On a day when Albert MacKenzie celebrated his wedding anniversary, Great Britain & Ireland’s PGA Cup captain was also able to toast the first three members of his 2017 team.
The trio of Matthew Cort, Rob Coles and Greig Hutcheon secured their spots in the side to face the United States at Foxhills Club & Resort next September courtesy of finishing in the top three in the PGA Play-Offs at Saunton where MacKenzie is also the head PGA pro.
Champion Cort (Beedles Lake) and runner up Coles (Maylands) qualified automatically while Hutcheon beat Ireland’s Damien McGrane at the first extra play-off hole on Devon’s club’s East Course after both were tied at five under for the 72-hole tournament.
“I realised quite late on that four of the respective regional Order of Merit winners were going to finish in the top four,” said MacKenzie. “I feel sorry for Damien as I watched him play some great golf but I think that Greig’s run on 13, 14 and 15 where he went two, three, three – and two strong pars to finish to get into contention for the play-off, and then the birdie at the first extra play-off hole, was worthy of winning any event.
“So I know we are off to a great start. It was a very strong field at the start of the week, I knew that Saunton would throw up three wonderful players and the golf course has not let us down, I could not be happier. I think we found at CordeValle that the players that won the Play-Offs to go to CordeValle were going to be pivotal to our success, no question the same is going to happen this time round.”
MacKenzie spent much of the week keeping a close eye on the action and was full of praise for Cort who survived a mid-round wobble to eagle 15 and par his way in for a level par 71 to beat Coles by one shot.
“Matt hit a beautiful shot into 15 – the shot the hole required to make an eagle to get back to consolidating his position at the top,” added MacKenzie. “And I think that the up and downs he made at 16 and 17 just showed what a class act he is. He is just a wonderful player and we’ve seen in recent weeks how good he is. He just looks like the finished article.”
Coles also earned plaudits – the former European Tour player began his week with a 76 but hauled himself into contention with rounds of 65, 70 and a last round 67.
“I watched Rob late on the second day when he shot 65, and it was evident from the first swing he made that he is just a class act. He is very experienced and has great control over his golf swing and more important to me than that is he is going to be a wonderful asset in the team-room.”
GB&I will defend the PGA Cup at Foxhills Club & Resort from September 15-17 next year. The remainder of the 10-man team will comprise the leading six from the Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship based on a points system for the 2016 &17 events with one captain’s pick.