Walker Cup winner James Byrne to turn professional

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland at Royal Aberdeen
Michael Stewart (right) celebrates
Stewart (right) is not looking to turn professional in the short term

Scotsman James Byrne is to turn professional only days after helping Great Britain and Ireland to Walker Cup victory over the United States.

"Pretty soon," he told BBC Scotland when asked when he would take that step. "In the next few days.

"I had made my mind up earlier in the week and hopefully there are some exciting times to come."

Byrne and compatriot Michael Stewart helped inflict a defeat on the USA for the first time in eight years.

But Troon 21-year-old Stewart will delay his own move into the paid ranks and will instead concentrate on upcoming amateur tournaments.

Stewart's 3&2 win over Patrick Rodgers steadied the home side's nerves at Royal Aberdeen as the Americans started eating into the 10½-5½ deficit during the final-day singles.

The Scot and English partner Tom Lewis had earlier been prevented from securing a clean sweep of foursomes victories when two-time American junior champion Jordan Spieth holed from 16ft at the last after the home pair had led the match by four holes with just six to play.

Lewis and Stewart had defeated Peter Uihlein and Harris English 2&1 on Saturday as the home side established a 3-1 lead after the opening foursomes.

James Byrne
Byrne has just graduated from Arizona State University

The 22-year-old Byrne, who had sat out the morning session, defeated Nathan Smith by the same score.

However, Stewart lost 2&1 to top American Patrick Cantlay as Great Britain and Ireland established a two-point lead at the end of the opening day.

Byrne and Rhys Pugh avenged that with a 5&3 win over Cantlay and Chris Williams.

The Scot lost his singles match 2&1 to English, but by then the trophy had already been secured.

Byrne, who was born in England but brought up in Banchory and recently graduated from Arizona State University, insisted that it was not an upset to have beaten a USA side containing the top four amateurs in the world.

"It should not be such a surprise," he said. "We had such a good group of guys and such a strong squad, in depth as well.

"I was obviously delighted with my own performance to get two points out of three.

"I could not ask for much more to be a Walker Cup champion."