeal during Sunday’s foursomes to give themselves hope heading into the final session of head-to-head jousts. By the end of those morning exchanges, GB&I were just a point behind. Wilson had his wish. At 8 ½ - 7 ½ , there was, indeed, plenty to play for.

In the end, though, it was a bridge too far for Wilson’s troops. The USA wrapped up a a third successive triumph in the biennial contest and eventually came out  14-12 winners. The GB&I boys  gave it a good go and it was the narrowest away result for them since the one point defeat in Chicago back in 2005.

With GB&I’s average world ranking coming in at 68 compared to the USA’s 15, as well as that weight of history and the impact of the tummy bug, the visitors were always facing an uphill task. The Americans were too good when it came down to the singles.

In keeping with the opening day, Sunday’s foursomes were, by and large, wonderfully nip-and-tuck. Saturday’s tense tussles had all finished on the 18th. The GB&I duo of Matty Lamb and Jack Dyer, however, made quick work of their joust with Stewart Hagestad and US Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci and won five of seven holes from the seventh en route to a 6&5 victory. The other ties would go the distance, though.

GB&I’s resolve was illustrated by Angus Flanagan and Ben Schimdt who were four down after five against the US duo of Davis Thompson and the highly-rated Cole Hammer. The Americans were still three-up with four to play but Flanagan and Schmidt refused to surrender and, as their rivals stumbled on the run-in with costly errors, the GB&I pair seized their chance and plundered a half-point on the last green.

A bogey was good enough to seal the deal as Thompson and Hammer made a hash of things. “We ground it out, we let them make mistakes and they did,” said Flanagan.

As the singles got underway, the US struck a resounding early blow as Austin Eckroat thumped the previously unbeaten Irishman Mark Power 7&6 in the opening tie.

Alex Fitzpatrick went down 3&1 to Pierceson Coody as the US inched towards the 13-point mark they needed to retain the cup. Wilson’s boys kept plugging away. Joe Long, the Amateur champion who was making his first appearance of the week due to the stomach bug that swept through the squads, emerged from a tight duel with John Pak with a  one hole victory. Both players made a right old hash of the 18th but it was halved in double-bogey sixes and GB&I had a vital point.

Lamb beat Thompson by two holes to keep the slim GB&I hopes alive but it was slipping away from the visitors down the order. Barclay Brown surrendered the last hole and had to settle for a half against Quade Cummins while Irishman John Murphy lost on the 17th to Ricky Castillo.

That point took the US to 12 overall and when Hammer polished off a 4&3 win over Schmidt, the hosts had the 13 points they needed to retain the cup. Hagestad’s 4&2 win over Ben Jones ensured the US won it outright.

“The guys came out fighting but unfortunately it was not their weekend,” said GB&I captain Wilson.

They’ll meet again at the Old Course in the home of golf in 2023.