GREAT Britain and Ireland will rely on their strong team spirit to overcome the odds and retain the Walker Cup against the United States, according to British Amateur champion Harry Ellis.

Nigel Edwards captained Great Britain and Ireland to a record seven-point victory at Royal Lytham in 2015, but their last win on American soil came back in 2001.

Home teams have won 10 of the last 12 biennial contests and the 2007 US team – which featured the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson and Billy Horschel – were the last to win on away soil.

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The holders will also be without captain Craig Watson at Los Angeles Country Club after he stood down due to a serious illness in his immediate family, but Ellis has the utmost faith in his team-mates.

“The best thing about our team is that we’ve grown up together,” Ellis, who came back from four down with five holes to play to beat Dylan Perry in the final of the Amateur Championship, told GolfWeek.

“I’ve been with Alfie (Plant) for five or six years. Jack (Singh Brar), Scott (Gregory) and I live 10 miles apart so we’ve grown up together. Actually, this whole group has all come through junior golf together,” Ellis added.

“They’ve got a strong team but there’s something about this group of guys that feels special. Everything feels right. There’s a natural camaraderie.

“Even with me being away at school (at Florida State) for the last few years, I come back and it’s just like family.”

Confidence is certainly high in the Great Britain and Ireland side and Plant believes stand-in skipper Andrew Ingram has a selection headache ahead of the foursomes today and Sunday.

“It’s going to be hard for the captain to drop anyone out because we’ve all had good seasons,” said Plant, who won the silver medal as the leading amateur in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in July.

For the United States, captain John “Spider” Miller and former world number one amateur Maverick McNealy will have revenge on their minds after being part of the side that was thrashed at Lytham back in 2015.

And McNealy believes the home team will be inspired by a visit from former US president George W Bush – whose great grandfather was a former USGA president who donated the Walker Cup – during the practice rounds.

“For me, that kind of guy is the absolute role model, somebody that sacrifices eight years of his life, and even more, to work for the country and to do everything he can to make the lives of 200-something million people better,” said McNealy, who won just half a point from his three matches in 2015.

“He’s somebody that has represented his country to the fullest and we get to do that in a much smaller way at the Walker Cup,” McNealy added.