U.S. grabs PGA Cup lead after afternoon routs

SAN MARTIN, Calif. — The U.S. won three of four afternoon foursomes matches in routs Friday and took a 6-2 lead over Great Britain & Ireland after the first day of the 25th PGA Cup at CordeValle.

After taking a one-point lead after the morning four-ball session, the U.S. team of club professionals took control in the last three foursomes matches of the opening day’s bienniel Ryder Cup-style competition. In all, there were 39 holes played in those matches with the U.S. winning 19 holes to one for GB&I and all three matches by 6-and-5 scores.

“I don’t know what else to say,” said U.S. captain Jim Remy, a former president of the PGA of America. “This afternoon, to be able to get 3 1/2 points, was incredible.”

Two American teams each won twice on Day 1. Maryland’s David Hutsell, the reigning PGA Professional National champion, and Merion Golf Club teaching professional Mark Sheftic won in the four-ball session, 3 and 2, and took three straight holes midway through the front nine in afternoon foursomes and didn’t lose a hole in the match.

“We got off to a good, solid start,” said Hutsell after helping the U.S. to its first point, “and more importantly, I think we both rolled the ball very nicely. We gave ourselves a lot of good opportunities and a few long putts went in, but it was just good, solid play. If one of us was struggling, it seemed like the other one came through and made a birdie or par to keep the momentum going.”

Also winning twice was the U.S. pairing of Rob McClellan, the head professional at Butler (Pa.) Country Club, and partner Marty Jertson of Phoenix, Ariz.

In their morning four-ball match, McClellan and Jertson never led until McClelland birdied the par-5 18th for a 1-up victory. McClellan drove his tee shot at the last hole into the right rough, then hit a hybrid onto the green from 254 yards. He missed his 20-foot eagle putt but was conceded his birdie.

“We hung in there and battled and made it interesting,” said McClellan.

In the afternoon, McClellan and Jertson won the first three holes and made the turn with a 5-up advantage. They eventually finished off England’s Craig Goodfellow and Ireland’s Robert Giles, 6 and 5.

The other lopsided foursomes win for the U.S. came from Danny Balin of Greenwich, Conn., and Scott Erdmann of Tigard, Ore. They ran out to a 4-up lead after five holes and defeated England’s Stuart Little and Robert Giles of Ireland.

In the only close match of the afternoon, England’s Simon Edwards and David Shacklady took the final hole with a conceded birdie to gain a half against Sonny Skinner of Sylvester, Ga., and Brad Lardon of College Station, Texas.

In an excruciatingly slow morning in which none of the three matches that went to 18 holes was completed in less than 5 hours, the U.S. managed to lead, 2.5-1.5.

Mike Small, the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of Illinois, birdied the 16th and 18th holes as he and partner Faber Jamerson of Appomattox, Va., gained a half in a match they never led.

The U.S. holds a lopsided 16-5-3 edge in the overall series and is 10-0-2 on U.S. soil.

There are four four-ball and four foursomes matches on each of the first two days and 10 singles matches on Sunday.

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