PGA Cup: GB&I captain Albert MacKenzie has taken money from the best

The PGA Cup - Previews Jan Kruger/Getty Images

PGA Cup: GB&I captain Albert MacKenzie has taken money from the best

Euro Tour

PGA Cup: GB&I captain Albert MacKenzie has taken money from the best

The Great Britain & Ireland PGA Cup team can call on captain Albert MacKenzie for inspiration during this weekend’s PGA Cup match against the United States at Foxhills Golf Club in Surrey, England.

MacKenzie’s taken money off Hall of Famers Greg Norman and Tom Watson.

The GB&I team is seeking to defend the trophy it won in 2015 at CordeValle, California, GB&I’s first victory on U.S. soil. MacKenzie, who made the cut in the 2011 Senior British Open Championship, served as vice-captain to John Bevan two years ago. The Saunton Sands club professional takes that experience into the 28th contest between the best club professionals on either side of the Atlantic.

“I learned a lot as vice-captain two years ago,” said the 56-year-old Scot. “John was a fantastic captain. He and I were in constant discussion during the match and I will use what I’ve learned to try to keep the Llandudno Trophy on this side of the Atlantic.

“I’ve got a really strong team, and they will take some shifting if America is to win back the cup.”

MacKenzie’s “strong” 10-man team features eight former European Tour players, including 2008 Volvo China Open winner Damian McGrane. The Irishman earned his only Tour victory by topping a field that included notables such Graeme McDowell, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Ross Fisher, David Howell and Soren Kjeldsen.

As good as those players are, they pale in comparison to Norman and Watson.

MacKenzie was a 26-year-old Sunningdale assistant professional when he took £5 off Norman before the Australian won the 1986 Open Championship at Turnberry. MacKenzie and partner Lawrence Levy, a highly-respected now deceased golf photographer, won a four-ball match against Norman and his partner even though Norman shot 64 to Mackenzie’s 69.

“Greg wasn’t too happy handing me £5 after shooting 64 over the Old Course,” MacKenzie said. “I saw him the next month when he won the European Open at Sunningdale and he called me his ‘sparring partner,’ which I took as a huge compliment.”

The Scot took down Watson a year later.

MacKenzie was called upon to make up a four-ball with club captain John Matthew before the 1987 Open Championship at Muirfield against Watson and U.S. Ambassador and fellow Kansan Charles Price.

MacKenzie had the chutzpah to challenge Watson to a £10 side bet. Watson shot 67 around Sunningdale’s Old Course, only to see MacKenzie go two shots better.

“Tom signed the £10 note before he paid up with the words ‘Great 65 Al!’” MacKenzie said.

“He asked me for advice on how to play certain holes, and every time I told him which side of the fairway he needed to hit his approach shot from, he put his ball exactly where I told him. To watch a legend have such control over the ball is one of the highlights of my life. I’ve got a photograph of myself and Tom hanging in my office.”

And the £10 note?

“Oh, don’t worry, that’s tucked away somewhere safe.”

 

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