SEA ISLAND, Ga. - Somehow, the pressure putt always seemed to fall on Augusta State's Jamie Elson.
With one exception, Elson came through for Great Britain & Ireland in Saturday's opening round of foursome matches at the 38th Walker Cup.
Elson, of Warwickshire, England, eased a 3-foot par putt into the hole on No. 18 at the Ocean Forest Golf Club to earn a half-point with teammate Richard McEvoy, over Bryce Molder and David Eger of the United States.
Great Britain & Ireland led 2 1/2 -1 1/2 after the five foursome matches, but the Americans won five of the eight singles matches in the afternoon to take a 6 1/2 -5 1/2 lead. Elson did not play in the singles.
The cup will be decided after 12 more matches today - four foursomes matches in the morning followed by eight singles matches.
Elson will team up with McEvoy again this morning at 8:30, taking on Danny Green and Clemson golfer D.J. Trahan in the final foursome match. In the singles, Elson will meet University of Georgia golfer Erik Compton at 2 p.m., in the second-to-last singles match. The final singles match pits Great Britain & Ireland's Gary Wolstenholme against University of Georgia's Nick Cassini.
Two years ago at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, the U.S. team led 7-5 going into the last day and was crushed by a Great Britain & Ireland squad that won 10 of the final 12 matches to win the Walker Cup for only the fifth time since it began in 1922.
Great Britain & Ireland is seeking to win back-to-back Walker Cup titles for the first time in history.
Elson and McEvoy were three holes down with six to play against Molder, the four-time Georgia Tech All-American and twice a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team, and Eger, who is playing his third Walker Cup.
"That was exhausting," said Elson, a senior who will be redshirted for Augusta State's 2001-2002 season.
Elson and McEvoy won three holes and halved another during the final six holes to lead the comeback.
"We had to get something out of the match," Elson said. "The U.S. already had two matches, and we had to get something."
Elson made a number of key putts down the stretch to keep the comeback alive.
"I've never been shaking over so many putts in my life," Elson said.
He did lip out a 6-footer on No. 17 that would have halved the hole.
"I should have holed that putt," he said. "We needed a full point."
Compton battled back from an early deficit to spark the U.S. team in the singles matches. Compton was the leadoff match in the afternoon and promptly lost the first three holes to Wostenholme.
But Compton, who had a heart transplant at age 12, refused to buckle.
"I never give up," he said. "That's the attitude I've had all my life."
He won three of the next five holes to square the match against Wolstenholme, a 40-year-old Englishman known for beating Tiger Woods in the 1995 Walker Cup.
Compton won six of seven holes at one point, including the first four on the back nine, hit every green in regulation and went on to a 3 and 2 victory.
"I knew this match was going to be hard," said Compton, who belted his drives 40 yards past his opponent. "I'm proud of myself for hanging in there."
The Americans didn't take the lead until Lucas Glover returned from a storm delay to defeat British Amateur champion Michael Hoey, 1-up, in a battle of former Clemson golfers.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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