The Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup team defeated the United States 5.5 to 4.5 in the Sunday singles to win the overall match 13.5 to 12.5, winning the Llandudno Trophy in America for the first time at CordeValle, California.
The Sunday singles went right down to the final hole of the five sessions before Niall Kearney drained an eight foot putt to spark jubilant scenes. Kearney had fired his approach dangerously close to the hazard at the back of the par five 18th but splashed up and then holed out to win one-up after Alan Morin had missed a 30 foot putt which would have ensure the US retained the PGA Cup.
It was a rollercoaster affair in the hottest conditions of the week with the temperature gauge touching 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At one point Allen Wronowski’s United States team were up in seven of the matches but slowly the tide changed.
Captain Jon Bevan’s tactic of front loading his big-hitters paid dividends with David Dixon, Graham Fox and Jason Levermore securing points. While first man out Gareth Wright was outgunned by Mike Block who had five birdies in his two and one win, Dixon was up from the second against Stuart Deane and closed it out four and three.
Fox (Clydeway Golf) proved one of the catalysts for GB&I’s revival. Standing on the ninth tee, the Scot was two down to Ben Polland but when he walked on to the 14th tee he was three up after five straight birdies. Levermore was equally impressive – trailing by three through ten he ended up playing the back nine in seven under par. Two down with four to play he birdied 16 and 18 to win one-up against Jamie Broce. The Channels pro, who arrived in San Francisco on a stretcher after being taken ill on the flight over, will leave California standing tall after being undefeated in five matches.
Heading into the back nine, momentum had gradually shifted GB&I’s way with Alex Wrigley and Kearney up in the last two while Lee Clarke had turned his match around against Sean Dougherty. Cameron Clark and Mike Watson were defeated as was Paul Hendriksen but when Beeston Fields pro Clark halved the last after a tugged pitch, the match score was locked at 11.5 to 11.5.
GB&I nudged to 12.5 to 11.5 thanks to Wrigley’s three and one win over Grant Sturgeon leaving Kearney needing a point for victory. Morin’s superb approach to 17 pulled a hole back to send Kearney down the 18th where the Irishman revealed ice water in his veins to clinch the PGA Cup.
Commenting Captain Bevan stated, “The board was red early on. All week I’ve been calm, I don’t know why, I’ve actually found it quite easy to stay calm which suggests to me I’ve got total belief in my team. I have the utmost respect for the power and talent of the opposition. Our PGA pros are a class above as are the US guys. We probably watched the highest standard of golf outside of the two tours this week.
“To win the PGA Cup is the culmination of twelve months of planning but I will definitely have a word with Niall about doing it an easier way.”