THERE was a time when the Walker Cup was as lop-sided as Long John Silver after a heavy session on the rum and winkles.

In a biennial contest that was often dubbed the "Walk-over Cup" the USA would dole out such fearsome beatings to GB&I, the prize giving ceremonies just about came with a charge of assault and battery.

While the recent exchanges in the transatlantic tussle have been evenly split – both sides have six wins each from the last 12 meetings – the USA’s 19-7 thumping of their guests in Los Angeles two years ago will ensure that GB&I will be desperate to soothe those wounds when the teams cross swords at Hoylake next weekend.

Included in Craig Watson’s side is Barassie’s Euan Walker. If he does as well as his club-mate Jim Milligan, then the young Ayrshireman will hopefully have plenty to smile about. Thirty years ago, Milligan’s jubilant beam could have spanned the Atlantic as he secured the half-point that gave GB&I a first ever victory on US soil. After winning the 1971 match at St Andrews, GB&I had suffered eight successive defeats but Peachtree in 1989 would bring that succession of reversals to an historic end. It was mightily close, of course.

Milligan, out in the very last singles tie on the final day against the decorated Jay Sigel, would be thrust into the role of hero as GB&I were forced into a frenzied rearguard action. Having forged an 11-5 lead heading into the closing eight head-to-head encounters, Geoff Marks’ team required just one-and-a-half points to win. Getting those points, though, was easier said than done as a determined, defiant USA launched a quite fearsome charge which should have been accompanied with a musket volley.

From thinking he’d enjoy a relatively tranquil day at the office, Milligan quickly found himself in the firing line as he became the last hope of salvation. “We were so far ahead going into the final day singles I actually thought ‘ach I’ll not be needed’,” reflected the 56-year-old, who is one of three Barassie members, along with Gordon Sherry and Jack McDonald, to have won a Walker Cup. “But you kept looking at the scoreboards at it was getting worse and worse. We had some great players up in the top order. You thought we’ll get one-and-a-half points from that lot. But when momentum shifts in team golf it’s hard. Silly things happen.”

Over the course of a fraught afternoon, the US would plunder six points from the first seven matches meaning Milligan had to half his match to win the cup. It didn’t look good, of course. The Scot was two down with four to play. “The captain was all over the place trying to keep check on the matches at the front,” added Milligan. “I didn’t see him until I got to maybe the 14th. He was saying ‘how are you doing?’ and I said ‘two doon’ and I just seen him driving away in his buggy thinking ‘that’s another point away, what’s happening here?’.”

Milligan had a couple of tricks up his sleeve, however. A birdie on the 16th reduced Sigel’s lead to one before the Scot holed an unlikely chip from off the 17th green to draw level.

“The adrenaline was rushing and my captain got hold of me and said ‘just take your time and make sure you’re walking to the tee last’,” said Milligan of the need for calm on the 18th. “He (Sigel) was standing on the tee waiting on me and I could see his eyes giving me daggers. I was a bit like ‘oh Christ here we go’. These were the moments you practice for but you can’t really prepare for anything like that. You just have to do it.”

Sigel, who was playing in his seventh Walker Cup, was arguably the world’s best amateur of the decade and his glittering haul of silverware and baubles included Amateur Championship wins on both sides of the Atlantic. His reputation didn’t faze Milligan, though.

“I actually played with him a year before in the Eisenhower Trophy strokeplay rounds and he hadn’t played that well,” he recalled. “I’d seen the other side of him. You knew there were weaknesses and I certainly wasn’t scared of him. His record may have intimidated others but not me. He certainly wasn’t happy at the end.”

Milligan and Sigel halved the last hole and GB&I won by a single point. Four years later, Sigel would turn pro at the age of 50. Milligan, meanwhile, remained a career amateur and full-time joiner.

“Maybe I should have given professional golf a go?” said Milligan. “I don’t have any regrets about that though.”

And as for any advice for the latest Barassie member to play in the Walker Cup? “Just enjoy it as it will go so quickly,” he said. “And be prepared for the unexpected.”